The nation’s capital, as President Kennedy once quipped, often seems like a blend of “Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” But these best barbecue spots in the hustle-bustle district offer uniquely Southern charms on their piled-high plates of freshly cooked meats and sides. Grab a fork, dig in and leave all talk about efficiency until after the meal. – Alexandra Clark
707 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Don’t come seeking wet St. Louis Ribs or a dry Memphis rub here — the “Q,” as it’s known, is all-Texas, all the time. And that means a brisket so tender it’ll fall off your fork, paired with smoky bright-red sausage and jalapeno cornbread tasty enough to scorch the untrained tongue. A glass of authentic sweet tea and heaping scoop of banana pudding will help the spice go down oh-so-smoothly. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
Old Glory Bar-B-Que
3139 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
No BBQ aficionado will leave hungry after a trip to this nostalgia-laden two-story mainstay on Georgetown’s busiest block. The menu runs a gamut of regional hits, from a Savannah glazed ham to smoked ribs to a pineapple-basted “sticky chicken.” The barkeeps are appropriately serious about their favorite bourbons, and Sunday brunches, served until 3 p.m., are made extra-special by the whole spit-roasted pig from which diners can carve their favorite portions. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company
2418 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20017
Few restaurants of any kind in the city have the institutional reputation of this modest, brick-front spot that marks its 20th anniversary this year. Proud to use only wood, not “gas or electricity,” to fire its meats, the Rocklands empire slings the hands-down best side of baby back ribs within 50 miles of D.C. And the sides are not afterthoughts here, thanks to a cooling cucumber-mint salad and collard greens stewed from a time-honored recipe. The only drawback is the lack of seating — this location is best-suited for an outdoor picnic by the Potomac. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.