An Early Look at Pork Barrel BBQ

A peek inside Del Ray’s newest smoked-meat palace.

Pork Barrel BBQ: It’s Finally Here. Photographs by Erik Uecke

In the two years it’s taken for Brett Thompson and Heath Hall, the grill masters/co-owners behind Pork Barrel BBQ—which officially opened its doors on Tuesday—to debut their restaurant, they’ve racked up quite a list of accomplishments. They’ve won numerous accolades at barbecue competitions across the country; their grill sauce was named the best in the country by Men’s Health; and they even debuted the first-ever ’cue-scented cologne, Que. So how did all this affect opening day at the Del Ray joint?

“We ran out of meat,” says co-owner Bill Blackburn of Pork Barrel’s first service.

The 500-pound-capacity Southern Pride smoker is chugging away, but so far the 110-seat industrial-style eatery has been slammed—so much so that there has only been enough food for daily dinner service (lunch and brunch are in the works). Thompson and Hall are also currently running a limited version of their full meaty menu. “The Others” section—barbecue nachos, grilled ratatouille—are not yet on offer, but carnivores can load their trays with hand-pulled pork, St. Louis–style ribs, barbecue chicken, and beef sausage (made locally with Thompson and Hall’s own spice mix) by the pound or in sandwiches, as well as sides like skin-on potato salad, chipotle-spiked mac and cheese, and corn salad with lime-cumin vinaigrette. Seating options include faux-ostrich-leather booths, a wooden communal table, or the long soapstone bar.

Proper slow-and-low eating requires beer, and Pork Barrel has it; offerings range from Bud bottles to Fat Tire drafts. For those who prefer the stronger stuff, there’s a full bar, meaning you can spike that fresh-squeezed lemonade, made with rosemary and grilled lemons, with a healthy splash of bourbon. Kids and teetotalers can pair their ’cue with regional sodas such as Texas favorite Big Red.

Hours and menu offerings are still in flux (and as of press time, there was no public phone number), so for the latest updates, head to Pork Barrel’s Facebook page.

Pork Barrel BBQ. 2312 Mt. Vernon Ave., Del Ray;

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.