Federalist Pig Is Opening a Second, Bigger Barbecue Joint in Hyattsville

Pitmaster Rob Sonderman will upgrade his smokers for even better smoked meats

Pitmaster Rob Sonderman seasons the brisket at Federalist Pig in Adams Morgan. Photo by Scott Suchman

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It’s not unusual for Adams Morgan barbecue destination Federalist Pig to run out of ribs by 7:30 PM—and brisket or pulled pork shortly after. But that hopefully won’t be as much of a problem when the restaurant expands to larger digs with upgraded smokers in Hyattsville.

The forthcoming location, opening late this year or early next, will be roughly two and a half times the size as the original, says owner Steve Salis. The new space will also allow partner and pitmaster Rob Sonderman to bring in new equipment to expand production and improve the quality of his smoked meats.

Because of the infrastructure limitations in Adams Morgan, Sonderman has been using a relatively small gas-assisted smoker for the past few years. The pitmaster initially envisioned experimenting with a variety of different nut and fruit woods to find a signature smoke flavor. But he quickly discovered his smoker didn’t allow for much nuance; Instead, Sonderman reverted to oak, which is heavier than he’d prefer.

In Hyattsville, however, Sonderman will have two wood-fired smokers “that can do more of what I want them to do.” The additional equipment will also allow him to triple, if not quadruple, how much barbecue he can produce. Not only does that mean ribs past 7:30 PM, but Federalist Pig will be able to expand its catering operation rather than continuously turning down requests.

As for the menu, expect much of the same smoked meats and vegetables, sandwiches, and sides. The new spot will also have a bar, so Sonderman is looking to add some drink-friendly snacks and a barbecue brunch.

The Hyattsville space, located in a former tire shop, will also have an upgraded look. Salis says they’re planning to “refine the brand and freshen it up.” That means the days of beaten-up wood and distressed corrugated metal are ending. The restaurant will also have a large outdoor patio.

Although the second Federalist Pig is still many months away from opening, Salis, the entrepreneur who owns Kramerbooks and Ted’s Bulletin among other businesses, is already thinking about ways to expand the business further.

“We feel like the brand has multiple opportunities for retail growth… not just in-market, but potentially out-of-market,” Salis says. “Hyattsville is going to give us the space and the capacity to really hit the throttle on this thing a little bit more.”

Federalist Pig. 5504 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.