Young and Hungry

Beware: Meat Week Is Nearly Upon Us!


Meat Week, if I'm truly honest with myself, is not designed for cities like Washington D.C., where barbecue joints have to cater to the many different styles of American smoked meats. The smokehouse that dares to specialize in, say, Texas 'cue or Carolina pulled pork is the smokehouse destined to fail in the District. At least that's what a veteran restaurant consultant once told me.

This more than explains the mediocre barbecue we have in the metro area. Perfecting one style of barbecue is hard enough; perfecting them all is a task more impossible than landing an unauthorized helicopter on the White House lawn.

The best pit men we have are those who try (if not always succeed) to master a particular style, like Fate Pittman who specializes in western North Carolina 'cue at Mr. P's Ribs and Fish or David Calkins who fell in love with Texas barbecue and has been working hard to duplicate Lone Star State brisket at Urban.

But after those two places (as well as the smokehouse in Clinton and possibly, with more visits, Branded '72), my interest in local barbecue drops off significantly. I don't think I could ever muster enough interest, let alone appetite, to hit seven straight local smokehouses. (In Texas, by contrast, I think I could eat the stuff straight for a month and not tire of it.)

The beauty of Meat Week, though, is that you don't have to attend all of the gatherings — not unless you're Mr. Capital Spice, Mike Bober, who's leading the charge for the D.C. Chapter of Meat Week. Talk about talking a bullet for the team.

Of course, I'm not saying anything that Bober doesn't already know.

"The biggest headache I ran into was trying to set the schedule," Bober e-mailed Y&H earlier today. "[U]nless you're willing to drive outside the Beltway, it's hard to find seven really good barbecue joints in the area. I went with a few of the names everyone knows because they really are representative of what's available in DC right now (for better AND for worse), but I also tried to balance them out with some of the less well-known establishments."

Bober certainly knows good 'cue when he tastes it. He's a Kansas City Barbecue Society-certified judge. To his palate, the 'cue offerings are on the uptick in the area.

"Thankfully, it seems like DC's barbecue prospects are improving as we speak. Washington may not be a world-class barbecue city yet, but we've already got a few places that are doing it right and there are a couple of big names on the horizon. I'm really excited that we were able to work something out with the guys from Pork Barrel BBQ to get a sneak peek at what they'll be bringing to Del Ray this year."

The best way to judge for yourself is to take part in one, or all, of the Meat Week 2010 gatherings.

Meat Week 2010 Schedule

Jan. 31: Urban Bar-B-Cue (Rockville) 7 p.m.

Feb. 1: Rocklands Barbeque & Grilling (Glover Park) 7 p.m.

Feb. 2: Red Hot & Blue (Arlington) 7 p.m.

Feb. 3: Pork Barrel BBQ at Mango Mike's (Alexandria) 7 p.m.

Feb. 4: Capital Q (Penn Quarter/Chinatown) 7 p.m.

Feb. 5: Branded 72 Pit Barbecue (Rockville) 7 p.m.

Feb. 6: Mr. P's Ribs and Fish (Safeway parking lot at 5th St., NE) 3pm

Feb. 7:  Free Day. Enjoy your favorite 'cue at a Super Bowl Party. 6 p.m.

Photo illustration by Brooke Hatfield

  • RT

    Ever heard of a steakhouse? There's one on every corner here. Same with hamburgers (which it could be rightly argued, that ours are the best out there, and that we started the boutique hamburger trend far before even NYC). And half smokes/hotdogs. This is a very very "meaty" city, much to the chagrin of vegetarians around here.

  • Tim Carman

    No arguments there, RT. D.C. does love its steak and burgers. But Meat Week is just about barbecue.

  • Richard

    Does DC do a vegetarian week?

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  • Mike from Capital Spice

    Thanks for the shout-out, Tim. As I mentioned in our post this morning, you were the one who first brought Meat Week to my attention last year, so you deserve a share of the credit for DC's participation this year, too.

    RT and Richard - Meat Week is a national event, originally organized by some folks out of Florida six years ago. As Tim mentioned, it deals exclusively with barbecue joints...otherwise DC would be a heavy-hitter in terms of meat options, hands down.

    As for a Vegetarian Week: I'm not sure anyone has been moved to create one yet - on the local OR the national level. Personally, though, I'd be just as willing to participate in something like that as I am with Meat Week. My experience with DC's vegetarian/vegan options is sorely lacking.

  • Mr. Sparkle

    I'll celebrate by cooking some real barbecue on my Big Green Egg. Perhaps ribs or brisket this weekend.

  • Brooke Hatfield

    this headline is misleading! we have nothing to fear from meat week!

  • Capital Spice

    Well played, Mr. Sparkle. All hail the BGE.

  • Tim Carman

    Well, nothing to fear unless you're the planet or an animal. But I hear you, Brooke! I hear you.

  • john snedden

    Hey, we are looking forward to seeing you at Rocklands for Meat Week! For those of you who can't make it to Glover Park, we'll be happy to see you at any of our other locations - Arlington, Alexandria and Rockville at The Wintergreen Plaza to celebrate Meat Week and feast on the flesh, as well.
    Thanks for including us in the line-up -- see you soon,
    John & Crew.

  • …done

    As a NCian whose dad is from KC,MO I have little hope for DC.

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