My DC experience: friends, food, and fantastic views

Ever since taking a new position, I have done a bit of traveling for work training.  This work training has offered up the chance (when not in training) to take in sights, check out good eats, and meet up with friends.  A few weeks ago I was in the DC area, and in between training sessions, I had the chance to do all of the above!

First up was Sunday.  After getting all settled in to the hotel, I had dinner at Ford’s Fish Shack in Ashburn, VA with Mike & Michelle Lackey from Hog-It-Up BBQ.  Michelle and I have talked quite a bit on Twitter and Facebook, but that night was the first night of meeting in person.  Here was their video submission for season 3 of BBQ Pitmasters.

Let me tell you, that was a fun night!  For nearly 3 hours we ate, drank, told stories, chit-chatted, and had such a good time!  It was a great way to start off the week.  The food was fabulous as well.  Oysters on the half shell, calamari, Gulf shrimp, clams… it was a seafood lover’s paradise!  I had the combination fried seafood platter with shrimp, clams, oysters, and scallops (I had the scallops grilled).  Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the food, but trust me when I say that it was a lot of very tasty food!

The next night was my one “free night”, so I solicited suggestions from friends on Facebook.  Brian Meagher of Hot Sauce Daily suggested that I try Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern in Herndon, VA.  When I saw poutine on the menu, I was sold!  This place felt like Cheers – a place where everyone knows your name and where everyone is a regular.  Dinner for the night was poutine and a Buffalo platter (wings, pierogies, beef on Weck).  Quite tasty, if I may say so myself.

Tuesday night was another fun night – I got to meet up with friend and fellow blogger Grilling with Rich and his wife for dinner.  We ate at this great pizza place in old town Alexandria VA called Pizzeria Paradiso.  If you’re ever in Alexandria and looking for a good neapolitan pizza place, this is definitely worth checking out!  I ordered a quattro formaggi pizza while Rich & his wife ordered this beauty (picture below courtesy of Grilling with Rich).

I had a great time at dinner that night.  It is always nice to finally put faces with names.  Rich and his wife are both great people, and I have an admiration for his passion for grilling and outdoor cooking. 

My final night in the area could only be capped off with one thing – a visit to Pork Barrel BBQ in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA!

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I had the pleasure of meeting Heath and Brett last year at the Jack.  So when they opened up their restaurant, I knew I had to go if I was ever in the area.  Thankfully I had the chance to do so on this trip.  While I did not get to see either Heath or Brett this time, I was not alone.  Joining me that night was one of the premier pitmasters on the competition circuit – Kit Rudd of Degüello BBQ.  Like Heath and Brett, I also met Kit at the Jack in 2011.  We had the chance to catch up earlier this year while he was in Charlotte, so it was nice getting to see him again. 

Naturally, I had to get a few pictures inside the restaurant.

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One of the coolest things I saw there was the selection of “throwback” sodas in glass bottles like Big Red and RC Cola.

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Oh, and one of the more unique draft beer islands too.  With an excellent selection of craft beers, to boot!

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So I know what you’re thinking…  how was the food?  Well… I don’t think I had a single terrible thing there!  Everything was very tasty and flavorful.  While waiting on Kit to arrive, I ordered some BBQ nachos.  And with perfect timing, Kit arrived just as the nachos came out.

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I have to say these were probably some of the best BBQ nachos I’ve ever had!  The ratio of cheese to chips to pork to other goodies was just right.  The cheese was very flavorful, and the pork even more so! 

While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Blackburn, one of the partners in the restaurant.  He took care of Kit and myself that night, and I got to sample a little bit of everything on the menu.

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Everything was so tasty!  The ribs were cooked perfectly and served dry, but they did not need any sauce.  The pork was just like the pork in the BBQ nachos – smoky, moist, and flavorful.  The brisket, while a touch on the dry side, was still beefy and delicious.  But what was probably the most surprising of all was the sausage.  It’s hard to put into words the different flavors that were going on there.  So I’ll just say that if you go, make sure to get some of the sausage!

The slaw is your classic cole slaw – fresh and not overly loaded with dressing.  The mac and cheese is a jalapeno mac & cheese, but not spicy at all.  Very delicious.  The collard greens were very interesting – a touch of sweetness in there.  Probably my favorite side dish of all! 

While there we got to see the kitchen as well as the smoker where all the meats are cooked.  The Southern Pride smoker they use is a beast!!

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And now, I’d like to offer up several “thank you-s”…

  • To Mike & Michelle Lackey of Hog-It-Up BBQ for meeting up for dinner on that Sunday night.  I had a blast!  Can’t wait to see you guys again.
  • To Brian Meagher of Hot Sauce Daily for the recommendation of Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern.  Excellent choice!
  • To Rich & Michelle Wachtel – thank you guys so much for dinner!  I owe y’all one next time you come to Charlotte!
  • To Kit Rudd from Degüello BBQ… it’s always a pleasure seeing ya!
  • And finally… to Bill Blackburn and the entire staff at Pork Barrel BBQ: thank you for taking care of us!!!


  • To Bill Blackburn and everyone at Pork Barrel BBQ – you’re doing things right!  Thanks
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Author: Big Wayner

Big Wayner is the mad brains behind Big Wayner's BBQ Blog. A full-time RVer, he enjoys sharing his passion for all things BBQ with anyone and everyone he meets.