For the DW&S Summer Guide, we asked team members to write about their favorite Virginia Trails. Writer Jim Putbrese loves Southern BBQ and provides his list of favorite Virginia BBQ stops.
There is an old saying, “We are what we eat.” If that is true, pour some BBQ sauce on me and place me between two buns, as I love southern barbecue. I found that one of the great things about living in Virginia is that you’re never far from a great BBQ restaurant.
First, let me make it clear, that southern barbecue is not what your dad did with hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill on a Sunday afternoon. That is grilling…cooking directly over flames, and while it makes for good eating, it not real barbecue. Barbecue is slow-cooking over low heat. It is a process where the meat, generally pork, requires 12 to 14 hours of slow cooking over low heat with smoke added for flavor.
Here in the south, barbecue is almost a religion. While we might argue about which kind is the best barbecue, we all will agree that the different types are part of a vital and delicious southern tradition.
In eastern North Carolina, the meat is chopped, or sliced pork and the sauce is peppery vinegar, often using a touch of cayenne pepper flakes. The traditional side dishes include coleslaw and hush puppies. The western area of North Carolina uses the same type of meat but adds tomatoes to the sauce.
As you travel further south into South Carolina, the pork is still chopped or sliced, but it is doused in a yellow mustard-based sauce. In much of South Carolina, the barbecue is served with light bread, coleslaw, and a ‘hash’ with rice. Hash is made of stewed organ meats. Most coleslaw served is vinegar-based with no mayonnaise, or sour cream added and is white in color. However, make sure to try the red coleslaw which has added (what else) barbecue sauce.
If your travels take you into Tennessee, pork remains the meat of choice but is served “pulled” rather than chopped. Here, barbecue is served with a sweet tomato sauce flavored with pepper and molasses. In Tennessee, the Jack Daniels Company has a yearly invitational barbecue contest, and the use of Jack Daniels whiskey must be part of the recipe. Jack Daniels is now a recognized sauce for barbecue.
In Virginia you will find all of the different types of barbecue…chopped, sliced, or pulled, along with your choice of mustard, vinegar or Jack Daniels sauce. I have a sweet tooth, and my favorite is Virginia barbecue which uses tomato sauce with a touch of sugar.
Back in Virginia
If you ask me my favorite barbecue place, my answer would be where ever I have a barbecue at that time. However, after saying that, here are a few of my favorite BBQ places….
In Staunton, you can’t go wrong with Pecks BBQ on Route 11. In Verona try Rack ’em and Smack ’em Ribs they offer three styles of BBQ including Jack Daniels BBQ. A recent addition to the town of Waynesboro is the Fish’in Pig. It seems to be the hot spot for BBQ as the restaurant is always packed, and part of the reason is great food.
If you are going to Wintergreen or visiting the many wineries and craft beer breweries along the Nelson 151 Trail try Paulie’s Pig Out, not very fancy but great BBQ and excellent potato salad made from his grandmother’s recipe. In Nellysford visit the Blue Ridge Pig.
Over in Charlottesville, Moe’s Original Bar B Que was named one of the top 10 rib joint chains in the U.S. Try Moe’s Original in their location next to Foods of all Nations in Charlottesville.
Other stops along my Virginia BBQ Trail…
In Gordonsville, stop by the Barbecue Exchange. A friend told me a few years ago about Buzz & Ned’s in Richmond, and I never got around to eating there until a few weeks ago. I should have gone sooner!
My son lives in Ashburn and said we should try The Yummy Pig BBQ in Leesburg. A great name with excellent BBQ that lives up to their name.
So, next time you’re traveling down the road, and you see smoke coming from a large drum outside a building and smell hickory smoke—chances are where there is smoke there is barbecue. Forget about the golden arches and stop in and give our southern tradition a try. You may strike out on occasions, but I promise you that you will hit a lot of home runs.
Stay tuned for more Summer Trails as DW&S launches their Annual Summer Guide in June. And another great choice for BBQ adventure can be found with DW&S’s story on Virginia Taverns.