You can smell the sweet smoke from CarterQue Barbeque & Grilling Co. several blocks before you pull into its always-crowded parking lot in Mount Airy. When you get inside the yellow-walled space decorated with neon beer signs, license plates and a jackalope crossing notice, the scent becomes more nuanced. You can pick up undercurrents of slow-roasted pork, rich molasses and a golden sugariness that turns out to be from the caky, Northern-style corn bread.
These fetching fragrances are like pheromones for your belly, so expect hunger pangs to escalate quickly.
Barbecuing began as a weekend hobby for 37-year-old co-owner Chris Carter, a Mount Airy local. He entered a barbecue competition nearly a decade ago and took second place with his sweet and tangy black raspberry sauce, which is now CarterQue’s claim to condiment fame. Over the next couple of years he kept entering and winning contests, inspiring him to open a part-time barbecue catering service in 2006. A year later, he and his wife, co-owner Jessica Carter, quit their jobs and cut the ribbon on the original location of the restaurant in a former firehouse in Mount Airy that had room for only 30 seats.
That limited space kept pace with demand for only a year, so the Carters moved into their current address in early 2008. They plan to open another location in Frederick this year with an eye to franchise outlets throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
Finish reading this review on the Washington Post website now.
There are a lot of fiery debates in the barbecue world. Pork versus beef. Wet versus dry. Sweet tomato-based sauces versus tangy vinegar-based ones. No matter where your tastes lie, there’s one issue that everyone can agree on: summer is officially barbecue season. To save you the hassle of stocking up on supplies and firing up the smoker (not to mention the hour you’ll spend scrubbing the grill clean), we’ve composed this handy list of the best BBQ joints in the area. Feel free to argue ‘cue preferences while you chow down, but please keep your piehole shut while you’re eating.
Whether you get the pork, beef, or chicken barbecued sandwich here, all the meats are hickory smoked before being tossed with housemade Carolina-style sauce. Round out your platter with your choice of two sides: mac ‘n’ cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, or potato salad. You can also pick up a bottle of sauce to take home, so you can sass up your ribs the next time you decide to don your King of the Grill apron.
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Pitmasters at this Lone Star state outpost in Penn Quarter are happy to remind diners that everything’s bigger in Texas. They’ll wrap up as much meat as you can handle – we’re partial to the brisket moist and the beer can game hen – before you head over to pick up some outsized sides like beer-braised pinto beans and gooey mac ‘n’ cheese. If you’ve still got room at the end of your BBQ binge, head back to the chow line pick up some sweet potato bread pudding.
Get my other four picks over on CityEats’ Plate blog now.
Photo courtesy of Hill Country.
Texas barbecue joints inspired Penn Quarter’s Hill Country, but it was created by Bethesda native Marc Glosserman, who opened the original Hill Country in New York City in 2007. These geographic disparities are not a problem, however, thanks to the eatery’s executive chef, Elizabeth Karmel, who (since March) has been bringing barbecue fans together with the comfort food’s unifying power. “If you’re into barbecue, you can bond with anyone else who’s into it,” she says. “It’s a sport and a religion rolled into one.”
The Vision: “I create food that feels like someone you love is giving you a hug when you take a bite,” Karmel says. “This is emotional food.”
Eats: Patrons line up to order at a series of counters in the back of the restaurant, where friendly servers dish out meals portion by portion. (There is a waitstaff here, but they mostly handle drink orders.) The first stop is the meat counter. There are more than a dozen options ($8.50-$29 per pound), from grilled whole chickens ($8.50 per pound) to boneless prime rib ($29 per pound), but the moist brisket is the way to go. The meat is simply dressed with salt, pepper and cayenne, and cooked low and slow in the wood-fired oven. The brisket comes out blackened, juicy and tender. Another standout is the beer can game hen ($10 per pound), which is infused with a heady, hoppy flavor. After picking your meat, there are 15 hot and cold side dishes ($3-$18) to choose from, including a creamy cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese, a vinegary cucumber salad and a corn pudding with a cayenne kick. If you can manage a stop for dessert, try the rich bourbon pecan pie ($6) or the cinnamon-laced sweet potato bread pudding drenched in a whiskey hard sauce ($6).
Finish reading this article on the Express website now.