In an effort to mitigate the perfect storm of bad food choices that was to ensue on this absolutely gorgeous Saturday, my husband and I made a few [what we believed to be smart] plans. First, we would eat only one real meal, which we dubbed “linner.” We had to go early in order to beat the brisket rush which previously prevented our enjoyment of this establishment and led to our discovery of Smoke and Barrel, otherwise known as the worst BBQ decision we’ve made in DC. Second, we would walk, determinedly, to Federalist Pig, a round-trip amounting to roughly 6 miles.
By the time we arrived, we were pretty much alligator-crawling down Columbia and terrified that the restaurant was actually a meaty mirage. Thankfully, the line was relatively short and meats were in full supply, although seating was tight, even at 2:30 p.m.
They have very limited alcoholic beverages. It was almost all craft stuff, but somehow nothing was particularly good? It’s a conundrum. I got a blood orange cider and, owing to his thirst, my husband had a Southern Tier blonde.
The food was fast to come up. Here is the Pitmaster Special, which features your choice of four meats–each 1/4 lb.–and three sides (with no upcharge for any of the meats)￼. $28. Remember when we paid $25 for the saddest ever sandwiches at Cinder? I wish I could forget. Anyway, here’s what food looks like at FP:
Starting with the veggies at the top: the sprouts were salty and deliciously crunchy, although too dry. They were reall good topped with the Carolina vinegar sauce and the mustard BBQ sauce though. The garlic-chipotle green beans were cooked well but not super spicy or smoky. I did get to feel very virtuous eating my green beans next to all the plebes with their fries, however. The mac was ridiculous cheese on cheese on cheese.
Now, the meats. The low point was hands-down the pork belly, which was not big on smoke flavor and just too chewy. Moving on, though, the chicken was crisp on the outside and moist inside. The brisket didn’t quite fall apart when pulled, but it was fork-tender and had a pretty good bark. The spare ribs were definitely the highlight, with thick, smoky bark and meat that pulled right off the bone.
For your convenience, I also sampled each one of Federalist Pig’s many sauces and here are my takes:
The hot BBQ sauce weirdly sucks. It was reasonably hot, but with no actual flavor beyond chili flake. A straight-up disappointment. The mild BBQ, garlic, and mustard sauce in particular were quite good–I definitely recommend the mustard with the chicken or turkey.
We finished the platter slowly and begrudgingly before beginning the long, full trudge home. We barely made it. We fell down on the couch, took an hours-long nap, and didn’t eat again for the rest of the night. Like the best kind of Thanksgiving.
Price: A very very reasonable $20 per person.
Bottom line: Yes, this was definitely the best BBQ in DC.
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