Smokecraft BBQ on The Best Barbecue Joints in the D.C. Area List

Andrew Darneille knows restaurants. He’s been working in them for years, mostly managing front-of-the-house operations for restaurants large and small, from a location of the Cheesecake Factory to the late Old Glory BBQ in Georgetown. When the time came to launch his own, Darneille leaned into his passion for smoked meats. A backyard hobbyist turned barbecue circuit competitor, Darneille pushes the boundaries of a traditional smokehouse. His menu features smoked salmon, smoked spaghetti squash, smoked crab cakes, even smoked Caesar salad dressing, virtually anything as long as it’s “touched by fire or smoke,” Darneille says. But Smokecraft takes its staples seriously, too. Darneille buys Duroc pork, Wagyu beef and all-natural chicken and cooks them over six different types of wood, constantly tinkering with techniques to get the best out of his gas-assist smokers. The results are often mouthwatering: pulled pork that erases the line between sweet and savory, St. Louis-cut spare ribs that tickle the palate with a mild spice and slices of brisket that aren’t afraid to challenge diners with thick, smoky pockets of rendered fat.

“This year has been a catalogue of destruction, one after another: the loss of life, income, business, restaurants, community, mental health. The list grows longer by the day, casting a shadow that will hover over us long after the pandemic has ceased to control our daily activities. The desire to find something good amid this madness is only human. Misery may love company, but when everyone is more or less miserable, we need some kind of relief valve.

I’ve found one: barbecue. The state of smoked meats in the D.C. area has never been better, even as the pandemic has impacted slaughterhouses and processors, causing meat prices to spike, in turn pushing restaurant prices higher for barbecue hounds like you and me. There’s no getting around this one basic fact: High-quality barbecue is not cheap, which means it may no longer be affordable for those who have seen their household budgets slashed to the bone. “

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