The great battle of the best barbecue in any state is a prideful one. Unlike its sisters to the south that duel between North Carolina’s love of vinegar-based BBQ sauces and Alabama’s White Gold, Virginia barbecue is a beautiful blend of secret rubs and hickory-smoked goodness. The unique concoction results in a salty, sweet, fruity flavor that is slow-roasted to perfection. These storied chefs are a mix of Virginia locals and Southern natives creating a brand of barbecue that’s a little bit of everything. Forget the liquid smoke lookalikes—this is the real deal.
As Richmond is known for its outstanding food game, the best places to find this soulful style is in the city itself, whether it be in a food truck or a picnic table-dotted spot that’s been around since the early 1970s. If you are looking for a pit-master approved meal in Virginia, Richmond has to be the first stop on your list.
Buz & Ned's Real Barbecue
Buz met Ned on a barbecue journey through the southern states. After trying all the best variations, Buz stumbled upon Ned who was smoking up the most delicious meats Buz had ever had. Using recipes that had been passed down for 150 years, Buz and Ned created their first restaurant in the heart of Richmond city.
Most famously, Buz & Ned’s battled Bobby Flay in the Food Network show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” and won. The establishment has become a Richmond staple for their signature pork spare ribs and near drinkable sauce. Buz & Ned’s is closed on Mondays, but the rest of the week is fair game!
Deep Run Roadhouse
Deviating from the traditional pork and beans menu of the traditional smokehouse, this casual spot is spicing up the Richmond area. In addition to some of the best regional barbecue around, Deep Run Roadhouse has a little something for everyone, expertly serving up Tex-Mex and other comfort foods. The restaurant’s signature brisket is a must-try with its peppery, salty crust and perfectly tender insides made from all natural ingredients. Deep Run Roadhouse is open everyday until 9 p.m., so you have no excuse to miss out.
Great service and creative dishes come together in this made-from-scratch-focused restaurant. Make sure to get your hands on the cafe’s famous Hog Dog, which is a deep-fried jumbo all-beef hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with pulled pork, their homemade Hog Sauce, and coleslaw. Hog’s Head Cafe is closed Sunday and Monday, so make sure to get it in before then!
This "farm-to-fire"-inspired barbecue brings together classic comfort cooking and a playful dining atmosphere. Where the best smoke spots usually only have few dine-in tables, SMoKH gives down-home cooking an upgrade worthy of date night. Get the chicken wings and pulled pork sandwich to get an idea of all this restaurant can do. SMoHK is open daily until 9 p.m.
Jadean’s Smokin’ Six O
If you are driving through Richmond’s Scott’s Addition, chances are you’ve come across this local gem a time or two. You’ll recognize it by the scent of smoked applewood and a crowd of full-mouthed locals in front of a custom outfitted food truck. Operating as a family business since 1976, the establishment has carved out quite a following in Richmond and even down into the Carolinas. Try the hushpuppies (a local favorite) alongside their famous pulled pork to get the full experience.
Taking Texas-inspired BBQ to Virginia, husband and wife team Chris Fultz and Alex Graf have created a style all their own. ZZQ’s crave-inducing brisket and jalapeño mac and cheese has locals lining up at opening, rain or shine, just to get a plate. Word to the wise–this cult favorite will sell out, so get in early. Yes, it’s really that good. ZZQ is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Nestled in the historic Church Hill neighborhood, Alamo is serving up their award-winning Texas-style brisket daily. While the menu might seem intimidating (because everything looks so delicious), stick with the staples. Order the beef brisket with onions and pickles to experience the slow-roasted goodness accompanied by a delightful kick of salt and brine. The opposing flavors meld perfectly into an unforgettable dish. Alamo closes up shop early on Mondays, but lunch and dinner service is open the rest of the week.
Pig & Brew
Its killer beverage program aside, the Pig and Brew is serving up some smoky goodness to accompany your next happy hour. Get the Meat Lovers Trio so as not to miss out on the pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, but also dive into a plate of Hillybilly Fries to start, which are fries topped with cheese, bacon, and pulled pork. With all that deliciousness, you may need to stay for that second drink. Pig & Brew is closed on Monday and Tuesday, so happy hour on Wednesday it is!
TD’s River Stand BBQ
Automotive shop owner-turned-pitmaster Scott Bonds opened the doors to TD’s in 1998. The cuisine has a Cajun influence from the chef’s time in Louisiana, which only makes each made-from-scratch meal all the better. The best part? You can get your car serviced at Bonds’s auto shop next door while you chow down on TD’s ribs with a side of jambalaya. TD’s Smokehouse is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que
Just a short drive outside of the Richmond city limits lies the smoke spot that defines Virginia barbecue. Don’t be fooled by its McDonalds-looking interior–Pierce’s Pitt is a hometown eatery with deep roots. Julius C. (Doc) Pierce set up shop with in 1971 with a few recipes he brought with him from Tennessee. Since then, Pierce’s has been serving everyone one from community members to former presidents their hickory smoked pork and finger-licking signature sauce.
Our recommendation in addition to your pulled pork sandwich: The Brunswick Stew. It will have you driving across six states just to get a taste. Pierce’s Pitt is open daily until 9 pm.