Pitmasters Back Alley Barbecue, Washington DC

I was working on a brief so Nancy went to pick up some barbecue at Pitmasters (no apostrophe).  The place is new – they’ve only been open 4 months and just started opening for lunch.  It is in the alley behind Wagshall’s, a grocery and a deli in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Washington.  The prices tell you a lot about the neighborhood – $5.99 for sides (for slaw, fries and collards) or more ($6.99 for macaroni and cheese!) and $29.99 for beef ribs – and they only had one order left at 6:15 p.m.  (They use prime beef which strikes me as odd.  Barbecue is built around making cheap cuts of meat … heavenly.  If you have some prime rib you cook it rare as a roast or, better, as steaks.)  Nancy reports that the decor is industrial – no windows, cement floor and corrugated metal walls, the last probably an interior design element rather than part of the structure.  She also noticed the dread presence of a microwave and that cooked meat was refrigerated.  She also said that it was hot inside and when Nancy says that it is hot, it is really, really hot.  Nancy had to wait 15 minutes for our order.

I got the $11.99 Carolina Chopped Pork Sandwich.   It was a big sandwich, but the only resemblance to Carolina barbecue was that it was chopped very fine – too fine.  North Carolina should sue.  It  had the texture of mush.  There was no smoke flavor.  All the flavor came from the unusual rub or sauce they put on it.  All in all, not great.  I had a side of Sidewinder Fries which weren’t very good, either – too thick and mushy.

Those who want to try it should know that they have no tables, only carry-out and delivery, and you really need to order ahead.   They provide detailed instructions on how to reheat each menu item.  Hint – you need a microwave.  All in all, you’re a lot better off going to the deli counter at Wagshall’s.  Try the pastrami.  I hear it’s great.


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