Liza Tanner, ever watchful for barbecue news, points me to an article in the Washingtonian magazine which occasions this rant.
Before I start ranting, I will say that you should go to some of the places on the list. In fact, please go to any of them and send me comments. Rocklands does have some tasty food, as I recall from years ago, but everything is cooked in a box and the flavor comes mainly from the spices. Nice, but there are a scores of places in Alabama and Tennessee that have better ribs. Alabama and Tennessee are good for ribs in the way that New Orleans is good for food – you can find sub-par food there but you probably won’t. All of the Texas places mentioned are good for brisket and sausage. (Based on our extensive research while I was teaching at Baylor Law School for several months, for ribs in Texas go to Virgie’s outside Houston.) City Market is truly great. But if you’re in Texas, stick with brisket and sausage. Trust me on this.
Now the rant: The Washingtonian is excited because the ribs at Rockland’s Barbecue were rated as the 35th best in the US by the Daily Meal. http://www.thedailymeal.com/americas-best-ribs. It is the Washingtonian’s business to be excited about anything in DC doing well in any ratings, but this is nonsense. The whole list is nonsense, as are most such “Best” lists. They all compare apples and oranges – here, beef and pork ribs (there is no such thing as a rack of beef ribs, which anyway should be used for rib-eye steaks or a standing rib roast, both served rare). I have never seen a Best list based on one individual eating at all of the rated places. Texas Monthly has a team of reviewers and their 50 Best list proved useful, if erratic, during our Texas stay. The Daily Meal list, like most, appears to be based on who has a reputation for winning barbecue competitions (which require a very different skill set as discussed in my review of Bob Gibson’s: and if they have a lot of trophies, they haven’t been minding the store), on the ever-enthusiastic Guy Fieri’s show, and on Best lists for pork, brisket, or sausages. Serving drinks in Mason jars seems to be a big plus.
While I’m ranting, the Washingtonian used to be a good magazine – some good writers and very well edited, good restaurant reviews. It has fallen far. The article about Rocklands links to previous “barbecue” coverage, an article about Ice T and Coco showing up at DCity Smokehouse. At long last, have they no sense of decency?