Garden and Gun has identified Chap’s Pit Beef as having the best barbecue in Maryland, so Nancy and I went up there to see for ourselves. To start at the end, Nancy and I both really enjoyed our pit beef sandwiches. The meat was tender, juicy and had a nice charcoal-grilled taste.
Nancy, the slaw maven, was very big on their slaw, especially after she mixed in just a little of their smokehouse barbecue sauce. (They have several kinds of sauces, all of which are pretty similar, and all had a definite sweetness to them. We liked the smokehouse best, but the meat really stands on its own. None the sauces made it better.) The bread is soft and serves as a good vehicle for the beef.
Chap’s has a help-yourself bar with raw onions and horseradish. You should treat the horseradish with respect: it is not the kind you have in a jar sitting in your refrigerator. It is unusually fresh and could blow the top of your head off if used injudiciously. I had ordered jalapeño slices and ate them on potato chips because the horseradish was really enough, snd because jalapeno lies go well with potato chips.
Chap’s also serves sandwiches and subs with a combination of meats.
One of the guys sitting next to us ordered a Big John, a sub with beef, turkey, ham, corned beef, and Italian sausage. It looked good, but I don’t really see the point of the turkey. The mild flavor of turkey must get lost amid bolder meats, and I can see the corned beef and Italian sausage clashing. The corned beef and beef sound good, and remind me of the famous Crown Burgers in Salt Lake City (a hamburger with pastrami). But the liked and made short work of it. He was a big guy. The sub rolls look good, with a crispy crust.
So Chap’s is good, and you definitely should go there. But Garden and Gun erred in identifying pit beef as barbecue. True, Chaps cooks on a pit.
But they grill rather than barbecue. Pit beef involves a bottom round of beef cooked for more or less time over a grill. You can see the rare beef in the photo. It looks good, doesn’t it? We had well done beef because the woman at the counter recommended it, but they also sell to the degree of doneness you want. There is art in cooking a bottom round to well done without drying it into shoe leather, and Chap’s has mastered that art to a fair the well. Calling it barbecue is misleading, but it’s not necessarily bad to be misled.
I should note that some people might feel more comfortable going to Chap’s for lunch rather than in the evening, The view across the street:
and next door:
Other people may find it conveniently located as a place to begin or cap off their evening activities.
They do sell pork and ribs, but since their claim to fame is pit beef, I didn’t try either. Maybe on a return trip. For lunch.