I went back to DCity Smokehouse, this time with Doug Jacobson, the Kansas City Barbecue Maven. DCity has moved around the corner, and that’s an improvement. It is now a pop-up connected to the Wicked Bloom Social Club at 1450 New York Avenue, another project of the owners. The exterior has a nice riff on the DC flag.
The new location is a big advance in terms of space and beverage selection. They have a full bar and a good beer selection, and they make their own lemonade. You actually can sit down and eat indoors, which is a major plus because the area outside is not conducive to picnicking.
It appears from the web site that you can only get their sandwiches before 5:00 pm. Only platters are available in the evening. Here’s the menu:
Doug and I shared the BBQ Sampler Platter, “½ pound ribs, ½ pound meat of your choice + 1 small side.” We chose brisket as the second meat and red chili coleslaw as the side, and added a side of BBQ pinto beans. Texas Toast appeared unbidden.
The brisket was a step down from my previous visit. It was flavorful, but not as moist and tender as before. I attribute much of that to the hour: we got there about 5:30 to grab a bite before a baseball game, and it appeared that the head chef was not on duty — no one could tell us what kind of smoker they use –- and the brisket apparently had been left to its own devices. And the brisket had not been properly trimmed before serving. There should not be those big hunks of fat there: see, between the pickles and the cole slaw. The ribs fared somewhat better on their own. They were nice and meaty, but a touch dry.
On the other hand, the coleslaw was great, with a nice peppery flavor. And the BBQ pinto beans were a good step above the usual baked beans. The Texas Toast also was very good: as Doug observed, they used lots of butter. The only disappointment with the sides was that DCity has dropped the Crisp Brussels Sprouts and the Green Chili Cheese Grits from the menu. Criticism aside, we ate everything in sight.
DCity has several sauces. The regular sauce is an average thick sauce. They also have a plastic container of hot sauce. It seems to be either Texas Pete or Crystal. I forget which. Our server, who was very enthusiastic and informative (but not in that really obnoxious way), also brought us containers of their house-made chipotle aioli, which I think they use in the coleslaw, and their own ranch dressing, which I suppose goes with their smoked wings.
Doug and I agreed that DCity Smokehouse maintains its tenuous position as the best barbecue place in the DC area, but that’s damning with faint praise. It is at best a pretty average place once you look outside the DC area. As Doug said, it’s okay, but not a place you would go much out of your way for: it’s maybe a 5-mile barbecue place, a far, far cry from a 100-mile place. That’s a shame. When Amsterdam –- Amsterdam! — has a great barbecue place like Pendergast Smokehouse, why must DC suffer with mediocrity? After all, we’re the Nation’s capitaI. We should get something besides the rest of the country’s money. I may write-in Brandon Woodruff for President. Or George Archibald.
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