The Campaign for Real Barbecue is Coming to the Washington, DC, Area

I have mentioned the Campaign for Real Barbecue from time to time here on the blog.  For those who aren’t familiar with the Campaign, it was founded in 2013 by Dan Levine, and John Shelton Reed two distinguished North Carolinians steeped in barbecue, so to speak.  The Campaign identifies and certifies places that cook Real Barbecue — True ‘Cue.  That is, barbecue that has been cooked exclusively with wood and coals: no gas or electricity.  The gas and electricity used in many places does indeed have the potential to produce good-tasting barbecue, as I’ve noted in some of my reviews.  The best barbecue, however, is cooked with wood.

But there’s more to the Campaign than wood.  There is a philosophy:  “Real Barbecue is rooted in three things increasingly lacking in today’s world: taste, tradition, and a sense of place.”   Thus, certifications in North Carolina are linked to regional traditions: the use of pork and an appropriate sauce (vinegar and pepper in the East; vinegar, pepper, and ketchup in the west; and occasionally mustard in the South Carolina Marches).

Currently, the Campaign is active in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia.  Each of those links takes you to a list of barbecue places that make Real Barbecue.  Go to one and you’ll see a sticker on the window.

true cue sticker

When I’ve identified a critical mass of places in the DC area that serve Real Barbecue, there’ll be a page for those.  That could take some time.  I like to go see (and eat)  for myself, the traffic here is terrible, and I do have my 4 day a week job as Principal Assistant Nanny to Ella and Lily.  And I have a feckless streak a mile wide.  Until I have sufficient places for a list, I’ll flag the True ‘Cue designation in blog posts.

The certifications in the Washington area will be a little different than the other areas, all of which have storied barbecue traditions.  The barbecue tradition in Washington is comparable to … let me think … the German tradition of marching an army through Belgium from time to time: i.e, it’s not a tradition you want to revive and maintain.  And the traditional  Washington area approach doesn’t involve the core value of cooking with wood and coals only.  But things are looking up in the Washington region, and, with your help identifying places that make Real Barbecue, things will continue to get better.  And when you come to Washington to see your tax dollars at rest, you’ll be able to eat some real barbecue.


And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box.  Or bookmark us and check in from time to time.  If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, usually close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event).  Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome.  And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.

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