Uncle D’s Grill, Lexington Park, St. Mary’s County, Maryland

A while ago I sent up a flare for help finding good barbecue places in Maryland. The result was a long list of places to eat. I’ve already reported on two very good ones, T & J Bar-B-Que Second Generation and Smokers Delight. Uncle D’s Grill was my third to try, and it’s another winner. Especially in ribs, Southern Maryland seems to be rewriting my Best in the Washington Area list.

Uncle D’s is in a shopping center on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park.

You walk in and see some customers and people waiting for carry out, and on one wall homage to Lem’s and other South Side Chicago barbecue legends. As you walk up to the counter you see a photo of Uncle D, a Korean War veteran after whom the place is named. Once at the counter you wait for a minute or two before you notice the “ring bell” sign. As soon as you ring, Ira Barry appears from the work area with a smile on his face. He’s a hard working man. Here we are, in front of a sort of geographic record of Barry’s life.

I wanted something small, so I ordered the small rib tips with the spicy sauce ($14.95).

It came with two sides, and I chose collards and potato salad.

So much for my plan to have a small lunch. That’s a lot of food, and good food at that. The rib tips had a wonderful flavor, smoky, rich, and delicious. They have an al dente texture, and easily avoided the mushiness that ribs get at the falling-off-the bone stage. I mainly ate the rib tips without any sauce — they’re that good. I did try the spicy sauce and found it moderately spicy — not a problem for sensitive palates — with spice and sweetness fairly equally balanced. The collards were a treat, with a wonderful pure collard taste. The potato salad had a good dressing with bits of pickle and, as you can see, a lot of that dressing.

It takes a few minutes to put the pending orders together, which is good. Uncle D’s is a friendly place. I chatted with a regular customer who raved about Uncle D’s, and particularly mentioned the green beans cooked with barbecue sauce, which sounds interesting. Another customer was talking up Uncle D’s fried fish and shrimp. One of my favorite things about barbecue places is a chance to cross paths with new people.

I particularly enjoyed my chat with owner Ira Barry. He’s an interesting and open person, and I was delighted to verify that he cooks Old School Chicago: all wood, no gas or electricity. I was happy to certify Uncle D’s for the Campaign for Real Barbecue, especially when he brought out a sample of his ribs.

Delicious! And I had plenty of leftover rib tips, enough for my supper that night. That’s a lot of value for $14.95. I’ve got a lot of other barbecue places to try in the coming weeks and months, but rest assured that I’ll be back to Uncle D’s for more good food and good talk. I hope to see you there.


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