Every day, Executive Chef Lindsey Ayala fires up a smoker outside the Crowne Plaza hotel in Crystal City and feeds the fire with hickory wood.
She is smoking meats “low and slow,” slathering them with scratch-made sauces and serving sides such as mac and cheese, collard greens, and cheddar cornbread for a new pop-up restaurant concept within the hotel called Tom Bones BBQ.
The food is available for delivery through on GrubHub and UberEats or can be picked up from Potomac Social Tavern at 1480 Crystal Drive. It is how Potomac Social Tavern, managed by B. F. Saul Company Hospitality Group, is looking to weather the limitations on indoor dining while still cooking food for restaurant patrons and hotel guests.
Ayala, a pastry chef by training who came to barbecue later in her career, said she tries to be faithful to regional barbecue styles from in Memphis to Missouri. Even Baltimore, her hometown, has its own horseradish sauce, although people may not realize it, she said.
“Anywhere you go on the map, I have the sauce for that,” she said.
She delivers region-specific tastes through her sauces, whether it is a South Carolina-style mustard sauce or an eastern North Carolina-style spicy vinegar sauce.
“Southern states are usually where you get serious barbecue, so when people come to Virginia, they think we’re Northerners who don’t know anything,” she said. “Hopefully, it’ll remind you of how they do it at home.”
Ayala dove into barbecuing when she developed recipes to help her father launch a family restaurant in 2014. The two ran the restaurant and sold their food at flea markets, farmers’ markets and church events. Not long after, however, he had to leave to attend to his health.
Now, Ayala is picking up where she and her father left off, smoking brisket for up to 16 hours a day on the pool patio of the Crowne Plaza (the pool is still closed as a COVID-19 precaution).
So far, Ayala said the new concept is going well enough that she needed to hire a second cook. Generally speaking, she said these pickup and delivery-only concepts — sometimes called ghost kitchens — provide restaurant owners with a good safety net, helping to generate extra revenue at a tiny fraction of the cost of launching a new bricks-and-mortar restaurant.
“I think this will stick around,” she said. “If this happens again, we need a safety net to get our food out there without people having to sit down and dine.”
The pop-up concept is a pilot program within the hospitality group, Ayala said. The other restaurant testing out the idea is O’Malley’s Pub inside the Holiday Inn near Dulles airport. There, she said, Chef Stephon Washington is operating a pickup and delivery concept for Caribbean-style food, inspired by his Jamaican roots, called Grandpa Hank’s Jamaican Kitchen.
“It’s an equally great story,” she said.
If there’s one thing Arlington does particularly well, from a culinary perspective, it’s barbecue.
Four Arlington restaurants have made it on to Washington Post critic Tim Carman’s new top 10 D.C. area barbecue joints list, placing Nos. 3, 4, 8 and 9.
The BBQ joints that made Carman’s 2020 list (below) include two that opened this year: Smokecraft and Ruthie’s.
- Texas Jack’s (2761 Washington Blvd, Lyon Park) — “This Arlington restaurant has topped this list for the past two years, a difficult task given the vagaries of barbecue, and it might have retained the title if not for some tiny slippages.”
- Smokecraft Modern Barbecue (1051 N. Highland Street, Clarendon) — “Darneille buys Duroc pork, Wagyu beef and all-natural chicken and cooks them over six different types of wood, constantly tinkering with techniques to get the best out of his gas-assist smokers. The results are often mouthwatering.”
- Ruthie’s All-Day (3411 5th Street S., Arlington Heights) — “Formerly the culinary director for the Liberty Tavern Restaurant Group, including its smokehouse in Falls Church, Hill is blessed with an all-wood smoker at Ruthie’s… where he turns out superb specimens of brisket, pulled pork and spare ribs.”
- Sloppy Mama’s (5731 Lee Highway & 4238 Wilson Blvd in Ballston Quarter mall) — “The shop’s chopped pork, rich and smoky, remains the gold standard. The housemade sausage, a pork link emboldened with brisket fat, snaps on first bite, its richness cut ever so gently with pickle brine.”
Prosecutor Files Petition Against Judges — “A northern Virginia prosecutor who says her county’s judges are infringing on her discretion to dismiss charges and enter plea bargains is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti filed a petition Friday asking the court for a relief from a policy imposed by the county’s four Circuit Court judges.” [Associated Press]
New BBQ Pop-Up Coming to Pentagon City — “In their spare time [chefs Kevin Tien and Scott Chung] dreamed up Wild Tiger BBQ, which launches Thursday, August 20 next to Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row in Arlington. The pop-up will run Thursday through Saturday for the first few weeks.” [Washingtonian]
‘Bumper Crop of Mosquitos’ — “With the floods of summer come the pests of summer — bloodsucking mosquitoes. It takes several days to a couple of weeks for mosquitoes to hatch, molt and fly out of floodwater, but the swarms eventually arrive, in greater numbers than before the flood. After the recent flooding from thunderstorms and Tropical Storm Isaias in the Washington region, a bumper crop of mosquitoes has emerged.” [Washington Post]
Retired Colonel Helps With COVID Response — “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel David Ashley quickly found his planned spring and summer mountain climbing trips canceled. He spent about a week doing projects around his Arlington home, but after 27 years in the military, he realized he need something else, something with more purpose.” [Arlington County]
Cab Exec’s Offensive Post Makes Headlines — “An elected town council member in Strasburg, Va., who also is chairman of the 6th Congressional District’s Republican Committee admitted this week that he posted, then removed, a sexually offensive meme targeted at Sen. Kamala D. Harris… [John] Massoud, who is vice president of Arlington’s Blue Top taxi service and was an unsuccessful candidate against ex-Del. Bob Brink for a House of Delegates seat from Arlington in 1997 and 1999, moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 10 years ago.” [Washington Post]
Analysis of Rents Near Metro Stations — “The most expensive rents ($2,200 and up) are found in areas of Arlington and Washington, DC. Rent near the Ballston-MU station is in the mid-range among DC Metro stops. But while the median price increased near Court House, it decreased near Ballston-MU, according to the analysis. The median rent for a one-bedroom unit near Ballston-MU is $1,975, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2019.” [Patch]
Clement Rips Dems for Redistricting Stance — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board has criticized the Arlington County Democratic Committee for its opposition to a nonpartisan-redistricting constitutional amendment on the state ballot in November. Audrey Clement, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey for County Board, said the Democrats’ vote seems disingenuous for a party that claims to be about good government.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Makes Top Travel Destination List — “For all the talk of a move to small, less densely populated destinations, Hotwire also ranked much bigger cities. Its ‘midsize must see’ picks were St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Arlington, Virginia; Tucson, Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Miami; and Cincinnati.” [CNBC]
A new barbecue joint is hoping for an opening sizzle despite other restaurants going up in smoke during the pandemic.
Given the reality of opening during a global health crisis, some things have changed since the restaurant was being planned last year.
“Originally slated to open in the spring, Owner and Pitmaster Andrew Darneille had to reimagine his business model and adapt to COVID-19 times with protocol prompted by guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the CDC,” notes a press release. “In addition to taking necessary health and safety precautions to protect the restaurant’s team and guests, the seating layout has been altered to allow for ample social distancing, menus will be projected on screens to minimize high touchpoints, and a takeout program will be offered with to-go beverage options.”
The food menu — available for lunch and dinner — includes duroc pork belly burnt ends, smoked avocado deviled eggs, grilled peach and prosciutto crostini, St. Louis ribs, wagyu brisket, smoked spaghetti squash, and applewood-smoked chesapeake crab cakes.
There will also be a brunch menu, with “smoked monte cristo and proper chicken and waffles,” and a “distinct and interactive beverage program.”
More from the press release:
Smokecraft Modern Barbecue (1051 N Highland St, Arlington, VA 22201) is excited to open its doors to the public on Friday, July 31. Smokecraft Championship BBQ, which won over 70 awards in 2019, including being named a KCBS Pork Team of the Year Finalist, and Reserve Grand Champions at the York County BBQ Festival just last month, seeks to continue pushing the limits of barbecue with their first brick and mortar location. Smokecraft will offer a diverse menu to satisfy every taste for lunch, dinner, and brunch, accompanied by dynamic beverage offerings and an expanded takeout menu.
Originally slated to open in the spring, Owner and Pitmaster Andrew Darneille had to reimagine his business model and adapt to COVID-19 times with protocol prompted by guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the CDC. In addition to taking necessary health and safety precautions to protect the restaurant’s team and guests, the seating layout has been altered to allow for ample social distancing, menus will be projected on screens to minimize high touchpoints, and a takeout program will be offered with to-go beverage options.
“We are excited to finally be able to share our award-winning barbecue with the local community,” says Owner and Pitmaster Andrew Darneille. “While these are challenging times to open a restaurant, we will continue to evolve our brand, while never waiving in our commitment to use the highest quality products to produce an amazing barbecue dining experience.”
Arlington is understood to be well behind D.C. in terms of fine dining restaurants and awards, but when it comes to barbecue it’s a closer contest.
Last week Washington Post food critic Tim Carman boosted the county’s ‘cue cred by naming two Arlington spots in his list of the top BBQ joints in the D.C. area.
The 2019 WaPo Best Barbecue list returns Texas Jack’s in Lyon Park (2761 Washington Blvd) to the top spot, praising it as being “as close to perfection, I dare say, as you’ll get in Washington barbecue circles.” The restaurant opened in 2015 and was recently the backdrop of a reality show filming in the area.
Sloppy Mama’s is No. 5 on the list, down from No. 3 last year, with Carman noting that “in the past few months, I’ve tasted the best that pitmaster Joe Neuman can produce (meltingly tender slices of moist brisket at Ballston), and I’ve observed the flaws in the system (spare ribs that had hardened into meat sticks, presumably from an extended stay in a holding unit at the Lee Highway shop).”
Award-winning BBQ pitmasters are planning to bring their first restaurant in Clarendon this spring.
Restaurant owners Marc “Red” Leone and Andrew Darneille are the team behind “Smokecraft Championship Barbecue.” The duo have won a plethora of BBQ competitions across the Mid-Atlantic, and will be at MetroCooking DC’s BBQ Bash next weekend.
Their upcoming restaurant plans to use a Southern Pride commercial smoker to prepare over 2,000 pounds of barbecue at any given time.
Anticipated menu offerings include “barbecue favorites,” plus unique dishes such as “smoked duck, chipotle maple cedar plank salmon, and smoked spaghetti squash.”
In addition to food, the 3,460-square-foot space will feature a full bar and late-night specials. Citizen Burger Bar closed in June after five years in business.
Lyon Park barbecue joint Texas Jack’s may be featured in a new reality TV show.
A crew of a new reality show about D.C. area young professionals visited the restaurant’s private dining room last month to film a conversation between one cast member and his father.
The restaurant’s Director of Operations, Remzi Yilmaz, told ARLnow that the cast member himself chose the restaurant as the location.
“This was one of his favorite places,” he said.
Yilmaz said he was not allowed to share details like the name of the show, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but said the crew might be spotted over the next four weeks filming at other area restaurants, as well as landmarks like the Washington Monument
The show is expected to air in January, though the network on which it is airing and other details are murky.
“I think they’re just giving insight into young professionals in this area, and how they live life, and what they go through,” he said.
A camera crew was also spotted last week at Pentagon Row, in Pentagon City, but it’s unclear if the crew was connected with the new reality series.
A new BBQ restaurant is planning to open next spring in Clarendon.
Smokecraft Modern Barbecue is coming to the former Citizen Burger Bar space at 1051 N. Highland Street, according to a press release.
The team behind the restaurant has been racking up honors at competitions around the Mid-Atlantic and plans to offer traditional barbecue favorites as well as “unique flavors and ingredients,” including smoked duck, salmon and spaghetti squash.
“Smokecraft is installing a pair of Southern Pride commercial smokers which will allow the team to simultaneously smoke over 2,000 pounds of meat while using an assortment of woods to create various smoked flavors,” the restaurant said in the press release.
Citizen Burger Bar closed in June after five years in business.
The full press release is below.
The award-winning team behind Smokecraft Championship BBQ is pleased to announce its first brick and mortar restaurant, Smokecraft Modern Barbecue, slated for a Spring 2020 opening in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood at 1051 N Highland Street. Smokecraft will offer a menu to satisfy every taste as well as outdoor dining, varied beverage options, and late-night specials. The space is located on the ground floor of a 10-story, LEED certified office building owned by KBS, one of the largest owners of premier commercial real estate in the country.
“It’s long been a dream to open our own restaurant, and we are excited to bring our award-winning barbecue to the Arlington community,” said Smokecraft Owner & Operating Partner Andrew Darneille. “Our goal is to continue to push the boundaries of what barbecue is and can be. This has driven our success, including our Turkey Smoke Grand Championship at this year’s Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle here in DC, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.”
Smokecraft is installing a pair of Southern Pride commercial smokers which will allow the team to simultaneously smoke over 2,000 pounds of meat while using an assortment of woods to create various smoked flavors. Award-winning Pitmaster Marc “Red” Leone’s menu boasts modern takes on a variety of barbecue favorites, offering something for everyone. Pulling unique flavors and ingredients from around the country, potential options include a reverse-seared tri-tip sirloin, smoked duck, chipotle maple cedar plank salmon, and smoked spaghetti squash. Distinctive weekend brunch offerings include Smokecraft’s award-winning smoked Monte Cristo, slow-smoked pastrami hash, and pulled chicken & waffles. The expansive 30-foot bar will be the perfect backdrop to showcase Smokecraft’s diverse beverage program, featuring a seasonally rotating variety of handcrafted cocktails and 10 craft beers on tap to enjoy.
Award-winning DC-based firm Grizform Design Architects, led by Owner and Principal Griz Dwight, will transform the 3,460 square-foot restaurant into a modern barbecue destination. A dynamic seating layout will accommodate 95 diners with an additional 20 seats for outdoor dining. The design team will employ natural, organic elements like stained wood and veneers, brick, stone, metal, and warm lighting throughout the eatery. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with Smokecraft Modern Barbecue to bring a modern design to the residents of Arlington, emphasizing the fundamental barbecue ingredients: wood, brick, fire, steel, and secret sauce,” said Griz Dwight.
According to KBS Senior VP and Asset Manager Stephen Close, 3003 Washington Boulevard is a prime location for Smokecraft’s very first restaurant. “This property is located in an urban walkable village approximately two miles from Washington D.C.,” says Close. “Based on this irreplaceable location, Smokecraft Modern Barbecue will benefit from built-in patronage from our building’s office tenants and employees, as well as the ability to quickly connect with the surrounding community. Just as Smokecraft continuously pushes the boundaries of an exceptional culinary experience, KBS is constantly innovating and delivering the very highest level of amenities to our properties throughout the US. These like-minded goals make Smokecraft an excellent match for this building.”
Williamsburg is losing one barbecue restaurant, but gaining another in short order.
Paul Tecchio, the new restaurant’s general manager, told ARLnow just signed a lease to move in a few days ago, and hopes to have it open for business by “the first or second week of April.”
Backyard BBQ announced plans to close the location after more than 10 years in the space in mid-February, serving up its last meals on Feb. 22.
The new BBQ restaurant moving in got its start as a food truck serving up smoked meats across the Northern Virginia area and D.C., Tecchio said. It’s backed by Dylan Kough (pronounced “cow”), a former financial consultant who decided to try and bring Kansas City-style BBQ to the D.C. area.
Kough opened his first brick-and-mortar location of Smoking Kow in Alexandria last year, and still operates two food trucks as well. He also worked with Tecchio, himself a “classically trained chef who has worked in kitchens around the DMV for almost 7 years,” to open the Alexandria location and will partner with him once more on this new restaurant.
“Dylan and I have poured a lot of heart and hard work into getting the first location to where it is today and we are very excited to be bringing our ‘que to Arlington,” Tecchio wrote in an email.
Smoking Kow’s menu includes a variety of BBQ staples like brisket, pulled pork and chicken and ribs, with a whole host of platters, sandwiches and even tacos on offer.
Photo 1 via @BackyardBBQ_Co
The truck will begin selling food to locals in late May or early June, said Bootheel Catering owner David Newton.
Newton is from Southeast Missouri, a location described as the “boot heel” of the state, which inspired the catering company’s name.
Newton said he wanted to open a food truck to make catering more convenient by having a mobile kitchen on hand for events.
“It makes our lives easier. It makes the food fresher,” he said. “I just want to get more of our stuff out to people, because people really like it.”
The food truck’s menu will include barbecue, brisket, pulled chicken, jambalaya, gumbo, grits, fried chicken and more. Prices will from $8 to $12, Newton said.
The truck will be traveling throughout Clarendon, Rosslyn, Crystal City and possibly Ballston. Newton said the truck may even go out to the Tyson’s Corner area.
Photo via Facebook/Bootheel Catering
Police to Hold Anti-DUI Event During Bar Crawl — The All American Bar Crawl will be taking place in Clarendon from 1-9 p.m. Saturday, and the Arlington County Police Department is planning some complementary programming. ACPD and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program are holding a “free interactive anti-drunk driving event” from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on N. Highland Street, in the heart of Clarendon. [Arlington County]
Local ‘Big Brother’ Houseguest Getting Attention — Matthew Clines, a 33-year-old renovation consultant and fitness buff from Arlington, is being mentioned as a frontrunner on the new season of CBS’ Big Brother. “Many ladies swooned over” him, US Weekly writes. Clines has suggested he “would rather have America love him… than actually win the game and the $500,000.” [Us Weekly, Reality TV World]
Woman Wanted for Hit and Run Near Columbia Pike — Arlington County Police are looking for a woman who struck a pedestrian on the 3400 block of 7th Street S., in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, Wednesday night. The suspect, described as a “white female in her mid-twenties to early thirties, approximately 5’6″ tall… wearing a white sweater,” fled the scene after the collision, which sent the victim to a local trauma center with significant but non-life-threatening injuries. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Bradley Teague