Where’s the Best Barbecue in Virginia? Here are 10 Locally Owned BBQ Joints Virginians Love.

Where’s the Best Barbecue in Virginia? Here are 10 Locally Owned BBQ Joints Virginians Love.

Photo courtesy of Pungo Boys BBQ

By Aila Boyd

August 7, 2023

It’s hard to deny that barbecue is delicious. One of the great things about it is that there are so many varieties. Luckily, Virginia knows how to do barbecue the right way. 

If you’re looking to sample some of the best barbecue the commonwealth has to offer, we have you covered with this list of 10 locally owned joints. 

Old Blue BBQ

Location: Alexandria 

Old Blue BBQ is a craft barbecue kitchen that has specialized in regional flavors, eclectic Southern specialties and homemade favorites since 2012.

“Our meats get tenderness and flavor from rubbed spices and hours of oak wood smoke,” the kitchen’s website reads. “We incorporate unique flavors with classic influences from throughout the South.” 

Both the smoked brisket chili and half-pound sliced Texas brisket are standout menu items. Be sure to order a side of peach bourbon baked beans or some cornbread. While not a traditional sit-down joint, takeout and delivery is available Wednesday through Sunday and you can find them at farmers markets and pop-ups around the Alexandria area. 

Honest Grill

Location: Centreville 

Honest Grill isn’t your typical barbecue joint. It was born out of a belief that there should be a better standard for Korean barbecue. 

“We aim to provide an authentic dining experience through classic Korean flavors and the prime quality of our ingredients,” the restaurant wrote on its website. It uses the old-fashioned method of dry-aging its meat, usually done by hanging or placing the meat on a rack to dry.

Go with a friend and order the Signature Beef Guide for two. You can pick from the New York strip, outside skirt, short rib, marinated rib finger or certified Angus beef. It’s served with soybean stew and a side. The stir-fried garlic Brussels sprouts are a solid choice. 

Saucy’s Sit-Down Bar.B.Q

Locations: Hopewell and Petersburg 

Where’s the Best Barbecue in Virginia? Here are 10 Locally Owned BBQ Joints Virginians Love.

Photo courtesy of Saucy’s Sit-Down Bar.B.Q

Saucy’s Sit-Down Bar.B.Q has been deemed the “South’s Best Butt” twice by Southern Living. For something a little different, consider the beef brisket tacos. The two tacos come with smoked brisket, Saucy’s slaw, and smoked tomato hot sauce. The tacos pair well with a side of the sweet-bean trio. 

Vegetarians can order the tofu tacos, with tofu that’s either deep-fried or smoked and served with Saucy’s slaw and mango barbeque. More traditional items like pulled-pork sandwiches and racks of ribs are also available. 


Location: Richmond

SMoHK RVA BBQ is the brainchild of two old friends who decided to share their love of food with the rest of Richmond. It serves real Southern food made from fresh ingredients. 

“We refuse to compromise on quality in our restaurant. That’s why we source our fresh ingredients from the best providers we can find,” the website reads. “Proudly serving Compart Duroc Pork and All-Natural locally sourced from Virginia Brisket.” 

Try a large sandwich of either chicken, brisket, or ribeye. The sandwich comes with the joint’s signature house-made sauce and coleslaw. For a side, order the collards, which are slowly simmered in chicken broth.

If you want to take a finger-licking good sauce home with you, they’re sold by the bottle for $8. You can’t go wrong with the Smoky Mustard or Old Carolina sauces.

Vision BBQ

Location: Charlottesville 

When you think of a barbecue joint, you’re probably thinking of something very similar to Vision BBQ. Founded in 2020, it’s an authentic barbecue restaurant that serves scratch-made traditional barbecue and Southern cuisine. 

“We slow smoke all of our meats on site over oak,” the restaurant said. “All of our sides and sauces are also proudly made from scratch.” 

If you’re adventurous, give The Hot Mess a try. It comes with 10 ounces of smoked brisket, pork, or chicken and is topped with pickled onions, pickled jalapeno, house cheese sauce, pimento cheese, and smoked poblano pepper sauce. It’s served on a toasted Carter’s sub roll. 

Pungo Boys BBQ

Location: Virginia Beach

The story behind Pungo Boys BBQ is simple: Three boys from Virginia Beach’s rural Pungo community who love barbecue decided to share their passion for it and opened a barbecue joint that describes its offerings as “authentic slow smoked barbeque at its finest.” 

The brisket and pork platter gives you the best of both worlds. The brisket can be prepared Texas-style, chopped, or sliced. It comes with two sides, so give the macaroni and cheese with smoked Andouille sausage and “Pungo Boys 9 Day Cole Slaw” a try. The name of the coleslaw comes from the fact that “it just gets better with age.”  

Blue Ribbon BBQ

Location: Norfolk

Where’s the Best Barbecue in Virginia? Here are 10 Locally Owned BBQ Joints Virginians Love.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ribbon Brews & BBQ Photo

Established in 2021, Blue Ribbon BBQ serves hand-trimmed meats that are wood-smoked, which brings out a low and slow-smoked flavor.

If you’re hungry, go for the full rack of pork ribs, which comes with a side and small coleslaw. Give the fried okra a try, and if you’re still hungry, have a slice of old-fashioned cheesecake.

Those who’d prefer something a little lighter should consider the half-pound pulled-pork sandwich. 

Crescent City Bourbon & BBQ

Location: Roanoke

Crescent City Bourbon & BBQ was opened by chef Tyler Mason in 2020. He smokes the meat that is served for lunch and dinner daily. 

“The smoked meat is made with care and passion in a stick burner smoker and indoor wood burning smoker,” the restaurant’s website reads. “Brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken are just a few of the favorites that slow cook for up to 16 hours and pair amazingly with housemade sides, sauces and our extensive bourbon list.”

Those with big appetites should order a platter, which comes with two meats and two sides. The meat options include pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked jalapeno sausage, sliced brisket, a half-rack of ribs, or a full rack of ribs. There are six sauce options including the Virginia sauce, which is tomato-based and spicy. The spicy collards with braised Virginia ham hocks and baked beans with bacon are two standout side items. 

Wash your meal down with one of the many bourbon and whiskey options. 

Bone Fire Smokehouse & Musictorium

Location: Abingdon 

Where’s the Best Barbecue in Virginia? Here are 10 Locally Owned BBQ Joints Virginians Love.

Photo courtesy of The Bone Fire Smokehouse Photo

Bone Fire Smokehouse & Musictorium is the place to go in southwest Virginia if you’re looking for smoked meats and good music. 

“We are a true Smokehouse offering delicious smoked meats and unique southern high country side dishes,” the website reads. “We put no sauce on our meats. That’s up to you. If you so choose, we have a variety of tasty original recipe sauces.” 

The cured pork loin is a solid choice. It’s smoked daily over cherry and white oak. You’ll get two sides and a piece of cornbread with your order, so give the mashed sweet potatoes and grit cakes a try.

Vegans will likely be pleased to hear that there is a Not So Pork Pulled Sandwich that consists of smoked jackfruit pulled and simmered in a Memphis sauce.

Checkered Pig BBQ & Ribs

Locations: Danville and Martinsville 

Where’s the Best Barbecue in Virginia? Here are 10 Locally Owned BBQ Joints Virginians Love.

Photo courtesy of Checkered Pig BBQ Photo

Checkered Pig BBQ & Ribs traces its roots back to 1980, when firefighter Tommy Houston volunteered to roast a pig for a firehouse event. The pig turned out so good that Houston was hooked. He catered on the side for 17 years before finally opening Pigs R Us, now The Checkered Pig, with his wife Lisa in 1997. 

“The Checkered Pig uses bone-in uncured hams for a leaner, more flavorful BBQ,” the joint’s website reads. “We cook everything low and slow (BBQ for 12 hours!) to serve you the most juicy flavorful meats you can have.” 

You likely won’t be disappointed with the St. Louis-style BBQ half or whole rack of ribs. They’re rubbed with racing dust, smoked in a pit, and finished on a grill with the joint’s tried and true barbecue sauce. The meal comes with two sides and hushpuppies. The old-fashioned macaroni salad and braised collard greens pair nicely with the ribs.


READ MORE: 9 Pick-Your-Own Peach(es Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches) Orchards in Virginia


  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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