Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company

So while on vacation we made a stop in D.C. and of course I had to find some BBQ.  I had been to a joint up there before and wanted to try out their Arlington location since that is where we were staying.  Because their Georgetown location was very good when I visited there earlier this year I had high expectations for this location as well.

Three meat platter

I was there with my wife and some friends of mine from college and convinced them all to go and that it should be a good meal. When we arrived there was not a strong smell of smoke outside and that seemed odd considering smoke was pouring out of the G-town location.  I ordered a three meat platter with chicken, pulled pork, and beef with sides of mac n cheese and potato salad. My wife had the beef sandwich while Greg had the pork sandwich and Zee had some beef ribs.  I must say that I was highly disappointed in the Arlington location and it seems like lack of outside smoke presence was a sign of things to come.  I will say that my meats were all tender, moist and not overcooked.  However, outside of the smoke there was no real sense of flavor.  I always think that a good rub flavor should compliment the flavor of smoke, and without that combination the meat just isn’t complete.  No one with me seemed overly satisfied with their meal either.  It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great.  I found myself apologizing for dragging everyone down there, and kept talking about the G-town location.  I mean it is bad when you go to a Q joint and the best thing on my plate is the potato salad.

Beef Sandwich

I still want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe we caught them at a bad time.  It was the break between the lunch and dinner rushes so maybe ours wasn’t the freshest batch.  This is what I had to tell myself upon leaving and it was also discussed at our table.  I will also say that their sauce is pretty good.  It is a traditional bbq sauce, and I really like the way it is served.  Instead of in bottles on the table, it is sitting in a kettle up front where it can stay hot and the onion flavor is constantly being warmed through it.  So the sauce was able to save the day somewhat, and again, sauce should compliment the meat, rub, and smoke flavor and should never be the savior.

Pulled Pork

I will say though that if you happen to be in D.C. and what some good Q, head over to the Rocklands location in Georgetown and not the one in Arlington.  You can find their addresses and more information at their website:


4 responses to “Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company

  1. Hi Mike,
    We're so sorry you didn't have a great experience at our Arlington Rocklands. About the smoke: It's still there, just not floating around outside as much. We have LOTS of conversations with Arlington's air-quality board, so we're very careful about how and when we vent the smoker. That red-oak smoke is our main “flavoring,” though – we don't use gas and we don't use rubs, to let the meat's true flavor come out over the wood. Glad you like the sauce – we've worked hard to perfect it over the years.

    We hope you'll come back to either Arlington or DC sometime soon – we'd love to give you a tour of our home-designed smoker in action?

    Debbie from Rocklands

  2. Debbie,

    I knew there had to be a logical explanation for the lack of smoke after going to the other location. Personally, I think that kind of smoke is great for the air quality :). I should have mentioned in the post that there are some styles that don't use rubs and just focus on the wood flavor and the meat. I like rubs and don't mean to slap around the other styles.

    I would love to come to one of the locations when I come back that way and get a tour of the smoker in action. That would make any trip worth it.

    Mike D

  3. As an avid BBQ lover and frustrated DC BBQ eater, I was surprised to read the above review. I live “way out in Ashburn, VA” and we have ZERO on the BBQ scale in Loudoun County worth mentioning. I stumbled across the Rocklands in Arlington a couple of years ago and it is now my “go to” location for when that need hits me that I need some “true Que”.
    Rocklands is one of the only places I have come across in the entire mid atlantic region that seems to actually get it and where the management may have actually ventured out to some of the classic BBQ joints in the US.
    I have never been let down and in fact, have been wanting an excuse to send a shout out- I am a fan and believe me, at 320 I know BBQ!!!
    Kevin W. Ashburn, VA

  4. Kevin in Ashburn,

    I must say after being to their other location I was let down as well. It was painful writing that review, but I had to be honest about that visit and try and reflect both my own and the people who came with me feelings. However, that is why I mentioned maybe it was the timing of my visit. I do enjoy rocklands when I am in the area though.

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