Back in middle school, and in the peak of my ice hockey playing days, we would have to drive out to an ice rink about 45 minutes away for some of our league games. There was a barbecue place nearby that we’d always hit up on our way home and it quickly became a post-game ritual: play hockey then eat a full rack of ribs. I’ve had a fondness for flavorful, fall-off-the-bone ribs covered in barbecue sauce ever since. For many years I’ve been unimpressed with the barbecue selection in the DMV, but a few new places have me singing a different tune. During a recent visit to Frederick, MD we stopped by Black Hog BBQ for lunch and this trend is certainly continuing.
The restaurant is located in a small brick building and is simple, yet cozy. The smell of smoked meats and barbecue sauce lures you in from the parking lot.
We started with a few beverages while we surveyed the menu. Kacy had a cucumber mojito that was light and refreshing, a perfect complement to all the meat that was about to come. I went with the Porkslap Ale from Butternuts Brewing because it had pigs on the can… of course.
Our server and the manager detailed the menu items for us and suggested some of their favorites. After telling them that everything they just said sounded delicious, the manager proposed some sampler plates so we could try a bunch of items at once. A man after my own heart.
Our plates consisted of smoked beef brisket, pulled pork, grilled chicken, two types of St. Louis style ribs, corn bread, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, and coleslaw. We were also presented with a selection of sauces to choose from, including vinegar-based Carolina style, Mustard, Kansas City, and the Original Black Hog BBQ sauce.
We dug in and found everything on the plate to be very tasty. The brisket had almost no fat and was very tender. The chicken was well seasoned, especially dipped in the mustard sauce. But the highlights of the plate were definitely the pulled pork and the ribs. The pulled pork was rich and tender, perfect topped with a combo of Kansas City and Original sauces. The St. Louis ribs came in two styles: Memphis (aka dry rub) and Kansas City (aka wet). Remembering my post-hockey rib endeavors, I was convinced that I would prefer the wet version over the dry rubbed.
To my surprise I could not pick a favorite between the two. A tasty, sweeter-style sauce covered the wet ribs from end-to-end. The dry rub struck just the right balance of sweet and savory flavors from the sugar and the spiced rub. The ribs were very tender and had a good mix of meat and fat, not falling off the bone but about as close as you can get.
After eating all of my plate (and a good chunk of Kacy’s) I had to practically be rolled out to the car. When I awoke from my food coma I realized these were easily the best ribs I’ve eaten in the DMV. With three Black Hog BBQ locations (two in Frederick and one in Urbana), I’m already plotting our return for a full rack of those smoked beauties.