BBQ Bonanza

BBQ Bonanza

What better time for a review of Southern Maryland’s barbecue joints than the summer? These spots offer simple, satisfying fare that’s perfect for enjoying at the picnic table – whether at the restaurant itself or a family gathering some place else. Almost all of the places listed below cater, so consider them before your next event.

We stopped by a few restaurants to experience for ourselves what makes barbecue so popular around here. At Boomerangs Original Ribs in Calvert County, we were treated to delectable meats, an awesome red-skinned potato salad and homemade cherry cobbler a la mode. You could tell the food was prepared with the kind of love you only get at a locally owned establishment. At George’s BBQ in Charles County, we sampled nearly everything on the menu thanks to the friendliness and generosity of the owners. It’s no wonder they pride themselves on many loyal customers, some of whom stop by several days out of the week. And at Smokey Joe’s Restaurant & Pit BBQ in Lexington Park, we were amazed by the brisk lunch crowd – including many workers from the nearby Patuxent River Naval Air Station – that seemed to devour everything enthusiastically.

So this summer, get out and try one or a few of these places for yourself. You certainly won’t leave hungry!

Calvert County
Adam’s Ribs
2200 Solomons Island Rd., Prince Frederick
We reviewed Adam’s in our Fall 2011 issue and raved about their tender ribs. All of the barbecue at Adam’s is slowly roasted with liquid smoke. It’s served with your choice of Adam’s sauce or North Carolina-style sauce. Pulled pork sandwiches ($8) and ribs ($16 half rack/$19 full rack) are served with fries and coleslaw. Pork and beef are also available in bulk. In addition to regular barbecue beef, Adam’s features a bourbon beef, and its barbecue chicken is also a highlight. All dishes are made from scratch.

Boomerangs Original Ribs
13820 Solomons Island Rd. S., Solomons
Owner Bill Wells has been running Boomerangs at its roadside Solomons location since 1993. The barbecue is prepared using a lengthy process involving a convection oven and grill – the meat is cooked with seasonings, sauced, then cooked some more. Baby back ribs ($14/$20) are served with sauce (the sweet and tangy Famous Original, Kansas City Smoky & Savory, Eastern NC, or SC Tangy Gold) or a Memphis dry rub. The ribs and the pulled pork sandwich ($9) are served with two sides. All sides, and even the salad dressings, are made from scratch. Try the sweet potato fries as an alternative to the regular. The fried chicken and desserts are other standouts.

Cuttys Rock N Ribs
Huntingtown (truck); 410-535-9392

The Grill Sergeant BBQ
77 Charles St., Solomons; 410-394-6000
Mike Theesen owns this barbecue joint located next to the Tiki Bar on Solomons Island. The barbecue is smoked with oak, cherry, apple, hickory and pecan wood using custom-made smokers. A sliced or minced pork sandwich ($8) and spare ribs ($13/$21) are offered. The Grill Sergeant specializes in whole pigs and catering for large groups. Check out their website for some great tips on how to barbecue!

Smokey Joe’s Grill
Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa
4165 Mears Ave., Chesapeake Beach
Advertising its barbecue chicken and “fall-off-the-bone” ribs, Smokey Joe’s (separate from the restaurant of a similar name in Lexington Park) has been serving up barbecue and classic American fare in Chesapeake Beach since 1990. Slow-cooked baby back ribs ($17/$21) are smothered in Smokey Joe’s sauce and pulled pork ($8.59 sandwich/$10.59 dinner) is slow-cooked and marinated. Combos including two barbecue specialties are available for $20.99. Stop by on a Tuesday for Family Fun Nite when kids eat for free.

Yo Momma’s Chicken Wings and Barbecue
135 W. Dares Beach Rd., Prince Frederick
(and on Facebook)
A newcomer to the Southern Maryland barbecue scene, Yo Momma’s has been open since April 2011. Owner Mike Buckler takes pride in how his pulled pork barbecue ($8 sandwich, served with coleslaw) is cooked over-night, dry rubbed and hand pulled. The baby back ribs ($15/$20) are cooked, dry rubbed, then grilled and sauced to order. They’re served with fries and coleslaw. Another very popular specialty – besides the chicken wings of course – is the “hogwing,” a pork shank that’s very tender and easier to eat than ribs. Homemade sides include coleslaw, potato salad, cornbread, collards and barbecue baked beans.

Charles County
Dale’s Smokehouse
4645 Indian Head Hwy., Indian Head
(and on Facebook)
Dale and Pam Hayes operate this popular spot where the meat is cooked in a smoker using hickory wood and their secret dry rub. Sauce is offered at the tables or on the side. Minced barbecue – finely ground pork simmered in sauce – is available in a sandwich ($6.75) or as a dinner with two sides ($9). Ribs ($12.50/$19.50) are also available as a dinner with five or six ribs and two sides for $10.75. All of the food at Dale’s is freshly prepared daily using old family recipes. Specialties include the potato salad, mac-n-cheese, smoked wings and homemade desserts. While Dale’s does not offer catering, all food is available in large order sizes in aluminum trays.

George’s Ribs
4840 Strauss Ave., Indian Head
George’s Ribs, run by Helen Spooner and daughter Hannah, opened in 2000 (then reopened last year after a fire) right off Route 210 in Indian Head. The dry-rubbed, hickory-smoked barbecue is served with sweet, hot and mild sauces. Their popular pork spare ribs ($12.50/$20) and minced pork sandwich ($5.80) can be ordered as a dinner with two sides. All sides – including the creamy, delicious coleslaw – are homemade, and desserts are cakes from the Cupcake Pavilion in Waldorf. Other menu specialties include pork chops, chicken and seafood platters. The porch makes for a perfect spot to dine outdoors.

Johnny Boy’s Ribs
7540 Crain Hwy., La Plata; 301-870-2526
Open for about 30 years, Johnny Boy’s Ribs features ribs ($15/$24), beef and chicken cooked in a smoker, and minced pork ($6.35 sandwich/$10.25 with side and drink) and beef cooked in a pot with spices and vegetables, hand picked, and mildly sauced. You can make it as hot as you like by adding other sauces later on. Most of the business here is carry-out or outdoor dining.

Lefty’s Barbecue
2064 Crain Hwy. (in the Pinefield South Shopping Center), Waldorf; 301-638-3813
Open since 1989, Lefty’s is currently operated by the namesake’s children, LaTanya Holland and Walter Nash Jr. Holland manages the restaurant and catering division while Nash manages Lefty’s Spices, LLC, which sells products online and in retail stores. The restaurant’s spare ribs ($15/$23.29) and baby back ribs ($19) are hand rubbed with those special spices and slowly smoked over hickory wood. They can be eaten dry or with Lefty’s signature sauce. A platter with two of the many side dish options is available for $13.49. North Carolina pork, along with sliced pork and beef, and chicken barbecue, comes with a choice of several toppings and two sides for $11.29. The North Carolina pork, drenched in a spicy vinegar sauce, is also available as a sandwich ($7.39). Some of the more uncommon sides offered here include sweet potato soufflé, fried okra and garlic fried cabbage.

Randy’s Ribs & Barbecue
7744 Leonardtown Rd., Hughesville
301-274-3525; (and on Facebook)
Open since 1981 and owned by Randy Keeton, this very popular roadside barbecue shack off Route 5 claims to use one of the very few “real” open pits in the U.S. Coleslaw and onions are free on the pulled pork sandwich ($6.25), and the ribs ($13/$24) come with bread. The barbecue chicken is also cooked over the open pit with hickory wood and seasonings, and all sides are homemade. Randy’s sweet hickory barbecue sauce is available for purchase by the bottle. Grab a picnic table and chow down outside!

Slab O Ribs
3360 Livingston Rd., Indian Head

7670 Hawthorne Rd., La Plata
This “second generation” barbecue place is owned by Vincent Jameson Jr. The senior ran it for 25 or 30 years before Jameson took over in 2004. Everything here is cooked on the grill. They don’t use a dry rub, but a secret sauce with a mustard and vinegar base. The minced pork sandwich ($5) comes with optional sauce and coleslaw, while the generous portions of ribs ($14/$20) provide enough to share. If you need a meal for the whole family, order one of several platters – that can include the restaurant’s popular chicken and pork chops – to feed anywhere from two to 10 people.

St. Mary’s County
Bear Creek Open Pit Barbecue
21030 Point Lookout Rd., Callaway
Opened in 1998 by Curtis and Angie Shreve, Bear Creek has grown over the years from a carry-out establishment to a roomy sit-down family restaurant. The barbecue pork, and the beef, are available sliced, minced or pulled in a sandwich ($5.25) or as a platter with two sides and bread for $8.50. They are served without sauce so you can add your own to taste. The pork spare ribs ($16/$22) can also be ordered as a platter for $11. All the meat is slow-cooked over a huge open pit inside the restaurant.
Griffin’s BBQ
30090 Three Notch Rd., Charlotte Hall

Smokey Joe’s Restaurant and Pit BBQ
22380 Three Notch Rd., Lexington Park
Smokey Joe’s, owned by Denise Canter, has been serving the Patuxent River community since 2007. Sand-wiches, including pulled pork ($5.50), are served on a soft roll with coleslaw upon request. Both baby back ribs ($13/$20) and pork spare ribs ($16/$22) are available. Smokey Joe’s specializes in customized catering and can provide many levels of service for your next event.  ✦


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