Quick Bites

Quick bites from the BBQ kings of Petersburg to the best booze and ‘cue in Lynchburg, news from the pit.

BBQ Kings

As part of the third generation to run Petersburg’s King’s Famous Barbecue, Matt Keeler has made it his mission to spread the gospel of authentic Virginia ‘cue — Southside-style, if we’re being specific.

“Its uniqueness comes from the style of sauce that’s used, mixed with the simplicity of the way the meat is cooked,” Keeler explains. The sauce is typically vinegar and tomato-based with a touch of mustard, while the meat is slowly smoked and the sauce is added at the very end.

King’s history dates back to 1946, when brothers John and Clinton opened the restaurant on the outskirts of town. Back then, they cooked pork shoulders over a big, open fireplace behind the counter, and kept the coffee pots warm on top. They moved to their current location in 1956.

“I think we got to where we are because we’re true to who we are,” Keeler says. “No matter how much people’s tastes may change through the years, if we maintain a product that’s simple, made fresh every day, and is consistent year in and year out, we will always stand the test of time.” KingsFamousBarbecue.com

BBQ 101

Ready to compete among the BBQ elite? Bremo Bluff-based catering company BBQ Connection invites you to do just that with its Competition BBQ Classes. Led by pitmaster John Atkins, The Pigs on the Run team has racked up more than 100 trophies in national competitions. Sign up to tag along to their next event, learn some smoking secrets and eat some of that famous ‘cue, too. $75 per person, $100 for couples. BBQConnectionLLC.com 

Booze & ‘Cue

Eating barbecue isn’t just about getting your protein allowance for the day—it’s an immersive dining experience that stimulates all of the senses. And for a growing group of restaurants across the state, what you sip alongside your ‘cue is a big part of the experience.

At Fifth and Federal Station, located in a renovated Esso gas station in Lynchburg, renowned pitmaster Rufus Rucker churns out platters of pulled pork, baby back ribs and brisket that’s been slow-cooked (six-plus hours) over hickory wood from nearby Amherst County. And behind the bar? That’s where you’ll find more than 140 varieties of whiskey, including barrel-aged, flavored, and rye options hailing from Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Tennessee and beyond. Choose a flight to get a taste of several varieties, or order a cocktail like the Hillcat Lemonade for a lighter approach. Ask your server what pairs best with the barbecue you ordered.

Looking for more booze ‘n’ barbecue options? Try Monk’s BBQ in Purcellville, which has an impressive selection of both local beer and bourbon. Or try Extra Billy’s Smokehouse in Midlothian and Richmond, which has won awards for its house-brewed beer.

Whole Hog

Much like a fine wine, the hogs raised on Autumn Olive Farms in Waynesboro are deeply

influenced by the terroir of their Shenandoah Valley home. Since opening the farm in 2005, owners Linda and Clay Trainum have left their hogs free to forage, allowing them to naturally absorb attributes from the soil. And according to Clay, that’s no ordinary dirt they’re nosing around in: “It’s soil that’s influenced by the ancient erosion from the Blue Ridge Mountains, the oldest mountains in the world.” Add in spring water coming up from limestone rock, wild berries and nuts, plus the unmatched genetics of these heritage breeds—including Patterson’s Registered Berkshires, Ossabaw Island Hogs, and AOF Berkabaws—and the result is a tender, juicy meat that’s sought after by chefs, butchers, and discerning diners across the mid-Atlantic region. AutumnOliveFarms.com

Big on the Pig

Read up on even more barbecue news from around the Commonwealth:

Claiming the ’Cue - Is Virginia the true motherland of Southern barbecue? (The answer is yes.)
Tools of the Trade - These 7 smokin' products help you step it up at your next tailgate or barbecue.
The Zen of Barbecue - Celebrity pitmaster Tuffy Stone.
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