By Warren Rojas
Pork Barrel BBQ co-founder Heath Hall doesn’t just enjoy the dripping wet, flash-seared, mouthwatering meats that emerge from fire-belching barbecue pits. He loves all the accoutrements of regional barbecue—from distinctive sauces all the way down to the nostalgia-inducing pop served with it.
That affinity for detail should be immediately evident at his long-awaited Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant.
Refreshment buffs should enjoy the open-air ice chest, a beverage station expected to showcase vintage sodas—Hall touts Big Red (Texas), Cheerwine (North Carolina) and Nehi (Georgia) as top contenders—as well as Pepsi fountain drinks. Barflies can feast on microbrews (eight draft lines) plus select bottles/cans (Boulevard Brewing Company, Shiner Bock were on Hall’s short list), as well as barbecue-inspired cocktails like grilled rosemary lemonade and smoked-lime mojitos. “We’re going to have some fun with those,” Hall pledges.
Mango Mike’s alumnus Bill Blackburn will feed the Southern Pride hybrid smoker—they’ll use oak and hickory for flavoring, but gas heat—up to 500 pounds of smoldering protein at a time, with smoking times expected to vary from three to 12 hours.
The debut menu is set to include: beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs (pork) and chicken, all accompanied by their signature sauces (original, sweet, spicy, vinegar, Carolina mustard). Seasonal/specialty offerings to include: smoked turkey and lamb, Iberico pork shoulders/butts and barbecue samplers. Hall suggests they’re still refining their Texas-style sausage.
2300 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; www.porkbarrelbbq.com
Open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining daily.