I can eat BBQ any time of year but there’s something about succulent smoked meats in summer that really hits the spot. Loudoun has its share of classic BBQ joints. Monk’s in Purcellville (and their annex Monk’s on the Farm at Flying Ace Farm in Lovettsville) do brisket like no other and if you don’t see husband-and-wife duo Chuck and Valerie Meyer’s ResQ BBQ trucks around town, you can always pop into their new space in Leesburg Plaza on East Market Street. But what of the lesser-known ribs and pulled pork temples in the county?


Here we select five under-the-radar BBQ joints to really whet the appetite.


Jules Caribbean BBQ

The food truck of Surinamese-born pitmaster Jules Foeaman has been at various locations in Loudoun over the past decade. Disciples of his juicy smoked “Q” will be delighted that he now has a semi-permanent spot on Charles Town Pike (Route 9) in Paeonian Springs, a short hop from the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Order fall-off-the-bone wood-smoked ribs, succulent brisket, a delectable Surinamese jerk chicken and, best of all, ox-tail stew - his own juicy take on the flavorful Jamaican classic.


Hammerdown BBQ

You know pitmasters are on their game when people drive an hour to taste their wares. I first heard of Hammerdown BBQ in Aldie from a friend in Harpers Ferry who makes a weekly pilgrimage to the roadside location on Route 50, south Loudoun. Chef-owner Ken Soo Hoo, a US Marine vet, started doing Q from a food truck at farmer's markets and by 2017, had become so popular he opened this rustic-chic farmhouse-style restaurant. The interior comprises of recycled wood from local barns, an eclectic collection of old foundry plates and local arts and crafts, while the bar serves cold local beer. But, you come for the meats cooked daily in the 1,000-gallon, four-bay box smoker. What to try? We love the brisket and the juicy St Louis ribs but the chicken is incredible as is the sausage. Why not go for the BBQ Platter - two meats and two sides - and see the truth to their motto: Real Smoke, Real Wood, Real Barbeque.


Carolina Brothers Pit BBQ

Cyclists on the W&OD and residents of this leafy pocket of Ashburn are in on the secret but family-run Carolina Brothers in Ashburn remains a hidden gem.  A slice of pre-Internet Ashburn, the ramshackle A-frame with creaking wood floors on the edge of the W&OD looks like it’s from another century and the serving style – paper plates and trays – is beautifully old school. The owners specialize in Eastern North Carolina-style BBQ (original owner Danny Hurdle was a Tarheel), which means blackened baby back ribs, succulent pulled pork and juicy smoked chicken. An insider tip: order a week in advance and you can get them to roast and deliver a whole pig for a private party. When eating on premises, the spacious pet-friendly patio under BBQ sauce-color umbrellas is the place to be.


Schmidt’s BBQ


Despite its downtown Leesburg location and being one of the stable eateries owned by Loudoun restaurant impresario Nils Schnibbe (SideBar & More Better), Schmidt’s somehow flies under the radar. Housed in a historic building on Loudoun Street with a spacious terrace out back, take a seat in the shade, order a cold glass of Solace IPA or Old Ox Winter Ale and take your pick of juicy, smoked Q. The Brisket Platter comes with a choice of House BBQ, Carolina Mustard or Alabama White sauce and the decadent house-made Loaded Mac & Cheese is smothered in House sauce and a choice of pulled pork, brisket or – our favorite – Kielbasa sausage. They even have smoked veggies as a side or for the non-meat eaters: a blend of flavorful zucchini, yellow squash and red peppers with your choice of sauce.


Smokin Willy

You might have seen Smokin Willy food trucks over the years, but to really appreciate the quality of the BBQ, head to the brick-and-mortar location on a quiet corner of Purcellville Center. It’s all wood floors, wood-paneled walls, cozy booths and a rustic, dimly lit corner bar where the beer is always cold, the drinks are strong and conversation is flowing. While there is a regular American menu, people come for the meats fresh out of the smoker: a Texas-style Angus beef brisket platter with salt and pepper rub; full and half-rack St Louis ribs; sweet and spicy dry rub pulled pork in North Carolina-meets Virginia style and a tender Texas-style slow smoked turkey that will make you rethink how turkey should taste. It all goes down great with a salty margarita or a bottle of Shiner Bock. Imagine you’re in Texas and tuck in.