Last week, we visited our 7th Barbeque Restaurant in Northern Virginia, and we happened to stop by Smokecraft Modern Barbecue in Arlington, Virginia.
If you love eating barbecue, you have to stop what you’re doing and visit this restaurant because it is something special.
Andrew Darneille opened his doors during the pandemic. I know, timing is slightly off, but I can only imagine how much planning went into the process to meet the deadline they had for their grad opening.
It’s safe to say that business hasn’t been ideal, but that hasn’t stopped this establishment’s performance.
Andrew’s love of mixing and matching wood for different types of meats makes you wonder if he isn’t part termite. #DadJoke
Here’s the address to the restaurant:
1051 N. Highland Street
Arlington, VA 22201
I selfishly want to do whatever I can to make sure this place stays open past the pandemic because Andrew has plans of bottling and selling his pineapple barbecue sauce which tastes good enough to drink straight from the bottle.
Now that we got that stuff out of the way, let’s talk about must-have items to try on the menu:
My favorite smoked meat this week was the pork belly. In addition to melting in your mouth, Smokecraft did a great job pairing a lovely wood smoke that complimented the meat.
If you’re looking for a traditional smoked meat recommendation, you can’t go wrong with the pulled pork. Out of the seven establishments we’ve visited thus far, Smokecraft is the first place to do pulled pork so good that you don’t need to add sauce or stuff the meat into a sandwich to mask the lack of flavor.
Since you have your smoked meat, the next decision is tough. You have to choose between two sides that are delicious enough to get a to-go order and be satisfied.
I’m talking about the baked macaroni and the baked beans.
(I’m pausing here because I really can’t decide which one is better.)
Okay, let’s go with the baked beans. In my previous video, you probably saw that I’m a massive fan of the baked beans at Smoking Kow in Alexandria. Mainly because you can tell they used real beans, which had some texture to them.
But, Smokecraft stepped it up a notch because not only do their baked beans give off a good mouth-feel (learn that phrase from Bon Appetite Magazine), they also incorporated some of their dangerously delicious (I’m sad this place closed down in DC) pulled pork. Chances are that if you know your way around barbecue spots, you’ve had pulled pork inside your baked beans.
So, what’s different?
Well, the pulled pork to baked bean ratio is so generous that you could seriously eat this side as a one-bowl meal. (While you can’t see me typing this longer than anticipated reply, my mouth is almost watering like the dog in Pavlov’s experiments.)
In my opinion, we saved the best for last, and this segment of the menu that shows that Andrew and his team of smoke-wizards at Smokecraft take their customer experience seriously.
That’s right, dessert.
In the video, you’ll see a banana pudding dessert that is nothing like your mom’s. And, I know banana pudding because I have personal made a dozen or so recipes myself, looking for the perfect recipe (what recipe I use will be a topic for another day).
Like the recipe I use, Smokecraft’s interpretation of banana pudding has layers to ensure that the consumer has a tiered experience filled with surprises along the way.
The first surprise you’ll encounter is fresh Nilla Wafers inside the mason jar that holds your treat. Why is this a big deal? Out of the seven barbecue spots we’ve visited thus far, all of the banana pudding has been pre-packaged and delivered in a grab-and-go style.
Having a nice crunch before you go into a creamy dessert gives your brain several things to focus on while you enjoy the dessert.
After you break through the fresh cookies and house-made whipped cream, you find homemade banana pudding. The pudding by itself is a standalone product because it’s made with real bananas. If I were to guess, the base of the pudding contains banana puree
In the middle of the dessert is bruleed cookies that add more texture to an otherwise traditionally creamy dessert.
Well. I think that’s an excellent place to stop. It seems as if I got a little carried away with this write-up.
Suppose you made it this far; thanks for taking the time to learn about an Arlington restaurant that’s worth protecting. While talking to Andrew, I could hear the excitement he has for his craft, and he wants to perform for the community.
I just hope that this piece gets him a few more raving fans, and he can weather the storm.
Let me know what you like or love about this place in the comment section. For anyone that hasn’t visited yet, say “hello” to Andrew and the team at Smokecraft when you visit.
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this write-up. I spent my money on the food and the actors in this video are blood members of my family.