Rocklands Barbeque & Grilling Company

Written by on November 29, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Clarendon neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: Walking by. Foot traffic can do wonders for local business.

Type of cuisine: “We’ve been serving our wood-only barbeque to loyal DC-area fans since 1990. The story starts before that, though: John Snedden started barbequeing whole pigs when he was in college.” From ribs and chicken, to a plethora of sides ranging from corn pudding to collard greens, macaroni & cheese to minted cucumber salad, pork, beef, chicken and sausage (even sold by the pound!) to a listing of delicious sweets: honey jalapeno cornbread, chocolate chip cookies, walnut brownies and a slice of pie, in our experience: Rocklands is barbeque.

Lots of Food

Ambiance: The stand-alone establishment is easily seen, not to be missed, as passerby find a pink-colored building with a huge, painted mural along the side facing the parking and the main entrance to Rocklands. The small, glass door with an axe for a door-handle made us so happy as we entered the cozy, wooden look of the space. The chalkboards overhead, to the right as you enter, gave way to the menu and the extensive kitchen/food preparation area. As if it wasn’t enough to see the shelves of potato chips and individually wrapped-in-plastic sweet treats, menu above, the manager, Brad cheerfully called out a hearty hello! before bringing us two samples of some of Rocklands best. A grand, antique and wooden armoir sat quietly to the left of the entryway, with an endless and colorful array of bottles of hot sauce, including Rocklands own Barak Obama Hot Sauce, from shelf to shelf! Just ahead of us as we entered, we found an old cash register, jars of pickled vegetables including pearl onions and green beans, menus, and a silver bucket of shelled peanuts. We were invited to munch on the peanuts as we made our menu selections.

BBQ Menu

While Samyar & Chris looked over the menu, I made my way through the large, yet cozy establishment, walls diving seating areas from each other to create more, intimate spaces. A hefty, wooden barquette just beyond the peanut gallery hosted wooden, backed seats and retro-metal stools, leading its way to the darkened bar. Continuing to the left and into the seating area, hardy wooden tables and chairs were pushed up against the side wall to create a personal space for pure dining bliss. To the far end, making our way back towards Washington Boulevard, the bright, naturally lit space not only gives patrons the opportunity to sit at the window and enjoy their finger-lickin’-good sandwiches and plates of yumminess, but also offers seating at the thick-cut-wooden tables with tons of space for elbows and the many sides that come with each plate.

What I ordered: My husband walked in and knew he wanted to try the beef ribs ($24.99 whole; $13.99 half) with three sides: Macaroni & Cheese ($4.89), Old-Fashioned Mashed Potatoes ($4.89) and Grandma Snedden’s Collard Greens ($2.99).

Three Sides

He was disappointed to hear that the beef ribs would be smoking for another four hours, and settled for the Pork Barbequed Spare Ribs ($24.99 whole; $13.99 half),

Pork Ribs

his three sides and lemonade ($1.79). I selected the Blue Plate Special: BBQ Philly Cheese Steak Loaded Baked Potato ($10.99)

Loaded Potato

with one side drink (my choice: Sweet Tea). The large baked potato came served in a bowl with a 1/4 inch pool of melted butter underneath. Yum! The potato was loaded with beef brisket, Cheese Whiz, sour cream and chives. Our friends, a family of three (including their 18-month old daughter), chose the Barbequed Beef Brisket,

Pound of Brisket

a full pound ($14.59) and a combo plate with three sides: Grandma Snedden’s Collard Greens, Minted Cucumber Salad and Texas Corn Pudding.

Sides with Cucumber Salad

On a return visit, Sunday, February 12, 2012: Spending our Sunday lunch hour with our close friends, Samyar and Paola, we decided to return to the place we first sampled with Samyar. For our lunch, Chris and I shared a full rack of Baby Back Ribs ($20.99) with two sides ($4) of mashed potatoes and mac & cheese, and a foutain soda ($1.79) with which to wash it all down. Our dining companions also partook of a dry order of baby back ribs (minus the additional tangy BBQ sauce atop), one pound of beef brisket, one pound of shredded pork, half pound of mac & cheese and half pound of collard greens. And, at my suggestion from the last visit, a beef brisket stuffed baked potato.

What I loved: I tasted the ribs and all of the sides (except the cucumber salad) and was most excited about my own baked potato! Creamy, soft, flavorful and filling to the extreme. 

Why I loved it: From the large, painted mural outside, to the friendly service and staff, to the welcome bucket of shelled peanuts waiting to be devoured; from the food to the setting, the quirky, mismatched decor placed just so, to the artwork including a metro map of Washington, DC, everything was perfect. Nothing needs to be moved, adjusted or changed. It’s pure, simple, genius.

Cost: Average to high ($10-$25 per sandwich/plate)

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