Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Road Trip Part 17: Virginia Barbeque
So we slept in a little the next morning, took our time getting ready, and got on the road. We were only on the road a short time before I got hungry. We got off in Richmond - I once spent a really fun day in Richmond and had a good dinner at a place called Awful Arthur's - and drove around for twenty minutes but did not spot anything. (We were too far away from the main part of Richmond, and at any rate Awful Arthur's closed their Richmond location many years ago, I later learned.)
Then, back on the highway, I saw a sign for a place called Virginia Barbeque. The name was very familiar but I could not remember why. We exited the highway, drove a couple of miles through the beautiful woods and arrived at the shopping center with Virginia Barbeque.
Once I saw the menu I remembered why I had heard of it before: they had a location in Temecula that I had read about once but never visited. Virginia BBQ offers two kinds of pulled pork sandwiches and we both ordered the "North Carolina" version with two sides.
Their North Carolina sauce, on the other hand, was fantastic: vinegar and chili flakes. Pretty simple, but that's all a properly-smoked pork butt needs. I considered buying a bottle of this sauce but then remembered how easy it is to make myself.
On the wall was a newspaper clip from a Richmond newspaper proclaiming this potato salad the best the reviewer had ever eaten. I won't go that far - my friend Tim's potato salad still wears the crown - but it's possibly the best I have ever had from a restaurant and indisputably the best I have ever had at a barbecue joint.
The thing that magnified my dislike for the bun is that the pork itself was really good: tender, lean, with only a slight taste of smoke. It definitely deserved a better bun. Elizabeth wasn't as big a fan as I was, but she got a piece of bone in only her second bite of sandwich. I've been there before and I know how annoying it is to have your sandwich-eating interrupted by a bite of bone. It sucks. But my sandwich was bone-free and I certainly enjoyed it, average bun and all.
The thing with chain barbecue is that far too frequently the offerings are sub-par. I've had some really good meals at places like Lucille's, Moe's Original, and Famous Dave's, but I've also had some absolute junk, stuff you would find in a high school cafeteria. So I'm not a fan of chain barbecue. I have to try another couple of Virginia Barbeque locations before I can proclaim it my favorite chain, but I have a hunch it might be.
Posted by JustinM at 10:00 AM