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JimCo

Smoking Kow - Former Barbecue Food Truck Goes Brick-and-Mortar on Duke Street in Alexandria, and Sycamore Street in North Arlington

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On 2/24/2018 at 6:57 AM, JimCo said:

Here's a little info: 

"Popular Barbecue Truck Going Brick-and-Mortar in Alexandria" by Rebecca Cooper on bizjournals.com

Stopped by Smoking Kow for a late lunch today. They opened earlier this week. The place is pretty small, with about four picnic tables to eat at inside. 

They didn't have wings, tacos or ribs today, which was too bad. I ordered the two-meat platter with pulled pork and brisket, along with barbecue beans and mac and cheese. I also tried all of their sauces. I believe they were: original, vinegar, mumbo, chipotle, and gold.

I thought the pulled pork and the brisket were both good, though they didn't provide a lot of it for a platter. I also thought it strange that the brisket only comes chopped. It made me suspicious that they're trying to cover up something, because that's why I do when my brisket turns out dry. Of the sauces, I enjoyed the chipotle the most, especially with the brisket. I really enjoyed their barbecue beans. They're red and white beans with a vinegary sauce that has a lot of interesting flavor to it. Can't wait to try that again. The mac and cheese was creamy, fine, nothing to really write home about.

Overall, I'll definitely give this place another chance. I think the transition from food truck to restaurant will probably give them some growing pains. The menus (and meat portions) seem more geared toward sandwiches, which makes sense for a food truck. Hopefully they'll have brisket slices and ribs in the near future.

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18 hours ago, JimCo said:

I thought the pulled pork and the brisket were both good, though they didn't provide a lot of it for a platter.

Their portions were huge and at a lower price on their food truck. There's a compensation when moving from a food truck to a brick and mortar space, price change or portion change. They do have quality food which would definitely be worth the up charge in price. Wishing them all of the best of success! 

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14 minutes ago, arlingtonkabob said:

Their portions were huge and at a lower price on their food truck. There's a compensation when moving from a food truck to a brick and mortar space, price change or portion change. They do have quality food which would definitely be worth the up charge in price. Wishing them all of the best of success! 

That said, a lot of these food trucks parked downtown are mobile versions of unknown, mom-n-pop, ethnic, strip-mall dives way out in the suburbs - the trucks must surely double or triple their business, and the businesses already have a restaurant kitchen to prepare the food in - often, tourists downtown have no idea that they just got carryout from a Tex-Mex place in Chantilly, VA.

I'd love to see a Food Truck Guide that reconciled the Food Trucks with their mother restaurants - it would make for interesting reading (I get interested in some pretty trivial things, from time-to-time). 🤔

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On 4/19/2018 at 11:09 AM, DonRocks said:

I'd love to see a Food Truck Guide that reconciled the Food Trucks with their mother restaurants - it would make for interesting reading (I get interested in some pretty trivial things, from time-to-time). 

Agreed. That would be very interesting! 

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On 4/19/2018 at 11:09 AM, DonRocks said:

often, tourists downtown have no idea that they just got carryout from a Tex-Mex place in Chantilly, VA.

Lotta good little eateries in Chantilly, VA!

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I had the opportunity to try the food truck today, and interestingly found it to be significantly better than what I had at the restaurant. The pulled pork platter was full of large chunks of shoulder with plenty of bark that had just a hint of pleasant kick to it. The pork was covered in its own jus, so it was very juicy. It was also a huge portion, much larger than what I got at the restaurant. 

To be fair, I hit the restaurant in its first week of business so I'm sure they were still getting their footing. Also, I hit the restaurant just after the lunch rush and hit the food truck just before. But I would definitely give the restaurant another shot after having such a good experience at their truck.

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Just got back from the little brick-and-mortar on Sycamore St.  I've lived in Arlington for 25 years and somehow had never been in this general area - not a hotbed of activity, but I would gladly return for the moist brisket and bean sides.  I got a platter with sides of the grits with jalapeno (not spicy, whether by design, heat-defective jalapenos, or ??) and the texas caviar (basically black bean and corn salad, which had nice tang to the dressing).  The brisket was moist as advertised, with a helpful but not overbearing fat cap, tasted terrific and I am now very, very full after being very, very hangry.   If the meat from the truck is better, then I'll be following that truck anywhere.

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Late lunch today at the Duke Street location. I had pork belly bites and burnt ends. My reaction is that compared to the other BBQs I have been to lately {DC City Smokehouse, Texas Jacks, Sloppy Mama's, probably others whose memories has thankfully faded} this is at least competent, tasty BBQ. But this is not great BBQ. Both beats were greasy/fatty in a way that BBQ is supposed to avoid. The low and slow cooking is supposed to render out the fat and leave behind juice. The pork belly was pretty much rendered but that left the meats dry. The brisket was lacking in bark and several pieces unpleasantly fatty. The not too fatty pieces were good. The sauces are good as well. The mac n cheese was saucy and flavorless, the beans were sweet and not very saucy. I would have preferred a richer sauciness to them. $19.98 for the platter, left overs taken home. 

I had not realized that I have been to their other location until I saw the sauces. So my reaction to them in two visits is good, some of the best in DC but nothing to write home about. 

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6 hours ago, deangold said:

Late lunch today at the Duke Street location. I had pork belly bites and burnt ends. My reaction is that compared to the other BBQs I have been to lately {DC City Smokehouse, Texas Jacks, Sloppy Mama's, probably others whose memories has thankfully faded} this is at least competent, tasty BBQ. But this is not great BBQ. Both beats were greasy/fatty in a way that BBQ is supposed to avoid. The low and slow cooking is supposed to render out the fat and leave behind juice. The pork belly was pretty much rendered but that left the meats dry. The brisket was lacking in bark and several pieces unpleasantly fatty. The not too fatty pieces were good. The sauces are good as well. The mac n cheese was saucy and flavorless, the beans were sweet and not very saucy. I would have preferred a richer sauciness to them. $19.98 for the platter, left overs taken home. 

I had not realized that I have been to their other location until I saw the sauces. So my reaction to them in two visits is good, some of the best in DC but nothing to write home about. 

Dean, did you specifically order Burnt Ends? I've twice ordered a pound of brisket, and both times they've asked me if I wanted it "moist" (to which I've said yes). 

My standard carryout (this food reheats in your oven marvellously) is 1 pound brisket, 1 pound chicken (their chicken is outstanding), and 2-3 large-medium sides: The jalapeño grits are delicious but sinfully caloric, the greens are perfectly adequate (and not paperishly undercooked like some places serve), and the beans are fine for me (but I shoud add that I think of beans as a textural counterpoint, as well as being extra sauce (which is why I mind the sweetness less than you do) so they don't need to be great - heck, I don't mind canned beans all that much, although it has been quite awhile since I've had them (I think)).

If there's better barbecue in the area for me than Smoking Kow, then I haven't yet found it. Disclaimer: I've never yet been to the old Backyard Barbecue location (which I still miss - I'm thinking of both of you right now, AnneMarie and Michael - please do get in touch with me, as I'd like to say hello). and I believe I've *always* reheated the meats when I got home, sometimes over the course of a day or two.

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I ordered the burnt ends. Usually they should be almost crispy with bark, these were not. I have now had ribs, pork belly, pulled pork and the burn ends and am not really inclined to go back given the pleasure/$ ratio. 

I am quite curious about the places doing BBQ on Georgia Avenue: Cinder BBQ and Backyard Smokespot. I have never been to Federalist Pig. I am not sure of how many trips to DC my Virginia residency allows. 

I ate in.

10 hours ago, deangold said:

DC City Smokehouse, Texas Jacks, Sloppy Mama's, probably others whose memories has thankfully faded} 

BBQ Bus was left off and I find if you eat there, it is reasonably good but again, not worth the going out of the way. 

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9 hours ago, deangold said:

I am quite curious about the places doing BBQ on Georgia Avenue: Cinder BBQ

Cinder took the space on Upshur where our much-missed neighborhood wine bar, Ruta del Vino, was. It is, in my opinion, not very good. Also, it's Romper Room in there most of the time.

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Hit this place on Sunday morning as it is right across from where my kids go to swim class.  We got two platters with burnt ends, moist brisket, and chicken with sides of Texas Caviar, mac and cheese (jalapeno for us and reg for the kids) and potato salad.  I would not get the burnt ends again; they were not worth the upcharge and overseasoned with brown sugar, but every other thing was solid to very good and my kids could have eaten 10 sides of either mac and cheese (the jalapeno is not spicy at all).  All this for $30?  Nice recommendation once again from dr.com, thanks all!

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