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O'Briens Pit Barbecue, Rockville - Closed.


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Someone told me this past weekend that O'Brien's was the best BBQ around the area. I have never even heard of it before this was mentioned to me. Any thoughts on this place? I think it was mentioned that it was on Gude Drive.
O'Brien's is on Gude Drive, near the intersection of Gude and Crabb's Branch. And I can tell you unequivocally that "someone" is full of crap. It's nowhere near the best barbecue in the area.
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O'Brien's is on Gude Drive, near the intersection of Gude and Crabb's Branch. And I can tell you unequivocally that "someone" is full of crap. It's nowhere near the best barbecue in the area.

I thought so, as I don't know him well enough to trust his recs. However, Tim Carman seems to think that their brisket is somewhat the real deal.

www.washingtoncitypaper.com/special/food2006/display.php?id=194

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Heather,

Sorry for the long post, but perhaps you are thinking of either Red, Hot, and Blue, or the former BBQ man. O'briens is on Gude, but is a ways from Crabbs Branch. Did you mean Gude and Calhoun? Also, the restaurant only has one sauce. The recipe was purchased by Ken Sr. from Sonny Bryans in Texas when he opened the restaurant.

IMHO, they do have, by far, the best brisket in the area (by that I mean MoCo). This includes what I've had at UBQ, Rocklands, Bare Bones, Famous Daves (I know, not real bbq), and the restaurants above. I even found it to be better than the brisket I had at the original Sonny Bryans in Dallas. The meat always has a beautiful, rosy, smoke ring, a wonderful bark, and that delicious hickory taste. However, some of the other meats are hit-or-miss. I wouldn't go there for the pork, for example.

I am not affiliated with the restaurant, although I have been a fan for 26 of my 31 years. I would go anytime for either their brisket or sausage, among other items. I am open to suggestions as to the best bbq in the area, so please feel free to open my eyes to places I may have missed.

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I was not thinking of Red Hot & Blue, which is in the shopping center at the corner of Crabb's Branch and Shady Grove Road. I lived in College Gardens for six years. I know where O'Brien's is. ;)

As far as sauce, it doesn't matter how many they have, really. Whatever I tried was too sweet for my taste. And I tried O'Brien's several times before giving up. Their pork is terrible. Maybe the brisket redeems it, but good barbecue to me means pork, and theirs falls far far short of great.

I will say that the owners are very nice people. The hosted a dear friend's last birthday party before he died of brain cancer, and they could not have been nicer or more accomodating to our group.

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And I tried O'Brien's several times before giving up. Their pork is terrible. Maybe the brisket redeems it, but good barbecue to me means pork...

And that is almost certainly the fundamental conflict. The Texas barbecue tradition from which O'Briens descends is mainly about beef, not pork.

I gotta say that for pig, there have been brighter spots here and there, but I can't complain about the consistency of RH&B's Laurel location...and the Laurel location only. Over the past 13 or 14 years, their meat has always been pretty good, occasionally very good (esp the pulled shoulder), rarely great, but never bad. Which is a heck of a lot more than I can say for most joints around here, including their dismal Rockville location. And their dry rub seasoning is still my favorite anywhere, Memphis included.

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Ahh, a fellow College Gardens resident. I lived on College Parkway for about 10 years. ;)

I agree with you completely on the pork at O'briens. Every time I've had it, it's been dry beyond being saved by sauce. FWIW, knowing your bbq preference, I also understand your distaste for their sauce. I very much prefer a vinegar or mustard-based sauce on pork. Their brisket though...mmm mmm mmm.

And you're right, the owners of O'briens are great people.

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From: Department of Sweeping Generalizations

To: dr.com Board Members

Re: Rockville

If it's in Rockville, it probably sucks...

Regards,

Subur Banhell

Though I find this to be very funny, and appreciate it as a native Rockvillian (so close to being a Rockwellian!), I do have to mention that Urban BBQ is doing some delicious, critically-acclaimed stuff near the corner of Chapman and Twinbrook.

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Ken O'Brien (an American Airlines pilot who used to carry brisket back from Dallas on trips) in the '70's paid a consultant's fee to Sonny Bryan to set up his pit and give him the recipes for his bbq sauce, beans and potato salad. The brisket and ribs that O'Brien's served in the '70's and '80's were EXACTLY THE SAME AS THAT SERVED ON INWOOD AVENUE IN DALLAS before Sonny Bryan's began to expand there. O'Brien's never had Sonny Bryan's funky school desks, cement floor or onion rings but it smelled and, for many dishes, tasted exactly the same.

Then there was a murder at O'Brien's and everything changed.

I haven't been in over 20 years but once upon a time this was without question (i.e. Washington Post, Washingtonian) the absolute best Q in the D. C. area La Plata included. I have no idea what it tastes like today. Nor do I have any idea what their pork Q tastes like. I didn't even know that they had pork bbq... For Q you should have the sliced pork at the original Allman's on route 1 in Fredericksburg near the bus terminal. And, for the best brisket, City Market in Luling, TX. http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.as...3&RefID=583

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I didn't even know that they had pork bbq... For Q you should have the sliced pork at the original Allman's on route 1 in Fredericksburg near the bus terminal.

I ducked into Allman's back in May when $#@*! I-95 traffic spoiled my plans to swing by Buz & Ned's on my way to Danville. "Mom" Brown still rules the roost in back, and up front they couldn't possibly have been more charming. Loved the sauces, and you gotta have a chocolate milkshake, but the pork itself wasn't the epiphany I was hoping for. Great moistness, generous portions, but kinda short on flavor on that occasion. If Gastreaux's pork butt is a five, I'd rate Allman's a three, and from this side of the river it's a shorter drive to Andy Nelson's for better bbq, IMHO.

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I thought so, as I don't know him well enough to trust his recs. However, Tim Carman seems to think that their brisket is somewhat the real deal.

www.washingtoncitypaper.com/special/food2006/display.php?id=194

The brisket at O'Brien's is just ok (at best). However, you could do alot worse than making an afternoon of grabbing a brisket sandwich at O'Brien's and then perusing the stacks at Joe's Record Paradise.

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Ahh, a fellow College Gardens resident. I lived on College Parkway for about 10 years. ;)

I agree with you completely on the pork at O'briens. Every time I've had it, it's been dry beyond being saved by sauce.

My friends and I do not call them "Old Dry Ones" for nothing. And for the record my grandparents lived on College Parkway for 30 years. And just in case cjsadler did not know, O'Briens, while close to Joe's, it is not next door anymore. There is a smoked beef/ pit barbecue joint in O'Brien's old location (the name escapes me) that I believe measures up to O'Briens (not a ringing endorsement, but worth a try) and has hand cut fries.
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My friends and I do not call them "Old Dry Ones" for nothing. And for the record my grandparents lived on College Parkway for 30 years. And just in case cjsadler did not know, O'Briens, while close to Joe's, it is not next door anymore. There is a smoked beef/ pit barbecue joint in O'Brien's old location (the name escapes me) that I believe measures up to O'Briens (not a ringing endorsement, but worth a try) and has hand cut fries.

Many years ago wasn't it in the shopping center at the corner of Gude and South Lawn? If that is where you are thinking the place that replaced it was the Canopy. I have not been there in years, but when it was owned by some crotchety crump of a man he put out some really good pit meats. One of my favorites was his pit pork shoulder doused in Eastern Carolina BBQ sauce. It is one of the few positive culinary memories I have of my 20 years living in Rockville.

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Ken O'Brien (an American Airlines pilot who used to carry brisket back from Dallas on trips) in the '70's paid a consultant's fee to Sonny Bryan to set up his pit and give him the recipes for his bbq sauce, beans and potato salad. The brisket and ribs that O'Brien's served in the '70's and '80's were EXACTLY THE SAME AS THAT SERVED ON INWOOD AVENUE IN DALLAS before Sonny Bryan's began to expand there. O'Brien's never had Sonny Bryan's funky school desks, cement floor or onion rings but it smelled and, for many dishes, tasted exactly the same.

Could it be that there will be a Sonny Bryan's in the DC area?

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