Summer is here, and with it comes lots of attention paid to one type of food in particular: barbecue. Memorial Days, Independence Days, and the occasional weekends are spent gathered around a grill or smoker stacked with carnivorous goodness. But with summers as hot and humid as they are in the area, why not opt to enjoy barbecue eats without sweating over the prep work? Enter Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, the Texas-based barbecue chain that earlier this year opened an outpost in Merrifield.
Stop by the eatery, located on a ground-floor corner of Halstead Square, and you’re immediately welcomed by rustic barbecue shack charm. The tables are wrapped in gingham-patterned blue. The walls are covered in corrugated metal and exposed wood planks. Then there’s the smell, smoky and meaty, that will cling to your clothing for the rest of the day if you pull up a chair and enjoy the barbecue here. You probably won’t mind it, though, as it will just be a reminder of the fantastic meal – that and the 32-ounce plastic yellow cup offered with any drink order as a souvenir. (And if you get the cup and don’t fill it with crushed ice and sweet tea, you’ve missed out.)
But the mementos aren’t the main draw here; it’s the meat. Slow-smoked chopped beef brisket and pulled pork, rich with fatty flavor and ready to be slathered in your sauce of choice (house, sweet, and hot are offered on a condiment bar). Hickory-smoked ham slices. Peppery sausage with casing that snaps at the bite, revealing pockets of molten cheddar cheese. Sweet-and-savory, sauce-coated smoked pork ribs with rosy meat that pulls effortlessly from the bone. You can order those and more whole or by the pound, packed into sandwiches, or as the highlight of platters and family packs with sides included.
When ordering the barbecue platters, you can pick plates with one ($9.75), two ($11.25), or three ($12.50) meats, or the rib plate ($12.95). Each is served with a roll and the diner’s choice of two sides. There are picnic classics like coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans, but also the Fried Onion Tanglers, thin strands and ringlets of crispy fried onion. Homestyle sides are many here, as well – like green beans cooked with ham; mashed potatoes sprinkled in cheese, bacon, and green onion; and mac and cheese with the soft noodles and thick, cheesy sauce of classic comfort-food fashion. Those options are intended as meals for one (though they can offer a hefty amount of food). For feeding multiple barbecue-hungry customers, family packs prescribe the right number and portion of meats and sides to feed anywhere from three to eight.
When you’ve decided on your meats and sides, you can order at the counter, where ready-to-grab slices of pecan pie are placed as temptation. Also for dessert, there’s a soft-serve machine at the ready in case an ice cream cone is what you need to beat the heat. But to really combat the summer swelter, just grab some barbecue here and enjoy the picnic atmosphere – minus the work and plus air conditioning.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is located at 2750-J Gallows Road, Merrifield. For more information, call 703-722-9152 or visit dickeys.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.