Maybe it’s nostalgia for my college days back in Texas, but I am always willing to travel the extra mile for good BBQ. Most of the time I’m on a quest to find the elusive Beef Rib that is rarely found outside of The Lone Star State, but I am just as happy with pulled pork and smoked brisket. Some of the best BBQ I’ve tried in NoVA can be found at Monk’s BBQ 40 minutes from Reston in Purcellville.
Monk’s was originally a food truck, in the loosest sense of the word. Brian Jenkins and some friends started the business about 5 years ago selling cured and smoked meats at breweries and wineries in the area. His reputation for mouth-watering BBQ and wide array of specialty sauces quickly earned him awards such as “Best Food Truck in the DC Area” in 2013 by WTOP listeners. With demand so high, he and his wife decided to open a permanent location just outside the heart of Purcellville.
The first thing I noticed as I walked in was the big pile of Bacon-on-a-Stick skewers. It was calling to me like a beacon in the night. Jenkins explained that they make this delicious snack with slow-smoked pork belly and their special rub spices. The result is a sinfully delicious and addictive treat that gets its sweetness from brown sugar and its spice from chipotle.
The meat at Monk’s is “stand alone good,” meaning that if you were stuck on a desert island without sauce, it would still be dynamite. They serve the usual suspects (pulled-pork, brisket, chicken, and pork spare ribs) but rather unusually, they also have cured pastrami. This unique offering sets Monk’s apart from most BBQ joints in the area.
The sides were also familiar favorites but with a twist. The mac & cheese is made with rich smoked gouda, the tangy cole slaw is vinegar-based and the crunchy pickles are just this side of done. Both the pickles and pastrami were so authentic they could have been right out of a New York deli.
Even though the meat is fabulous on it’s own, where Monk’s really shines is with it’s sauces. On any given day, they have about 8 unique varieties that are all equally outstanding. Two are made with Corcoran Vineyards wine and beer and one is made with Catoctin Creek Distilling’s Roundstone Rye Whiskey. My favorite sauces were the Carolina Mustard, the Carolina Vinegar and the Alabama White.
I had never heard of Alabama White sauce before, but WOW it was delicious! It’s made with mayonnaise (stick with me here), apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, horseradish and lemon juice. It’s tangy, zippy and spicy and usually served with chicken. I happened to love it on the pastrami. In fact, I couldn’t get enough of this white elixir. Brian explained that it is a recipe originally credited to Big Bob Gibson in Alabama in 1925. With a little research I was able to find the exact recipe here and reckon I will be making up a batch ASAP!
Along with carrying local beers on tap (Lost Rhino, Devil’s Backbone, Bold Rock Hard Cider, etc.), Monk’s has a surprisingly extensive bourbon menu. One unusual selection is the “very small batch” Jefferson’s Bourbon. It’s aged at sea. What? That’s right, AT SEA. I found this description on The Whiskey Jug website:
Jefferson’s Master Blender, sourced 62 barrels of bourbon aged 6-8 years and then put them on a container ship for 6 months where the barrels rocked and sloshed across the oceans stopping at a total of 31 ports and making their way across the equator four times. The theory is that this constant movement of the liquid in the barrels ages (matures) the whiskey faster because more of the liquid is in contact with the wood more often.
So there you have it. I am sure your interest is peaked, mine sure is!
Monk’s BBQ was certainly worth the trip. Check out our craft brewery tour of Purcellville and make a day of it or hear live music on Fridays and Saturdays. They have a great line-up, plus Happy Hour drink specials.
Monk’s has a thriving catering business, offers all of their meats by the pound and has special Super Bowl packages that feed 8, 12 or 16 people. They can also customize packages to your specific party. To reserve, email [email protected] or call 540-751-9425.
251 N. 21st St.
Purcellville, VA 20132
For those of you who don’t eat meat, not to worry. We’ll be covering the best places to find vegetarian meals in the near future. We know you’re out there!