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Return of the Slaw Review

Longtime readers of Virginia Lawyers Weekly will remember the Slaw Review, the ongoing effort chronicled in these pages to locate the best possible barbecue joint in Virginia or points elsewhere.

This past week, TripAdvisor, which bills itself as the world’s largest travel site, launched a grenade into the ongoing argument of who has the best barbecue and where.

TripAdvisor relies on consumer ratings of hotels, restaurants and airlines to help you “plan and book your perfect trip.”

Now the service has released its list of the “Best BBQ Spots in America.”

Purists automatically will question the results, since we are talking about “barbecue,” not “BBQ.” But TripAdvisor relies on the ratings that consumers have entered online for restaurants. There had to be 100 or more entries for a place, and no barbecue chain (defined as 10 or more locations) was allowed.

Ho ho, you say, thinking of your favorite spot here in the Old Dominion or a barbecue joint down in North Carolina on the way to the Outer Banks.

You will be disappointed.

In the 2015 list, the top barbecue restaurant is Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Really.

A place in Kansas City is second and a smokehouse in St. Louis is third. Three of the top 10 are in Florida, of all places.

Blasphemy, you now say. North Carolina is not represented at all in the list. The HogsHead Café in suburban Richmond is Virginia’s lone entry, at number seven.

A listing of top states for barbecue makes no more sense: Tennessee is number one. NC is fourth. Virginia comes it at number 9, behind, um, California, and ahead of, believe it or not, New York at 10. Sheesh.

I have not been to the HogsHead Café. Before it closed, the best barbecue in Richmond could be had at Double T’s in Carytown; now I remain loyal to Buz and Ned’s or Extra Billy’s for quality barbecue in RVA.

It’s worth noting that the HogsHead claims its “most famous menu item” is the “Hog Dog.”

Yes, a hot dog. One wrapped in bacon that is then deep fried and covered with pulled pork, barbecue sauce and cole slaw. Check your cholesterol level on the way out.

The HogsHead does offer fresh limeade in a variety of flavors. Any barbecue aficionado in the Richmond area will remember the excellent limeade at the late, unlamented Bill’s Barbecue chain.

2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney cited Bill’s, then closing, as a victim of Obamacare and a host of ills foisted by his opponent. Maybe. Then maybe it was the fact that the only thing on the Bill’s menu worth ordering was the limeade.

Anyway, we at Virginia Lawyers Weekly stand ready to pull the Slaw Review out of the station once again, and we welcome volunteers for the ride.  In the eastern part of Virginia, give me a call or shoot me an email. For the western part, contact our news editor, Peter Vieth.

Bring an appetite. And napkins.


  1. Can’t endorse anything, but you’ve got to try the Fish n’ Pig south of Farmville near Hampden Sydney.

  2. The top two are on the way to the beach: Cowlings BBQ in Waverly and Kings BBQ in Petersburg.

  3. In Va Beach: Mission BBQ on Independence Blvd. Huge servings, and a strong military theme. At noon, they play the national anthem too! It is must eat location. Compared to Double T’s (my all time favorite), Mission comes in VERY close.

  4. When headed down to the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, VA. You’ll want to checkout Bone Fire Smokehouse in Abingdon, Va.

    If taking the scenic route down to Bristol, be sure to stop by the Parks Mill BBQ.

  5. Dear God, Paul. If you thought Double T’s or even Extra Billy’s had good BBQ, you need to get out more!

    Hogshead is surprisingly good although I consider it more “country cooking” than a true BBQ joint.

    In Richmond, Buz & Ned’s, Alamo, Deep Run Roadhouse (former Alamo owner), & Q are all solid. Bennie’s is pretty good although I liked it better before they moved. For a chain, Mission is decent. Alexander’s is a hidden gem out near the Goochland line in Henrico off Patterson.

    My work here is done.

  6. I love the barbecue at BBQ Exchange in downtown Gordonsville, VA. They were on a cooking channel tv spot twice.

  7. This sounds like the beginning of BBQ contest with the Supreme court judges as the deciding votes?

    Anyone know of a great BBQ joint near Lexington?


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