Located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, DCity Smokehouse is serving traditional southern barbecue with a spicy D.C. twist and casual picnic-style dining.
The restaurant opened its doors in 2013 under owners Scott Jacobs and Melvin Hines and the Southeast Restaurant Group, serving up smokehouse-style barbecue from a small corner lot. The Washington Post ranked DCity Smokehouse as the second-best barbecue joint in the D.C. area in 2020, awarding praise for the spot’s classic dishes like smoked wings, brisket, ribs, homemade coleslaw and mac and cheese.
DCity Smokehouse has a casual, rustic ambiance with an interior decked out in wooden furnishings that set the scene of a neighborhood cookout, especially for those dining on the outdoor patio. The counter service-style restaurant features a full bar and TVs to watch your favorite sports.
Indoor seating is limited, capped at 35 seats spread between the bar and a few large tables along the windows. But the covered patio outside with picnic benches set side by side offers a bit more room with 45 seats and a communal feel reminiscent of a family barbecue.
A bright red sign above the door flashes the restaurant’s name alongside a red pig, cow and chicken, welcoming diners to follow the smell of barbecue inside. Large hanging light bulbs illuminate a rustic interior space where exposed brick and wood panels line the walls. A glass-paneled garage door directly across from the bar exposes the street view of Florida Avenue. An upbeat R&B playlist sounds from the speakers as diners grab at the paper towel rolls that sit on either side of the table and invite them to dig in and get their hands dirty.
The indoor seating was filled when I arrived just after 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, though I had no trouble finding a spot outside, where I shared the patio with only one other party. Despite the early February cold, the tent over the patio ensured a comfortable and heated experience.
The menu features all the barbecue classics – smoked wings ($10-$20), ribs ($17-$33), brisket ($8-$28), pulled pork ($7-$23) and a variety of sandwiches ($11-$14) that pair the smoked meats with a mix of sauces and toppings. The side menu ($6 for a small and $10 for a large) carries beloved barbecue fixings, from potato salad and smoky brisket chili to coleslaw and spicy collard greens. Customers have the option to order à la carte or from several platter options, which feature choices of meat and sides.
As an avid fan of wings, I opted for the smoked wings combo ($23) which includes a dozen wings and a small side. I chose DCity’s signature mac and cheese in addition to spicy fries ($6) and fried onions ($6). The menu also includes family style platters, which offer a combination of ribs, wings and brisket with larger side sides servings.
The food came out in less than 30 minutes, steaming in red and white cardboard baskets. The wings were showstopping – smoked to perfection, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and easily falling off the bone. The portion was ideal for sharing, with plenty to split among my three friends.
A classic barbecue blend of spices with hints of garlic, onion, mustard, sugar, chili and paprika coated the wings on top of subtle notes of sweetness and smokiness. The wings are smoked and then fried to achieve the ideal level of crispiness. I dipped the wings in a side of creamy cilantro ranch, which was a herbaceous and savory contrast to the spicy and sweet profile of the wings.
The mac and cheese – dubbed “Mac & Jack Cheese,” an especially popular menu item – came with smoke rising from the noodles as they were served in a cardboard cup. The side dish was rich and creamy with jalapenos that cut through the mild cheese with just the right amount of zest, a spicy twist on a classic barbecue side.
The spiced fries were the standout of the night for me. Like the mac and cheese, they were an elevated, spicy twist to a classic dish. Coated in a spice blend that evoked the flavors of cayenne, chili and paprika, these aren’t fries you can get at any restaurant. The fried onions were a hit too, crispy and just the right amount of greasy. If you’re a fan of shoestring style onion rings, you must try them at DCity, dunked in your choice of the restaurant’s sauces, cilantro ranch, chipotle aioli or house barbecue.
The casual environment, vibrant ambiance and energetic playlist kept us chatting and snacking on wings for two hours. DCity Smokehouse should be your go-to spot for leisurely dining with friends, a lively atmosphere and great barbecue. Come for the wings, and stay for the good vibes.
This article appeared in the February 16, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.