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Twentieth Annual National Capital Barbecue Battle Takes Center Stage

Everyone knows that one of the best things do to during the long days of summer is to fire up a grill in the backyard and spend an evening cooking outdoors. Beef, pork, chicken, lamb—basically any food—all taste better when cooked to perfection on a grate over hot coals or a raging gas flame.

And while a lot of people think they are a great grillers, there are professionals out there who have been stoking the coals for years, spending decades mastering techniques, mixing up their own sauces and trying to cook the world’s best barbeque.

This weekend, people in Washington, D.C. have the unprecedented opportunity to taste the wares of this country’s best barbequers. From whole chickens prepared on the grill, to ribs that have been smoked for hours, to crisply charred lamb chops, the best barbeque bites in the area can all be found on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle is one of Washington, D.C.’s biggest cooking competitions, as smokers and grillers from across the country descend on the capital for the two-day event. This is the 20th year the battle has taken place in the District, and it promises to be one of the biggest yet.

On Saturday, June 23rd, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday, June 24th, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., visitors to Pennsylvania Avenue, between 9th and 14th Streets NW, will see billows of smoke bellowing out of the hundreds of grills and smokers that will all be fired up, with aromas wafting through the air as meats roast away.

The highlights of the National Capital Barbecue Battle are obviously the competitions. Over the weekend, teams will compete in smaller, non-sanctioned events to see who can grill the tenderest beef, the most succulent lamb, the juiciest chicken and brew the best tasting barbeque sauce.

But the culmination of the weekend is the National Barbeque Championship. The event will give away over $40,000 in prize money and is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The KCBS is one of the leading authorities on barbeque in the country, a non-profit that judges over 400 cooking competitions a year. For the competition, entrants with be judged on the quality of their pork, beef and chicken.

Alongside the prize money, this competition offers the overall winner a spot in two of the most prestigious barbeque events in the world: the Kansas City American Royal World Series of Barbecue and the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue.

But what does this all mean for the average visitor to the event? Well, for $12 for adults and $5 for kids (aged 6-12), attendees can sample everything these chefs have to offer. From 12-6 p.m., on both days, there’s a sampling pavilion, where almost everyone cooking in the competition will have a table to pass out their wares. Alongside the sampling pavilion, barbeque restaurants from the area, like Old Glory, Pork Barrel BBQ, Rocklands and Hill Country BBQ, will all be serving some of their signature dishes.

During the festival, popular bands like Soul Asylum and Jimmies Chicken Shack will perform, and several chefs will be offering cooking demonstrations.

This city is often known for having some of the best street festivals in the area, and the National Capital Barbecue Battle is no different. Last year, CNN Travel named it one of their five can’t miss festivals of the year. And the Travel Channel ranks it in its top ten of annual barbeque events.

As it should be, with succulent food for the area’s best purveyors, all offered to you at a smoking good price.

– David


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