I have been hearing about The Barbeque Exchange since I moved to Charlottesville. People swear by it; they order it for every occasion (weddings, board meeting, 4th of July….). Barbecue is a somewhat new culinary experience for me – the pulled pork, the brisket, the pulled chicken and turkey, the decadent mac and cheese, the hash browns – came into my life a bit late, but I have made up for lost time. I think our noses and growling stomachs brought us to Gordonsville, Virginia, home of what is said to be the best bbq on the planet (or at least Central Virginia).
This eatery is a hidden gem. It’s quaint, unassuming and perfectly homey. The day we ventured out to Gordonsville was a hot, humid morning (typical weather of Central Virginia summers), windows down, nobody but us on the road. We pulled in the crowded parking lot, entered the establishment and were immediately hit with the spicy and sweet smell of bbq seasoning, melted cheese and a variety of hearty desserts. A line formed and we waited for what felt like a lifetime.
I have asked friends and no matter what time you choose to eat at The Barbeque Exchange, you will find crowds waiting to sink their teeth into some prime seasoned meat. Chef Craig Hartman (winner of the 2014 Best Of C-VILLE : Chef) does it the right way: old school, slow-cooked bbq. BBQ Exchange won the 2014 Best Of C-VILLE: BBQ.
I went for the classic: pulled pork with seasoned fries and a side of mac and cheese.
Served in a soft and sweet bun, the meat melted in my mouth: perfectly cooked and seasoned. It was like butter. Now, I am a french fries freak and these were one of the best seasoned fries I have ever tasted.
Look at that beauty. The sauces can make anyone happy: Hog Fire if you dare eating fire (Francesco tried it and lived to tell the tale); Colonel Bacon, the original sauce (it includes bacon!); Craig’s Carolina, vinegar based and pretty representative of the North Carolina sauces (so they say); QX Sweet, Kansas style spicy and sweet and Soo-eet, Memphis style with molasses and onions. There is really something for everyone. I went with Craig’s Carolina for a more subtle kick.
There was not much left, obviously. The Mac and Cheese held its own, perfect gooyie consistency. Overall, excellent experience. Fantastic food. It’s not going to take much for us to go back and try new things.