ZZQ Texas Style Barbecue Now Finding Its Home in Richmond, VA
ZZQ is new to Richmond. For a while, they were doing pop ups at places like Ardent and they’ve been working really hard to get where they are today. Because of all that work, Richmond is definitely taking notice.
This is honestly the best BBQ I’ve had in Virginia and highly comparable to BBQ from Austin, TX.
Now, let me pre-face this post with one thing: this is my third visit to ZZQ but this is the only time I’ve been able to taste anything. The first two times, it was sold out! I told myself “I’m getting there early this time, I’m not letting them sell out another time.”
The Best BBQ in Virginia
Let’s first talk about the location like always. From the outside, this place is pretty underwhelming… The first time I ever went here, I drove right past it. Maybe it’s just the sense of Scott’s Addition; everything there looks like a 1-story warehouse that’s been re-purposed for something.
The interior is nice. It has way more seating than you’d expect from the small parking lot outside. Lots of larger tables for big groups of friends and family.
Right above the register, you’ll see neon signs: Texas & Orange = Heart. The names of the owners and their love for each other and their craft.
We got there at around noon on a Sunday. There was a short line but staff was masterful at getting guests through the line. The menu is simple and short: a few choices of smoked meats, classic BBQ sides, and I honestly forgot what else was there. I was only focused on what I was going to eat and that was just meat and sides.
The teaser that you’ll love to hate
Just tell the staff member behind the glass pane what you want and they’ll slice it up right in front of you. Your mouth will definitely start watering at this point. You’ll see the staff member turn around and grab your meat out of a heater right behind him, unwrapping the butcher’s paper out from around the meat, like it’s Christmas in August.
We got a pound of brisket and a pound of prime rib. Once they’ve got a few beautiful slices right in front of you, they’ll weigh it and pass it down along the line.
My friend mistakenly thought prime rib was the same thing as beef rib and when we asked the staff member, he said that special is on Saturdays. So… that means I’ll just have to come back on a Saturday for a massive smoked beef rib.
Here’s the schedule for their specials:
- Wednesday – Smoked Whole Chicken (available by the 1/2 chicken)
- Saturday – Smoked Beef Rib
- Sunday – Smoked Prime Rib
While you’re waiting in line, ZZQ has this burnt end pass along the glass pane where your staff member will give you a little sample of their craft. You’ll probably be super hungry at this point and when you sample that little piece of meat, it will taste like butter. It is so tender that you could chew it with your tongue. I’m not entirely sure if this is only for patrons purchasing brisket but man, this was good.
Digging in to some Texas BBQ
We decided to sit outside. They’ve got a little picnic patio area and I’ve heard they sometimes have live musical performances going on here.
It might have been a mistake sitting outside honestly. There were a few trees here and there but only one table was actually shaded at the time we went. While waiting for that shaded table to open up, we were sweating at the table right next to it. But honestly, never mind that; it doesn’t matter how sweaty we were. We had some awesome looking meat right in front of us.
So here’s the damage:
- 1 lb of smoked brisket
- 1 lb of smoked prime rib
- Large mac & cheese
- Small potato salad
- Small fire roasted zucchini
- Pickled jalapeno
- White bread – included
- Pickles (cucumbers) – included
- Pickled red onions – included
- Roasted whole onion – included
- Chili verde sauce – included
And that is a very beautiful tray right there.
Beautifully layered smoked beef brisket
Right here, it’s clear to see all the layers of the brisket. The fat has been completely rendered into something otherworldly. There’s a very strong dark bark, and very clear red smoke ring, just to show you all the work that’s gone into this. Biting into it, you’ll taste a very distinct smoked flavor that’ll be hard to find anywhere else or cheat to get that experience. And like what I said while I was in line, this is so tender, you could eat this with your tongue, without chewing or anything. You don’t need a knife to cut this, just the side of your fork. ZZQ is that fall-apart tender.
We’ll talk about the BBQ sauce later but I remember dipping the brisket into the sauce and the brisket falling apart in the sauce because it was just that tender.
Classic sides for classic BBQ
The sides weren’t bad. I would definitely say that the meat is the star of the show here but these sides complement the mains very well.
Mac & cheese is creamy and has substance. The potato salad is refreshing and has that potato starchiness that you love. And these zucchinis were great too! They made me feel like I wasn’t ruining my diet somehow (even if they were covered in cojita cheese).
Super rich prime rich paired with amazing chili verde
The prime rib was amazing also. That cut was a little difficult to slice through on the metal tray with the given steak knife so a spoon worked better in my case.
The smoked meat special for the day also comes paired with a beautiful chili verde sauce that really wakes you up with its acidity, balancing the fattiness of the prime rib. It also comes with roasted onions, which offer a great sweetness and crunch.
Finally some shade and we started digging in
Through thick & thin
On top of all that, ZZQ has a few sauces for you. One (Thick) is a thicker, saucier Texas-style sauce that is great with anything. It was smokey tasting, with a hint of chipotle seasoning and went well with the brisket. The other (Thin) is a Carolina-style vinegar-based sauce, probably good with the pulled pork. You really can’t go wrong with either of them. I would definitely try some of the meat by itself first though to really enjoy the meat on its own.
There was also another sauce we didn’t get but from what I saw from a distance, it looked like a mustard-based BBQ sauce.
Total stuffed but not yet hating myself
And here’s what it looked like after 15 minutes. I couldn’t finish all the brisket, so I had to bring some back home. Definitely not as buttery when it’s been sitting out a little bit but still amazingly tender.
All in all, it was a great experience. ZZQ was great food with heritage and commitment.
So here are my tips:
- Get there early. They always sell out and if you actually want food and don’t want to be turned away at a “SOLD OUT” sign on their door, go for lunch.
- Dine-in. The quality of the meat is best when it’s really fresh. It definitely wasn’t as good 3 hours later and was missing that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Taste it on its own. Try the meat without the sauce and see what it really tastes like.
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