“You just can’t get barbecue up here like you can down there,” I used to tell all my friends back home in North Carolina. That was before I met Willard’s. Way, way the hell out there in the suburbs near Dulles, Willard’s BBQ is what happens when Lexington, North Carolina transports itself right to Virginia. And for a Carolina Girl, that means Willard’s tastes just like home.
When you roll up to Willard’s, you’ll be in a weird little strip mall. Right near a Hooter’s, and a lazer tag place, Willard’s is nothing special looking, and you certainly wouldn’t expect such big taste out of such a small place. But you’d be mistaken.
I was first pointed to Willard’s by Naomi of the DC-based style blog Rockstar Diaries, who called Willard’s her favorite BBQ. It just happened to be out near my boyfriend’s place in Herndon, so we decided to drop on by. It was, in all likelihood, the most valuable food recommendation I’ve gotten in years.
You stroll on up, order your meat choice (they’ve got Kansas, NC, Texas, Jerk, all the BBQ styles you could want), and then pick your fixins. You can get a platter, you can get a sandwich, you can get to-go tubs. They’ve got it all. I highly recommend the NC pulled pork (mm, vinegar) with mashed potatoes and collard greens. The platters come with cornbread. I wouldn’t go out of my way for the cornbread, but the BF feels differently. I just think it takes up valuable BBQ real estate in my stomach.
Then grab yourself your food, get some of their sweet tea (this experience would not be complete without it) and enjoy.
I’d recommend a pilgrimage to Willard’s to be paired with some other suburban activity. I’d suggest a hike at Great Falls, shopping at Reston Town Center, a visit to the Dulles part of the air and space museum, or an afternoon petting and feeding the baby animals at Reston Zoo.
But really, it’s probably worth the drive all on it’s own.
Willards BBQ is located in Chantilly, Virginia, at 4300 Chantilly Shopping Center
Unit #1A. It’s Metro-inaccessible, and I’d guess that it’s pretty bus-challenged as well. For those of you car-less, this is probably a time to investigate Zip Car.