We Love Food: Willard’s BBQ


“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.

Ya’ll, they’ve got the pulled pork. They have the ribs, the brisket, the chicken, the catfish. Everything you’ve been craving, Willard’s has it all. And lord, is it done right.
order here sign

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.

willard's specials menu

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.

eat here


Then grab yourself your food, get some of their sweet tea (this experience would not be complete without it) and enjoy.

pulled pork & bbq

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.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

9 thoughts on “We Love Food: Willard’s BBQ

  1. Thanks for the heads up.

    Do they have hushpuppies?

    Another good place is Carolina Brothers BBQ in Ashburn.

  2. I noticed the “Allen & Son” shout-out on the wall. As a Chapel Hill native, I can say this is some of the best in the NC Triangle area (Bullock’s used to be better than it is now).

  3. Always on the lookout for some good pig. I will definitely be making a trip ouside the beltway one of these days soon. (@jt, noticed the Allen and Son sign too. Made me miss home just a bit…)

  4. In the DC Metro the place to go is Black Hoq BBQ in Frederick, Maryland. I’m a Kansas City boy who’ll travel as far as necessary to get anything close to the best barbecue in the world – even hit Willard’s a time or two (and it is very good). Black Hog’s pulled pork is as good as you’ll get anywhere, their sides are all fresh and fantastic, and their sauce options are much better than your typical sauce experimenting restaurateur normally leaves on the table. Honorable mention: BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville, Virginia: about 75 minutes southwest of town and definitely worth a stopover if you’re headed to Central Virginia.

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