The Best Things I Ate This Week (August 6, 2021) — 2Fifty Texas BBQ, Taqueria La Placita, and Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
Yep, six months off and I’m back already. When I adopted “the best things I ate this week” format I probably should have thought that one through. But posting every other week doesn’t really work. I don’t think anyone — at least anyone outside of Colonial Williamsburg — would be interested in a blog called “the best things I ate this past fortnight.”
One new feature alert before we get to the food. My webmaster/son Daniel has added an “Ask Rick” section to the website for any and all questions you may have. Visitors coming to town? I can help you find the perfect spot. Looking for a place to bring fussy friends who don’t like “weird” food? I can help you find new friends. It’s sort of like one of those AOC “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Instagram except without the charisma.
2Fifty Texas BBQ, 4700 Riverdale Road, Riverdale MD
Beef brisket, burnt ends, and pork ribs
The Washington Post pronounced 2Fifty Texas BBQ the best barbecue in the DC area and I’m not arguing. The brisket is terrific — particularly eaten on-site at peak juiciness — and those burnt ends will make your knees buckle. The pork ribs and chicken are excellent too. I’m looking forward to trying the other meats, especially the foot-long beef rib with a pound of meat on a single rib. A slab of those and you’re pretty close to Fred Flintstone car-tipping territory.
Taqueria La Placita, 5020 Edmonston Road, Hyattsville MD
There are a lot of taquerias closer to where I live, but when I need my fix I usually find myself schlepping to this old-school standout in Hyattsville. To give you a sense of how anti-trendy La Placita is, you won’t find social-media-darling birria tacos on the menu but you will find tacos translated as “pork lip” and “meat head.” As in most situations in life, when in doubt go with the pork — the fantastic pastor, the carnitas, and the chorizo — and maybe throw in a carne asada for good measure.
Interestingly, La Placita is only a few minutes’ drive from 2Fifty BBQ. The Hyattsville-Riverdale area, for those unfamiliar, is in Maryland just across the DC border from Brookland/Catholic University and has some of the best and most diverse food in the DC area.
Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly, 5268-H Nicholson Ln, Kensington MD
Papa B’s Fried Rice and Lechon Belly
Chef Javier Fernandez opened Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly in 2018 in the shadow of the old White Flint Mall (aka “The place you know something happened with Lord & Taylor but you have to Google it every time”). The lechon belly gets top billing and rightly so — the crackly skin is like pork candy and the meat is rendered beautifully. But what keeps me coming back is Papa B’s fried rice, one of the best fried rice dishes in town. It has a lot going on, including homemade sweet Longanisa sausage, chicken, egg, various veggies/herbs, and the ingredient that puts it over the top: crab fat butter, which essentially is the yellowish gunk inside a cooked crab. What is it? Never you mind. Suffice it to say that it plays a role in the crab’s digestive process. It’s edible and delicious and you’ll never know it’s there. But you’d miss it if it weren’t.
I may be a few days late next week. I have the same big birthday coming up as Barack and, like him, it’s been a massive effort to scale back my party to just family and a few close friends. Of course, that also means dealing with George and Amal’s second big disappointment in a month and haggling with Oprah about her non-refundable tickets. I think I can placate the former with a fall visit to Lake Como and I have some Delta miles for Oprah. If all goes well, look for a post Sunday or Monday.
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