Monk’s BBQ: The Man, the Meat and the Menu
Traveling 21st Street North, just 3/10 of a mile from Purcellville central is Monk’s BBQ. Hitch your car, click your boots and roll on toward the door. The moment you exit your vehicle, you will breathe barbeque and note a smoky haze that rises above an open attached area. You are entering the domain of Monk’s Barbeque and that haze is where the all night, Smokin’ Monk’s BBQ Team does their thing. It’s good to watch the cooking but when your eyeballs start to feel smoked, it’s time to move inside for serious consumption.
Family-owned Monk’s serves up the most precisely and deliciously smoked and slow cooked beef brisket, pastrami, pork, chicken and ribs, sixteen local draft brews all on tap, a smorgasbord of Bourbon varieties and a calendar of live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Brian, Owner and BBQ Scientist, is our guide for the day. He and his wife Kirsten and the entire staff are friendly, welcoming and can occasionally be caught dancing while they work.
“It isn’t sexy”, Brian says, when asked from whence came the name Monk’s. Nicknamed “Monkey” as a six year old, through age and maturity, he evolved into “Monk”. From backyard BBQ-ist to hobbyist and Owner, beer connoisseur Monk spent thirteen years working for the county’s group, Visit Loudoun where he earned no shortage of industry connections. His dream, to combine the best of Kansas spare ribs, Texas brisket, and Alabama white sauce with everything made in house from the sauces and dressings to the marbled rye on your sandwich and the croutons on your salad. The special “Spider Cake”, slightly sweet cornbread with a creamy custard center, is the only recipe from “the north”.
Our visit started in the smoking gallery, an open air brigade of industrial sized black smoker capsules on wheels being manned for hours upon hours by men in Monk’s t-shirts. When we asked to see what all the smoke was about, a smokin’ team member lifted the smoker cover to reveal three shelves bearing five to six perfectly golden smoked whole chickens, pork ribs, brisket and corn bread. Winter means it may take 12 to 18 hours to achieve a beef brisket with the right bark and thick pink smoke ring. At 160 degrees, that brisket will be wrapped to retain the ideal degree of smoky flavor. Pastrami starts as a brisket and is cured for seven days. Bacon begins as a thirty pound belly slab then sliced to a chosen thickness. We sampled ribs that were about 12 inches square, covered our plate and weren’t easy to pull apart. The meat that we peeled from the bone was tenderly smoked, juicy sweet and in multiple layers because Monk’s chooses quality thick ribs for their barbeque.
Delicious accoutrements include eight homemade BBQ sauces, Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese, BBQ’d Beans, and thin, nicely spiced Pickles. Monk’s also makes a platter of Pastrami Nachos that, shared by our crowd, didn’t last long. The atmosphere at Monk’s is lively and delicious. Add a treat from Monk’s new Tipped Cow Creamery upstairs and it’s a wrap!
Monk’s is located at 251 N 21st St, Purcellville, VA 20132; monksq.com