Deep Run Roadhouse 
The word of mouth is strong on the West End’s newest barbecue place, Deep Run Roadhouse. A friend pinged us the day it opened (March 25th) and a coworker mentioned it a couple days later. We knew this would be a higher-profile-than-usual week for 52L, so we decided to go to the new place and hope for the best. Spoiler Alert!: Deep Run Roadhouse is a 52 Lunches Hall of Fame entry in the Barbecue category.
Entering the restaurant, you’re greeted by a smiling cashier and a wall-sized chalkboard menu on your left. Chalkboard menus for a BBQ place aren’t new, but the sheer size of the thing gave us pause. Deep Run Roadhouse has the sort of menu where you’d like to come back and try everything. Having played this game for over two years, we have patterns to our dining. We don’t draw attention to ourselves, and we give extra consideration to ordering “signature” or “classic” dishes. Put us in a barbecue place, and you can count on both of ordering the standard “two meats and two sides” plate. What was not typical was the experience of reviewing a lunch spot with a reporter and photographer in tow. Out of necessity, the photographer asked permission to take photos of the interior and of us eating. No incognito lunching this day. Might as well eat with your parent who might loudly proclaim, “My son is a food blogger”. (Yes, this happens).
Adam and I ordered our meals and exhausted all of our Photo Smile Faces in front of the chalkboard for the photographer. Then we sat down in a booth and had some pretend first bites. Felt a bit like a wedding. This left us with two distinct feelings: amused awkwardness and ravenous hunger. Like our recent visit to Lunch, DRRH boasts an aromatic atmosphere. You smell the food and you want it immediately.
Once the meal started and we got talking, all awkwardness went away. We had a fun time talking about ourselves (go figure) but also about Richmond Foodie Culture. Oh, and the food was great. Jay didn’t eat, but Daryl shared the meal with us. All three of us ordered the two meats and two sides. Adam ordered Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork, Cowboy Beans (beans cooked with barbecued beef), and Southwest Slaw. Daryl ordered Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Jalapeno Mac & Cheese, and Collard Greens. And I ordered Beef Brisket, Rope Sausage, “Texas Caviar” (a mixture of beans, onions, and cilantro), and Jalepeno Mac & Cheese.
Adam deemed his meal great. The pulled pork was very good, the brisket better, and the Southwest Slaw as the big winner. I’m not a slaw guy, but Adam is and for him slaw is a balancing act between bland and too much. The Southwest Slaw had just the right amount of spice to thread that needle perfectly… tangy and spicy but not too hot. As for me, I also preferred the brisket but had no complaints about the sausage and loved the sides. Texas Caviar is a great counterpoint to the spicy and wonderful Jalapeno Mac & Cheese.
Our guest Daryl was pleased with his meal too. I don’t know that I can describe it better than him, so…
The pulled pork was nice and tender and fell apart as I imagine pulled pork is supposed to (I’m no bbq expert). The collard greens were tasty, despite the fact that they were not cooked in fat (the nice lady at the counter told me the pork on top was added afterwards) and the jalapeno mac and cheese was creamy with just enough of a little kick to make it interesting. The beef brisket was shaped like bacon strips, which had me confused (is that normal?), but still good. Weird detail, but the one thing I really loved was the big chalkboard menu. Made everything nice and clear and unmissable.
Can’t argue on that last point. The wall-sized chalkboard adds to the overall character of the place. Admittedly, it was a fun visit because of our guests, but we came away very pleased with Deep Run Roadhouse and I returned the next day on my own dime. We’re both pleased to add this to our Hall of Fame for Barbecue and encourage you to check it out.
52 Lunches appeared in the “2013 Best of Virginia” special issue of Virginia Living. Yes, we’re very excited.
Lunch topics: Virginia Living, Work, 52L, Richmond foodie culture