It's funny how you can randomly strike up a conversation about music with a pseudo-coworker in a coffee shop and the next thing you know you're planning to have lunch tomorrow for what he claims is the best barbecue in Richmond, That's how today's lunch plans evolved and that's how I was introduced to Alamo Barbecue in Church Hill.
He warned me both yesterday and today that Alamo does Texas-style 'cue, which was fine by me because some (but not all) North Carolina-style 'cue is too vinegary-y for my taste, not that I wouldn't have still gone anyway. Once he mentioned beef brisket, I was going whether I had company or not.
The choices were pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket and burritos with various sides like cowboy beans, potato salad, jalapeno mac and cheese and cornbread. I broke bad and got the brisket combo (an economical way to fold in your drink and side) with the Alamo slaw. Two of my new friends got the chicken and the pro got the pork.
I wasn't expecting outdoor seating, so the canopy-covered tables were an unexpected treat. Since we'd arrived around noon, there was no wait to order, so we settled ourselves at a table to wait for our names to be called from the bowels of the little yellow building. With every minute that passed, more people joined the line; there were neighborhood types, plenty of suits and definitely regular customers advising others in line what was good.
And my brisket was very good, tender and flavorful; it came dressed in jalapenos and onions with a side of sauce. As for the slaw, I was seriously delighted that the cabbage had not been shredded within an inch of its life like so many places do. I like to be able to recognize my cabbage for what it is.
Lunching with people who are practically strangers leaves the field wide open conversationally. There was a fair amount of dog talk (several were lounging on the patio), music talk (with new friends you need to know what shows you both were at before you met) and, of course, barbecue.
In my friend's opinion, the very best barbecue in Virginia comes from a place in Montross, a town I actually know because it's not far from where my parents live on the Northern Neck. He'd only discovered it because they'd had a cart at Herbs Galore; now a road trip is in the planning stages.
An al fresco lunch featuring brisket, music talk and new-to-me people, could there be a finer way to enjoy a beautiful sunny day?
The floor is open to suggestions.