This little hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint may be small, but they serve up big portions full of HUGE flavor – and made with passion.
My daughter Erin is graduating from college next week (yayyyyy – so proud), and we have been on a journey, searching Virginia Beach high and low for a good barbecue restaurant to cater her graduation party. My husband googled "barbecue restaurants" and came across Dave’s BBQ. Being a novice yet avid barbecuer himself, he liked their menu and the type of barbecue they make (techniques, sauces, etc., mean nothing to me; that’s his gig). Since we’d never heard of them, we thought, "Why not give them a try?"
The tricky part was finding the place: Their small attached building is hidden behind the brick-front Japanese Auto Salon, and though there is a sign, if you blink you’ll miss it – and if you turn around to see if you’ve missed it, you’ll likely run into the car in front of you. So keep your eyes peeled! Look for the sign and the Shell.
Hey, who doesn’t love an adventure in search of great barbecue?
Courtesy of DavesBBQ45 Facebook
Walking into this darling little dive, the walls are covered in barbecue memorabilia, hats, and t-shirts for sale, and we were immediately greeted by Dave, himself. He was super-friendly and radiated a natural passion for barbecue. I could feel the love.
Of course, my husband immediately embarked in a full discussion with Dave about different types of barbecue, techniques, and regions (blah blah blah blah, can we eat now?). Erin and I chose to peruse the charming butcher paper handwritten menu, which was taped up over the counter, to determine our options. Finally, after their discussion, my husband ordered the brisket. Dave replied, “Sorry, we’re out for today.”
What? How could this be? The place was empty.
Dave told me he smokes 10-12 briskets a day and sells out by about 1:30 p.m. Customers line up outside daily waiting for him to open his door at 11 a.m., all for his brisket. Okay, obviously we’ve been missing out on this hidden secret of Virginia Beach barbecue.
“I do it the simple way at Dave's BBQ. Wood, meat, fire! I believe that's all you need to create great BBQ!"
I asked Dave the obvious questions ... He told me he started out by cooking in his back yard. Word spread, and people started requesting pounds of his barbeque. Dave humbly attests that he made many mistakes in the beginning. However, with a steadfast passion and after 10 years of him and his wife catering out of their home, they decided to try a brick-and-mortar restaurant with their business partner. They opened the restaurant in September of 2017. If you look at their Facebook page, there are almost 3,000 followers. Under what barbecue rock have I been living?
Truth is in the taste! Erin ordered a pulled pork sandwich topped with sweet creamy slaw and corn muffins. Our jaws dropped when we saw the sandwich: it was enormous – a full pound of meat! My husband ordered the pork ribs, pulled pork, and creamy slaw, while I ordered the pulled chicken, potato salad, and smoked baked beans. Our meals were served on butcher paper-covered cafeteria trays (I love when a restaurant proprietor embraces their brand). Meanwhile, our plastic forks were crossing as we tasted each other's food.
Dave and his business partner / LOOK at Erin's pulled pork sandwich
I am a saucy girl ... I put sauce on everything, ketchup on burgers and fries, dressing on salads, tartar sauce on fish. However, I took one of my husband’s ribs (after all, I was there to sample for a party; therefore, I was doing my food-tasting due diligence). I took a bite of the rib and totally forgot to put a drop of sauce on it. It was the best rib I have ever tasted in my life. It was so full of flavor, the “bark” was crunchy but not burned, the fat had rendered away in the cooking process (yes, I learned these terms from my husband), and when I shared this with Dave, he said that’s the best compliment ever. I later read on his website, “I DO MAKE MY OWN SAUCES BUT I ASK THAT YOU GIVE IT A TASTE WITHOUT.” Well, he was true to his word – This saucy girl is no more at Dave’s BBQ.
I can not describe the embarrassing chattering, noises, moans, and ooohhss and aahhhs the three of us were making as we tasted each of the delectable items. We were in barbecue heaven. We all agreed that Dave’s BBQ is the best we’d ever tasted.
Do not let this charming little hole-in-the-wall (with loveable local Dave, and where everything is made from scratch, including the old-fashioned banana pudding that his wife makes) fool you. This is a serious barbecue establishment. As their sign says, “Where Passion Meets Pork.”
Holy Smokes, that's a whole lot of meat! (Courtesy of DavesBBQ45 Facebook)
Our graduation catering search ended when we walked through the door of Dave's BBQ. We ordered all of our delicious tastings, including a massive amount of beef brisket, even though we never had the opportunity to taste it! We were not about to miss out on Dave’s BBQ famous brisket!
Dave's sell-out brisket (Courtesy of DavesBBQ45 Facebook)
WHERE: 1781 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach VA 23454
HOURS: Tuesday – Saturday | 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. | CLOSED Sunday and Monday
Do you have a favorite barbecue place? What is your favorite type of barbecue? After reading this article do you plan on visiting Dave’s BBQ? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.