In the world of barbecue, you've got grilled and you've got smoked. Smokin' Looney Q in Woodbridge smokes their meat the right way -- low and slow over a tended wood fire.
You may recognize their name and quirky logo -- they've been in the area for years as a popular food truck in the same area as their brick-and-mortar location. You would often see Nelson, one of Smokin' Looney Q's owners, relaxing in a camp chair as he kept the smoker going, chatting with customers and telling them when the meat would be ready.
WHERE: 14035 Noblewood Plaza in Woodbridge, VA
PHONE: (571) 589-8485
PARKING: Free surface lot (in the same plaza as BJ's on PW Parkway)
Nelson's history as a retired law enforcement officer is visible throughout the space, from the memorial wall dedicated to his fallen partner and the beautiful mural and artwork. Be sure to ask about the military and law enforcement discount!
This new restaurant represents the hard work and local success of the four owners who have made their mark on the local BBQ scene.
"Everything is smoked over wood," Nelson explains. "When we sell out, that's it."
Makes sense, when everything is smoked to perfection for hours at a time. In addition to their delicious smoked meats, their handcrafted sides like the brisket beans and shell macaroni and cheese are perfect to round out a meal.
We started off with the unique appetizer of fried yucca and plantain cups filled with pulled pork. These adorable apps were a fantastic way to get going, and the play on textures was wonderful.
Next was the OMG platter, a 3-meat platter that came out with brisket, St. Louis ribs, and smoked chicken. The ribs were tender and meaty, and the brisket had that perfect smoke ring across its surface. My favorite, though, was the chicken. Even after three hours in the smoker, it was tender and juicy, perfectly spiced, and made even better with some of their housemade sweet and spicy sauce.
The underdog was the Calderito, a mini version of their rice and seasoned beans dish. Don't let its sunny appearance fool you -- this is a complex, delicious, hearty dish. The sweet potato fries and tostones make it a real stick-to-your-ribs option for anyone who doesn't feel like a big hunk of meat. I will definitely be ordering this dish over and over again.
We finished with another platter with two meats this time, a succulent smoked sausage and another helping of ribs.
All in all, everything was delicious. The stellar dishes (in my opinion) were the Calderito, the smoked chicken, and all of the smoked meats. My favorite sides from their food truck days are their greens and mac and cheese. If you love smoked meat, you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.
As a weekend special, beef ribs are slow-smoked, but you'll need to come early if you want them. "When they're gone, they're gone," Nelson's wife, Tania, reminded me.
Overall, I think that this is a great addition to the Prince William County food scene. With a full bar flanked by TVs, this would be the perfect place for happy hour (plenty of half-price drink specials) or game day. The decor is understated and comfortable, so this would also be a natural for date night or a family dinner. The location is central, and parking is plentiful, so head out and give them a try!
**All photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly.
Disclaimer: We were treated to all of the delicious food pictured here. Nelson and his lovely wife wanted our OCN readers to see the wide range of dishes on their menu.
For more information about the restaurant's specials or upcoming events, visit the Smokin' Looney Q Facebook page or call (571) 589-8485.
Are you a Smokin' Looney Q fan already? What's your favorite menu item? Let us know in the comments below!