In the south, you don’t mess around with barbecue. From the vinegary North Carolina-style of barbecue sauce to the Kansas City-style that is sweet and tangy, the umbrella of barbecue is quite large. Just as North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri have their own styles of barbecue, Virginia ranks among those. If you’re searching for one of the best barbecue joints in Virginia, then you’re in luck. The Barbecue Exchange, known to most locals simply as BBQ Exchange, is a short 30-minute drive from Charlottesville. Located in Downtown Gordonsville, this is not your average barbecue restaurant.
An Award-Winning BBQ Restaurant
Owners Craig and Donna Hartman first opened up BBQ Exchange in February 2010. Since then, they have gathered a cult-like following in the area due to their downright delicious barbecue. In 2018, BBQ Exchange was voted the best barbecue restaurant in C-VILLE Weekly’s “Best of C-VILLE 2018: Food and Drink.” BBQ Exchange has also been featured in Virginia Living’s “The Best BBQ Awards” several times over the past few years.
Atmosphere & Food
As soon as you walk in BBQ Exchange, you feel like you’re at a family potluck. Photos of pigs line the walls in an ironic fashion. Picnic tables fill the room, topped with paper tablecloths since barbecue can be a quite messy affair. The tablecloths double as entertainment for the children, with crayons for them to decorate the paper. You’ll walk to the back to order, with the food assembled right in front of you while you stand in line. Choose from a variety of smoked meats including pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket, ribs, pork belly, grilled chicken, and sausage links. BBQ Exchange specializes in slow-roasted, hickory-smoked pork spareribs and shoulders, first dry cured and then seasoned with a top-secret rub. For vegetarians, they offer smoked tofu as well. You can get a platter with the meat sans bread plus two sides, or you can opt for a sandwich. The sides are just as tasty as the barbecue, with mac-and-cheese, baked beans, collard greens, cole slaw, green beans, and potato salad being some of the classic Southern options. They also serve up buttery hushpuppies and cornbread.
Once you have your food and are sitting comfortably at a table, you have to decide which sauce to top it all off with. With five different sauce choices, it can be hard to make a decision. Hog Fire, Colonel Bacon, Craig’s Carolina, QX Sweet, and Virginia Sweet are BBQ Exchange’s signature sauces. They’ve got sweet and tangy, spicy and smokey, vinegary, or straight up sweet, so there’s something that satisfies everyone’s personal barbeque preferences. Good food aside, the Southern hospitality adds to the whole BBQ Exchange experience. The friendly staff will make you feel like you are at a family barbecue. It can’t get much better than good service and even better food!
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Photo Credit: BBQ Exchange Facebook