The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Pitmasters Back Alley BBQ makes its cooks sign NDAs

Meats at this hidden BBQ joint, like the beef brisket and the chicken, are cooked on a variety of unique smokers.
Placeholder while article actions load

I could tell you the recipe for Brian Fuchs’ Texas brisket, but then he’d have to sue me.

The proprietor of Pitmasters Back Alley BBQ is so protective of what goes on in his kitchen, he made his staff members sign nondisclosure agreements.

But here’s what I can tell you: The hidden barbecue joint, which serves a rotation of regional BBQ styles, opened this month and is the latest project from Wagshal’s, the beloved deli near American University that opened in 1925.

Unlike the food at most carryout joints, Pitmasters’ dishes are made to order to ensure meats are fresh off the smoker. That means an order of the Lone Star prime beef ribs rubbed with [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] must be called in ahead of time, lest you want to wait around while they’re smoked.

“Customers come in and say, ‘I can’t wait to try your ribs,’ and I say, ‘Great. You have to come back in 21/2 hours,’ ” Fuchs says.

Likewise, an order for the Carolina chopped pork shoulder sandwich — slow-cooked for [REDACTED] hours at [REDACTED] degrees — should be placed a day in advance, picked up and enjoyed off-premises. (Pitmasters has only one table, which, Fuchs jokes, is eternally reserved for Frank Underwood, the character played by Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards.”)

Fuchs’ secret recipes were pried from the barbecue sauce-stained hands of some of the country’s best competitive pitmasters. The meats are cooked on one of the eight different types of smokers and served with sides like fried okra, mac and cheese, collard greens and baked beans made with [REDACTED].

Dishes are also available for delivery and come with reheating instructions, which thankfully aren’t shrouded in secrecy.

4818 Yuma St. NW, alley; 202-350-9791,

You may also like:

Fat Pete’s Barbecue cooks its brisket for 18 hours

Six new places in D.C. where you can chew charcuterie

Smith Public Trust’s burger is our dish of the week