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Chef Rob Sonderman wants to make pork known for something other than wasteful, government spending in Washington, D.C.
His campaign slogan is “‘cue for the people,” and his plan is to take a very nuanced approach to the way in which he smokes meats and veggies at the Federalist Pig, a new barbecue joint coming to Adams Morgan (1654 Columbia Rd. NW) on Friday.
“The name just felt like it spoke to what we’re ultimately trying to do here, which is cooking barbecue for the people,” Sonderman says.
This former DCity Smokehouse pitmaster and D.C. native says his new concept is part of a grander vision.
“Our thought process is to grow beyond this space,” he says. “We’re experimenting here and trying to figure out what will work best for in the near future.”
Before all this though, Sonderman spent a good deal of time tasting other people’s barbecue along with his partnerSteve Salis, who co-founded &pizza and just recently took over Kramerbooks. On their last trip to Brooklyn, the duo visited 15 barbecue joints in four days.
“This last trip to New York was for design inspiration,” Sonderman says. “This is obviously a step-up in size compared to DCity, but it’s still pretty small, and we had to be intentional about using the space.”
What you get is a streamlined menu that is well thought out and executable. Expect brisket, ribs, pork shoulder, turkey breast, and pork belly, as well as vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. You heard that right: vegan barbecue.
“I’ve been playing around with smoked tofu, jackfruit, and breadfruit,” Sonderman says. “We wanted to be more conscious about offering healthy and vegetarian options even if we’re talking barbecue.”
One of the sandwiches that he’s most excited for is the “Carolina On My Mind.” It’s a chopped pork shoulder sandwich, topped with crispy skin, a spicy vinegar sauce, and coleslaw. He’s also going to use a meat grinder, which will turn leftover trimmings into sausage.
“That’s something that I wanted to do at DCity, but never really got the opportunity to play with,” Sonderman says. “There will be a rotating sausage that will change weekly.”
Experimentation is part of what makes the Federalist Pig unique. There’s six different kinds of hardwoods that will be used for the smoker, as well as several variations on recipes, rubs, and sauces that Sonderman will be testing.
Those who waited in the cramped quarters at DCity can also rest easy knowing that the space has better feng shui and line flow.
The Federalist Pig commissioned two artists for the space: one for the giant pig mural, painted by artist, Kelly Towles, and another for the pegboard menu.
Online ordering and an UberEats partnership will be coming soon, and the 30-seat dining room has a mix of high-top tables and church pew seating—a nice touch for Sonderman’s dedicated devotees.
Come Friday, Federalist Pig will be open Wednesdays through Fridays from 5-10 p.m. and Saturdays through Sundays from 12-10 p.m.
Federalist Pig, 1654 Columbia Rd. NW; federalistpig.com