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Meat Week, Washington’s annual celebration of smoked and sizzled animal parts, is upon us again beginning this Sunday. As a result, I find myself confronting a question that frequently haunts the local smoked meats scene: Has D.C. made any progress toward becoming the great barbecue city it should be?

By the numbers, the picture has brightened in the last two years. New York-based, Texas-centric barbecue cavern Hill Country opened in the spring of 2011. Later that year, Smoke & Barrel launched in Adams Morgan and D.C.’s barbecue competition darling, the Pork Barrel BBQ squad, opened a brick-and-mortar spot in Del Ray.

In 2012, the pace picked up significantly, starting with June’s opening of Kangaroo Boxing Club in Columbia Heights and the 20th anniversary of the Safeway BBQ Battle, in which the unheralded DC Firefighting BBQ Team beat out competition legends like Myron Mixon’s Jack’s Old South and Johnny Trigg’s Smokin’ Triggers for the grand prize.

By last fall, “upscale” smoked meats hit the scene at Pentagon City’s Epic Smokehouse and DGS Delicatessen, the heralded pastrami palace in Dupont Circle. The roads are now filled with barbecue food trucks—-BBQ Bus, PORC, Carnivore BBQ, Curley’s Q—-all of which will face off in the marquee event of Meat Week, Friday’s “Barbecue Food Truck Face-Off” at LivingSocial’s event space at 918 F Street NW.

Even though the barbecue fires are burning bright all over D.C., this barbecue lover still hasn’t had a local plate that can even begin to compare to the ribs and burnt ends at Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City (my hometown) or the brisket at Franklin BBQ and JMueller BBQ in Austin. Next week, we’ll find out whether that has changed. The list of events for Meat Week are below:

Sunday, January 27, 6:30 p.m.

Urban Bar-B-Que

2007 Chapman Ave., Rockville, Md.

Monday, Jan. 28, 6:30 p.m.

Hill Country Barbecue Market

410 7th St., NW

Tuesday, January 29, 7 p.m.

Epic Smokehouse

1330 South Fern St., Arlington, Va.

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m.

Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling

2418 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Thursday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m.

Pork Barrel BBQ

2312 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.

Friday, Feb. 1, 7 p.m.

Barbecue Food Truck Face-Off, hosted by LivingSocial

918 F St. NW

Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 p.m.

Kangaroo Boxing Club—-Barbecue Brunch

3410 11th St. NW

Sunday, Feb. 3, 12 p.m.

Mr. P’s Ribs & Fish

514 Rhode Island Ave. NE—-in Rhode Island Ave. Center parking lot

Photo via Shutterstock