I’ve had a number of barbecue mentors over the years, but none more influential than Robb Walsh, the author of Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook. He once told me—-well, he repeatedly told me, but that’s Walsh—-that you have to hit a barbecue joint as soon as it opens, so that the meats come straight out of the smoker. Or as close to that as you can get.

For some reason, it took me a long time to grasp that concept, probably because I had tasted great barbecue at all hours in Texas.

But then I came to D.C., where timing is practically everything if you want a half-decent plate of barbecue. Then again, even if you hit a joint at the right time around here, it’s still no guarantee that you’ll get good ‘cue. Of course that was before Urban Bar-B-Que installed its new Southern Pride unit and started taking a lean, Texas-style approach to smoking meats. The Rockville operation has immediately vaulted to the top of the barbecue heap in the area.

But even Urban has to fret about holding times for its smoked meats, which is why owners Lee Howard and David Calkins have decided to launch a “straight from the smoker” special. This Saturday, from 9 to 11 a.m., the owners will be pulling ribs, briskets, sausage, and pork from the smoker and selling ’em all for $12 a pound. You can eat your smoked meats with borracho beans, white bread, pickled veggies, and tortillas.

“I guarantee that even if we don’t get a lot of people tomorrow, we won’t give up on the idea,” says Calkins. Urban, he adds, is committed to doing at least four weeks of this Saturday, straight from the smoker special.

But why make Calkins sweat? Trust me, you’ve never had breakfast until you’ve had barbecue straight from the smoker.

Urban Bar-B-Que, 2007 Chapman Ave., Rockville, (240) 290-4827

Photo by Darrow Montgomery