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Following the First Belly

Team HOH continues its public service feature, HOH DMV-Q, which seeks to answer the question: Are the barbecue joints serving smoked meats to elected officials making the grade?

Up for the latest installment is Texas Ribs and BBQ in Clinton, Md., located at 7701 Old Branch Ave.

Back in March, President Barack Obama and Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) stopped by to nosh and kibbitz. The White House pool report noted only that Obama ordered baby back ribs. Precious little information on all-important sides. So we went with the baby backs and improvised, leaving no protein unturned.

The baby back ribs were appealing. The pit-prepared pig was pre-slopped with a sweetish glaze (tomato-based house hot sauce adds more oomph), and the underlying flesh was easily removed by rake of the fork or incisor.

Sliced brisket looked suspiciously skimpy but proved substantive. The slow-cooked beef boasted a rosy smoke ring and trimmed fat cap that injected the dry-rubbed meat with woody might and buttery delight, respectively.

Still, it was drier than we typically like, but that was easily overcome with a few squirts of the house-made “tequila” hot sauce (flavor explosion fashioned from hot peppers, vinegar and more).

Barbecued bird was the biggest surprise, revealing gloriously juicy chicken lovingly impregnated by smoke and spice.

The chili mac was breathtaking. The tangle of noodles is matted with chunks of diced tomato, tender beans and seasoned ground beef, which is in turn smothered in gooey melted cheddar and crowned with half-dollar-sized sections of curiously tangy jalapenos. Bonus points to anyone who smashes the souped-up spaghetti between complimentary slices of generously buttered Texas toast (carbo-loading alert!).

Cherry pie was a not-so-little slice of heaven. The fruit-forward wonder dazzled us with robustly tart cherries, syrupy filling and intensely rich crust. It was nicely complemented by the lemon-cream pie.

Overall, Texas Ribs and BBQ proved to be presidential- and Senatorial-grade. Nicely done.