Hempen Hill BBQ is an excellent spot for barbecue and much more located at 13208 Fountain Head Plaza, Hagerstown, MD. I stopped there on a ski trip on the way from Liberty Mountain to Wisp Resort (skiing is another one of my passions- these were my 118th and 119th ski mountains. I had already been to Whitetail Resort, which is also very close to Hagerstown). While skiing is generally thought of as a northern thing and barbecue as a southern thing, I had previously had a pulled pork sandwich slopeside at Ober Gatlinburg, Tennesee’s only ski area. This was a revelation for me; barbecue is perfect ski food. It is warm, hearty and filling.
Maryland happens to be one of those rare states where you can find both good barbecue and good skiing. I ordered the crab chips to start, which are basically a form of crab nachos. They were absolutely delicious and added a nice Maryland flavor to the meal. For my main course, I ordered a mix of pit beef and pulled pork with mac and cheese.
The meats were perfectly cooked and the mac and cheese was hearty and delicious. They also have a wide selection of beer and other drinks (I ordered a Shiner Bock since I associate barbecue with hanging out with my cousins in Texas, which always involves Shiner) as well as a martini made with cucumber vodka and pickle juice, garnished with a pickle spear. The latter was certainly interesting but tasted a bit too much of pickle juice, even for my
New York culturally Jewish self. Hempen Hill also has a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, which means even my mother and sister could eat there. The decor is cool but very casual, and the place attracts a wide range of types, from suburbanite families to more country types. This is a great place to stop if you’re in the area.