THE TOP TEN Barbecue in New York
From smokehouse to hoghouse and roadhouse, we've rounded up the best in barbecue. Sure, preferences abound when it comes to matters of the grill. So maybe it's a pulled pork sandwich on squishy white bread you crave or Texas brisket with a side of coleslaw and sweet tea. One day you might like your ribs slathered and glazed in tomato sauce; the next day rubbed with special spices; and the next marinated and drenched in tangy vinegar. Whatever your pleasure, try one of these Top 10 spots, presented in alphabetical order, for the best barbecue around.
From smokehouse to hoghouse and roadhouse, we've rounded up the best in barbecue. Sure, preferences abound when it comes to matters of the grill. So maybe it... more
308 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10014 / 212-206-7817
Never let first impressions fool you. While Bar Q, helmed by chef Anita Lo, offers a stark white and pale wood-toned ambience that is more IKEA than Asia, the savory spicy flavors of the East come through. Appetizers may come from the raw bar or as meatier dishes like the spit-roasted pork belly with kimchi, takuan and steamed buns. While the pickled kimchi and radish-like takuan tickle the taste buds, the pork belly and steamed buns seem a bit bland. On the other hand, spicy pork wings (maybe pigs really can fly?) covered in a bright red chili sauce and accompanied by shiso salad are spectacular. Equally impressive is the sweet miso-glazed eggplant. Wash it all down with innovative spiked green bubble tea or shiso julep cocktails, and then polish off the evening with the carrot-ginger-macadamia cake and a scoop of pandanus (floral) vanilla ice cream. The presentation of the food mimics the eatery’s style: sophistication without a lot of affectation.
116 E. 27th St., New York, NY 10016 / 212-447-7733
Dedicated to bringing quality barbecue to the Big Apple, Blue Smoke serves up prime meats, fowl and fish from the smoker. Among the specialties are baby-back ribs, St. Louis-style ribs, salt-and-pepper beef ribs and pulled pork. Exposed brick walls, soaring ceilings, and red leather booths and banquettes add to the room’s casual coziness. A long bar provides ample perching space, specialty cocktails, and a large selection of microbrews. A jukebox provides jazz, blues and soul tunes, or for live music, head downstairs to Jazz Standard. In the restaurant’s shop you’ll find everything from barbecue sauce to T-shirts. The ultimate tourist spot for locals.
Daisy May's BBQ USA
623 Eleventh Ave., New York, NY 10036 / 212-977-1500
What do you get when you mix a Daniel Boulud-trained chef and down-home treats like mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar or Tennessee Whiskey beer can-style half chicken and a take-away counter? One of the best 'cue restaurants to hit Midtown in ages. Adam Perry Lang mans the stoves at this popular barbecue restaurant. Some people come just for the sides.
646 W. 131st St., New York, NY 10027 / 212-694-1777
When this Syracuse-based barbecue shack announced it was storming Manhattan in 2004, few gave it more than a year. But once you see the lines for the juicy 'cue it serves up on a daily basis, you'll become a believer. Fried green tomatoes, Creole-spiced deviled eggs and barbecue pork ribs will take you back down south. If you can't decide, try our favorite: the Big Ass Pork Plate.
30 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010 / 212-255-4544
This eatery serves authentic barbecue modeled directly on the kind dished out at the Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas. (In fact, they import the sausages from there, along with Lone Star beer.) Upon arrival, diners are given a ticket and they proceed to three stations---one for meat, one for sides, and one for sweets---to order by the pound or container. Brisket is served either as moist (fatty) or lean (slightly less fatty) and both arrive smoky, tender and wrapped in butcher paper. The gargantuan beef ribs unleash one’s inner caveman, and the sausages are first-rate, in particular the jalapeño and cheese variety, which have a snappy casing and a definite kick. Sides are disappointing in comparison, though the creamy green bean casserole is an exception and baked beans with burnt ends have a touch of sweetness.
Hog Pit BBQ
22 Ninth Ave., New York, NY 10014 / 212-604-0092
Sweet ribs, chicken-fried steak, crunchy cole slaw and lots of beer fill up the rabble-rousers at this erstwhile honky-tonk that set up shop in the apropos Meatpacking District long before Pastis was a gleam in Keith McNally's eye.
Max's Memphis Barbecue
136 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY 12571 / 914-758-6297
Got a hankerin’ for barbecue in upstate New York? There’s only one place to head---Max’s Memphis Barbecue, certainly a step up from many southern barbecue joints. Friendly service awaits at this casual and attractive spot. Sit at the horseshoe-shaped bar in the two-story side of the building, where a huge colorful big bird (crafted by a local artist) hangs over the space, sip on a good margarita and munch a few salty peanuts before heading in to dine on the large portions of pulled pork, hickory smoked for up to 15 hours. Barbecued baked beans pass muster as well as the collard greens. We love the garlic-mashed potatoes and the homemade cornbread.
17 W. 125th St., New York, NY 10027 / 212-876-9300
Located on busy 125th Street, this Harlem restaurant fast became a neighborhood favorite. Decked out with cozy booths, snug two-seater tables, and dangling star-shaped lights, the restaurant's festive vibe carries over to patrons who seem to smile brighter and laugh louder as they quaff colorful cocktails (the watermelon margarita is addictive). The restaurant is run by a husband and wife team who come from St. Louis and Jamaica, respectively---and the food reflects these disparate places: spicy jerk chicken wings (with mango salsa to cool the taste buds); savory coconut shrimp with apricot duck sauce; and the juiciest, most tender ribs (St. Louis-style, of course) this side of the Mason-Dixon line. The cuisine is so comforting, customers come back weekly and some have even thought---apocryphal, of course---that the chef uses a secret, addictive ingredient.
Rack & Soul
2818 Broadway, New York, NY 10025 / 212-222-4800
Long under-served New York barbecue fans had reason to rejoice when Charles Gabriel, of Harlem perennial Charles' Southern Style Kitchen, joined forces with pitmaster John Wheeler in opening Rack & Soul on the Upper West Side. This no-frills soul food joint offers a comfort food double bill of Gabriel’s justly celebrated golden fried chicken and Wheeler’s sweet sticky ribs, available together on a combo plate with the usual assortment of sides---collard greens, mac ‘n’ cheese, and a complimentary warm honey-topped biscuit. The décor is pure diner, with the welcome and unlikely addition of decent wine and imported beer.
R.U.B. (Righteous Urban Barbeque)
208 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10011 / 212-524-4300
Paul Kirk, the Kansas City barbecue bigwig, serves up Midwestern-size (read: enormous) portions of slow-cooked juicy meat, inspiring New Yorkers to ask: what's (not) the matter with Kansas? And with un-baroque, gray-painted walls (decked out only with a caricature of Mr. Kirk himself), the emphasis here is on the grub. For light eaters, a sandwich, topped with a choice of smoked turkey, pulled chicken or brisket among others, is enough to make one uncomfortably full. For more adventurous, big-bellied consumers, the meat platters, which come with the choice of two sides and a couple slices of bread for sandwich building, are two (or three) meals in one. The brisket melts once it hits the taste buds and the barbecued chicken simply falls apart it's so tender. R.U.B. definitely lives up to its name and its acronym.
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