Brisket, sausage, and ribs, oh my. New York City makes it’s case as one of the country’s best BBQ towns.
Located on 26th in Chelsea, it may not be the liveliest spot for a honky-tonk Texas-themed barbecue joint. The two-story space is designed to evoke the old “barbecue markets” of central Texas, and no detail is spared: from the giant silver star suspended by the bar and the brick walls to the rolls of paper towels and cutlery in pickle jars. At Hill Country the specialty is oak-smoked brisket, although the smoked sausage is a winner too – and in the basement, there’s a live stage, if you didn’t get enough honky-tonk upstairs. www.hillcountryny.com
About as authentic as barbecue gets, this trendy Brooklyn joint is a cavernous, dimly-lit spot with long picnic tables, brown paper-lined dinner trays, and no pretension. The sides are just OK, but let’s face it – no one comes to this place for the beans. You can order the meat by the ¼, ½, or pound, and that’s how it comes to you – plopped onto your tray in all its luscious, meaty, glory. You’re best served getting a bit of everything at this place – and picking up a pound (or two) of their bacon to take home with you. www.fettesaubbq.com
Harlem’s Dinosaur BBQ (the original is in Syracuse) conjures images of T-Rex sized ribs – gluttonous, messy, and animalistic eating – and this image may not be far from the truth. But you might be surprised that while the pork ribs and beef brisket are certainly delicious, the real standout is the spice-rubbed and pit-smoked chicken wings. Not-so-average sides like Cajun corn, A.K. Chilli, and simmered turkey neck collard greens round out a meal so filling you may not need to eat again until the next Ice Age. www.dinosaurbarbque.com
Rack & Soul
This casual upper-Broadway spot, with its red vinyl booths and friendly service, lets the food speak without distraction. Boasting a pit smoker overseen by co-chef John Wheeler, a highlight is actually the perfectly seasoned fried chicken with waffles, complements of “soul food chef” Charles Gabriel. Complement your meal with a small selection of unusual beers, like Louisiana’s Abita and Gosser from Austria and opt for the deadly – in a good way – sweet banana pudding for dessert. www.rackandsoul.com
As far as barbecue joints go, restaurateur’s Danny Meyer’s high-end, with a skylit dining room and a swingin’ jazz club downstairs. Pit master Kenny Callaghan offers salt-and-pepper beef ribs, salmon, and – be still my heart – pit-smoked foie gras. The must-haves for this restaurant include the Memphis-style baby back ribs, the pulled pork sandwich, and the macaroni and cheese. Sounds like a well-rounded meal to me. Great beer and a lively vibe make Blue Smoke a must for every BBQ fan in the city. www.bluesmoke.com
You’re just as likely to stop by Wildwood to take in a game as you are to indulge in barbecue; it’s one of those all-encompassing sports bars, but puts forth some quality barbecue. And what goes better with Sunday sports than nachos; topped with pulled pork, a cheesy, indulgent mess, in the best way possible. Get an order of Brussell’s sprouts with bacon on the side of your ribs (hardly a health food, but hey, they’ll fill your daily vegetable quota). Also don’t miss the cornbread – very crusty and not too sweet. www.wildwoodbbq.com
In a city where people often won’t venture out of their neighborhood without good reason, even the jaded will travel for Fred Donnelly’s grub, dining al fresco on picnic tables while pork ribs simmer in the back of a red trailer that serves as the kitchen. Moist barbecued pork ribs get four hours of smoke and a helping of tangy sauce, and the side dishes, like the fresh potato salad and the collard greens, are good enough to stand up against the barbecue. www.mogridder.com
Neely’s BBQ Parlor
Neely’s in the no-man’s-land between Midtown East and the UES, isn’t exactly prime BBQ territory, but that’s what makes it great for midtowners who don’t want to travel for their brisket fix. A trio of food-TV personalities collaborated on the space: Pat and Gina Neely from the Food Network are the owners, while Wade Burch of Chopped fame works the kitchen. The southern menu features Texas brisket and several regional variations on ribs along with deep-fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, cedar plank salmon, and fried chicken. www.neelysbbq.com
RUB’s co-owner Paul Kirk is an award-winning pitmaster, and the understated decor and presentation of the food (served on metal pie plates covered in wax paper with Wonder Bread and pickle chips) lets the quality of the barbecue shine through. If you don’t have the stomach to try it all, just order the St. Louis ribs with the baked beans, and don’t leave before you scarf a completely unnecessary, but totally incredible fried Oreo. If you’re in Cheslea, swing by. www.rubbbq.net
New York’s first South African BBQ restaurant has an exotic, urban-club look with bamboo-lined ceiling arches over flickering candles and strewn flower petals. To match the unique décor, Braai serves some unique barbecued fare like ostrich, venison, and deviled chicken livers. Enjoy unique combinations you won’t find elsewhere, like ostrich skewers or Sosaties with papaya-coconut or apricot chutnies, or pork with crisp asparagus. Wash the decadence down with excellent cocktails like the Zulu Bubble Bath, a potent mix of rum and peach. www.braainyc.com
Char No. 4
This bourbon-centric whiskey bar and restaurant in Brooklyn has over 300 whiskeys; its name refers to the practice of aging bourbon in charred new oak barrels, with No. 4 being the most intense degree of char. Intensely delicious indeed is chef Matt Greco’s southern comfort menu that reads decidedly grown up, with items like smoked pork-garlic sausage with lentils, grilled radicchio and pickled jalapeño-onion vinaigrette and house-smoked thick cut bacon with braised cabbage & apple cider-buttermilk dressing.
This Hell’s Kitchen spot is pretty down and dirty, the way a barbecue spot should be, and Chef Adam Perry Lang, Daniel and Le Cirque veteran, makes a mean plate of Memphis-style ribs. And yes, get the ribs, but do not underestimate the sides: the mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and the baked beans with burnt ends are crucial. And if you’re feeling truly gluttonous, call ahead for a whole hog. You might want to invite a friend or two along for that one. www.daisymaysbbq.com