New York is on its way to becoming a bonafide barbecue town. What makes our city so unique is that we’ve got so many different styles of barbecue from all over not just the country, but also the world at-large. While Hill Country’s focus is authentic, Texas-style beef brisket, Daisy May’s offers a gigantic Oklahoma-style beef rib. But there’s more than just classic American barbecue, as chefs and pitmasters have mastered ‘cue from all over the world, like Malaysian, Korean, and Thai. We’ve highlighted our favorite, traditional low and slow dishes, along with some modern and global renditions as well. The grills have been fired and summer has officially begun.
Modern Twists on the Classics
Fette Sau – Pork Belly
Address: 354 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Havemeyer St. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 963-3404
When Joe Carroll, the owner of Williamsburg beer temple, Spuyten Duyvil, decided to turn his barbecue hobby into a business, Brooklyn barbecue got a lot more interesting. Fette Sau is the result of Carroll’s barbecue aspirations, and the quality of cooking serves as evidence of his dedication. Carroll and head chef, Matt Lang, love to experiment with under-appreciated cuts of meat, like pig tails. Our favorite pork cut here is the belly — a slab of fatty, uncured bacon that’s coated in spices and cooked to tasty perfection in the wood-fired smoker.
Char No. 4 – Smoked Pork Nuggets
Address: 196 Smith St., btwn. Baltic & Warren Sts. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 643-2106
This Cobble Hill hangout is best known for its whiskey selection, but you’d be wise to stick around for the re-imagined barbecue staples on the menu. Start with the salty, fried pork nuggets, which epitomize all the reasons we love bar food: they’re crunchy, bacon-flavored, bite-sized and get a spicy kick from the complimentary dipping sauce. There are many more options and nearly every whiskey imaginable to wash it down.
Mable’s Smokehouse – Pulled Pork & Brisket Tamales
Address: 44 Berry St., at N. 11th Street (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 218-6655
Who would have thought that Williamsburg would become the best spot in New York to get your Southern cooking fix? But that’s exactly what happened, thanks to joints, like Pies ‘n’ Thighs, The Brooklyn Star and now, Mable’s Smokehouse. Mable’s sliced brisket platter is outstanding, but we recommend making a pit stop at the bar here, so we can nab a brisket steamed in a tamale, El Paso-style. And the pulled pork tamales – a great spin on carnitas tamales – are nearly as good.
Hill Country – Brisket
Address: 30 W. 26th St., btwn. Sixth Avenue and Broadway
Phone: (212) 255-4544
This Flatiron District barbecue spot strives for authenticity on all fronts. For starters, the layout and service are exactly like those you’d find in a typical, Texas meat market and there’s often honky-tonk bands playing live music in the downstairs dining room. As for the barbecue, Hill Country’s menu features a dozen types of smoked meat, but their most famous for their supremely moist brisket. Order at least a quarter pound-slab, a fatty, tender piece of meat with a gorgeous crust. It’s so flavorful that you don’t even need sauce, but a bowl of baked beans made with the brisket’s burnt ends isn’t a bad idea at all. If you still have room, the PB & J cupcakes are hands down our favorite cupcakes in New York.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que – Wings
Address: 700 W. 125th St., near Riverside Drive
Phone: (212) 694-1777
There’s a bar on practically every block that serves chicken wings, but trust us when we say that Dinosaur’s wings aren’t your typical, watering hole version. These wings are marinated for 24 hours, then smoked in their wood-fired pit. They’re finished off on the grill, which lends the skin a fine char and bumps up the smoky flavor a couple notches. But the best part just may be the sauce: Instead of the usual tobacco and butter coating, Dinosaur bastes theirs in one of five signature sauces. We’re fans of the slightly spicy tomato-based sauce, named Wango Tango, but none quite compare to the sesame hoisin sauce.
Daisy May’s – Beef Rib
Address: 623 11th Ave., btwn. 46th and 47th Streets
Phone: (212) 977-1500
It’s not the deep south, but it’s still hard to distinguish yourself as a serious barbecue joint in New York. Adam Perry Lang has earned that distinction with his standout spice rub, which he blends in house and his low and slow cooking style. The best card they’re holding at Daisy May’s is the Oklahoma Jumbo Beef Rib. It looks like something a Neanderthal might tear into, but the cooking process is complex and the result is delicious.
Ocean Jewel – Bbq Pork Bun
Address: 133-30 39th Ave. (Queens)
Phone: (718) 359-8600
This is our go-to spot for dim sum in Flushing, also known as Queens’ Chinatown. In fact, we’d opt for Ocean Jewel based on the barbecued pork buns alone. The shreds of pork register both sweet and salty, while the palm-sized dough that encases the meat puts the typical pork sandwich bun to shame. Oh, and do save room for the dumplings and chicken feet, as they are all worth the trek to the last stop on the 7 train.
Danji – Bbq Skirt Steak
Address: 346 W. 52 St. btwn. Eighth & Ninth Aves.
You can expect nothing less than skillful execution at this recently opened, quaint Korean in Hell’s Kitchen. That’s because Chef Hooni Kim, worked in the kitchen at Masa and Daniel before opening Danji, his first, solo venture. The menu features Korean cuisine with a modern point of view. There are imaginative small plates, like bulgogi beef sliders, but for mains we suggest the barbecue-style skirt steak. This marinated cut is grilled over coals, which gives it a marvelously flavorful crust with a tender, pinkish interior.
Sik Gaek – Bulgogi
Address: 161-29 Crocheron Ave. (Queens)
Phone: (718) 321-7770
Some foodies venture out to Sik Gaek in Flushing for one thing and one thing only: the live octopus. A waiter sets the sea beast right on the table, then proceeds to chop the squirming tentacles into bite-sized pieces that are pretty much as fresh as seafood gets. This novelty dish makes for a one-of-a-kind, Korean meal, but Sik Gaek also specializes in DIY Korean barbecue that you grill yourself right on your table. Our favorite meat is the tender, sweet galbi, marinated short rib, which comes with lettuce wraps and, of course, an array of Korea’s signature banchan.