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Sizzling BBQ Spots for Summer

20121025-227520-brisket-town-whole-smoked-brisketTexas is unbeatable when it comes to barbecued Brisket. North Carolina excels at vinegary sauces and succulent Pulled Pork.  St. Louis, Missouri is praised for their spicy, finger-licking Ribs.  So how does New York stack up?

While we may not be held in the same esteem as the aforementioned BBQ meccas, a handful of local pit masters have seriously stepped up their game in the last few years. Which means there’s really no need to travel cross-country in search of a smoked meat fix this summer.  From the half pig at Daisy May’s BBQ in Manhattan to the Beef Brisket at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn and caper-brined Pastrami at The Strand Smokehouse in Queens, our city is shaping up to become one of the next great hubs of righteous, wood-fired ‘cue!

Mighty Quinn’s

Mighty Quinn’s
103 2nd Avenue
East Village,New York 10003
(212) 677-3733

With lines that stretch the length of the Williamsburg waterfront and waits that last 30 minutes or more, Mighty Quinn’s was one of the first major success stories to come out of Brooklyn’s now famous, weekend food fest, Smorgasburg.  Owner Hugh Mangum now peddles smoked meat by the pound from his 7-month-old storefront in the East Village, including the best-selling Brisket, hulking Beef Ribs, and tender Berkshire Pulled Pork.  And although the selection of sides is limited, they’re also surprisingly healthy.  Edamame and Sweet Pea Salad and Grilled Ratatouille replace usual suspects, like Chili and Mac & Cheese, along with a dessert-worthy Sweet Potato Casserole with maple and pecans.

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BrisketTown

BrisketTown
359 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn,New York 11211
(718) 701-8909

After hauling an 18’ smoker from Austin to Brooklyn in 2012, Dan Delaney achieved instant notoriety with his BrisketLab, a beef-centric pop-up where meat was pre-ordered by the pound and redeemed at various dinners throughout the summer. He’s since opened an actual brick and mortar with precisely the same focus – smoke-ringed, simply seasoned, and long-cooked Creekstone Brisket, deeply flavorful and moist.  Not that you need to travel to Brooklyn to get the goods.  Delaney has extended his reach to Manhattan with the Smokeline, a Highline stand serving Central Texas-style Barbecue Sandwiches, made to order Soda, and an extensive selection of fresh Fruit Pies.

Hill Country

Hill Country
30 West 26th Street
Flatiron District,NY 10010
(212) 255-4544

While many BBQ places can be determinedly bare bones, this top Manhattan spot wins points for the best overall vibe.  We love the kitschy furnishings, the downstairs bar playing live American Roots music, and the attached country market, selling Lone Star State favorites like Kreuz Sausage, Big Red Soda, and Blue Bell Ice Cream.  And, oh yeah, there’s also some serious Central Texas-inspired ‘cue, cooked low and slow over cords of Post Oak.  Dry-rubbed Brisket is the house specialty, but you won’t be disappointed by the juicy Beef Shoulder, Pork Spare Ribs or Beer Can Chicken.

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Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
604 Union Street
Brooklyn,New York 11215
(347) 429-7030

Many complain that this growing, dare we say franchise of sprawling barbecue restaurants has become too corporate, but we just think they’ve gotten their act down to a science.  The latest Brooklyn outpost has everything we’ve come to expect from a Dino joint and more.  There are gregarious servers and bartenders, eye-catching interiors that include tables made from old pushcarts and a chandelier fashioned from sandblasted whiskey bottles, and an enormous menu.  In addition to deliciously sloppy plates of Barbecue and crazy good Smoked Chicken Wings, there are unique eats like a Spicy Shrimp Boil, Mojo-marinated Chicken, and Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches with pimento cheese, shredded cabbage and chow chow.

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Alchemy, Texas

Alchemy, Texas
71-04 35th Avenue
Queens,New York 11372
(718) 803-8244

This Jackson Heights dive doesn’t really bother with décor.  In fact, it’s comprised of little more than plastic covered tables and a massive J&R Smoker installed in the back of a run down sports bar.  But it would be a mistake to judge this book by its cover.  The casual (but entirely legit)  barbecue spot is owned by Josh Bowen, of the esteemed John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City.  The most notable dishes at Alchemy are beef offerings that extend well beyond Brisket, including Short Ribs, Beef Ribs, and even Prime Rib, accented with unexpected flavorings like Garam Masala, Pasilla Chili and dried Basil.

The Strand Smokehouse

The Strand Smokehouse
25-27 Broadway
Queens,New York 11106
(718) 440-3231

If Hill Country has served as an apprenticeship of sorts for pit-masters in Manhattan (alum Robbie Richter is opening his first restaurant in L.A.), John Brown Smokehouse has done the same for Queens.  John Brown’s former chef de cuisine is currently manning the smokers at The Strand, serving items, like Beef Cheeks, Salmon and Leg of Lamb alongside barbecue regulars like Pulled Pork, Chicken Wings and Brisket.  But what sets this eatery apart is the strong selection of creative cocktails, aged bourbons and craft beers, like Radiant Pig Junior Session IPA, Singlecut Hank Amber Lager and Southern Tier Pale Wheat Ale.

Daisy May’s BBQ

Daisy May’s BBQ
623 11th Avenue
Hell's Kitchen,New York 10036
(212) 977-1500

This industrial stretch of the West Side Highway doesn’t necessarily attract a lot of foot traffic, but Adam Perry Lang’s raucous BBQ restaurant is worth a dedicated trip to 11th Avenue and 46th Street.  The chef has a thing for ribs, offering three variations (Kansas City Sweet and Sticky, Memphis Dry Rub Pork, and Oklahoma Jumbo Beef), but one of the main draws here is the Big Pig Gig.  Choose from a Whole or Half Pig, or an 8 lb. Pork Butt, accompanied by Coleslaw, Texas Toast, seasonal Fruit and two sides, available for eat in, take out, or delivery.  Try explaining that saucy shipment to your doorman.

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Fette Sau

Fette Sau
354 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn,New York
(718) 963-3404

Joe Carroll’s temple of meat was one of the first to put Brooklyn on the map as a true ‘cue destination.  And since the name is German for “fat pig,” you’d be wise to bypass the beef and concentrate on a bevy of porcine options.  Best of all is the Berkshire Pork Belly – a fork-tender strip of dry-rubbed bacon encased in creamy fat.  But you can’t go wrong with the Heritage Ham, Sausage, Pork Cheeks, Loin Chops, or hand-pulled Shoulder, followed (naturally) by a smoky, Bacon-studded Brownie.

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