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Best BBQ restaurants for city families

Time Out Kids has partnered with MasterCard Priceless NY to name the best BBQ restaurants in the city for a family date night.

Photograph: Dominic Perri

Neely's BBQ Brunch


blue smoke

Photograph: Courtesy Bone Lick Park

Brother Jimmy's

Photograph: Dominic Perri
Photograph: Talia Simhi

Char no.4

Photograph: Jeff Gurwin


Photograoh: Andrew Fladeboe
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Fatty Cue

Photograph: Michael Kirby

Photo by Michael Kirby 354 Metropolitan Ave between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts,...

Photograph: Wenyi Huang
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Hill Country

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Photograph: Dominic Perri

Neely's BBQ Brunch

Photograph: Marielle Solan
Photograph: Andrew Fladeboe
Photograph: Zenith Richards

Warm weather and hot grills go together, and New York City's ever-lengthening list of barbecue joints makes it a cinch to choose a spot for a dedicated family date. Just as many couples plan a regular night out together, it's important to create a quality-time slot for your kids to make space for leisurely chatting away from the routine of work, school and organized activities. Combining a laid-back atmosphere with unfussy, fun-to-eat food and, in some cases, a sophisticated beverage program for the grown-ups, these Southern-inflected eateries appeal to carnivores—and non-meat-eaters—of all ages. Whether you prefer an authentic bare-bones shack, a homey parlor or a sleek contemporary dining room, you can bond over the joys of messy pulled pork and rib gnawing—just remember those wet wipes.

For the ultimate family dining experience, MasterCard Priceless New York is offering a special table at three of our featured restaurants every week through October 31. Book your priceless table at Fatty 'Cue, Hill Country or Neely's Barbecue Parlor at PricelessNY.com to receive personal attention from the chef, kitchen privileges or surprise treats. You may be given a desert-making lesson or a custom-created dish—details will be revealed on your family date. The tables are exclusive for MasterCard holders. Make your reservation at PricelessNY.com.

Barbecue doesn't always have to be predictable—at least not at BaoBQ, where Michael Huynh gives grub the Asian treatment. Kids can have fun sampling chili tiger shrimp ($9) and bulgogi spareribs ($9), while sides—think pickled papaya and charred long beans—stray far from traditional mac and cheese territory. 229 First Ave between 13th and 14th Sts (212-475-7011, baobq.com)

Blue Smoke
This convivial, brick-walled Danny Meyer restaurant always delivers a good time. As little ones tuck into Memphis baby backs and mashed potatoes from the kids' menu ($9), they'll probably also want to steal bites of your shrimp corn dogs ($13), maple-dipped sweet potato wedges ($6.50) and applewood-smoked chicken ($22). Too full for dessert? Pop into the on-site Bake Shop for a mini Toll House cookie pie for the road.116 E 27th St between Park and Lexington Aves (212-447-7733, bluesmoke.com) * 255 Vesey St between West St and North End Ave (212-889-2005)

Bone Lick Park
The decor is stripped-down basic, but for a fix of pulled pork and mac and cheese in the West Village, you can't go wrong at this country-themed joint. 'Cue is slow-cooked out back in a wood-burning pit. The best deal is on Wednesday nights, when all-you-can-eat ribs are just $20. 75 Greenwich Ave between Seventh Ave and 11th St (212-647-9600, bonelickparkbbq.com)

Brother Jimmy's BBQ
Yes, it's a chain, and yes, it can feel like you've entered a frat party. But Brother Jimmy's is popular not only for its boisterous atmosphere, but also for its consistently good grub: Ribs—both Northern and Southern style—are slow-cooked with just the right touch of smoke. Platters, which include cornbread and sides like spiced string beans and fried brussels sprouts ($16–$24), are big enough to share with your tot. Locations throughout the city; visit brotherjimmys.com for details.

Butcher Bar
Juicy, fatty burnt ends, already cut into convenient child-size morsels, are the star of Butcher Bar, an Astoria shop-cum-restaurant. But in order to get the delicious brisket trimmings, you need to be on the scene early. If they're sold out, though, no worries; you and the brood can relish lush beef brisket sandwiches ($11) and dry-rubbed ribs ($20 for a full rack, including one side). All of the meat is sourced from local farms—and you can pick up a pound of grass-fed beef for the next night's supper while you're there. 37-08 30th Ave between 37th and 38th Sts, Astoria, Queens (718-606-8140, butcherbar.com)

The Cardinal
This is no theme restaurant: The airy, brick-walled Cardinal is a comfortable East Village joint, which just happens to churn out homey Southern fare. Moist fried chicken served in a bucket ($80, serves four) is a good bet for the brood, but the quick-to-sell-out President BBQ Platter ($80, serves four), piled with brisket, ribs, hot links and pulled pork, is incentive to come early. Both are accompanied by four sides. Even if their bellies are bursting from tangy chow-chow-laced black-eyed peas and slow-cooked green beans, kids will have a tough time resisting the bread pudding ($6). 234 E 4th St between Aves A and B (212-995-8600, cardinalnyc.com)

Char No. 4
Even though this stylish Cobble Hill hot spot is packed with couples and groups of friends, the booths are also full of families tucking into thick-cut bacon with marinated cherry tomatoes and fava beans ($11) and smoked pork-garlic sausage accompanied by lentils, grilled radicchio and pickled jalapeo vinaigrette ($22). The dishes may not scream "authentic," but that's nothing a mess of barbecue beans and a barrel-aged bourbon cocktail can't fix. 196 Smith St between Baltic and Warren Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-643-2106, charno4.com)

A Frito pie ($9.50), in which the beloved corn chips are smothered in brisket chili and cheddar, is the only way to begin an evening at this rodeo-inspired West Village staple—there's also a veggie version ($8). Little ones might be sated with corn dogs ($8) or cornmeal-crusted catfish strips ($9), but ending the night with an ice-cream baked potato ($8) is sure to be a hit. 519 Hudson St between Charles and W 10th Sts (212-633-1133, cowgirlnyc.com)

Daisy May's BBQ USA
Adam Perry Lang is one of New York's finest pit masters, offering a Pan-American menu of favorites at his no-frills West Side eatery, from a Tennessee whiskey beer-can-style half chicken ($11) to an Oklahoma jumbo beef rib ($37), served with a choice of two "fixin's." Every meal savored in the cafeteria-style dining room should include burnt-end-studded baked beans ($5–$20). 623 Eleventh Ave at 46th St (212-977-1500, daisymaysbbq.com)

Fatty 'Cue
Barbecue acquires an Asian twist at bercool Fatty 'Cue. Chef Zak Pelaccio channels his travels to create a half pound of deep-fried coriander bacon with sweet and spicy salsa verde ($19), and smoked lamb shoulder with spiced goat yogurt ($23). For finicky eaters, it's better to come for lunch, when Pelaccio serves milder fare such as buttermilk fried chicken ($18) and smoked mozzarella and Gruyre grilled cheese with pickled chili ($11). 50 Carmine St between Bedford and Bleecker Sts (212-929-5050,fattycue.com)

Fette Sau
Hipsters congregate at the picnic tables in this former auto-body shop. Meat, including hand-pulled Berkshire pork shoulder and country-style lamb loin, sold by the pound, comes straight out of the gas-and-wood-fired smoker. Pair the mess with Dante's German potato salad ($3.25–$5.25) and house-made coleslaw—and a generous jug of craft beer for the grown-ups. 354 Metropolitan Ave between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-3404, fettesaubbq.com)

Georgia's Eastside BBQ
After a visit to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, head over to this tiny barbecue shack for fried chicken ($15), crackling slow-cooked ribs ($19) and, happily for kids who shy away from red meat, a divine cornmeal-crusted catfish sandwich ($9). Collard greens are the perfect way to get tykes to eat their veggies. 192 Orchard St between E Houston and Stanton Sts (212-253-6280, georgiaseastsidebbq.com)

Hill Country
Bring your budding carnivore to rollicking Texas-style saloon Hill Country, where they'll get a crash course in brisket. Order the tender beef (you pay by the pound) at the counter, and it comes served piled high on butcher paper. Grab a seat at one of the jam-packed tables and sip iced tea out of a mason jar. Then, tuck into sides such as Durkee-onion-topped green bean casserole and white corn pudding ($4.75–$17). Voracious appetites can be rewarded with a peanut-butter-and-jelly cupcake ($4.50).30 W 26th St between Broadway and Sixth Ave (212-255-4544)

L & L Hawaiian BBQ
Stave off post--South Street Seaport temper tantrums with a visit to the NYC outpost of this casual Honolulu-based chain. Generous combo plates ($9–$15)—brimming with mountains of short ribs, smoky Kalua pork and barbecue-sauce-marinated grilled chicken—should provide fuel for a Century 21 run. 64 Fulton St between Cliff and Gold Sts (212-577-8888, hawaiianbarbecue.com)

Mable's Smokehouse
Grab a perch at the communal table of this homey husband-and-wife-run eatery. Brisket and rib platters ($15–$28)—nostalgically accompanied by soft slices of Wonder Bread—include a choice of sides (BBQ baked beans and house-pickled beets, for example). If finicky palates aren't primed for meat, you're in luck with the veggie BBQ sloppy joe ($10). 44 Berry St at North 11th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-6655, mablessmokehouse.com)

Miss Korea
There are numerous barbecue restaurants with built-in table grills lining Koreatown's 32nd Street, but Miss Korea stands apart for its top-notch eats. First-time kimchi eaters will be in awe as tender boneless short ribs, or kalbi ($27), sizzle in their own marinade before their eyes. 10 W 32nd St between Fifth Ave and Broadway (212-594-4963, misskoreabbq.com)

Neely's Barbecue Parlor
Neely's was well known for its Memphis and Nashville restaurants before it landed in this gastronomically bleak Upper East Side patch. The place has a reputation for its ribs—wet or dry Memphis, or "sweet and sticky" Kansas City style ($15.50–$26). Not only does the eatery have a devoted children's menu ($7.50) featuring a scaled-down portion of the latter and mini pulled-pork sandwiches, it also hosts a kids' buffet brunch ($10) on the first Saturday of each month, with Southern faves like chicken and waffles and fun activities like face-painting and crafts. 1125 First Ave at 62nd St (212-832-1551, neelysbbqparlor.com)

Rack and Soul
Tender, smoky pulled pork and baby backs ($20–$25) emerge from the wood-smoked grill at Rack and Soul—and in kid-size portions to boot ($8). But if that doesn't appeal to fussy eaters, the sides, from black-eyed peas to stewed okra, could be meal enough. Polish off the feast in fitting fashion with banana pudding ($7). 258 W 109th St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway (212-222-4800, rackandsoul.com)

Baked potatoes stuffed with cheese and barbecued chopped beef ($8), Szechuan smoked duck ($28.25) and barbecued chicken empanadas ($8) are among the nontraditional grub at this upbeat Chelsea hangout. But little ones may veer toward classics like chili cheese fries and a lightly sauced pulled-pork sandwich ($9.25). 208 W 23rd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-524-4300, rubbbq.net)

The Smoke Joint
Before a family culture outing to BAM, the Smoke Joint is a reliable source of comforting grub like baked mac and cheese ($4) and beef short ribs ($16). The Black Angus hot dog ($3–$5) is sure to put a smile on any kid's face. 87 S Elliott Pl at Fulton St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-797-1011)

Southern Hospitality
Justin Timberlake may no longer be co-owner of this pair of slick 'cue joints, but the restaurants still serve satisfying Tennessee-style fare. At the original uptown location, gather the brood on the patio for Memphis dry-rubbed ribs ($25) and child-size barbecue chicken or rib plates ($8). Or, if you're in Hell's Kitchen, wash down that Beale Street BBQ chicken ($18) in the wine lounge while the kids tackle "Mason Dixon" red velvet cake ($8). 1460 Second Ave between 76th and 77th Sts (212-249-1001, southernhospitalitybbq.com) * 645 Ninth Ave at 45th St (212-265-1000)

Virgil's Real Barbecue
This Times Square eatery is perpetually packed, but the messy 'cue transcends what you might expect from the tourist-heavy location. At lunch, tots might enjoy digging into massive plates of nachos ($13), piled with pulled chicken, pork and brisket, but watch out for those jalapeos. There's milder fare such as corn dogs served with fries and mac and cheese on the kids' menu ($6). After navigating a batch of dry-rubbed, hickory-smoked Memphis-style ribs ($24), you'll be glad a hand towel is at the ready.152 W 44 St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-921-9494, virgilsbbq.com)

While Wildwood attracts a fratty crowd, thanks to TV screens and a 50-strong beer list, it's a lot quieter in the early evening. Start with skillet cornbread before moving on to sticky ribs ($15.50–$26) or smoked sausage ($14.25). The kids' menu ($5.50–$8.50) offers basics like mac and cheese and a burger and fries. Order a round of chipotle-bacon s'mores ($8) to keep the posse happy as you sip a bourbon cocktail like the Wildwood Julep ($13). 225 Park Ave South at 18th St (212-533-2500,wildwoodbbq.com).