100 best New York restaurants: BBQ & Soul food

The best New York restaurants that feature low-and-slow–cooked meats and down-home staples satisfy our cravings for classic American comfort food.

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  • Photograph: Michael Kirby

    100 best New York restaurants: Fette Sau

  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

    100 best New York restaurants: Hill Country

  • 100 best New York restaurants: Fatty 'Cue

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    100 best New York restaurants: Peaches HotHouse

  • Photograph: Andrew Fladeboe

    100 best New York restaurants: Pies 'n' Thighs

     

     

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    100 best New York restaurants: Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    100 best New York restaurants: The Commodore

Photograph: Michael Kirby

100 best New York restaurants: Fette Sau

New Yorkers have it pretty good when it comes to enjoying the best BBQ and soul food. The BBQ boom of the last five years has given rise to serious smokehouses, while some of the best New York restaurants specialize in crackling fried chicken and other gut-busting Southern grub. We’ve tied on bibs and left a trail of wet-naps behind in our quest to narrow down the city’s best places for brisket, ribs, pulled pork and soul food.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of 100 best New York restaurants


Fette Sau

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The name of this glutton-friendly smokehouse from Joe and Kim Carroll (Spuyten Duyvil) translates to “fat pig” in German. Hog-happy highlights include a deli-style ’cue station featuring glistening cuts of beef and pork by the pound. Stick to staples like smoky espresso-and-brown-sugar-rubbed ribs, and the less-than-orthodox pastrami. The sides and desserts leave something to be desired, but the bar makes up for it with an encyclopedic bourbon menu and ten tap beers available in gallon-size jugs—perfect for sharing at a communal picnic table.

  1. 354 Metropolitan Ave, (between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts)
More info

Hill Country

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The guys behind Hill Country are about as Texan as Bloomberg in a Stetson, but the ’cue deserves Lone Star cred all the same. Sausage imported from Kreuz market in Lockhart, TX; slow-smoked slabs of tips-on pork spare ribs; and two brisket options—lean and “moist” (read: fatty)—are not to be missed. Desserts, like jelly-filled cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, suggest some kind of Leave It to Beaver fantasy, though June Cleaver probably wouldn’t approve of the two dozen tequilas and bourbons on offer.

  1. 30 W 26th St, (between Broadway and Sixth Ave)
More info

Fatty 'Cue

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Zak Pelaccio has forged a formidable empire of “Fatty” establishments, and this one is the sexiest of the bunch. The menu here is notable for its balance and breadth—this is the first of the Fattys that won’t give you gout if you eat there too much. Delicate, shareable starters include cured artic char (a sort of Southeast Asian gravlax) and a zippy spin on a classic Caesar featuring red Russian kale tossed in a tart, creamy dressing. There’s also barbecue—roasted lamb, excellent smoked fatty brisket—and challenging dishes from Southeast Asia, like the delicious, pungent Thai-style sour-fermented pork sausage. Desserts are strange, surprising and mostly delicious: Try modernist, South East Asian–influenced creations like artisanal blue cheese crumbled on buttered brioche and jackfruit puree.

  1. 50 Carmine St, (between Bedford and Bleecker Sts)
More info

Peaches HotHouse

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Craig Samuel and Ben Grossman have quietly opened this “tiny little backwoods juke joint in Bed-Stuy.” With a more casual vibe than its sister restaurant, Peaches, the HotHouse presents some of the forgotten dishes of the South, like deep-fried and spicy Nashville-style hot chicken, and creamy rice balls made from an heirloom variety of the grain grown in the Carolinas. Bourbons—such as one infused with chocolate—will be available once the liquor license arrives.

  1. 415 Tompkins Ave, (at Hancock St)
More info

Pies ’n’ Thighs

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This Southern-fried grease trap—originally a drunk-food closet at the back of a bar—has grown into a full-fledged restaurant. The place has retained its DIY spirit—with hand-scrawled food specials and furniture that might have been salvaged from a public school—and feels as authentic as any Dixieland food shack. The ingredients aren’t as judiciously sourced as those at other Brooklyn ventures (the grits, for example, are Quaker Instant) and as a result, the place feels as authentic as any Dixieland food shack. The fried chicken, with an extra-crispy crust, is one of the city’s most succulent. Among the sides, the baked beans—thick with molasses and brisket scraps—stand out. The pies, meanwhile, are American staples: Nilla-wafer-studded banana cream and bitter chocolate pudding with whipped cream topping.

  1. 166 South 4th St, (at Driggs Ave)
More info

Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

At first glance, this saloonlike roadhouse looks like a place to get sloppy drunk: The crowd is young and rowdy, and a big wooden bar across from the chow line serves Lone Star beer, pickle-juice cocktails and trashy snacks like Frito Pie. But the grub is far better than your average alcohol sponge. Riffing on his own family recipes, artist-turned-pit-master Jeff Lutonsky executes moist, fatty Texas-style brisket, plus succulent, beautifully charred pork ribs. Save room for surprisingly delicate house-baked pies, plus a few more of those pickle-juice cocktails. No one said you can't eat well and get drunk.

  1. 44 Berry St, (at North 11th St), 11211
More info

The Commodore

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

With its old arcade games, Schlitz in a can and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, this Williamsburg gastrodive offers the city’s best cheap-ass bar eats. The “hot fish” sandwich, for one, is a fresh, flaky, cayenne-rubbed catfish fillet poking out of both sides of a butter-griddled sesame-seed roll.You'll be thankful it's available after a few rounds of the Commodore's house drink—a frozen slushy pina colada.

  1. 366 Metropolitan Ave, (at Havemeyer St)
More info

Users say

1 comments
Evan H
Evan H

You absolutely need to get Mighty Quinn's on here. Nothing else needs to be said.