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The best BBQ restaurants in NYC

Satisfy your craving for smoked meats and homespun comfort food at the best BBQ restaurants in NYC

BBQ and soul food is well represented in Gotham, with a steady barbecue boom bringing meat-hungry New Yorkers even more low-and-slow cooking. Armed with Wet-Naps, Time Out New York trekked from Williamsburg to Harlem in search of the best BBQ restaurants in the city, from young upstarts to established stalwarts. BBQ hounds, get ready to feast.

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Photograph: Pamela Ashley Pasco
1/10

Blue Smoke

Critics' pick

Legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer took a casual turn with this classed-up ’cue house in 2002. Number crunchers pack the skylighted dining room—accented with rustic flourishes (red vinyl booths, exposed-brick wall)—and roll up their pin-striped sleeves to dig into platters of Louisiana native Jean-Paul Bourgeois’ pit barbecue. Opt for moist shredded pork lightly coated in a sharp vinegar sauce ($20) and seven pepper-rubbed Creekstone Farms brisket ($20). Homestyle desserts, including a towering wedge of luscious banana cream pie ($8), complete the all-American offerings. —Patty Lee

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Midtown
Photograph: Jolie Ruben
2/10

BrisketTown

Jersey-born Daniel Delaney—a bespectacled former Web journalist—might not seem like an obvious poster child for purist Texan ’cue. But the Yankee is turning out some seriously craveworthy meat. The Food & Drink Award–winning Delaney takes the traditionalist route, coating chunks of heritage beef in salt and pepper before smoking them over oak-fueled fire for 15 hours. That deep-pink brisket ($14/half pound), along with remarkably tender pork ribs ($13/half pound), draws Williamsburg’s jeans-and-plaid set, who hunker around tables, wiping their mouths with paper towels as funk and disco tunes, like Mac DeMarco’s “Ode to Viceroy,” jangle over the speakers. The trim selection of sides is equally superlative: rich, garlicky collard greens and potato salad zipped up with pickled mustard seeds and caramelized onions. —Patty Lee

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Williamsburg
Photograph: Andrew Fladeboe
3/10

Daisy May’s BBQ USA

Southerners brag about their admittedly first-rate barbecue, but can they say their down-home joints started with a French-trained toque stoking the pit fires? That distinction is awarded to this acclaimed Hell’s Kitchen rib shack—before founding the restaurant in 2003, Adam Perry Lang cooked in renowned fine-dining temples like Le Cirque and Daniel. Despite such upscale roots, this bare-bones haunt is a rustic love letter to the South: Mason jars brim with sweet tea, tarnished horseshoes are nailed to the wood walls, and below-the–Mason-Dixon barbecue is slapped onto red trays at the counter up front. Load up on rub-heavy Memphis pork ribs ($15.90 per half rack) and $4.90 fixins like creamy corn laced with New York cheddar, and brown-sugar–whipped sweet potatoes so sugary good, they could moonlight as dessert. —Christina Izzo

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Hell's Kitchen
Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson
4/10

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Everyone from neighborhood families to leather-clad bikers makes the pilgrimage to this perpetually packed Harlem smokehouse. With locations in Syracuse and Rochester, founder John Stage—himself a Harley lover—transformed a former meatpacking plant into a third outlet in 2004, and he’s been lassoing in fans ever since. Nestled under railway tracks, the bluesy, bare-brick hall slings jalapeño-crowned Texas brisket; fleshy, pull-off-the-bone pork ribs; and thick-battered fried green tomatoes drizzled with cayenne-buttermilk ranch dressing. The meats, nursed over hickory in four computerized smoking pits, are South-worthy on their own, but even more so when slicked in the smoky-sweet house BBQ sauce: The secret-recipe condiment magically transforms a notoriously tough Boston butt cut into one of the city’s most lusciously viscous pulled porks. —Christina Izzo

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Morningside Heights
Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith
5/10

Fette Sau

Critics' pick

Joe Carroll (Spuyten Duyvil) pioneered Williamsburg’s smoked-meat boom in 2007 with this auto-shop-turned-ramshackle-roadhouse, whose name means “fat pig” in German. Starving throngs wait dutifully for their gluttonous turn at the counter, while  picnic tables are shared by leather-clad locals and European tourists. Tractor-seat stools and kitchen-knife taps line the bar, where thirsty patrons get gallon jugs of craft brews before slipping back into the raucous crowd. Fill up on a rotating selection of pork, beef and Black Angus brisket ($29/lb), St. Louis–style ribs with ends properly trimmed ($25/lb)—and sides such as Dante’s German potato salad ($6), whose chunks of onion-studded spuds are coated in a zesty vinaigrette. —Patty Lee

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Williamsburg
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello
6/10

Hill Country

Critics' pick

Texpats can find a little piece of home in the smoky warmth of this behemoth, bi-level Chelsea honky-tonk, opened in 2007. Meticulously modeled after Lockhart, Texas’s legendary Kreuz Market, the 10,000-square-foot Lone Star oasis pours Shiner beer, scoops Blue Bell ice cream, plays rootsy, two-step tunes and, most importantly, slices up some killer beef. Meal ticket in hand, herd near the upstairs counter for “moist brisket” ($13/half lb), an indulgently fatty mix of deckle and tip smoked for up to 15 hours over Texan post oak. A slab of beef shoulder ($12/half lb) comes as juicy and rosy-rare as good roast beef, ringed with a charred salt-and-pepper crust. The meats are doled out in butcher-paper bundles that soon moisten with dripping fat, so those paper-towel rolls plopped at each picnic table come into good use, if you can resist licking your fingers first. —Christina Izzo

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Midtown
Photograph: Jessica Lin
7/10

John Brown Smokehouse

Josh Bowen’s meat shrine sparked a renaissance in Queens—now home to three new-wave smokehouses—when it opened in 2011, resurrecting a legacy started by shuttered Pearson’s Texas Barbecue. The Hill Country alum’s Kansas City specialties draw in neighborhood families and burnt-end addicts, who make the trek down a desolate stretch of Long Island City for the fatty morsels of brisket deckle ($21/lb). Grab a beer from a bar stocked with both local and foreign brews (Rockaway ESB, Hitachino White ale) on your way to the mural-decorated backyard garden. At picnic-blanket-topped tables, diners tear into wobbly chunks of pork belly ($20/lb) and hefty spareribs ($9.50 per quarter slab). The pork is succulent on its own, but we recommend a drizzle of the tangy sauce—you wouldn’t be chowing down in true K.C. fashion without some. —Patty Lee

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Long Island City
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
8/10

Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall

Critics' pick

Southerners will feel right at home at this wood-paneled roadhouse—opened in 2011 with mismatched chairs, pail light fixtures and the obligatory deer head—on the Williamsburg waterfront. Artist-cum-pit-boss Jeff Lutonsky and wife Meghan Love dole out smoky Oklahoma ’cue and sides with recipes inherited from Lutonsky’s mother and grandmother. Folk and blues cut through beer-fueled chatter as tousle-haired diners tear into homespun fare: juicy blackened brisket ($19.95/half pound), tender pulled pork ($18.95/half pound), Velveeta-enriched macaroni ($4.95) and borracho beans stewed in Texan lager Shiner Bock ($4.95). Don’t forget a douse of the lip-smackingly tangy sauce, whose recipe—as with most treasured family dishes—remains a guarded secret. —Patty Lee

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Williamsburg
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
9/10

Mighty Quinn's

Drummer turned chef Hugh Mangum first hawked his Texalina—Texas spice meets Carolina vinegar—specialties at his immensely popular Smorgasburg stand, and when the operation went brick-and-mortar in December 2012, the hungry throngs followed. Lines snake through the steel-tinged East Village joint, gawking as black-gloved carvers give glistening meat porn a dash of Maldon salt before slinging it down the assembly line. Paprika-rubbed brisket ($9.25)—slow-cooked for 22 hours—boasts a quarter-inch smoke ring and a girdle of fat that will have your taste buds cheering. The thick campfire bark of the pulled pork ($8.55) elevates it from the usual saucy porcine slop you’re used to, and the Jurassic-sized beef rib ($23) is so impossibly melt-in-your-mouth tender, one bite will quiet even the pickiest of BBQ hard-liners. —Christina Izzo

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East Village
Photograph: Beth Levendis
10/10

The Smoke Joint

“Real New York Barbecue” is the mission statement at this unassuming Fort Greene spot. Like its nabe, the restaurant has flourished since opening in 2006, growing from a counter to a cozy 48-seat joint beloved by Downtown Brooklynites and BAM’s postshow crowd. BK boys Ben Grossman and Craig Samuel riff on regional styles, crafting a menu of classic smoked meats (pulled pork, brisket) and grilled fare (hot dogs, chicken wings), made in a hulking Ole Hickory smoker. Chatty servers bring plates of black-barked short ribs and moist St. Louis spareribs ($13 per half slab), making sure each table is armed with two sauces—the tomato-based Jointsmoke and the fiery Hollapeno—the playful names echoing the down-home vibe. Choose from 50 types of whiskey (Hudson whiskey, Jefferson’s bourbon) to wash down your meat. —Patty Lee

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Fort Greene

Comments

1 comments
Chris
Chris

How on earth could you include Daisy May's BBQ on this list?!? That could only be true if there were 15 or less BBQ spots in NYC! I went out of my way to eat there once and found the food mediocre at best...additionally, they wouldn't serve tap water, you have to buy bottled water. WTF? Get it together guys, just because it has BBQ sauce on it, doesn't make it BBQ.