When you think of local cuisine, New York pizza or the city’s best bagels probably come to mind. While pit-smoked brisket and sauced ribs are more readily associated with the south, the best BBQ restaurants in NYC are here to boost the North’s grilled-meat bona fides. Tackling a range of regional and global barbecue styles, these joints are carving up everything from smoked brisket and burnt ends to hot dogs and sausages.
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Best BBQ restaurants in NYC
This wood-paneled 120-seat smokehouse is a collaboration between self-taught pit master Billy Durney and restaurateur Christopher Miller (Smith & Mills, Warren 77). Inspired by his Brooklyn upbringing and travels through the South, Durney turns out 'cue with global influences. Dig into smoked meats both American (Texas-style brisket, North Carolina–inspired baby back ribs) and international (smoked jerk chicken, lamb belly banh mi).
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. 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.
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, hungry throngs followed. Paprika-rubbed brisket—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 elevates it from the usual saucy porcine slop you’re used to, and the Jurassic-sized beef rib is so impossibly melt-in-your-mouth tender, one bite will quiet even the pickiest of BBQ hard-liners.
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. Fill up on a rotating selection of pork, beef and Black Angus brisket, St. Louis–style ribs with ends properly trimmed—and sides such as Dante’s German potato salad, whose chunks of onion-studded spuds are coated in a zesty vinaigrette.
Legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer took a casual turn with this classed-up ’cue house with a skylighted dining room—accented with rustic flourishes (red vinyl booths, exposed-brick wall). But even number crunchers 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 and seven pepper-rubbed Creekstone Farms brisket. Homestyle desserts, including a towering wedge of luscious banana cream pie, complete the all-American offerings.
Tyson Ho’s route to a full-fledged restaurant wasn’t a typical one. Raised in Flushing and schooled in Texas, the pit master honed his grill skills alongside barbecue boss Ed Mitchell in North Carolina before returning to his native New York with a hankering for hog. After hosting a series of well-received pig-picking bashes, Ho brings whole swine to the table at his BBQ-and-beer hall in Bushwick, a rugged warehouse emblazoned with graffitied pig murals and charred wood. Here, he commits to the Carolinas’ distinct techniques, roasting entire swine over embers and dressing the meat in a simple vinegar-pepper sauce.
Venue says: “Harlem Dinosaur has a Happy Hour! Every Mon-Fri from 3pm-7pm at the bar. Check out our website for $2-$6 happy hour specials”
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.
Pit master Matt Fisher (RUB Long Island) and advertiser-turned-griller Bill Fletcher fire up a 2,600-pound pit at this Gowanus 'cue joint, delivering belt-busting grub, like dry-rubbed brisket, maple-smoked Red Wattle pork loin and pit-smoked baked beans. Wash it all down with a local beer—or chase your meal with a shot of rye or bourbon—at one of the cyprus-and-hemlock wood tables in the 50-seat smoke shack.
Pig Beach slings delightful, succulent meats dressed to the nines in exquisite sauces to hordes of 'cue-craving Brooklynites in an expansive backyard patio and 7,000-square foot warehouse space. Outside, the smoke pit rotates rib racks, turkey breasts, whole chickens, and — of course — hulking slabs of hog until tender and falling off the bone. Drizzle your meaty order in one of the kitchen’s glossy sauces (brown sugar-honey, hatch vinegar bbq) and pair it with fellow comfort foods like mac and cheese covered in crushed Goldfish crackers and house-made sweet and sour pickles.
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, tender pulled pork, Velveeta-enriched macaroni and borracho beans stewed in Texan lager Shiner Bock.
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? Despite his upscale roots from Le Cirque and Daniel, Adam Perry Lang's 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 and fixins like creamy corn laced with New York cheddar.
Texpats can find a little piece of home in the smoky warmth of this behemoth, bi-level Chelsea honky-tonk 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," an indulgently fatty mix of deckle and tip smoked for up to 15 hours over Texan post oak. A slab of beef shoulder comes as juicy and rosy-rare as good roast beef, ringed with a charred salt-and-pepper crust.
As befits its Times Square location, perennially crowded Virgil’s is the Epcot Center of barbecue: Paper placemats present a map of the country’s barbecue-producing regions and their specialties, from Texas beef brisket to Memphis pork ribs to vinegary Carolina pulled pork—all of which are on the menu, along with oddities like Oklahoma State Fair corndogs, served with a jalapeño “mustard.” The Memphis pork ribs—dry-rubbed and slow-smoked, like the rest of Virgil’s meats, with a mix of hickory, oak and fruit woods—are but a hair’s-breadth from being too tender.
“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.
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Ginger & Lemongrass
Sometimes, nothing sounds better a massive bowl of steaming pho. When the need arises, head to Ginger and Lemongrass on the Lower East Side. But before the pho, start with a few Vietnamese appetizers: Sweet chili-ginger chicken wings ($11), fresh vegetarian summer wraps ($9) and fried pork-mushroom spring rolls ($9) might pique your interest. For your entree, there’s traditional beef pho ($14), of course, plus a glazed pork belly sandwich ($11), spicy green curry ($15) and other traditional Vietnamese dishes. End the meal with green tea tiramisu or mango mousse cake (both $7).
Venue says: “Hot & New! Contemporary Vietnamese fusion spot Ginger and Lemongrass known for their Roasted Bone Marrow PHO just opened in Lower East Side.”