When you think of our local cusine, you probably muster ideas of the best New York pizza, or conjure up a images of some cozy Italian restaurants. NYC actually has some best of the best BBQ! NYC's southern infuenced food joints have really grown over the past few years, and a surprising number of talented pitmasters have set down roots here. They carve up the smoked brisket, hot links and burnt ends that all barbecue lovers crave. From subterranean jazz clubs to a sprawling Williamsburg smokehouse, these are the best BBQ restaurants in NYC.
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Where to find the best BBQ in NYC
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.
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.
Grab your Wet-Naps—Brooklyn’s BBQ renaissance shows no signs of cooling off. This wood-paneled 120-seat smokehouse is the latest addition to the scene, 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). The drinks match the honky-tonk menu: Bartenders pour draft beers (Smuttynose, Shiner Bock) and American whiskeys (Van Brunt Stillhouse).
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.
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.
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. “I took my first bite of North Carolina barbecue and I was hooked,” Ho says. 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. “We’re aiming to become a church of pork,” Ho says. Refusing to stray from tradition, Ho won’t put ubiquitous brisket or overly sauced pulled pork on the menu. Instead, find fire-pit–cooked chopped hog and—to merge the North and South Carolinas with their Eastern and Western subsets—two slaws: a mustard-and-apple Eastern variety and the red-wine-vinegar–tomato Lexington version. There’ll also be house-made smoked sausages, sweet-potato waffles with bourbon syrup, and build-your-own charcuterie boards (salami, country ham) to spotlight craft curers in West Virginia, Kentucky and even Bosnia.
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.
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, boosting the neigborhood's burgeoning epicurean scene. The 50-seat smoke shack delivers 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.
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.
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.
Archive BBQ in NYC coverage
Cowboy hats, wagon wheels and vintage American flags decorate this East Harlem honky-tonk. With a mile-long menu of every variety of barbecued meat, Harley’s Smokeshack is a carnivore’s dream come true. The St. Louis spare ribs (half rack for $18.95, full rack for $29.95), brisket ($18.95), pulled pork ($17.95) and half barbecue chicken ($17.95) all get cooked in the wood-burning Southern Pride smoker to lock in that authentic flavor. Can’t decide? Get it all in the aptly named “table breaker,” plus your choice of three large sides ($49.95). Think mac and cheese ($6.95), spicy greens ($5.95), garlic bread ($3.95) and corn on the cob ($3.95), to name just a few of the options. Then there’s the rest of the menu of classic crowd-pleasers: jalapeno poppers ($8.95), deep fried buttermilk chicken breast ($16.95), cornmeal-crusted catfish po’boy ($15.95), gumbo ($8.95) and more. Thankfully, there’s also a full beer, wine and cocktail menu to help you wash it all down.
Venue says: “This year have your private party at Harley's Smokeshack + BBQ. Book Now (212)-828-6723.”