While barbecue will likely forever be associated with the American South, in recent years, New York’s barbecue cachet has risen, like, a lot -- so much so that Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn once said brisket at Williamsburg's Delaney Barbecue “could hold its own against some of the best in Texas.” Turns out, it can also hold its own against some of the best in NYC, aka these 10 places, which we've laid out along with a go-to order at each.
It’s gonna be a meaty spring.
East Village, West Village, Smorgasburg, Brookfield Place, and New Jersey
What you're getting: Brisket, pulled pork
Mighty Quinn’s boasted the longest lines at the first-ever Smorgasburg in 2011, and if you’ve ever tasted its brisket, it’s easy to see why. The 22 hours each brisket spends in the smoker yields a perfectly smoky, beefy, and sweet...y product that makes adding sauce basically irrelevant. But, while the beef is undoubtedly the star, Mighty Qunn's pulled pork is juicier and far tastier than most of its local rivals (the sides are also top-notch -- try the sweet potato casserole). Pitmaster Hugh Mangum was educated at the International Culinary Institute (awesomely, he also played drums for obscure '90s rock band Maypole), but credits his barbecue expertise to his Houston-native father and North Carolina-bred wife.
Harlem and Gowanus
What you're getting: St. Louis ribs, wings
One of the oldest barbecue joints in the Northeast, Dinosaur began life as a mobile concession stand upstate in the '80s. Owner John Stage opened the first permanent restaurant in Syracuse in 1988, eventually expanding to Harlem in 2004 and Brooklyn in 2013. Pig is your best bet at Dinosaur: the pulled pork is beyond solid, but the real standouts are the St. Louis-style spare ribs, smoked in a slightly spicy and seemingly magical dry rub, and then glazed with Dinosaur’s own barbecue sauce. The wings are also outstanding, mostly because they feature the same rub.
What you're getting: Brisket
BrisketTown, Delaney Barbecue’s flagship, is considered by many to be the gold standard for barbecue brisket in New York. Pitmaster Dan Delaney moved to Texas in 2008 to learn the art of smoking brisket, then brought it North for a series of “Brisketlabs”, before eventually opening in Williamsburg in 2012. As the name would suggest, the salt-and-pepper rubbed brisket is, without question, the thing to get at BrisketTown, but the hot link beef sausage is also outstanding. Delaney is also generous enough to offer free birthday meat.
What you're getting: Beef rib
Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Hometown Bar-B-Que almost ended before it even really got started, but after nearly a year of rebuilding, Red Hook’s own Texas 'cue joint opened in September 2013. Since then, it's specialized in serving massive beef ribs, each one well-spiced, intensely meaty, and perfectly tender. The brisket is also fantastic, while the menu gets some idiosyncratically fast touches with things like pulled lamb belly and pastrami... bacon? Yep, pastrami bacon.
Long Island City
What you're getting: Burnt ends
Named for the abolitionist whose portrait adorns the walls, this Queens joint offers New York’s best Kansas City barbecue. The pulled pork, spare ribs, and sides are all great, but the burnt ends -- essentially cubes of extra-fatty brisket tips which have been smoked for a longer time -- are out of this world, each one bursting with sweet, fatty smoke.
What you're getting: Whole hog, outside brown pork shoulder
In a landscape dominated by Texas-style barbecue, Arrogant Swine is steadfast in its focus on North Carolina. Pitmaster Tyson Ho originally ran Arrogant Swine as a summer pop-up around Brooklyn before opening a permanent location in Bushwick. The key meats are the East Carolina Whole Hog -- traditional pulled pork featuring the standard shoulder and white meat -- and the Western NC pork shoulder, perfectly smoked and cut into chunks. The pork sausage rings are also a menu standout, as is the beer selection, and the waffle-pressed mac & cheese -- one of New York’s most fun BBQ sides.
Flatiron and Downtown Brooklyn
What you're getting: Brisket
Hill Country is the closest thing New York has to a central Texas barbecue market: the massive space features several counters, each devoted to meats and sides, which are served on butcher paper. Like any good Texas 'cue joint, the beef is the thing to get, and the brisket (we’re partial to the fatty) here doesn’t disappoint. Other nice touches include a comprehensive sides menu (excellent mac & cheese, German potatoes, and green been casserole), a selection of Shiner beers on tap, Texas specialties like Big Red soda and Blue Bell ice cream, and Kreuz sausage “imported” from Lockhart, TX.
What you're getting: Brisket, andouille sausage
Opened in 2011 by husband-wife duo Jeff Lutonsky and Meghan Love, Mable’s is probably Williamsburg’s most unsung barbecue joint. The couple built the place with an eye towards no-frills Southern roadside hospitality (Lutonsky hails from Oklahoma, Love is a Kentucky native), and they succeed spectacularly. All of that would be meaningless if the food wasn't also delicious, as it is with the tasty, meaty brisket and the andouille sausage, which boasts that perfect snap and savory cajun spice.
What you're getting: Pork belly
Fette Sau’s location in a former auto body repair shop may lend itself to a traditional-looking New York-goes-South vibe, but the menu is more experimental than most of its rivals. All of the meats are smoked with a house-made dry rub featuring coffee, which works best with fatty pork belly and juicy brisket. Fette Sau also takes pride in its beer and whiskey lists, each among the best in the city.
What you're getting: Lamb ribs, burnt ends
Fletcher’s has some of New York’s more diverse barbecue offerings. In addition to the usual suspects -- brisket, burnt ends, St. Louis-style spareribs, pulled pork -- Fletcher’s offers a rotating list of special meats which range from uncommon regional specialties (Kentucky lamb ribs) to the outright unusual (barbecue char-siu pork). It’s a solid option if you’re looking for straight-up BBQ, but it really shines if you’re in the mood for something a bit more unusual.
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1. Mighty Quinn's BBQ103 2nd Ave, New York
2. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que604 Union St, Brooklyn
3. BrisketTown359 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
4. Hometown Bar-B-Que454 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn
5. John Brown Smokehouse1043 44th Dr, Long Island City
6. Arrogant Swine173 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn
7. Hill Country30 W 26th St, New York
8. Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall44 Berry St, New York
9. Fette Sau354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
10. Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue433 Third Ave, Brooklyn
This fast-casual BBQ joint has multiple outposts in the city, but the original holds strong at its 6th Street East Village location, bringing the sweet smell of smoked meat to 2nd Avenue. There's a real authentic flavor here, whereas many BBQ spots in the city have an artificial smokiness to their meat. The fall-apart brisket at Mighty Quinns doesn't even require sauce, but you might want to add one of the local drafts on tap to your order.
Before Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was a kitschy blues-and-barbecue chain, it was a motorcycle hang in Syracuse, and all of its locations across the Eastern seaboard pay appropriate homage to its biker bar history. As for the food, the ribs, pulled pork, and brisket are something to write home about, as are the sauced-up hot wings. Live music, featuring acts from rock and reggae to R&B and classic soul, keeps Dinosaur BBQ's honky-tonk charm alive.
This pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar serves up classic Texas-style brisket, ribs, and BBQ. Its fatty cuts are especially memorable, but the tender bite and peppery bark of most of the meats will have you coming back for a ton more. Your taste buds could be satiated with a carnivorous entree alone, but sides like tangy collard greens and creamy mac 'n cheese round out the savory, umami-ful experience.
Pitmaster Billy Durney's Red Hook restaurant is smoking authentic regional barbecue like Texas-style brisket and St. Louis-style ribs. The menu is inspired by Durney's New York childhood spent eating eating at the international food carts along Flatbush Avenue, so options like lamb belly bánh mì and Vietnamese hot wings make the cut as well.
John Brown is serving smoky deliciousness to Long Island City with his Kansas City-style BBQ, including drool-inducing favorites like their burnt ends, pulled pork, and house-cured pastrami. The space is no frills, with a handful of picnic tables and a chalkboard menu behind the counter. The food arrives on white paper with plastic utensils, and hopefully there's a large portion of their amazing cornbread on that paper.
This beer hall and home of all things pig from chef Tyson Ho brings a boat load of traditional North Carolina BBQ to the city along with enough whiskey and beer to float said boat on. The space is pretty sparse with ten small tables and a large bar, but when it gets warmer there's a patio where you can chow down. One of their specialties is the Western North Carolina Outside Brown, or pork shoulder. But probably their most unique offering is their mac and cheese waffle, which is exactly what it sounds like.
This gigantic, high-design roadhouse is modeled after Texas' 107-year-old Kreuz Market -- like at that institution, HC patrons'll order heaping piles of ribs, brisket, sausage, and slop-sopping white bread at a cafeteria-style counter. Their brisket is smoked over post oak straight from Texas, producing a meat so fatty and moist you don't even need sauce. There's a stage for live music, and once that gets going you'll be as close to Central Texas as you can get in, er, the Flatiron District.
Refurbishing former tonic water factory digs with their own four hands, the husband & wife team behind Mable's stocked their airy, industrial barn-steezed "roadhouse" with long communal tables set with chairs they either built themselves or sourced from flea markets, a giant buck head shot by the owner's cousin, and a central bar lit by hanging rusted buckets. The sliced brisket is lean with the perfect amount of fat and smokiness to not even require sauce. Order at the counter and be served almost as quickly as you can sit down.
"Fat Pig" is the German translation of this barbecue spot's name, and that's exactly what you'll feel like (in the best possible way) after a meal here. Fette's dry-rubbed BBQ and special smoke blend makes their meat both unique and delicious. The pork belly gets its own espresso-inflected rub and the brisket comes with a fatty top layer that basically dissolves in your mouth.
Fletcher's is a Brooklyn BBQ joint that serves all-natural, hormone- & antibiotic-free meat smoked over maple and red oak in the American tradition of pit barbecue. Everything about the place is fairly modern and pristine, and you can expect higher prices than some of the more "down-home" barbecue options in New York. Meat and sides are served on a metal tray lined with butcher paper, and we absolutely recommend ordering the burnt ends and the chili mac and cheese, containing actual chunks of brisket.