New York is no Texas, Memphis, or Kansas City. The archetypal New York diet places a much higher necessity on bagels and pizza than tender beef brisket, juicy pork ribs, and dry-rubbed pulled pork. But over the course of the last decade, particularly in recent years, New York City has become a barbecue town in it’s own right, with exceptional outlets for different regional barbecue styles all over the city.
Since the 1994 opening of classic, now somewhat touristy, Virgil’s in Times Square, the city has exploded with barbecue joints, from Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke in BPC and Flatiron, to Adam Perry Lang’s Daisy May’s in Hell’s Kitchen, to the Texas honky-tonk-inspired Hill Country (also in Flatiron, and eventually Downtown Brooklyn). Perhaps the greatest surge in the New York barbecue scene can be seen in Brooklyn (from Williamsburg, to Gowanus, to Red Hook), where you’ll find the new class of NYC barbecue spots -- like BrisketTown, Fette Sau, Fletcher’s, and Hometown -- bringing the best of the South to New York, improving upon the classics, and creating an entirely new, unnamed type of barbecue (dare we call it New York-style?).
There’s never been a better time to enjoy barbecue in New York City than right now. From no-frills spots doing brisket and racks of ribs on brown butcher paper-lined trays, to newer spots with unique craft beer selections and upgraded side dishes (see: mac and cheese waffles), these are the best barbecue spots in New York City.
Anybody who’s ever walked along 2nd Ave past 7th and 6th knows the smell: that smoked meat scent that permeates through the walls of Mighty Quinn’s, even in the colder months when the door and windows are kept closed. As with many of the city’s top barbecue spots, food is served fast casual-style here (order from behind the counter, collect your trays, and take your seat), but what makes this place, which started out as a stand at Smorgasburg, different from the rest is the authentic smoky flavor, as detectable in each bite of pulled pork, juicy brisket, and fatty brontosaurus rib as the smell is through the building. While a lot of barbecue in the city can verge on artificial smokey flavor, Mighty Quinn’s tastes like real barbecue, so much so that the fall-apart tender brisket requires zero sauce -- it’s simply perfect. And don’t forget to order a side of burnt end baked beans. -- Lucy Meilus, New York editor
If you're looking for the city's most authentic Texas-style brisket and beef ribs, you should go to Hometown. If you're looking for Vietnamese hot wings or a lamb belly bánh mì... you should also go to Hometown! It's pretty safe to say that Billy Durney is New York's current 'cue king -- and despite being schooled by Texas masters in the elusive alchemy of salt-and-pepper-only brisket (Hometown's legitimately rivals the top Austin joints), he didn't stop there with the menu at his roadhouse-y cavern in deep Red Hook. Much of it was influenced by Billy's youth eating from Vietnamese, Caribbean, and other international food carts along Flatbush Ave: that bánh mì and those wings, plus other happy turns like pulled pork tacos. Even the preferred street fair of over-consuming New Yorkers, the Feast of San Gennaro, gets a nod, via deep-fried Oreo ribs. Just kidding! It's a hand-stuffed sausage parmesan hero. But hey, if anyone could pull off fried Oreo ribs... -- Ben Robinson, editorial director
Amongst the car dealerships on 11th Ave is Daisy May’s, an OG barbecue oasis, founded in 2003 by Adam Perry Lang (of Daniel and Le Cirque), and known for its wood-paneled walls littered with horseshoes and trophies, and its specialty Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs. Lang has since left the operation, but the ribs remain exceptional -- tender and smoky, a little sticky, and perfectly pink in hue, served on a styrofoam plate. The brisket is a solid move as well: fatty, juicy slices of beef topped with just a touch of barbecue sauce. The greatest thing about Daisy May’s? The bounty of latex gloves and plastic bibs supplied to diners. You’ll need ‘em. -- LM
Is Daniel Delaney's Texas-style joint, which started as a subscription pop-up, worthy of its bold BrisketTown name? The answer is a definitive yes, perhaps more so than any other spot in New York.
The brisket here truly embraces the Texas style -- a fatty hunk of slowly smoked meat that seriously melts in your mouth, so tender that you barely need a knife to cut through it. There’s also a lean option, though the fattier version is a truer mark of Delaney’s expertise. There’s no sauce available here, save for a bottle of hot sauce on the table, but you won’t need it. While it’s abundantly clear what the star is here, Delaney’s pulled pork is also worth naming a place after -- the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors, and a texture so light and fluffy, it feels like you’re eating a meaty cloud. On the side front, the mac and cheese is one of the best at any of New York’s barbecue joints, made with Beechers cheese in a jalapeño-infused mornay sauce, and topped with fried potatoes and shallots. The traditional cornbread is also excellent. -- LM
You may not want to get the whole goat neck, for a variety of reasons, but you should absolutely get the whole goat neck. Smoke-maven Will Horowitz doesn't do anything resembling standard BBQ at his brick-walled East Village party-box -- which also features impressive cocktails and a nice beer roster that's not trying too hard -- and the curry-heavy neck that falls right off the (rather large) bone is Ducks' most memorable representation of that ethos. Tuesday nights bring a perfectly fatty brisket sandwich, but even that most traditional of BBQ meats comes piled high with ricotta. Different can be good. In Ducks' case, it's often superb. -- BR
Mable’s honky tonk charm (think picnic tables and mismatched chairs) is a nod to husband-and-wife owners Jeff Lutonsky and Meghan Love’s respective hometowns (he’s from Oklahoma, she’s from Kentucky), and it’s easy to feel outside of Williamsburg when you’re inside. The sliced brisket is hands down the best thing on the menu -- lean with just the right amount of fat, and smoky to the point where sauce is not required (though the tangy but sweet house sauce with vinegar is quite good). But go with a friend because the tender St. Louis-style ribs are also a must, and arrive actually falling off the bone and brushed with just enough house sauce. Order at the counter and take a seat -- your food will arrive before you can even scroll through two posts of your Instagram feed. -- LM
Everything at Fletcher’s is very modern, pristine, and carefully considered -- from the structural light fixtures, to the Texas pit that the smoking is done on, to the all-natural, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats from farm co-ops. But just because things are a little more dressed up here, doesn’t mean it isn’t serious barbecue. Incorporating aspects of different regional styles, Fletcher’s churns out equally great platters and sandwiches, all delivered on metal trays lined with brown butcher paper. The dry-rubbed St. Louis pork ribs are excellent, but the must-try items are the smoky and perfectly seasoned burnt ends, and the slightly sweet, slightly salty Asian-inspired char siu pork steak (a departure from an otherwise traditional American barbecue menu, but a welcome one nonetheless). Also, make sure to order the chili mac & cheese, which includes actual chunks of brisket! -- LM
Danny Meyer's meat temple might mean more to the art of low-and-slow smoking in New York than any other restaurant: it was the first to firmly position BBQ on a truly grand stage, drove the creation of the BBQ-for-the-people Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, and has always believed that an array of regional styles can Voltron together to create "New York barbecue." Executive chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois, who started smoking there in 2014, has certainly continued down that path -- and while the Battery Park City location especially has turned towards a more pan-Southern-food approach with highlights other than just straight up BBQ and its required traditional sides, if you leave without taking down a half-rack of baby back ribs, it had better only be because they're sold out for the night. -- BR
Modeled after the famed Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, which known for its brisket, this Flatiron honky-tonk (with a second location in Downtown Brooklyn) gets its brisket right, too, by smoking it over post oak from Texas for super fatty and moist results. Kreuz is big on the fact that it doesn’t offer any forks or sauce, and while forks are certainly available at Hill Country, sauce is indeed scarce (found only on the market chicken, which is less memorable than the fantastic brisket). Hill Country is huge, with two floors, lots of tables, different stations where you order your food, and a stage for live music. It certainly resembles Central Texas (at least, as much as a spot in Flatiron can), right down to the brown butcher paper that your meat arrives on. -- LM
Still one of the most buzzed-about barbecue spots in the city (the original opened in Syracuse in the ‘80s, and there’s another location in Gowanus), John Stage’s joint doesn’t look to one single region for inspiration, instead combining different flavor profiles for tender beef brisket, juicy pork ribs coated in a sweet sauce, and the restaurant's real standout item: spice-rubbed, pit-smoked, char-grilled barbecue chicken wings. There are a number of sauce options to choose from, including an especially fiery sauce aptly called Devil’s Duel, but the garlic Chipotle is always a winner. -- LM
There isn’t a ton of Carolina-style barbecue in New York, and this East Williamsburg/Bushwick spot, which started as a summertime pop-up, is the answer to all your whole hog prayers. Arrogant Swine is very bare bones -- most of the space is taken up by the bar -- and it resembles a beer hall more than a barbecue joint, which was exactly what pitmaster Tyson Ho wanted. Beer plays a big role here (there’s always lots of unique crafts on tap), but the whole hog is what you’re coming for -- pulled pork with just the right balance of sweet and sour flavor. The other speciality here is the Western North Carolina Outside Brown, or pork shoulder, cut into chunks with lots of great smoky taste. The menu also features what is truly the best iteration of barbecue joint mac and cheese in New York: the mac and cheese waffle (yes, that is mac and cheese pressed in a waffle iron). -- LM
It means “fat pig” in German, and it will do whatever it can to make you the same thing in English. Sporting a run of outdoor picnic tables leading to what’s essentially a cinder block garage filled with hungry Brooklynites who wait in line to select their by-the-pound meats, Fette Sau does everything exceptionally well, and some things exceptionally-er well. The beef ribs will make you feel like a caveman gourmand, an espresso-inflected rub gives the tender pork belly a unique kick, and the charred, fatty top layer of the brisket will melt in your mouth, which is unfortunate -- it’d be better if it just stayed there for, well, ever. -- BR
Josh Bowen’s ode to his hometown of Kansas City is probably as no-frills as New York barbecue gets. In fact, this space with its red checkered table cloths and outdoor picnic tables is arguably kind of frilly for John Brown’s, as up until 2012, it was housed in a much smaller space on 37th and Crescent Ave, with just a few tables and no patio whatsoever. Food is ordered at the counter, behind which sits a chalkboard menu that you can simply ignore: the dry-rubbed pulled pork and fatty ribs are great, but you’re here for burnt ends, that Kansas City specialty. They’re exceptionally smokey and tender, and you could probably eat an entire platter to yourself in one sitting. The cornbread is also a must-order, as is the mac and cheese, which has a nice crusty top and isn’t drowning in too much sauce. -- LM
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Ben Robinson is Thrillist's Editorial Director, and once ate BBQ for two days straight while judging a competition. Literally two days, continuously. It just never stopped. He's OK now. Tell him about the best brisket you've ever had at @BenjoRobinson.
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.
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.
With a name like Daisy May's, you've only got to assume you're about to get served some true Southern BBQ, and you'd be right. Seated in a cafeteria-style dining room, you can nosh on the likes of Jack Daniels pulled chicken, Kansas City sweet and sticky ribs, Texas-style chili & all the fixin's, then wash it down with some sweet tea (or, obviously, a beer).
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.
Texas barbecue and Vietnamese fare are the perfect couple at Ducks Eatery in the East Village, where the two cuisines come together to create fusion, one-of-a-kind meat dishes like brisket marinated in fish sauce and chili paste, and curry-laced goat neck. Most plates are meant to be shared -- and paired with an unpretentious cocktail or beer from the sizable roster.
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.
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.
If you're looking for some Southern cuisine in NYC, Blue Smoke is the place to get revamped classics like seafood and okra gumbo and shrimp & grits. Danny Meyer's meat temple definitely brings something serious to the New York barbecue table, with buttermilk biscuits, baby back ribs, seven-pepper brisket, and backyard chicken.
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.
Whoever said the best barbecue in the country was south of the Mason-Dixon line hasn't been to this Syracuse-based chain that pays homage to its history as a motorcycle hang. 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 the honky-tonk charm alive.
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.
"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.
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.