HomeEat & DrinkThe 12 Best BBQ Spots in NYC

The 12 Best BBQ Spots in NYC

Summer is here and that means it’s time to pull out the grills at your local park — or head on over to one of the many barbeque locations around New York City. The city might not compare to BBQ capitals around the nation like Texas, Missouri, or North Carolina, but it has come a long way from meats slathered in tomato-based sauces. 

BBQ History in NYC

NYC’s history of BBQ is short, but there has definitely been some progress since the beginning. Before the 1980s, there was hardly any “real” barbeque in the city. There were places that served ribs, but most of these were cooked with a quality that was only a little bit better than what you could make at home. Places like this used gas rotisseries, which gave the meat flavor, but there was a lack of the “smoky” taste that is often associated with barbeque. The majority of gas rotisseries are gone, but the Royal Rib House in Brooklyn still practices this method and does it well.

In the 1980s, the city saw more and more places popping up that were actually doing barbecue like they do in Texas and Tennessee. These restaurants were slow-cooking their meats over charcoal for hours to produce the smoky flavor that NYC barbeque was lacking before. Restaurants specializing in ribs, multiple styles, and flavors were starting to emerge, but it wasn’t until 1992, when Stick to Your Ribs, Pearson’s Texas Barbeque began to change the city BBQ game permanently. The restaurant was founded by a hairdresser named Robert Pearson. He moved a barbeque he had founded from Connecticut to Long Island City. When he left the business, the restaurant was moved to Jackson Heights and renamed Ranger Texas Barbeque and it stayed open until 2009. 

Pearson did something differently that cemented his place in NYC barbeque history. Instead of importing meat, he bought meat from local butchers and his rolls came from local bakers. After seeing what barbeque could be in the city, new restaurants started their own businesses featuring all types of styles.

What are the 4 types of BBQ?

Now, you’re probably wondering what kind of styles there are in barbeque. There are more or less four different types of barbeque, and they are determined by the four prominent BBQ regions: Carolina, Memphis, Texas, and Kansas City. In order to understand the four styles, here is a breakdown of each region and how they barbeque their meat.

1. Carolina Style BBQ

It’s hard to combine the Carolinas together as there are different barbeque styles even within each state. In Eastern North Carolina, you will find whole hogs served chopped with a vinegar-based sauce. Whereas western Lexington barbeque only smokes the shoulder and their meats are usually served on a sandwich with a tomato-based sauce. South Carolina, on the other hand, is famous for their whole hog barbeque and their love for mustard, which is known as Carolina Gold.

2. Memphis Style BBQ

Memphis, aka pork country, is all about serving heavily smoked pulled pork, and wet and dry ribs. What makes Memphis style so distinctive is their rub. The meat is traditionally rubbed down with a dry rub that is made up of 40 different spices. Good rubs usually feature garlic and paprika. After the meat is rubbed down, it is then cooked in a big pit. The pitmaster will let the meat cook as long as possible, with no glaze applied at all through the process. The flavor is gained through the wood and the rub.

3. Texas Style BBQ

A distinctive feature of Texas-style barbeque is the lack of sides in your serving. They are known for their portions of meat, and meat only. The typical rub used is a salt and pepper mix, so a huge portion of the smokiness in the meat is from the wood. Texas-style relies on slow cooking, which means the meat can be cooked over oak wood for over 12 hours. They are also known for their smoked brisket and sausage. 

4. Kansas City Style BBQ

Kansas City will barbeque any kind of meat they can get their hands on. Their cuts are coated with a spicy rub, cooked low and slow over hickory smoke and then served with a tangy tomato mixture on the side. They are known for their burnt ends.

Barbeque NYC

At this point, you’re probably salivating and wanting to get to the good part — where can you find all of NYC’s prime barbeque spots? Here are some notable places when you’re craving barbeque.

1. Hometown Barbeque ($$)

 

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This popular spot located in Red Hook may be NYC’s current barbeque king. Hometown Barbeque serves up Brooklyn-style BBQ that uses southern techniques. Some of their notable dishes include the Caribbean Jerk Baby Back Ribs, Korean Pork Ribs, Texas-style brisket, and the Pulled Pork. The lines at this joint are usually long but great news, you can order from their bar and have a few drinks to sip on while you wait! Alternatively, check out their new location in Industry City, Brooklyn.

2. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que ($$)

 

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With multiple locations, this restaurant was first founded by John Stage and his two partners at the Harley Rendezvous in 1983. The three believed that bikers deserved a good plate of food and that Dinosaur could be that place. For the next five years, they served Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on the road for motorcycle shows, fairs, and festivals. They decided to settle the business in 1988 in Syracuse as a quick-service joint. Since then, they have opened up in Rochester, Harlem, Brooklyn, and more. They don’t have a specific style and rather combine different styles. The restaurant’s stand-out item is the spice-rubbed, pit-smoked, char-grilled Bar-B-Que Chicken Wings. But be sure to check out their BBQ Nachos, St. Louis Ribs, and Combo Plates. They also have a Sweetheart Deal for 2, which is a full rack of ribs with four different homemade sides all for $42. 

3. Hill Country Barbeque Market ($$)

Hill Country specializes in Central Texas-style barbeque with meats smoked in post oak wood. The Flatiron spot rubs their high-quality meat with a simple dry rub and then does the slow-and-low cooking method to obtain moist meat. For $109, you can get the Combo Cue, a family-style platter that will serve 3-5 people. The platter comes with brisket, chicken, Hill Country Hot Links & spare ribs, and three 16 oz sides!

4. Pig Beach ($$)

 

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Unlike anything in NYC, Pig Beach experiments with the tried and true BBQ technique. With locations in Brooklyn and Queens, they use local meats, sustainable seafood, and market fresh produce as a standard. With no specific BBQ style, instead they are an alchemy of multiple cooking disciplines with a strong focus on live wood fire. Try out their Pulled Pork Shoulder, Beef Brisket, Baby Back Ribs, and Yankee Red Hot Sausage Link. They also have burgers, sides, and desserts. 

5. Queens Bully ($$)

 

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Named after the iconic Queens Boulevard, Queens Bully is a gastropub located in Forest Hills. They serve traditional American BBQ and other global dishes. They also have cocktails and beers. According to Queen Bully, the spot was born out of mutual love for their neighborhood’s culture. Choose from their chicken (half or full), pulled pork, baby back ribs, brisket, and a BBQ meat sampler. They have sandwiches like the Smoked Brisket, Jerk Chicken, Astoria Lamb, Po’Boy, or the 74th St Aloo Tikki.

6. Royal Rib House ($$)

 

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The Royal Rib House has been in the Brooklyn community for over 50 years and they have just reopened earlier in 2022. You can usually see people lining up for their meat when they’re open. According to them, one of the main reasons for their success is the slow brewed barbeque sauce. With the Carolina-style sauce and meat, be sure to check out dishes like the Barbeque Ribs, Chopped Barbeque, Fried Chicken Legs, Short Ribs of Beef, Barbeque Chicken, and more. They have sandwiches with all of the meat mentioned. Don’t forget to pair your meal with some candied yams, baked macaroni, or cole slaw, and end it with some banana pudding.

7. Fette Sau ($$)

 

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This long-standing Williamsburg spot serves smoked meats by-the-pound. They have Texas-style and New York deli-style meats. The shop offers all of the traditional barbeque cuts along with plenty of not-so-traditional things such as veal heart, beef tongue pastrami, and pork belly. For the less experimental, Fette Sau is known for their Burnt End Baked Beans which is made with pork and beef that is slowly cooked in beans overnight. Be sure to check their Instagram for any specials or menu changes, as they sell out very quickly. 

8. Hudson Smokehouse ($$)

Located in the Mott Haven area of the South Bronx, Hudson Smokehouse opened up right before the start of the pandemic, but was forced to shut down two weeks later. However, the owner, Kenneth McPartlan, didn’t give up and kept up with delivery services and was even responsible for brining 300 meals a day to World Central Kitchen for folks in need. Make sure to enjoy popular items like the Texas-style Brisket and Pork Belly Burnt Ends, and sandwiches like Pulled Pork and the Smashed Burger. They also have Saturday specials of pastrami or beef ribs by the half-pound.

9. Mighty Quinn’s ($$)

This spot has locations all across NYC, like the East Village, Brooklyn, Forest Hills, and the Bronx. Mighty Quinn’s serves both Texas and Carolina’s style of barbeque. Their mission is to source the best quality ingredients and not to fuss with them too much. They cook their BBQ the old-school way; with plenty of wood and time, while adding just the right amount of salt and spice. They use all-natural meats and poultry, seasoned with spice blends and smoked with wood for long hours until the “perfect harmony of smoke, flavor, and time emerges.” Hugh Mangum, the pitmaster is all about slow-cooked perfection. Try out their Brisket, Burnt Ends, Brontosaurus Rib, Pulled Pork, and their meat platters. 

10. Mable’s Smokehouse ($$)

Located in Williamsburg, Mable’s Smokehouse is all about southern hospitality. They have been open for 12 years now and are run by a husband and wife duo. They consider themselves an authentic, no-frills, old-fashioned BBQ spot, and their most popular item is the sliced brisket that is lean with the perfect amount of fat and will fill your senses with a delightful smoky taste. For their meats, they have pulled chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket, St. Louis ribs, andouille sausage, and even a veggie sloppy joe. Don’t forget to check out sides like BBQ baked beans and the creamy mac n’ cheese. They even have whole pies (key lime and peanut butter) to balance out your meal.

11. John Brown BBQ ($$)

 

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Opened as an ode to the owner’s hometown of Kansas City, John Brown BBQ brings the freshest and most delicious Kansas City style BBQ to the people of Long Island City and beyond. They sell platters and meat by the pound which includes pulled pork, brisket, burnt ends, and cured pastrami. They even have specialty sandwiches like the Spicy Chopped Beef, John Brown Reuben, P.B.L.T, and Philippe Deluxe. Don’t forget to try out some of their sides too which include coleslaw, hand-cut fries, chili, and baked beans. Since this is a Kansas City-styled restaurant, you will have to try the burnt ends. 

12. Juicy Lucy ($$)

 

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A Staten Island special, this spot has three locations across the island. Juicy Lucy is a Central Texas-style barbeque spot that has won several local awards for their Brisket and Ribs. They won the Brisket King award in 2019 and won both Rib and Brisket King in 2021.  Choose from their Barbeque Chicken, Slow Smoked Pastrami, and Brisket if you are wanting something from their signature smoked meats. They have their own specials like the Brisket Poutine which is chopped brisket over a bed of cheese curls and fries, and then topped with brisket gravy. They also have the Juicy Lucy Burger, Porky’s Revenge Sandwich, and Mac Attack as their specials. 

Nina Yu is a writer, new to the city. Her articles have been published to local newspapers and a national women’s online magazine.

Lynne has travelled and lived in over three different continents, but New York City is still her favorite. She is excited to share her love for great city and its community with everyone through her writing! In her free time, Lynne loves to watch cute and silly videos of cats, which may be the one thing that beats her love for NYC.

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