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A collection of dishes from Pig Beach in Astoria.
A selection from Pig Beach in Astoria.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

NYC’s 22 Essential Barbecue Restaurants

Where to find the city’s best brisket, sausages, burnt ends, and smoked bologna

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A selection from Pig Beach in Astoria.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Summer is almost upon us, and real hardwood barbecue beckons. A luxuriantly hefty pork rib or pink-ringed slice of fatty brisket is equally delicious sitting in a historic barbecue storefront with the smell of smoke in your nostrils, or sprawled on a blanket in a park with friends at a picnic — remember, barbecue should be served at ambient temperature, so you can carry it anywhere without loss of flavor.

New York City has come a long way from the days when sauce-slathered pork ribs baked in the oven were considered barbecue. The city’s pitmasters have turned to other parts of the country for inspiration — to Texas, the Carolinas, Memphis, Kansas City, and now, Alabama. This list even boasts a Dominican-Texan mash-up that already has become one of the best barbecues in town.

Pitmasters began upping their game in the late ’90s and have only gotten better with time. This revised guide has many points in heretofore unexpected places. And it brings good news: Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue has reopened after a devastating fire, Jersey City has a new barbecue that makes Hoboken and JC collectively a very serious barbecue destination, and the Queens Pig Beach is every bit as good as the Brooklyn one was.

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Pik Nik BBQ

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This might be the prettiest barbecue in the state, with its flower-filled pots on a Westchester street that slopes down to the Hudson River. The St. Louis ribs are nicely charred, the brisket smoke-ringed, and the pork sausage cross-hatched and made in-house. Vegetarian salads on display are particularly colorful, an oddity in good barbecue.

red curving sausage, cup of potato salad, and other gobs of smoked meat decorated with greenery
The three-meat special at Pik Nik.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

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Founded in Syracuse in 1988 and still boasting upstate flourishes, John Stage's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is one of the more established barbecues in NYC. Rather than settling on a single style, its menu evokes several different places around the state and country. Go for the pork ribs, baked beans, and, best of all, Syracuse salt potatoes. Located on the edge of Columbia University’s north campus, Dinosaur is a great spot for dining with kids. Other locations reside in Park Slope and upstate New York.

A dining room with people sitting at rustic booths and light streaming in a window in the background.
Dinosaur’s comfy West Harlem interior.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hudson Smokehouse

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This Mott Haven restaurant from pitmaster Robin Hudson does a spectacular job on fundamentals, including a solid brisket sandwich and a passel of smoky pork ribs, matched with a local beer selection and a comfortable dining hall. Hell, this place might as well be in Texas. Lots of quirks keep the menu interesting, including pork belly, a smash burger, chorizo, and jerk chicken. Beef ribs and pastrami are available on Saturdays.

Thickly stacked barbecued brisket overflows from a small bun.
Hudson Smokehouse’s brisket sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This Manhattan Valley meat restaurant, part of a mini-chain, specializes in Oklahoma barbecue and takes the concept further than Mable’s in Brooklyn. The hot links sandwich (tell them to hold the lettuce) is the number one thing to get, but the Sooners-style ribs and smoked bologna are also interesting, especially for barbecue enthusiasts jaded by the usual choices.

A dark red sausage split on a bun with tidbits of pork skin and and orange sauce.
The formidable hot links sandwich is representative of Oklahoma and North Texas barbecue.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Shane's Rib Shack

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A pork rib sandwich may sound like an impossibility, but in some parts of the South it is considered a classic form of barbecue. Expect sauced ribs between two slices of white bread — and how you eat it is up to you. Grasp the bread carefully and roll the thing around in your mouth until the meat falls off the bone, keeping your hands relatively clean in the process. Shane’s is a multi-state chain originating in Georgia, and other specialties include chicken, pulled pork, and hamburgers — but no brisket or sausage.

A rack of pork ribs between two slices of white bread.
Rib sandwich at Shane’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Virgil's Real BBQ

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Virgil's Real BBQ in Times Square makes real hardwood barbecue more accessible to tourists than any other place in town, and it’s owned by the same hospitality company as the Italian restaurant Carmine’s. The barbecue is surprisingly good despite the corporate feel, with decent brisket, pulled pork, and barbecue beans bobbing with little tidbits of meat. Another branch can be found on the Upper West Side.

A barbecue with red signage and skyscrapers all around it and an American flag hanging down on the right of the picture.
Virgil’s is a prominent feature of Times Square.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pig Beach BBQ Queens

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Pig Beach founders are Balthazar alum Shane McBride and Del Posto vet Matt Abdoo, and while this Queens branch lacks the estuarial views of the original, the barbecue has gotten a shade better. Sliced thick and sold in portions as small as a quarter pound, the brisket is now one of the best on this map. Pulled lamb shoulder with yogurt sauce is a tasty outlier, and the provolone-laced sausage is the only thing that was just so-so on a recent revisit. A great place for families with kids.

Smoked brisket from Pig Beach in Astoria.
Brisket from Pig Beach in Astoria.

John Brown BBQ

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Describing itself as Kansas City-style, John Brown BBQ moved into the old location of Mothership Meat Company in Long Island City. The menu is more eclectic than the Kansas City designation suggests, featuring brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, and house-cured pastrami. There’s also a beguiling array of invented sandwiches, such as the John Brown Reuben, which deploys pastrami along with Swiss cheese and coleslaw. The fenced and decorated backyard is another lure.

A fenced-in concrete yard with tables covered with red-checked fabric and tiny lights strung around everywhere, glowing yellow.
John Brown’s back yard.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hill Country Barbecue Market

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Hill Country turns out a faithful version of Central Texas barbecue, inspired by Kreuz Market in Lockhart. Founded by Texas native Marc Glosserman, the brisket is available fatty or lean, in addition to “clod” (beef shoulder). The small chain (there’s another location in Washington, D.C.) recently started making its own hot links, and they’re damn good. As at basically all great Texas barbecues, the sides are just so-so. The meat is served by the pound on butcher paper with a choice of white bread or soda crackers.

A curving sausage link lies upon several slices of white bread.
Beef sausage from Kreuz.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Myron Mixon's Pitmaster Barbeque

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Don’t you love a quirky barbecue, where the level of the output sometimes rises to exemplary, while other things are mediocre? This new pit right on Hoboken’s main drag is run by Myron Mixon, a veteran of the competitive barbecue circuit who’s also a food TV personality. Pulled pork is a highlight, especially when doused with vinegar; the beef and pork sausages are nicely dense and smoky; and as over-the-top as it sounds, a sandwich of brisket topped with mac and cheese is probably the best thing on the menu.

A round shiny bun with brown sliced brisket and orange macaroni.
A brisket sandwich with mac and cheese.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mighty Quinn's Barbeque

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With eight branches in NYC and one in Hoboken (note the original in the East Village closed recently), Mighty Quinn’s serves up what pitmaster Hugh Mangum describes as “Texalina style,” a fusion of the barbecue traditions found in Texas and the Carolinas. But what really emerges is a uniquely New York iteration: Maldon salt is sprinkled atop the meat as it’s served, and some dishes, like the smoked chicken wings, make use of a deep fryer. The gargantuan beef rib, smoked for 12 hours, is a defining menu item.

Sliced brisket sandwich on brioche
The brisket sandwich at Mighty Quinn’s is actually a good deal.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hamilton Pork

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This barbecue in Jersey City, a few blocks from the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, was founded in 2016 by brothers Michael and John Gondevas. In addition to great beef brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork, find uncommon items such as brisket sausages, crusty and chewy lamb belly, and tacos filled with various forms of barbecue, squiggled with sauces. The fenced-in side yard is an added plus, about as close as the metro area ever comes to Austin.

Three tacos on flattened tortillas on brown paper on a metal tray.
Barbecue tacos at Hamilton Pork.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mable's Smokehouse & Banquet Hall

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Mable's is unique among the city’s barbecue joints, a real Oklahoma-style honky tonk fit for brew-swilling crowds. Try the brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, and locally sourced kielbasa that stands in for hot links sausage. The platters with three meats and sides are a good deal for a crowd, but the individual diner or couple could easily be seduced by some of the side offerings, including a Frito pie with top-notch chili, barbecue tacos featuring your choice of meat, and peanut butter pie. Skip the pulled chicken.

An orange tray with barbecue, sides, and slices of white bread helter skelter.
Brisket and kielbasa with sides.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Boots & Bones

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This new barbecue across the street from Jersey City’s Grove Street PATH station doubles as a beer bar, and has seats along the open front windows that offer great views — and predictably, there’s a speakeasy in the basement. Chef and pitmaster Kenny Callaghan was the original pitmaster at Blue Smoke, and his beef ribs and pulled pork appetizer are the things to get. Southern specialties like pimento cheese and deviled eggs round out the menu.

Three blackened ribs on top of white bread slices.
Beef ribs at Boots & Bones.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Queens Bully

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If a down-home barbecue were recast as a cocktail lounge, this Forest Hills establishment is what it would look like. The menu strays into predictable bar food like pretzel bites, fried chicken and waffles, along with wings in dizzying permutations. But the barbecue: chicken, ribs, brisket, and — not neglecting vegans, smoked jackfruit — is solid. Also on offer: po’ boys and Nashville-style hot chicken.

A rack of charred ribs with cauliflower and coleslaw
Ribs with a side of pickled vegetables.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Blue Smoke

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While the original branch of barbecue pioneer Blue Smoke closed during the pandemic, the Battery Park City outpost motors on under chef Bret Lunsford. This branch has always been known for its ribs in the Memphis and St. Louis styles smoked over cherry wood. The Texas-style brisket sandwich is good, too, and so is the barbecued chicken, smoked and then grilled. From there the menu wanders needlessly off into things like fried chicken and chips with queso.

A pile of charred ribs on a white plate.
Barbecued pork ribs.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fette Sau

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Early on, this 15-year-old barbecue spot tucked in a Williamsburg alleyway established itself as a maverick operation with a broad range of barbecue options. The chalkboard menu often ran to pork belly, beef tongue, pork chops, and pig tails, in addition to the usual ribs and brisket. The quality has always been high, with a much more aggressive drink program than most barbecue spots, including shots of premium whiskies.

A tray covered with white paper and a dozen or so types of barbecue and side, including ribs, pulled pork, and brisket.
A selection of barbecue and sides at Fette Sau.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Bark BBQ

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For those who couldn’t keep up with this lauded Queens barbecue pop-up from Ruben Santana, there’s now a permanent location on the spacious fifth floor of Time Out Market. For perhaps the first time, great barbecue offers Dominican side dishes like plantains and an enthralling form of cornbread, and a few less common BBQ meats, such as chicharron and pernil. Only as much meat as can be sold in one day is smoked, meaning the selection varies and the product is as fresh as can be.

Two meats and three sides on a paper lined tray.
Brisket, pulled pork, cornbread, mac and cheese, and fried plantains.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Brooklyn BBQ

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Brooklyn BBQ is a year-old establishment at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn Heights with an eclectic assortment of meats. Sure, the fatty brisket and burnished pork ribs are top notch, but also find some really distinguished Alabama-style chicken thighs speckled with a black pepper rub, and a pork-and-cheddar cheese sausage with a snappy skin. Sides are pretty much all the usual.

Three browned thighs with collards and potato salad.
Alabama chicken thighs at Brooklyn BBQ.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Royal Rib NYC

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Royal Rib NYC, known originally as Royal Rib House, was founded in the 1970s, before the city had real hardwood barbecue, reflecting traditions of the Carolinas. For the time it sufficed, turning out ribs, pulled pork, and chickens that derived smoky flavor and crisp exterior from a vertical rotisserie cabinet. The storied place closed in 2019, but has since reopened further east, offering a menu that also lists fried chicken and also seafood. The soul-food sides persist, along with banana pudding, apple cobbler, and sweet potato pie for dessert.

A sign with red letter over a picture window, seen from a sideways angle.
Royal Rib House relocated to a new location in Bed-Stuy on Malcolm X Boulevard.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Morgan's Brooklyn Barbecue

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When Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue burned down two years ago, my feeling was that it was already slipping in the quality of its smoked meat. But now it’s back with a bang. The substantial, black-pepper-rubbed pork ribs are better than before, the footlong jalapeno sausage is spicy and grainy enough for anyone’s taste, and the brisket is tasty — even though it’s sliced with the grain contrary to the usual practice. The roadhouse ambiance feels just right.

A paper-lined tray with sausage, brisket, and detached ribs.
The “holy trinity” at Morgan’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hometown Bar-B-Que

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Hometown is pitmaster Billy Durney's vision of local barbecue. While it leans toward Texas-style, it is at its heart and soul a New York restaurant. It’s often declared the best barbecue in the city; the move is to order a little bit of everything on the menu, especially the short rib, brisket, Jamaican jerk ribs, and spare ribs. A new branch in Sunset Park’s Industry City may be more accessible and offers smashburgers and cheese fries.

Three slabs of fatty brisket are arranged on a stainless steel lunch tray.
Hometown’s fatty brisket.
Eater NY

Pik Nik BBQ

This might be the prettiest barbecue in the state, with its flower-filled pots on a Westchester street that slopes down to the Hudson River. The St. Louis ribs are nicely charred, the brisket smoke-ringed, and the pork sausage cross-hatched and made in-house. Vegetarian salads on display are particularly colorful, an oddity in good barbecue.

red curving sausage, cup of potato salad, and other gobs of smoked meat decorated with greenery
The three-meat special at Pik Nik.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Founded in Syracuse in 1988 and still boasting upstate flourishes, John Stage's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is one of the more established barbecues in NYC. Rather than settling on a single style, its menu evokes several different places around the state and country. Go for the pork ribs, baked beans, and, best of all, Syracuse salt potatoes. Located on the edge of Columbia University’s north campus, Dinosaur is a great spot for dining with kids. Other locations reside in Park Slope and upstate New York.

A dining room with people sitting at rustic booths and light streaming in a window in the background.
Dinosaur’s comfy West Harlem interior.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hudson Smokehouse

This Mott Haven restaurant from pitmaster Robin Hudson does a spectacular job on fundamentals, including a solid brisket sandwich and a passel of smoky pork ribs, matched with a local beer selection and a comfortable dining hall. Hell, this place might as well be in Texas. Lots of quirks keep the menu interesting, including pork belly, a smash burger, chorizo, and jerk chicken. Beef ribs and pastrami are available on Saturdays.

Thickly stacked barbecued brisket overflows from a small bun.
Hudson Smokehouse’s brisket sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Au Jus

This Manhattan Valley meat restaurant, part of a mini-chain, specializes in Oklahoma barbecue and takes the concept further than Mable’s in Brooklyn. The hot links sandwich (tell them to hold the lettuce) is the number one thing to get, but the Sooners-style ribs and smoked bologna are also interesting, especially for barbecue enthusiasts jaded by the usual choices.

A dark red sausage split on a bun with tidbits of pork skin and and orange sauce.
The formidable hot links sandwich is representative of Oklahoma and North Texas barbecue.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Shane's Rib Shack

A pork rib sandwich may sound like an impossibility, but in some parts of the South it is considered a classic form of barbecue. Expect sauced ribs between two slices of white bread — and how you eat it is up to you. Grasp the bread carefully and roll the thing around in your mouth until the meat falls off the bone, keeping your hands relatively clean in the process. Shane’s is a multi-state chain originating in Georgia, and other specialties include chicken, pulled pork, and hamburgers — but no brisket or sausage.

A rack of pork ribs between two slices of white bread.
Rib sandwich at Shane’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Virgil's Real BBQ

Virgil's Real BBQ in Times Square makes real hardwood barbecue more accessible to tourists than any other place in town, and it’s owned by the same hospitality company as the Italian restaurant Carmine’s. The barbecue is surprisingly good despite the corporate feel, with decent brisket, pulled pork, and barbecue beans bobbing with little tidbits of meat. Another branch can be found on the Upper West Side.

A barbecue with red signage and skyscrapers all around it and an American flag hanging down on the right of the picture.
Virgil’s is a prominent feature of Times Square.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pig Beach BBQ Queens

Pig Beach founders are Balthazar alum Shane McBride and Del Posto vet Matt Abdoo, and while this Queens branch lacks the estuarial views of the original, the barbecue has gotten a shade better. Sliced thick and sold in portions as small as a quarter pound, the brisket is now one of the best on this map. Pulled lamb shoulder with yogurt sauce is a tasty outlier, and the provolone-laced sausage is the only thing that was just so-so on a recent revisit. A great place for families with kids.

Smoked brisket from Pig Beach in Astoria.
Brisket from Pig Beach in Astoria.

John Brown BBQ

Describing itself as Kansas City-style, John Brown BBQ moved into the old location of Mothership Meat Company in Long Island City. The menu is more eclectic than the Kansas City designation suggests, featuring brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, and house-cured pastrami. There’s also a beguiling array of invented sandwiches, such as the John Brown Reuben, which deploys pastrami along with Swiss cheese and coleslaw. The fenced and decorated backyard is another lure.

A fenced-in concrete yard with tables covered with red-checked fabric and tiny lights strung around everywhere, glowing yellow.
John Brown’s back yard.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hill Country Barbecue Market

Hill Country turns out a faithful version of Central Texas barbecue, inspired by Kreuz Market in Lockhart. Founded by Texas native Marc Glosserman, the brisket is available fatty or lean, in addition to “clod” (beef shoulder). The small chain (there’s another location in Washington, D.C.) recently started making its own hot links, and they’re damn good. As at basically all great Texas barbecues, the sides are just so-so. The meat is served by the pound on butcher paper with a choice of white bread or soda crackers.

A curving sausage link lies upon several slices of white bread.
Beef sausage from Kreuz.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Myron Mixon's Pitmaster Barbeque

Don’t you love a quirky barbecue, where the level of the output sometimes rises to exemplary, while other things are mediocre? This new pit right on Hoboken’s main drag is run by Myron Mixon, a veteran of the competitive barbecue circuit who’s also a food TV personality. Pulled pork is a highlight, especially when doused with vinegar; the beef and pork sausages are nicely dense and smoky; and as over-the-top as it sounds, a sandwich of brisket topped with mac and cheese is probably the best thing on the menu.

A round shiny bun with brown sliced brisket and orange macaroni.
A brisket sandwich with mac and cheese.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mighty Quinn's Barbeque

With eight branches in NYC and one in Hoboken (note the original in the East Village closed recently), Mighty Quinn’s serves up what pitmaster Hugh Mangum describes as “Texalina style,” a fusion of the barbecue traditions found in Texas and the Carolinas. But what really emerges is a uniquely New York iteration: Maldon salt is sprinkled atop the meat as it’s served, and some dishes, like the smoked chicken wings, make use of a deep fryer. The gargantuan beef rib, smoked for 12 hours, is a defining menu item.

Sliced brisket sandwich on brioche
The brisket sandwich at Mighty Quinn’s is actually a good deal.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hamilton Pork

This barbecue in Jersey City, a few blocks from the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, was founded in 2016 by brothers Michael and John Gondevas. In addition to great beef brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork, find uncommon items such as brisket sausages, crusty and chewy lamb belly, and tacos filled with various forms of barbecue, squiggled with sauces. The fenced-in side yard is an added plus, about as close as the metro area ever comes to Austin.

Three tacos on flattened tortillas on brown paper on a metal tray.
Barbecue tacos at Hamilton Pork.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mable's Smokehouse & Banquet Hall

Mable's is unique among the city’s barbecue joints, a real Oklahoma-style honky tonk fit for brew-swilling crowds. Try the brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, and locally sourced kielbasa that stands in for hot links sausage. The platters with three meats and sides are a good deal for a crowd, but the individual diner or couple could easily be seduced by some of the side offerings, including a Frito pie with top-notch chili, barbecue tacos featuring your choice of meat, and peanut butter pie. Skip the pulled chicken.

An orange tray with barbecue, sides, and slices of white bread helter skelter.
Brisket and kielbasa with sides.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Boots & Bones

This new barbecue across the street from Jersey City’s Grove Street PATH station doubles as a beer bar, and has seats along the open front windows that offer great views — and predictably, there’s a speakeasy in the basement. Chef and pitmaster Kenny Callaghan was the original pitmaster at Blue Smoke, and his beef ribs and pulled pork appetizer are the things to get. Southern specialties like pimento cheese and deviled eggs round out the menu.

Three blackened ribs on top of white bread slices.
Beef ribs at Boots & Bones.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Queens Bully

If a down-home barbecue were recast as a cocktail lounge, this Forest Hills establishment is what it would look like. The menu strays into predictable bar food like pretzel bites, fried chicken and waffles, along with wings in dizzying permutations. But the barbecue: chicken, ribs, brisket, and — not neglecting vegans, smoked jackfruit — is solid. Also on offer: po’ boys and Nashville-style hot chicken.

A rack of charred ribs with cauliflower and coleslaw
Ribs with a side of pickled vegetables.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

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Blue Smoke

While the original branch of barbecue pioneer Blue Smoke closed during the pandemic, the Battery Park City outpost motors on under chef Bret Lunsford. This branch has always been known for its ribs in the Memphis and St. Louis styles smoked over cherry wood. The Texas-style brisket sandwich is good, too, and so is the barbecued chicken, smoked and then grilled. From there the menu wanders needlessly off into things like fried chicken and chips with queso.

A pile of charred ribs on a white plate.
Barbecued pork ribs.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fette Sau

Early on, this 15-year-old barbecue spot tucked in a Williamsburg alleyway established itself as a maverick operation with a broad range of barbecue options. The chalkboard menu often ran to pork belly, beef tongue, pork chops, and pig tails, in addition to the usual ribs and brisket. The quality has always been high, with a much more aggressive drink program than most barbecue spots, including shots of premium whiskies.