‘Smoked meat’ was the catch-all category I was seeking in New York that allowed me to branch out into the world of pastrami and smoked salmon, but the real goal was to get a first-hand understanding on the quality of the barbecue joints across the city. Nearly everyone who heard about my plan to eat barbecue all over New York was skeptical and thought I was wasting my time. Barbecue couldn’t possibly be good in New York City, right? Wrong. We sometimes forget in Texas that we too have plenty of bad barbecue. But seek and you shall find. If you’re looking to seek out some smoked brisket or ribs during your travels, or if you’re just a homesick Texan in Manhattan, here are a few items to seek out and a few to avoid.
Pork belly and brisket at Fette Sau
A little more smoke would help the brisket at this popular Williamsburg joint, but the beef was beautifully cooked with a nice layer of silky fat cap. The pork belly was the perfect blend of soft fat and tender meat. A heavy rub and great smokiness made this a favorite of the entire trip.
Kreuz sausage at Hill Country BBQ
Central Texas beef sausage is treated with care and adequate smoke. Snapping into the juicy links provided a moist chin and a satiated belly.
Pork ribs at Wildwood BBQ, Mable’s and Butcher Bar
Ribs of every variety can be found around the city. The sweet and salty rub of the Memphis style ribs at Wildwood paired well with the thick bark and tender meat. A glaze sweetened things up on the perfectly tender baby backs at Mable’s in Brooklyn. Out in Queens, the spare ribs at Butcher Bar had a subtle sweet rub with black pepper and clean pork flavor.
Beef ribs at Blue Smoke
Beef back ribs are presented with the ‘Hollywood cut’ where every other bone is discarded so more meat is left on the remaining bones. Tender meat was boldly flavored with a rub that featured freshly cracked black pepper rather than the usual pre-ground mix.