If you’ve been paying attention, you can’t help but notice all the barbecue spots popping up all around the city. From classics like Dinosaur Bar-B-Que to upstarts like Mighty Quinn’s, NYC’s in a barbecue craze.
While Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan are all seeing their fair share of slow-roasted fare, you don’t have to leave our happy borough to sample some smoked meats. There’s a grilling revolution happening right in New York’s stunning Queens backcountry.
Pull up a stool, tie up a bib, and make sure you’re wearing your stretchy pants — Queens-style barbecue is here.
25-27 Broadway, Astoria
If you’re looking for books, you’ve come to the wrong Strand. But if you’re looking for beers, bourbons and beef, then buddy, sidle on up to the filling station — you’re among friends.
The Strand Smokehouse on Broadway is one of the only places in Astoria you can watch New York sports while listening to live bluegrass and country music, and it simply has the best brisket in the neighborhood. Sliced while you watch and served by the pound, the brisket is tender, juicy and mind-blowingly delicious. If brisket’s not your style, try the wings or the Flintstones-sized short ribs.
Generous sides of mac ‘n’ cheese and cornbread and a fantastic bourbon selection mean the Strand isn’t just some of the best barbecue in Astoria — it’s a little piece of Texas scooped up and plopped down in western Queens.
37-10 30th Ave, Astoria
With so much barbecue arising in New York over the past five years, at what point will new spots stop trying to bring Carolina-, Texas- or Georgia-style barbecue to the Big Apple and start claiming New York-style barbecue for their own? Butcher Bar on 30th Avenue thinks they’re leading that trend.
Incorporating influences from Austin, Kansas City, Missouri and the Carolinas, pitmaster Matthew Katakis and executive chef Orlando Sanchez have blended them all to create, as Katakis calls it, “Astoria Queens smoked barbecue.”
If you’re going to go, get there by 6 p.m. to make sure you get the burnt ends — they often sell out by 6:30 or 7. Katakis refuses to freeze anything so that he can guarantee freshness, and as such, they sometimes sell out of the best stuff. But the burnt ends — or “meat candy” as they call it — make it worth your while to arrive early.
If you get to Butcher Bar too late and miss out on the burnt ends, the Monster Burger has you covered. Fifty percent brisket, 50 percent pulled pork, and topped with habanero sauce, pickles, cole slaw and more, the Monster is a beast of a beef patty.
29-03 Broadway, Astoria
What style of barbecue do you want to try tonight? Texas? Carolina? Kentucky? How about a little south of the border? No, more south.
Like, way south.
Carioca Grill on Broadway is Brazilian-style rodizio barbecue translated into beautiful buffet glory. The line at this underappreciated South American gem is usually short, but don’t think for a second it’s because of the food. Load up your plate with rice, beans and veggies, then head to the grill master for your choice of meats fresh off the fire. Make sure to grab the churrasco, rotisserie cooked right in front of your eyes.
37-11 30th Ave, Long Island City
If you want to venture into barbecue but can’t let go of your precious margarita straw, look no further than MexiBBQ on 30th Avenue. It’s everything you love about barbecue wrapped up in a soft tortilla and served with salsa. If there’s a better place to celebrate Taco Tuesday, we haven’t heard of it.
Head out for the tacos and margs, but MexiBBQ’s brunch menu is where they really shine. Unlimited mimosas and an impressive beer selection make this spot’s Saturday morning sidewalk game one that’s not to miss. Don’t sleep on the Hangover Cure — chilaquiles with crispy tortilla strips, sliced chicken breast, pico de gallo and salsa.
10-43 44th Dr, Long Island City
You might not have seen John Brown Smokehouse during your weekend jaunts through LIC, as it’s a touch off the beaten path on 44th Drive off of 11th Street. But the extra block or two is worth the walk for the mind-blowing food and gorgeous back garden you’ll find there.
John Brown isn’t fancy, but everything it lacks in ambience goes right back into the food. It’s Kansas City-style barbecue the way it should be — real people making real food they really love, and nothing more. Stop in for a bite of before heading out on the East River Ferry, or tie up your horse and stay for an afternoon. The staff is nothing if not welcoming. Everyone goes for the ribs, but leaves raving about the burnt ends.