Over the weekend, the 13th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party took over Madison Square Park and it's surrounding streets to serve up some of the best 'cue in the country.
The block party gave City meat-lovers a chance to sample barbecue from the nation’s top, award-winning pitmasters hailing from ‘cue capitals like Texas, the Carolinas, Alabama, Tennessee and more.
Of the 17 top pitmasters invited to showoff their skills from all around the country, four of them were local New York BBQ hotspots.
Hometown Bar-B-Que, Red Hook
Red Hook's Hometown Bar-B-Que is a Brooklyn favorite, being recently named "New York's Best Barbecue Restaurant" by Eater.
Owner and pitmaster Billy Durney is a Brooklyn native and opened up Hometown in 2013, fulfilling a longtime dream (nay, calling) to smoke meat. He learned the craft at his Grandparent's rural cabin in Pennsylvania, perfected it over 20 years, then finally rewarded us with his juicy meats.
Hometown's Jamaican Jerk St. Louis Ribs with Caribbean Slaw had a nice spicy kick, with the jerk sauce providing flavor and heat without overpowering the meat. The ribs were tender, falling off the bone with minimal effort, and complimented perfectly by a bright and flavorful slaw.
Hill Country Barbecue, New York
Local favorite BBQ joint Hill Country came all the way down from 26th St. with their meats smoked low and slow over Texas Post Oak.
Pitmaster and "fire starter" Charles Grund Jr. learned to cook under the tutelage of fine dining establishments in Chicago and New York before finding his passion in delicious, slow-cooked brisket.
Hill Country's Beef Brisket Sandwich with Sweet & Spicy Pickles is always top-notch, and this weekend was no exception. The moist sandwich was very well seasoned, hitting with a smoky, salty flavor off the bat, then complimented shortly by the melting fatty layers covering your taste buds in bliss. The bark was sweet and caramelized, packed with smoky flavor.
Blue Smoke, New York
Flatiron and Battery Park City's Blue Smoke was founded by restaurateur Danny Meyer back in '02 with the goal of creating a casual restaurant that would combine the soulful cuisine of America's South with the fine dining of the City. Just one year after opening, Danny and the Blue Smoke team created the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, organizing the first one in 2003.
Executive chef and pitmaster Jean-Paul Bourgeois grew up surrounded by vibrant Southern cuisine in Thibodaux, Louisiana. After working at top-notch restaurants around the country, he was named as Executive Chef of Blue Smoke enterprises in 2014 and brought some more of that Southern inspiration to the restaurants.
Blue Smoke's Pork Spare Ribs with Pickled Peppers had a more traditional barbecue flavor, well executed and packed with flavor. They were less salty than sweet, and despite the daunting habanero pepper they rest atop, didn't have much of a kick at all, bringing a sweeter, juicy and moist rib done well.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue, New York
Local BBQ mainstay Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue wasn't founded here in the City, but since opening up in Harlem back in 2004, has continually made the list of the best 'cue in the City.
Founder and pitmaster John Stage started Dinosaur with 2 partners back in 1983 cooking in 55-gallon drums and hitting up motorcycle shows, fairs and festivals up and down the East Coast. Since then, Dinosaur has grown into one of the Country's best, and Stage even has a best-selling BBQ cookbook: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse.
Dinosaur's Beef Brisket with BBQ Beans starts with 14hr slow-cooked slab of brisket, a good hours rest, then a delicious au jus served up on an open bun with bbq beans. The meat was moist and tender, with less salt, more melt-in-your-mouth fat, and a complimentary sweet relish that hit all the right spots on your tongue. So delicious in fact, that our interns ate the whole thing before we could snap a photo!
All the food we tried was amazing at this year's Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, and the live music and drinking corral inside the park was a major bonus as well. We're already looking forward to next year's block party, and so should you!
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