Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big Apple BBQ Preview

My favorite weekend of the year, the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, is upon us.

With over a dozen different BBQ joints offering their wares this year, navigating the meaty landscape may require a guide.

I hereby humbly offer myself, if you choose to read on.

Our format will be as follows: I am dismissing all of the New York City restaurants in attendance. They are all too easy to try at any other time (including this very weekend after the festival hours end) to warrant consideration. That leaves us with the following contenders.

I will approach this from the standpoint that every BBQ lover has their own personal meat preference. This guide intends to steer you towards those pit masters who create versions of their meats that I believe to be the most outstanding relative to the average example. Without further adieu, here is the list:

If you can only eat one plate of BBQ…



Get a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, from Decatur, Alabama. Pit master Chris Lilly’s pork is chock full of nuanced smoky flavor and signature spices, while remaining moist and tender.




Bite into one of these sandwiches with your eyes closed and concentrate on letting flavors swirl around your mouth. You’ll understand why everyone is lining up.

If you can only eat two plates of BBQ…

Get a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and…


a plate of brisket and sausage from The Salt Lick, of Driftwood, Texas. Michael Rodriguez and crew are no longer the winners of the “longest distance traveled” award, but they are still the beef bbq kings. I’ll be the first to admit that their product is superior on their home turf (I’ve had the fortune of visiting the Driftwood local), but they are still turning out pink smoke laden beef and juicy, spicy sausage that bests the competition when they hit the big apple. Be sure to ask for a bit of the “moist” end of the brisket. You won’t be disappointed.





If you can only eat three plates of BBQ…

Get a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and a plate of brisket and sausage from The Salt Lick and…



a whole hog sandwich from Mitchell’s BBQ, of Wilson, North Carolina. For those unfamiliar to whole hog cooking, it involves slicing an entire pig right down the middle, seasoning the insides with spices and marinades and then smoking the whole thing on a huge grill. Whether your barbecue block party cravings lead you to sampling some of Ed Mitchell’s fine fare or not, you should definitely visit his area to check out the preparation process. Just like the enormous cauldron of Brunswick stew from the Proclamation Stew Crew, this is a spectacle not to be missed.


The meat, fortunately, more than makes up for the effort it takes to prepare it. Juicier than the traditional pulled pork sandwich, Mitchell’s whole hog is replete with a vinegar based sauce that gives it a kick not found in some of the other sandwiches on offering. The meat is rich and incredibly flavorful, though it lacks a bit of the complexity from smoke penetration found in the best pork shoulder creations.


If you can only eat four plates of BBQ…

Get a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and a plate of brisket and sausage from The Salt Lick, a whole hog sandwich from Mitchell’s BBQ and…


a plate of ribs from the17th Street Bar & Grill of Murphysboro, Illinois. Two years ago, I proclaimed these ribs to be the best thing I ate the whole weekend. Last year, the portion I received lacked the tenderness and balanced flavors of the prior festival's. These are traditional Memphis style baby back ribs which are dry rubbed to let the succulent meat shine.

Lovers of bbq baked beans should make it a particular point to stop by the 17th Street stand as their version (which is included with 2-3 ribs in their plate) is quite simply the finest I've ever tasted.

If you're going to get more than 4 plates, you probably know more about the festival than, me, so I'm not going to bother...

1 comment:

NYC Food Guy said...

Very solid review. I like this kind of forecasting. I'll be there on Sunday and I'll be following your lead. I have a friend who writes pigtrip.com and I'll get some of his recommendations as well.

I'm Lawrence, writer of NYCFoodGuy.com, I know MissMenu, we did an East Village Food Tour together.

I like your blog dude. I'm all about the deals. My MO is delicious and affordable food, honest reviews, and great photos. I see you're exactly the same. Keep up the great work. I tossed your link up on my site, I'd be honored if you did the same.

Feel free to shoot me an email
lawrence@nycfoodguy.com
I'd love to hear about some of your favorite foods.... burgers, pizza, bbq, thai, desserts, etc.