Chasing Beef Brisket in the Big Apple

Barbecue New York City


Down the road from Fette Sau are several other Williamsburg barbecue establishments, including Mable’s Smokehouse and Fatty ‘Cue [CLOSED].

We have eaten less than normal (which is still a lot) at Fette Sau so that we may consume a second meal at Mable’s but are told upon arrival that the kitchen has run out of brisket (which, according to friends, has happened before). Fortunately for Mable’s, I’m placated by Frito Pie and a pickle back shot.

I would have preferred my Frito Pie to be a little hotter (in spice & temperature), but it did the trick. Kudos to Mable’s for serving it the real way: inside the Frito bag.

Note: I should explain why we bypass Fatty ‘Cue. Its particular breed of barbecue introduces “Southeast Asian fermented funkiness,” and this roundup revolves around Texas-style BBQ.

Several days of recovery are needed before I jet uptown, first to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for lunch, then to Daisy May’s BBQ USA [CLOSED] for a lazy Sunday night dinner.

What began as a humble mobile food cart now boasts multiple locations across the state of New York, including a sprawling space in a former meatpacking warehouse in Harlem. Dinosaur’s newly opened location on West 125th Street offers the convenience of big group dining without sacrificing charm.

I may be dining solo, but pride doesn’t stop me from ordering a starter that harkens back to Big Apple BBQ in addition to a mixed meat platter. Dinosaur combines pimento cheese with sausage atop homemade black pepper cheddar crackers, which are my favorite part of the meal. Coming in second is the BBQ fried rice that accompanies my platter, but there are no losers here.

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I’d like to say the same about Daisy May’s, but you’ve probably noticed by now that the pictures say it all. My Sunday evening meal at Daisy May’s is the second most disappointing of this roundup (after R.U.B.). Perhaps because we arrive at the end of the weekend, Daisy May’s has sold out of nearly all of its sides and I’m less than enthusiastic about the remaining options.

Barbecue New York City
Our meal at Daisy May’s: two types of ribs, pulled pork, brisket, collard greens, mac and cheese, and cornbread.

Thankfully, most items taste better than they look, including the mac and cheese, whose neon yellow hue terrifies me. The pulled pork also hits the spot, and I realize after consulting fellow diners and postings on the wall that Daisy May’s is all about pork. Most people come here to consume a half or whole pig, which is what I’ll order when I return.

Last, but certainly not least, is Blue Smoke, owned by critically acclaimed restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Shake Shack, among others). Meyer grew up in St. Louis, which inspires us to begin our meal with a Missouri BBQ specialty: toasted pork ravioli St. Louis Style, which is novel and utterly decadent.

For our main course, we share Memphis-style baby back ribs, Kansas City-style spare ribs and a gargantuan Texas beef rib along with chicken, beef brisket and plentiful sides. Everything hits the mark, even the Texas beef rib which I typically dislike.

When I finally conclude this heart attack-inducing roundup, I reflect on each establishment’s various offerings. Some places suit the diehard Texan while others offer wider variety. Some, with long lines and changing menus, require patience, while others cater to advance planning. My favorites—Hill Country, Blue Smoke, Dinosaur and Fette Sau—will undoubtedly lure me back for mouthwatering brisket before next year’s Big Apple BBQ.

Until then? I’d better eat some salads.

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