NEW YORK CITY — Craving 'cue?
Then don't bother with just finger-lickin' good — many of the city's smokehouses and soul food shops serve fare that's fall-off-the-bone great.
There are pop-up "rub-a-grub" parties at Bed-Stuy's Do-or-Dine and 'artisanal' mac-and-cheese joints with Texas meats and brisket on the High Line.
There are also restaurants featuring Korean 'cue and its Argentine cousin, parilla.
So if you're in the market for massive amounts of meat from one of these locales, check out some of DNAinfo New York's suggestions for the city's best overlooked barbecue.
Joeper's Smokeshack — Marine Park, 2085 Flatbush Ave., at Avenue P
This nondescript smoke shack is a train and bus ride from many of the city's foodie strongholds, but a meal here is well worth the trip. The Memphis-style baby back ribs — prepped with a "dry rub" of seasoning rather than a slathering of sauce — are melt-in-your mouth soft. In a move that might make some die-hard "dry" fans flinch, Joeper's serves up his selections with sauce on the side. Diners can ask for any or all of the three varieties — sweet, spicy and tangy mustard — at no extra cost.
Makana — East Harlem, 2245 First Ave., at East 116th St.
Most barbecue restaurants don't serve SPAM sushi. Then again, Makana isn't most barbecue restaurants. At this Hawaiian and Japanese eatery — tucked in an unassuming storefront — Pacific-rim 'cue is key. The menu ranges from short ribs to barbecue chicken udon noodle soup — and even to lobster fried rice. The traditional meat cuts are marinated in a house-made sauce that has teriyaki, mustard and vinegar vibes. Affordable combo platters abound for the hungry and curious. Another barbecue pick includes slow-roasted pork over cabbage.
"It's really good," said one diner. "I'm from California, and they don't have a lot of Hawaiian barbecue in New York. It reminds me of home."
Nicky's Beer Garden — Schuylerville, Bronx, 3392 E. Tremont Ave.
Billed as the Bronx's first beer garden, Nicky's boasts Southern barbecue samplings such as St. Louis-style smoked ribs. Other comfort food favorites include a cheddar cheese-stuffed burger, chicken fried steak — as well as a "butter-covered a Texas T-Bone." These dishes range from $9 to $28. Nicky's joins Mo Gridder's Authentic Bronx BBQ, 565 Hunts Point Ave., and North Riverdale's The Barbecue Pit, 5788 Mosholu Ave., in the borough.
Cityrib — Jamaica, Queens, 89-14 Parsons Blvd.
Touting itself as downtown Jamaica's first upscale restaurant, Cityrib promises diners home-smoked favorites as well as non 'cue cuisine, operators said. The restaurant is backed by the Dermot Company, the building's developer, and a Manhattan restaurant group run by the Poulakakos family. The latter runs Harry’s Café and Steak at Hanover Square and the Financier Patisserie café chainlet. Some barbecue selections at the approximately 200-seat eatery include wings, gumbo, ribs and brisket. Many products will be locally sourced, the management told DNAinfo New York. The decor will also be unique, employing structural elements from the building's past use as a family courthouse.
Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too — Manhattan Valley, 366 W. 110th St.
Sure, there have been write-ups of Mamie's, but this soul food staple often gets overlooked for nearby Dinosaur B-B-Q. Mamie's does barb sans smoker — so these plates might best described as "barbecue-style," if one wants to be technical — but the meats are moist and drizzled in a homemade-sauce. The zest stems from the recipe's use of fresh orange. Proprietress Norma Jean Darden believes that her saucy approach is more flavorful than others. With the ribs, for example, she boils them in seasoned water — rendering the fat — before baking them.
"We cook it long and tender," she said.