Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of BBQ season, but most of us outdoor space-deprived Brooklynites have a better working acquaintance with hibachis and George Formans than wood-burning smokers or Weber grills. No matter; with a steady proliferation of true ‘cue destinations popping up all over the borough, the only struggle lies in choosing between them all. That’s why we’re honing in on each spot’s singular strengths, outlining where to go in order to satisfy a hankering for either pork or beef ribs, and who’s currently dishing out the most exemplary brisket in town.
Best Brisket: BrisketTown
What else would you order from this place? We all know the story of barbecue wunderkind Dan Delaney, who hauled an 18’ smoker from Austin to Brooklyn and introduced us to BrisketLab in 2012. Delaney may have gone all brick and mortar since then, but his raison d’être remains the same…smoke-ringed, simply seasoned (salt and cracked black pepper), and loooong cooked Creekstone beef, deeply flavorful and moist as all get out.
359 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
Best Burnt Ends: Fletcher’s
Although Fletcher’s is a mighty fine choice for seldom bbq’d proteins (like duck, lamb and pork steak), it’s hard to get past their gold standard burnt ends. Odd-shaped leavings from the point half of a smoked brisket, they have a higher fat content and require a longer cooking time — resulting in delectable, well-caramelized shards of salty, meaty goodness.
433 3rd Avenue, Gowanus
Best Pulled Pork: Mighty Quinn’s
With lines that stretch the length of the Williamsburg waterfront and waits that last 30 minutes or more, Mighty Quinn’s was one of the first major success stories to come out of Brooklyn’s famous weekend food fest, Smorgasburg. You’ll want to arrive no later than 1pm in order to score a succulent pulled pork sandwich, tender clods of Berkshire hog interspersed with strips of flavorful, blackened bark.
N. 7th Street, Williamsburg
Best Pork Ribs: Hometown
Like many of Brooklyn’s talented new crop of pitmasters, bodyguard-turned-smoked meat enthusiast, Billy Durney, takes a global approach to his ‘cue. We’re especially fond of the jerk-rubbed baby back ribs, aromatic with ginger and ringed with a peppery, broiler-charred crust.
454 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
Best Beef Ribs: Smoke Joint
Spare ribs are a dime a dozen on most barbecue menus, which is why the “Brontosaurus-sized” short ribs are a must-order at Fort Greene’s southern-leaning smoke spot. But instead of being slow braised and deposited on a puddle of polenta, these beefy, dry-rubbed bones are accompanied by a trio of tasty dipping sauces; tomato-based barbecue, sticky brown sugar-chili, and vinegary jalapeno.
87 South Elliott Place, Fort Greene
Best Sausage: Fette Sau
Joe Carroll’s temple of meat was one of the first to put Brooklyn on the barbecue map. But considering the name (Fette Sau is German for “Fat Pig”), we generally bypass the beef options in favor of pork — especially the fatty belly (fork-tender strips of dry-rubbed bacon), and the snappy, house-made Berkshire sausage links, which come in sweet and spicy variations.
354 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
Best Poultry: Morgan’s
Pitmaster John Avila originally made his name dry-rubbing brisket and pulling pork at the famed Franklin Barbecue in Texas. But he’s proved equally adept at turning that often-dry also-ran, poultry, into a legitimate must-order. In addition to burnished, candy-skinned chickens, sold by half or whole bird, he also offers that (actually juicy!) Thanksgiving staple, turkey, including an assortment of tails, served with collards and cornbread.
267 Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights
Best Veg Alternative: Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Dinosaur BBQ
Yes, Dinosaur also makes a mean “Big Ass Pork Plate,” so if ‘cue is what you crave, there’s no need to leave your veg-head friends at home. They can go green quite happily with this gleefully gloppy sandwich; fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese and shredded cabbage, topped with pickled chow-chow and savory BBQ mayo.
604 Union Street, Park Slope
Best Sides: Hill Country
Sides are generally a snooze at most traditional smokehouses (unless you’re crazy about crackers and white bread), but at the new Brooklyn location of Hill Country, they’re actually worth a dedicated visit. Make a meal of longhorn cheddar mac and cheese, campfire baked beans with burnt ends, white shoepeg corn pudding and smoked bacon collard greens, and be sure to save room for dessert — we’re going out on a limb and citing their handheld pies as some of the best in the borough.
345 Adams Street, Downtown Brooklyn
Best Sauce: Mable’s
Places like BrisketTown may eschew sauce, but it’s the crowing glory of Mable’s meats. The Texas-style smokehouse unashamedly slathers the stuff on beef brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, and you can also snag a bottle to take home. The “Liquid Country Gold” is based on the owner’s grandmother’s secret recipe, with a flavor he’s fond of describing as rowdy and reserved…just like a fine Southern lady.
44 Berry Street, Williamsburg