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Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

Tons of Meat

Jake’s BBQ

Brooklyn – maybe the land of promise for decent BBQ in the five boroughs. Since I’ve began this journey I’ve had the most tips about little hole in the wall places scattered throughout Brooklyn, but the one I checked out this week I stumbled across on my own. Jake’s Kansas City style BBQ in Red Hook looked promising, and didn’t disappoint.

What’s more, I had the incredibly rare opportunity of sharing the experience with a complete BBQ rookie – a friend of mine who was a vegetarian for most of their life and only recently discovered the enchanting world of smoked meats.

Look how excited we are!!!

Jake’s is a humble looking place; there is no hype (yet anyway). The food is quality, but no one thing stood out. The prices weren’t amazingly cheap, but all in all it felt like a good value. Sandwiches hung in the $7-$8 range. Considering this was a special occasion, I wanted a sampling of the wide range of meats available, and Jake’s provided ample choices. Had I managed to gather together 4-5 people I would have gone with their full sampler which includes (take a deep breath) pork ribs, beef ribs, 3 sausages, pulled pork, beef brisket, pulled chicken, a whole bbq chicken, and three sides for $35.00!!!!!! I considered just ordering it anyway and having a week’s worth of leftovers, but found an even better deal: The BBQ meats sampler which included Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, and Beef Brisket and two sides (went with sweet potato fries and collard greens) for $24.99. Not a bad deal, but I am never satisfied with just not a bad deal, so I hunted down a coupon on their website good for (if you can believe it) a half bbq chicken with a $25 purchase. Ordered an additional side of mac and cheese for the sake of posterity (though I’m sure they would have let it slide) and you have an enormous amount of food that could have easily fed three people for $28.

Its usually a good sign when the BBQ sauce isn't bottled.

Everything was great, but like I said, nothing was the absolute knock-out champion. I guess that’s the sacrifice of a BBQ joint with a pretty diverse menu. The pork ribs were succulent, the pulled pork was smokey, the brisket had just the right amount of marbling and a little edge, the chicken was crispy and tender, and the two sauces (regular, and honey-something) offered plenty of interesting notes. The cornbread was also awesome, with just the right combination of sweet and savory.

I couldn't wait til after the picture to take a bite

I really don’t want to say much more about the food, so much as I just want to convince you to try this place. Rather than wait for 3 hours to get into Dinosaur on a Saturday night, expect no wait at Jake’s, or make a reservation (which I did, although it wasn’t needed). The service was perfect, with our waitress sharing in my excitement for our meat-virgin friend.

If you’re still reading, you probably weren’t deterred by those two words ‘Red Hook’. Part of what makes Red Hook an especially great neighborhood is its difficultly to get to. Its off the beaten path, which to me, gives a kind of Key West quality right in the middle of the metropolis. But Jake’s won’t let you be discouraged. In addition to delivering to a wide range of neighborhoods (even as far as Kensington!!) they have a reverse delivery system where they will actually pick you up and bring you to their place. What more could you possibly ask for? If you don’t live in their delivery/limo service range, simply take any train (BDFG2345NQACMR anyway) to a stop within their range. If this STILL isn’t enough for you, email me and I will come pick you up wherever you live, drive you there myself, and buy you dinner.

**If your issue is making the trek to Red Hook only for dinner (something that’s delayed my visit for weeks) check out a show at one of my favorite venues – the Jalopy Theatre – after dinner. Its 4 blocks south of Jake’s on Columbia St and there is great Americana/Acoustic music just about every night of the week for a $10 cover. Check their calendar.

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Dinosaur BBQ

Dinosaur is my favorite BBQ in New York so far. That being said, I still have many many places to visit on my continually growing list. And while the portions are generous, the prices are still above what I consider to be the reasonable threshold for BBQ (or RTB from this point forward).

Today wasn’t my birthday, so I went with one of the more affordable menu choices – the pork sandwich platter. The sandwich is decent sized, and comes with two sides for $9.95. The portion is acceptable for lunch but for dinner you’ll probably want to supplement it with an appetizer (the fried green tomatoes and the BBQ wings are both OUTSTANDING.

The pork here is bonafide; smokey, melt-in-your-mouth tender, and delicious. They top it  off with a little bit of sauce, but not too much to overpower the flavor of the meat. You can of course add as much as you want at the table.

The side dishes are great too, each with something that gives it a bump over the typical choices. The mac and cheese is one of my favorites in town. There’s something in it that to this day I can’t figure out – some kind of cheese or just a mix of spices – but it gives it an extra depth of flavor that is unparalleled in any mac and cheese I’ve had anywhere else.

The ‘Syracuse Salt Potatoes’ are drenched in a buttery sauce that could almost be called a hollandaise, and the fresh cut fries are top-notch as well.

So this brings me back to the point I’m always considering – here we have a real BBQ place that is somewhat reasonably priced, and the wait to get in last Saturday night was two and a half hours. I decided to come back for lunch the following Saturday.  Clearly there is a demand for more of this kind of thing in New York, right? Well apparently Dinosaur is expanding, moving to a larger building a few blocks away in the coming months. Helpful hint: they accept reservations up to 6 months in advance.

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Disclaimer: I am not saying this is the worlds most authentic BBQ or anything remotely unique. It isn’t. Its basically the equivalent of a Fast-Food joint. All I’m saying is its a great value and I can’t afford to spend $15 every time I need a pulled-pork fix. (Special thanks to Amanda McPherson for the hate tweet! Keep ’em coming!)

Dickey’s

Nestled deep in the Bronx a gem of a BBQ place shines like a beacon of hope; a Cindy-Lou Who on Christmas morning, casting its superior light over the darkness of everything around it.

I’m talking about Dickey’s, a Texas-based franchise that recently opened on Fordham Rd. The humble counter-service style place seems to want to fit the kind of niche of a Chipotle or Cosi, but the BBQ is tasty enough and an extremely good value.

First time I had the chopped brisket sandwich which was chopped to order. The bun is lightly brushed with butter using this crazy rotating kind of mechanism, then toasted. A large sandwich is $6.50, two side dishes can be added for an additional $2.50 if my memory serves correctly.

Second time I had to try what looked to be the most incredible deal I’ve seen lately: Mondays only, a pulled pork sandwich, one side, and a large soda for $5! Once again the pork was lovingly pulled apart to order. It was fairly flavorful, but the brisket is most definitely the specialty here.

$5 Pulled Pork Special, available Mondays only

Side dishes include giant shell mac and cheese topped with additional cheese and bacon bits (by request), onion strings (flash fried to order), greens, fries, sweet potato casserole, and about six other options.

Mac (Shells) and Cheese

As if that weren’t enough, what really makes Dickey’s is the extras. The BBQ sauce is warm, people! In a warming container at the end of the ordering counter live three sauces, Original, Spicy, and Sweet. The original was a carefully tweaked recipe, with just the right amount of whiskey and tanginess. The Sweet was a little too sweet for me, but probably suits the pork ribs, another feature on the menu. Pickles and raw onions are offered, as one would expect from a Texas-style place, but what I didn’t expect was a serve-yourself jar of halved pickles AND free soft-serve ice cream! Between all these extras, you can really order a smaller portion of food than you normally would, saving even more money.

As much as Dickey’s if off the beaten path for most of us, its amazingly easy to get to. Half a block from the Harlem Line Metro-North (Fordham Rd Station) 5 blocks from the D train, and 8 blocks from the 4. From Manhattan, I recommend taking the 1 train up to 207th st, then a 10 minute Bx12 limited bus down Fordham. Go check this place out and let me know what you think! With any luck, we’ll see this chain spread to other boroughs soon enough (note franchise application link).

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