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Laugh if You Like, Texas, but New York is Now a BBQ Capital
Village Voice ^ | Wednesday, Mar 13 2013 | Robert Sietsema

Posted on 03/13/2013 5:17:15 PM PDT by nickcarraway

When I wrote in January that New York 'cue is now among the best in the country, I meant it. But the backlash was swift. And harsh. @Underexposure tweeted: ". . . pit masters and BBQ devotees across Texas, North Carolina, Kansas City & Memphis all roll their eyes in unison." Barbecue blogger Daniel Vaughn groused to the Houston Press, "They get a few joints with a decent brisket, and now NYC is a BBQ capital?" Even New Yorkers didn't believe me. Meat man Josh Ozersky snorted on Twitter, "What that dope doesn't know about barbecue could fill volumes."

Ever since my college days in Texas, I've obsessed over tracking down the country's greatest barbecues, logging thousands of miles to check out obscure pits in places like Paducah, Kentucky, and Hemingway, South Carolina. I've published maybe 75,000 words on the subject, including an eight-part series titled "Great Barbecues of Texas" for the Voice's food blog, Fork in the Road. I may have been born in Michigan, but when it comes to barbecue, I know what the hell I'm talking about.

And while it's taken a quarter century to get our act together, New York isn't playing either: We have developed a fantastic collection of pits. These tend to be inspired by Texas barbecue, which arose from the black-dirt farm country east of Austin—German immigrant towns where barbecue first bloomed around 1900; we even have one place (Hill Country Barbecue Market) trying to replicate the output of a single pit, the one at Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas. What we lack in regional DNA, we make up for in our range—and the fact that we are finally starting to get it right. New York can offer up the full gamut of 'cue, from the St. Louis style at Blue Smoke (and the now-defunct R.U.B.) to Oklahoma (Mable's Smokehouse), Kansas City (John Brown Smokehouse), Memphis (Neely's Barbecue Parlor, Virgil's Real Barbecue), North Carolina (Brother Jimmy's BBQ), and even Syracuse, New York, an unlikely barbecue destination if ever there was one (Dinosaur Bar-B-Que).

True, barbecue doesn't come naturally to New Yorkers, and our relationship with it has always been a bit rocky. It began, improbably, with a hairdresser from London. Robert Pearson went to the Texas capital to teach mod hairstyles to beauticians in the 1980s, and came back inspired enough to found Stick to Your Ribs in Connecticut, moving to Long Island City in 1992. With its emphasis on smoking slowly over real hardwoods with low, indirect heat, Stick to Your Ribs became the city's first serious BBQ. In his former warehouse near the mouth of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, Pearson de-emphasized sauce—though he offered four, with heat levels ranging from mild to "mean"—to highlight the smoky taste of the meat. As he told The New York Times in 1988, "People miss the point. They ask for extra sauce. Sauce is the accompaniment, not the thing of interest."

Much more recently, Daniel Delaney was similarly transported at a 2010 food festival in New Orleans by the brisket of Wayne Mueller (pitmaster of Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas). "It redefined barbecue for me," he wrote later. "I had no clue anything smoked for so long could taste so good." Delaney made his own pilgrimage to central Texas, and returned dragging an 18-foot smoker behind a U-Haul. He first used it to barbecue beef for Brisket Lab, a series of 31 pop-up feasts in the summer of 2012, which materialized, among other places, in a church in Greenpoint, on the roof of the Gizmodo headquarters on the Lower East Side, and in a Dutch cemetery in Flatbush. Now, he peddles his way-smoky brisket at BrisketTown, in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Danny Meyer had a hand in our BBQ surge, too, when he opened Blue Smoke 11 years ago—splicing a barbecue joint to a jazz club for what might be the first time outside Memphis. Now he's selling authentic Kansas City ribs at the Citi Field home of the Mets and in Battery Park City, too, which is something of a culinary miracle. And his pitmaster and founding partner Kenny Callaghan has shown unswerving fidelity to using real hardwood in his smokers.

Meyer and Callaghan also started the popular Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, an annual summer event that brings prominent maestros from all over the country to Madison Square, where they play to legions of meat lovers. And just last year, Hill Country hosted modern Austin barbecue auteur Aaron Franklin. He imported the technique of smoking brisket longer than even old-time Texas places do it—a whopping 15 hours or more. Gotham 'cue-masters have imitated the practice, and now our briskets couldn't get any smokier. I asked Franklin if he'd ever thought of opening a place in New York City. "No, it's way too much trouble up here," he replied with a laugh. "You've got to import the wood, and do things on such a big scale."

Barbecue never sleeps. It is continually evolving. And the country's greatest pits have always been defined by their quirks. In our innocence of 'cue—in the absence of our own traditions—New York was able to absorb the outside influences, helped along by a small cadre of tong-wielding fanatics. We bow to no one. Even if our black dirt is just rat shit.

Here are 10 things that give our (emerging) tradition its character:

1. Beyond baby back. Mighty Quinn's does a beef rib as big as an Irish shillelagh in Gangs of New York. Fatty and blackened, it sails in still on the bone. In Texas, only Louie Mueller's and the County Line chain do a rib that approaches it in size, while most barbecue joints use pork ribs. Blue Smoke, Fette Sau, Wildwood Barbeque, and Daisy May's BBQ do giant beef ribs, too. Everything's bigger in New York.

2. Leaning in to Lamb. With the exception of places in Llano, Texas, and Owensboro, Kentucky, where joints smoke lamb and mutton, respectively, most barbecues stick to pork and beef, with an occasional nod to chicken. Inspired by the Middle Eastern presence in its Long Island City neighborhood, John Brown Smokehouse tosses slender lamb sausages into the pit, tapping the real Queens terroir.

3. Brisket-obsessed. Daniel Delaney isn't the only one in New York to elevate brisket to his No. 1 meat, as he does at BrisketTown. Robert Pearson did it long ago at Stick to Your Ribs, and the tradition continues at Ranger Texas Barbecue. Born into a Texas family, Hugh Mangum has made it the centerpiece of his menu at Mighty Quinn's, and brisket is front and center on about half the menus in town.

4. Link bait. New York barbecues have long realized the importance of sausages. Hill Country actually imports its beef sausages from its Lockhart mentor, Kreuz Market. For a time, Mable's Smokehouse imported their bright red hot links from Oklahoma, and it's been known to do the occasional alligator-venison number. But most NYC barbecues have stayed local: Pearson used kielbasa at Stick to Your Ribs and hot Italian is the link of choice at Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue. "We tried Texas hot links," says pitmaster Matt Fisher, "and thought about kielbasa, but spicy Italian sausage just fit much better with our Brooklyn-barbecue theme."

5. Fearless about Chicken. Hill Country is the first barbecue to offer beer-can chicken, not normally a barbecue option in Lockhart or anywhere else, while Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue and the Smoke Joint do wings with a nice smoky flavor—all attempts to solve the rubber-skin chicken problem that makes many venerable pits avoid poultry. Channeling the great Jamaican jerk parlors of Flatbush, Wildwood Barbeque does crisp-skinned jerk chicken wings with a lingering burn.

6. Embracing our french side. Slices of white bread, spongy and anemic, are still served in Texas barbecues. Pearson kicked it up a notch with torpedo-shaped Portuguese rolls at Stick to Your Ribs. But Mighty Quinn's went to the gloriously effete extreme of laying out their sandwiches on brioche rolls. "The combination of the buttery bread and the fatty brisket really worked for me," Mangum told me recently. Other parlors in town freestyle tiny potato rolls (Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue), thick Texas toasts (John Brown Smokehouse), or no bread at all.

7. Less god, more beer. You're lucky if you can get a beer in some Texas barbecues, which are often located in dry counties. Many North Carolina barbecues don't sell beer for religious reasons. New Yorkers, unsurprisingly, don't let God interfere with their drinking, and places like Fette Sau and John Brown Smokehouse deliver lots of craft beers on tap.

8. And whiskey. If mere beer won't get you where you need to go, Astoria newcomer Strand Smokehouse offers whiskey drawn from giant kegs. Fette Sau champions American whiskeys, too, while Neely's Barbecue Parlor and Fort Reno Provisions offer fancy mixed drinks. Hill Country hosts karaoke with a live band in the basement.

9. Nose-to-tail smokin'. New York pitmasters are experimentalists in a way that Kansas City's, say, are not. Fette Sau toys with pig cheeks, chops, and belly; at one time it even played around with pig tails. John Brown Smokehouse does pork belly, too, jamming it into a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo and calling it the PBLT. Fletcher's smokes Chinese char siu pork, and produces an amazing facsimile of a North Carolina pulled pork sandwich, complete with vinegar slaw. Brother Jimmy's does great Brunswick stew, the thick leftover barbecue soup from North Carolina and Virginia. Fort Reno Povisions layers BBQ and sides into a parfait called a "hot mess."

10. 'Cue meets jew. The proximity of great delis like Katz's and Second Avenue Deli has been an irresistible force for NYC barbecuers. Fette Sau was the first place to attempt pastrami, but John Brown Smokehouse and Strand Smokehouse have followed suit.

Yes, Gotham has the most varied collection of barbecues in the country—something we can be very proud of. And now if we could get more Carolina 'cue (lots of places here attempt it, but with little success), and maybe some from northern Kentucky, we'd be completely happy. And if it came with a nice Barolo, we'd be in heaven.


TOPICS: Food; Hobbies; Local News
KEYWORDS: foodies
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1 posted on 03/13/2013 5:17:15 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

I call B.S.


2 posted on 03/13/2013 5:19:06 PM PDT by unixfox (Abolish Slavery, Repeal The 16th Amendment!)
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To: nickcarraway

Lol


3 posted on 03/13/2013 5:20:06 PM PDT by wolf24
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To: nickcarraway

Pork. Memphis. The Commisary. Nuf said.


4 posted on 03/13/2013 5:21:35 PM PDT by saganite (What happens to taglines? Is there a termination date?)
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To: nickcarraway
NO!


5 posted on 03/13/2013 5:22:27 PM PDT by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: nickcarraway

Does Bloomberg know how fattening BBQ is?


6 posted on 03/13/2013 5:23:11 PM PDT by TigersEye (The irresponsible should not be leading the responsible.)
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To: nickcarraway

Ha! Ha! KC is King.


7 posted on 03/13/2013 5:23:25 PM PDT by Starstruck (I need a 30 round magazine because liberal whine gives me a buzz.)
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To: nickcarraway

Maybe so, but I’ll put my smoked pork shoulder or chicken up against anybody with a fire.


8 posted on 03/13/2013 5:27:12 PM PDT by dainbramaged (Joe McCarthy was right.)
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To: nickcarraway

I, too, say it’s total BS.
However, on second thought it just may be the BBQ capital of the communist world, since it’s proven itself to really not be part of freedom-loving America. In that case, it would hold absolutely no weight at all even if it were true. I’ll place my bet is on good old Texas.


9 posted on 03/13/2013 5:27:40 PM PDT by lgjhn23 (It's easy to be liberal when you're dumber than a box of rocks.)
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To: nickcarraway

I’d like to...Bwahahahahaha


10 posted on 03/13/2013 5:29:27 PM PDT by jazusamo ("Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent." -- Adam Smith)
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To: nickcarraway

Nope.
I am sorry but imitating others does not make you King.


11 posted on 03/13/2013 5:29:34 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: nickcarraway

JUST WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T ORDER AN EXTRA LARGE SODA WITH THAT!


12 posted on 03/13/2013 5:30:08 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: nickcarraway

I’ll bet they ‘shi-shi’d’ and ‘yuppied’ it up. NO THANKS. I HATE that when they ruin our Southern staples.


13 posted on 03/13/2013 5:30:10 PM PDT by RushIsMyTeddyBear (Great vid by ShorelineMike! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOZjJk6nbD4&feature=plcp)
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To: nickcarraway

the village rag isn;t that a NY paper.?

Also I was under the impression that NC and TX and maybe MO had the barbecues etc.

Anyway ribs are fattening so the mayor nanny will ban them son.


14 posted on 03/13/2013 5:30:21 PM PDT by manc (Marriage =1 man + 1 woman,when they say marriage equality then they should support polygamy)
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To: unixfox

“Less God more beer”, (17 oz size)

I’ll take more God anyday.


15 posted on 03/13/2013 5:31:42 PM PDT by American in Israel (A wise man's heart directs him to the right, but the foolish mans heart directs him toward the left.)
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To: nickcarraway

Barbecue has been available to New Yorkers for decades. Sherman’s BBQ was a popular chain that served Harlem beginning in the late 1940’s, although I don’t know if they’re still in business.


16 posted on 03/13/2013 5:33:31 PM PDT by Fiji Hill (Io Triumphe!)
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To: nickcarraway

nonsense


17 posted on 03/13/2013 5:34:34 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: nickcarraway
Boston/Somerville has a great BBQ restaurant by the name of "Redbones". It is incredible. They have the best BBQ chicken that I have ever tasted.

I will also say that I love the vinegar based sauce rather than the sugar based sauce. I'm not so much into the gloppy sugar sauces.

18 posted on 03/13/2013 5:34:43 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: nickcarraway

“New York is now BBQ capital”

May I give my one word response....NOT!!!

(New York City? Get a rope!)


19 posted on 03/13/2013 5:36:32 PM PDT by berdie
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To: saganite

Ribs, Memphis Corky’s in Colliervillle.


20 posted on 03/13/2013 5:36:44 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek (He who dwells in thee shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadows of the Almighty Psalm 91:)
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To: nickcarraway

“”7. Less god, more beer.””

“”8, More Whiskey””

I love drinking, but not when I’m eating, unless it is a small amount of wine, depending on the complexity of the flavors and expense of the meal I prefer water or ice tea.

Iced tea for BBQ.


21 posted on 03/13/2013 5:37:07 PM PDT by ansel12 ( August 29,2008 A Natural Born Reformer inadvertently unleashed within palace walls, change ensues.)
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To: mylife

Memphis Pig Out in Atlantic Highlands was decent. I was always told the reason NYC didn’t have BBQ was because of the smoke violating about 100 ordinances.

Give me Rudy’s. It’s simple and good.


22 posted on 03/13/2013 5:38:11 PM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Got a problem? Nothing a drone strike can't fix.)
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To: dainbramaged

Not as good as mine off my big green egg. :)


23 posted on 03/13/2013 5:38:15 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: trisham
I'm not so much into the gloppy sugar sauces.

Aww Hell Naw!!

That is the downfall of KC Que.

Vinegar based is the only way to go!! (make mine spicy hot please)

24 posted on 03/13/2013 5:38:22 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: EQAndyBuzz

Rudy’s can be hit or miss.
The one in Waco was good when I was there.
Denton? not so much.


25 posted on 03/13/2013 5:40:00 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: nickcarraway

Hell no, Kansas City beats nyc for starters.


26 posted on 03/13/2013 5:40:43 PM PDT by toddausauras (FUBO x 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)
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To: nickcarraway

I’ll give NY the blue ribbon for pizza (sorry Chicago), but NO to BBQ. You can cook all you want, but if you don’t sound right, you aren’t BBQ.


27 posted on 03/13/2013 5:41:15 PM PDT by llevrok (Keep your arms out. It makes it harder for them to throw a net over you.)
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To: Coldwater Creek

I’ve been to Corkys and although they’re good the Commissary beats them IMHO.


28 posted on 03/13/2013 5:41:24 PM PDT by saganite (What happens to taglines? Is there a termination date?)
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To: nickcarraway

Yeah. Until Bloomberg throws on that carbon tax...from hero to zero in a New York Minute...


29 posted on 03/13/2013 5:41:58 PM PDT by bigheadfred
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To: nickcarraway

sure.


30 posted on 03/13/2013 5:42:28 PM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
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To: nickcarraway
In your Dreams, NY, only in your Dreams.

Real B-B-Q comes from Texas, Tennessee, or the deep south.

New York City, no way!!!!!

31 posted on 03/13/2013 5:42:30 PM PDT by EXCH54FE (Hurricane 416 "It’s one thing to make a law, It’s another to enforce it.")
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To: nickcarraway

“Syracuse, New York, an unlikely barbecue destination if ever there was one (Dinosaur Bar-B-Que).”

Go to the Dinosaur in Rochester. Best BBQ, period.


32 posted on 03/13/2013 5:43:12 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (3% of the population perpetrates >50% of homicides...but gun control advocates blame metal boxes.)
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To: EXCH54FE

Can you imagine the permitting they go through to even have a bbq restaurant in NYC?


33 posted on 03/13/2013 5:44:06 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: mylife

:) I love the “bite” of the vinegar. We (my husband) have smoked trout, pork, beef, chicken and other various meats/seafood. The list of various foods that can be smoked must be endless.


34 posted on 03/13/2013 5:44:18 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: nickcarraway

New Yorkers constantly need to tell themselves they have everything, otherwise reality creeps in....


35 posted on 03/13/2013 5:44:38 PM PDT by Vision (Obama is king of the "Takers." Don't be a "Taker.")
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To: nickcarraway

Who cares about TX vs NY BBQ... Tennessee BBQ is the best period.


36 posted on 03/13/2013 5:44:55 PM PDT by eyedigress ((zOld storm chaser from the west)/ ?)
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To: nickcarraway

What is up with calling it ‘cue? It’s BBQ, dangit!


37 posted on 03/13/2013 5:45:11 PM PDT by TheMom (Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts!)
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To: llevrok

Amen, and I will give Chicago the Brat and the Hot Italian Beef Sandwich.


38 posted on 03/13/2013 5:45:58 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: nickcarraway
The difference is that our Governor is not trying to keep our BBQ servings under 16 oz.

Take that YorkTards./h

39 posted on 03/13/2013 5:46:14 PM PDT by IllumiNaughtyByNature ($1.84 - The price of a gallon of gas on Jan. 20th, 2009.)
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To: nickcarraway

NY has a bad habit of ripping things off from elsewhere. Same affliction as the Japanese before them and the Chinese today.

One might note, though, that not many are trying to do Mayor Bloomberg knockoffs.


40 posted on 03/13/2013 5:47:52 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True supporters of our troops pray for their victory!)
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To: unixfox

It all depends on your point of view, I suppose.

As a born and bred Texan, I wouldn’t even consider eating New York barbecue.


41 posted on 03/13/2013 5:48:01 PM PDT by basil (basil, 2ASisters.org)
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To: driftdiver
Where would they put the open pit B-B-Q?? All that smoke and other (bad) stuff. Quick call the EPA!!!

Put out the fire and open a can of Whoop ass and call in the KC cops...........

42 posted on 03/13/2013 5:48:07 PM PDT by EXCH54FE (Hurricane 416 "It’s one thing to make a law, It’s another to enforce it.")
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To: nickcarraway

Who says so? NYers, LOL?


43 posted on 03/13/2013 5:48:26 PM PDT by CatherineofAragon (Support Christian white males---the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization)
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To: nickcarraway

. . . and I wish them well. Everyone needs access to good BBQ!


44 posted on 03/13/2013 5:48:27 PM PDT by TheMom (Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts!)
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To: TigersEye

My thought exactly. How soon will Bloomin’ Idiot try to shut it down.

My favorite - Cranky Franks, Fredericksburg, TX.


45 posted on 03/13/2013 5:48:39 PM PDT by Fred Hayek (The Democratic Party is now the operational arm of the CPUSA)
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To: trisham

I like it with no sauce as well, but I do like that hit of vinegar as well.

BBQ beef sandwich should have pickles on it for the same reason(Fresh white onions too)


46 posted on 03/13/2013 5:48:43 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: trisham

That vinegar sauce is a North Carolina thing, going back to the earliest days of English settlement in the Tidewater region. The English provided the Elizabethan “catsup,” vinegar and spices typically, the native tribes provided the pit cooking method and it grew from there. Truly American from the earliest times.

Hard to say why it survived here while other areas developed with meat other than pork, different sauces, sugar, tomato, even Alabama white sauce sort like mayo (actually very good) and South Carolina “Carolina Gold” mustard (don’t care for it, one of the few varieties of ‘cue that just doesn’t do it for me).

The smell alone, that beautiful smoke emanating from any Memphis or KC bbq rib joint, is just awesome. Texas brisket done right is a thing of beauty as well.

Americana at it’s finest. If NYC wants to play at it or even get serious about it, come on in, give it your best. That’s a fine looking sandwich improbably featured on the cover of The Village Voice. Just don’t go all frou-frou, the best is fairly simple but painstakingly prepared, sort of humble. It should stay that way.


47 posted on 03/13/2013 5:49:01 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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Angelos in Fort Worth.
End of discussion


48 posted on 03/13/2013 5:49:34 PM PDT by llevrok (Keep your arms out. It makes it harder for them to throw a net over you.)
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To: EXCH54FE

As a former Kansan I poo poo that assertion good sir. Oklahoma Joes burnt ends are the kings of BBQ.


49 posted on 03/13/2013 5:49:58 PM PDT by aft_lizard
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To: TheMom

One of my faves.

http://www.schoepfsbbq.com/

I love when they have venison.


50 posted on 03/13/2013 5:50:24 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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