Today’s question: who has the best smoked-meat in NYC? BrisketTown in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is certainly a contender.
Time was, and not so long ago, that you couldn’t find decent barbecue anywhere in New York City. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Then in the mid aught years came Daisy May’s in Hell’s Kitchen, Hill Country and Blue Smoke in the Flatiron, Fette Sau in Williamsburg, and Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem, all serving first-rate meats and sides, prepared and fired in the manner that folks from the likes of Texas and the Carolinas had long been accustomed. Barbecue fans were at last content, their options numerous.
And THEN, in the past year or so, the smoked meat scene exploded all over again, with the opening of The Strand in Astoria, John Browns Smokehouse in LIC, Fletchers in Gowanus, Mighty Quinn’s in the East Village, and, perhaps best of all, BrisketTown on south Bedford in Williamsburg. I say perhaps because, at this point, the Best NYC BBQ crown has so many legit contenders than it’s not even worth arguing about anymore, and WE, with our messy fingers and full bellies, are clearly the real winners!
Smoked-meat is Done Right at BrisketTown
My most recent smoked-meat feast was at Dan Delaney’s excellent BrisketTown, and, frankly, I’ve been kind of obsessing over the comfortable little eatery’s fatty, peppery brisket AND the sweet, tender pork ribs non-stop, so will have to return soon. Delaney’s is a Jersey-based operation, but he learned everything he knows about turning pigs and cows into juicy slabs of pure heaven in Austin, which is Texas-style BBQ ground zero.
As at Mighty Quinn’s and Fletcher’s, all of the brisket and ribs at BrisketTown are slow-cooked over a hardwood fire–never, ever, ever using gas–but as Delaney told Serious Eats, smoking meat “is not hard, but it takes an unbelievable amount of patience and focus…. It’s just, like, pay attention to it. Don’t walk away. Don’t click a button…” He is a fiercely dedicated pit master, and the energy and effort he puts into his food, and his restaurant, pays off in spades.
Sell-outs are Common — Here’s How to Make Sure You Get Your BBQ at BrisketTown
So popular is BrisketTown, in fact, that Delaney sells out of meat most every night–especially weekends, of course–and so offers his most serious devotees two ways to avoid disappointment. The first is to pre-sell the brisket, which is how he helped fund his Bedford spot in first place. Over 2,500 pounds of the stuff, at $25 per, doled out one meal at time, were pre-sold to raise funds. You can do a day-of pre-sell 30 minutes before the doors open to the public.
I reserved some of the beefy goodness myself during the second round of pre-sells, which Delaney launched in celebration of his winning the title “Brisket King of New York” in a recent cook-off. I still have some on reserve, and am happy I do, but you should know that the night I went to BrisketTown, a Tuesday at around 7:30, there was basically no line, and plenty of meat still to be had.
So the second way to guarantee that your visit is a carnivorous one is to simply check Delaney’s single-serving site, IsThereMeatLeft.com. If the answer there is “yes”, then go. BrisketTown usually offers three proteins on its nightly menu, plus a couple of sides (my collard greens were great, though the vinegary potato salad looked good too), and a pie or two for dessert. It’s all counter service here: get your tray of food and drinks up front, grab slices of white bread, spicy pickles, and paper towels at the hutch to your right (and, if you insist, some hot sauce, but this meat needs no added zest), and begin gorging. I promise you, you will be happy.
Briskettown is located on Bedford Avenue between South 4th and South 5th Streets, and is open for dinner every night at 6:00 (for pre-sells only) and 6:30 (everyone else) until the meat is gone. During the day Briskettown offers awesome-sounding, Texas-style breakfast tacos, as well as sandwiches and pie, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More info here.