Alexis Korman reports: New Yorkers may be famous for a lot of things–bad attitudes, dazzling skylines, and high rents–but not necessarily the nation’s best BBQ. But the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, set against the lush greenery of Madison Square Park, set out to prove that Manhattan can turn out mouthwatering barbeque to the masses.
What began in 2003 as a small-scale block party designed to introduce city dwellers to the nation’s best regional ‘cue is today a barbeque festival on a super-sized scale-over 100,000 people turned out to taste juicy BBQ from some of the nation’s top pit-masters over the weekend.
And taste they did. On June 13th and 14th, 15 grilling stations lined several blocks near Madison Avenue, and included tents from BBQ champions like Mike Mills (17th Street Bar & Grill, Murphysville, IL/Las Vegas, NV), Garry Roark (Ubon’s ‘Champion’s Choice’, Yazoo City, MS), and Chris Lilly (Big Bob Gibson BBQ, Decatur, IL).
Among the best dishes on offer were the tangy pulled pork shoulder topped with crunchy coleslaw from Blackjack BBQ (Charleston, NC), juicy beef brisket with sausage from The Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood, TX), and expertly spiced Kansas City-style ribs and pickles from local favorite, Blue Smoke (New York, NY).
Other New York-area BBQ restaurants also represented their skills on the grill, including Hill Country, Rack & Soul, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which had a line stretching half-way around the block.
Making the wait for lip-smacking barbeque worthwhile were several excellent performances by toe-tapping blues, rock and soul artists, including SaRon Crenshaw, Howard Tate, and Junior Brown.
Despite insanely long lines and overcast skies the city’s biggest barbeque event was nothing less than smokin’hot.
Alexis Korman is a NYC-based freelance food and wine writer. You can visit her website here.