The resident grill masters at Uncle Jimmy’s Backyard BBQ baste ribs, chicken, and pulled pork with zesty sauces, rounding out their menu of flame-kissed grub. Diners can oil rusty jaw hinges with meal-prefacing portions of fried zucchini strings ($6.50) or rent a forklift to ferry caramelized onions, fresh ricotta, and pulled pork from slices of barbecue pita pizza ($8) into waiting mouths. Rotisserie grilled chicken ($12 for a half bird) arrives dressed in barbecue sauce or lemon oreganata, and the Pig Out combo platter ($17) conquers carnivorous hunger pangs with a mighty triumvirate of pulled pork, ribs, and italian sausage. Each entree, such as the popular kansas city baby back ribs ($16 for a half slab), comes with two side dishes, such as sweet mashed potatoes or corn muffins, arriving on plates known to begin tugs of war with diners for the rights to them.
The Cardinal, named after North Carolina’s state bird, serves the region’s signature style of barbecue while hewing to a simple philosophy: traditional recipes and quality ingredients. Using free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, heritage pork, and housemade sausage, bacon, and pickles, the soulful southerners serve classic Carolinian cuisine such as pork chops in red-eye gravy and blue-crab hush puppies. The house specialty—fried chicken marinated in brine and breaded with crispy cornflakes—earned The Cardinal a spot on the Village Voice's 10 Best Chicken Dishes list in 2012. The back-to-basics ethos extends to the decor, done up with whitewash, the restaurant's name in black paint over white bricks, and a stuffed turkey in mid-flight instead of standing at a ticket counter on a layover.
Eight Mile Creek unfurls across two floors, transporting New York diners down under with an exotic spread of Australian pub-style cuisine and imported spirits. Splashed in the flickering glow of candlelight, bronze-tiled walls establish the restaurant's rustic feel, as guests browse menus stocked with grilled-kangaroo skewers, burgers, and elegant entrees such as racks of Aussie lamb. On the first floor, live music further inflates casual airs with energized tunes, and themed holiday parties offer visitors an alternative to stuffy office banquets and get-togethers with socially awkward snowmen. During summer months, Aussie beers and New Zealand wines accompany warm breezes on an outdoor patio, where a wooden deck and an exposed-brick walls combine to create a tranquil dining experience.
While Brother Jimmy's BBQ has evolved from a simple barbecue restaurant into a Zagat-rated nightlife spot over the years, its food has remained traditionally North Carolina. The menu, which changes subtly based on each restaurant location, is always grounded in southern-style barbecue traditions, including classic dishes such as ribs, pulled pork, and sliced brisket that's been smoked over hickory for up to 12 hours. And any transformation from BBQ joint to nightspot wouldn't be complete without a 3-ton disco ball or a quality bar, and Brother Jimmy's bar is quality. The bartenders serve up top-shelf whiskey and scotches, and mix unique gourmet cocktails.
In addition to being diehard barbecue fans, many of Brother Jimmy's customers are also diehard fans of the A.C.C.'s football teams. So to offer a convivial refuge for Duke, North Carolina, and other A.C.C. fans, Brother Jimmy's locations feature 20 flat screen televisions blasting games throughout the season.
Pat and Gina Neely are comfortable with helping feed the masses. In addition to owning and operating family barbecue restaurants in Tennessee, they host Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys, teaching a national audience to create satisfying Southern comfort foods. At Neely's Barbecue Parlor, the couple brings a bit of Tennessee to the Big Apple while still making room on the menu for other Southern staples and regional classics. In addition to re-creating classic Memphis-style baby back ribs, the chefs forge tangy Kansas City–style ribs and smoky Texas-style brisket. Even with these regional variations, virtually every dish seems to have been culled from a family cookbook of simple, hearty, and down-home favorites. Blackened catfish and country-fried steak cling to their Southern roots, as do the side dishes, which include everything from cornbread and molasses baked beans to collard greens and creamed corn. This homespun influence is most apparent in the restaurant's decor, which brims with handpicked vintage furniture and accessories. "'Parlor' is the operative term here," according to the New York Times, and the mismatched dining chairs and french windows contribute to this casual atmosphere. The restaurant is divided into seven seating areas, each of which embraces its own theme by mimicking a room of a stately Southern home. The den's wooden accents and neutral-toned walls stand in stark contrast to the more formal and intimately sized dining room with its damask-patterned red walls and solitary chandelier.
In Carioca Grill's open kitchen, skewers of sirloin, sausage, and short ribs roast in the fiery churrasco. Steam rises from a nearby buffet, forming stratus clouds above hot dishes including fried yucca and shrimp stew. At the back of the dining area, a cashier weighs fare by the pound after taking off its shoes. Though the restaurant has a minimalist, casual vibe, its food brims with complex flavors and tropical ingredients prevalent in Brazilian cooking.