Whether beneath the thatched roof of the tiki hut or at an intimate table surrounded by bamboo shoots, Papaya Thai and Asian BBQ’s tropical themes pervade the eatery’s confines. The barbecue bar grants diners a front-row seat to watch chefs expertly grill marinated meats and veggies on wooden skewers, wielding the power of fire like Prometheus to cook beef to its tender best state. A variety of Thai tasting plates and main dishes include classics such as pad thai, sizzling chicken in a thai barbecue sauce, and skewered chicken satay. From the tiki bar, bartenders pour tropical drinks such as papaya thai-ritas made with sweet mango and nutty monkeys, an almond-rum-banana concoction the staff delivers to tables by way of swinging through the rafters.
BJ Ryan's BANC House satiates cravings for both fresh coastal catches and savory wood-smoked meats that exude Southern charm. The slow-smoked pulled pork calls to taste buds from the plate where it sits slathered in homemade sauce and dry rub, and savory shrimp and grits blend dry rub and cheddar flavors. The talented chefs pay a special tribute to fresh crab, which can be added to any entree, steaming dishes such as the Banc crab cake, dungeness, Alaskan king, or blue crabs, which come dressed in homemade roasted-garlic sauce, ginger caramel, or inner-harbor spice.
Not to be overshadowed by the succulent food, BJ Ryan's dark, varnished wood and black-lacquered furnishings effuse a low-key, yet carefully kept dining environment marked by old photos and broad chalkboards listing the day’s specials.
Chili is in SmokeHouse's name for a reason: it’s the centerpiece of this sporty grill's collection of culinary delights. Winner of Westchester Magazine's Best Chili award for 2008, each bubbling bowl ($5.25 regular, $6.25 bread bowl) is packed with ground beef, sweet Italian sausage, crisp bacon, and an array of secret spices and seasonings, all topped with a blend of shredded monterrey jack, yellow cheddar, and a dollop of sour cream. SmokeHouse's craftsmen keep their award-winning masterpiece on its toes by creating a new concoction every week to compete in a chili-based Thunderdome presided by a panel of post-apocalyptic chefs. The restaurant’s menu is also chock-full of other game-time bites to munch on during Yankees or Jets matchups, such as buffalo wings, hearty burgers, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and more.
Kansas City Smokehouse’s hickory-wood smokers slow-cook succulent meats in the tradition of Missouri barbecue masters. Barbecued meets, including beef brisket, pulled pork, and smoked kielbasa pile on plates by the quarter pound. Tender st. louis ribs or one half of a barbecued chicken share platter space with cornbread and classic sides, such as Cajun rice, collard greens, baked beans, and sweet-potato fries. Chefs dust catfish and skewered shrimp in their signature kansas city dry rub, searing in the spices on a cast-iron griddle heated with their laser vision. Nineteen craft and domestic beers accent the smoky hues, or pair up with a bevy of burgers or steaks.
At Memphis Mae's BBQ Bistro, owners Andreas Nowara and Jeff Matros are rewriting the barbecue gospel. They've crossed out a number of popular myths—that barbecue joints should be shrouded in smoke, that barbecue puritans only cook in the style of a single region, and that those who divulge secret recipes should be cooked themselves—in favor of a more chic and diverse sauce hot spot. Their dining room emulates a crisp bistro, and their menu traverses several Southern states, listing Texas beef brisket alongside Carolina pulled pork and Memphis ribs. They don't limit themselves solely to barbecue staples, either. Comfort foods such as Mississippi catfish and chicken-fried steak appease patrons who might not want to get their hands dirty, and vegetarian options include smoked portobello mushrooms and "pasties" filled with sautéed vegetables.
Their eclectic approach has hardly canceled out down-home prep, however. The kitchen's wood smokers infuse meats with flavor 24 hours a day, passing on zesty notes from pecan and hickory logs. The beer is likewise carefully brewed, arriving from Dogfish Head, Duvel, and other craft companies. In maintaining this delicate balance between strict tradition and inclusivity, Memphis Mae's BBQ Bistro has cemented a savory reputation. The restaurant has catered the New York Yankees' opening-day celebration and was later featured in the New York Times which praised its brunch and catalog of sides, which contains drunken yams, peach applesauce, and none of "the usual throwaways or fillers that most barbecue joints offer."