When Karen Harrison of New Jersey Monthly visited Bourbon BBQ & Catering, she left with a new admiration for the house “meltingly tender chopped beef brisket” and “two-fisted St. Louis ribs,” promising readers that they’ll “be glad our evolutionary ancestors came down from trees, tamed fire, and started roasting fleshy beasts.”
Harrison’s admiration is well placed. The kitchen clearly knows barbecue. The staff smokes beef brisket in an all-hickory smoker for ten hours before tossing it into the slow-cooker for another six. They use fresh chickens delivered from a nearby farm for his bourbon chipotle wings, buffalo chicken wraps, and southern fried chicken. According to the Memphis tradition, the kitchen also rubs pork spare-ribs with spices before carefully smoking and steaming them until they’re fork-tender. Bourbon BBQ offers a host of options for enjoying the decadent food, from stopping in for lunch or dinner to ordering meats and sides by the pound for catered events.
At Palm's Portuguese barbecue, chefs prepare flame-kissed steaks and baby back ribs for diners to consume amid salmon-and-lime-green walls. While succulent lamb is prepared in the Middle Eastern rotisserie style, the kitchen's wood charcoal grill raises the temperature on 14-ounce rib eyes and tender pork chops. Postmeal, guests can indulge in a rice pudding or watch themselves in the wall-length mirrors as they slowly pour rice pudding onto their own forehead.
Chicken Delight is open 363 days a year, closing only on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It's a good thing it's open almost every day, serving locals heaping servings of their golden-fried chicken, mac and cheese, buttery rolls, wings, and homemade coleslaw. Not to mention the cookie-crusted Oreo mousse cake, or the buckets of ribs pulled up daily from the restaurant's sauce well. Family specials stock multiple bellies at once with piles of chicken, ribs, shrimp, and sides, while lunch specials pair favorite foods into hearty single-servings.
Norma Jean Darden, owner of Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too, proudly claims that people from all walks of life visit her quaint and cozy soul-food eatery, and her assertions are far from lip service. From Columbia University students to VIPs—including former president Bill Clinton—it truly does seem that everyone ventures into this 110th Street eatery for a generous plate of Southern-style comfort food. Norma Jean, who named the spot after her mother, showcases recipes from her cookbook, Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine, which she wrote with her sister before opening Miss Mamie’s. Feasts of southern-fried chicken and other hearty entrees cozy up to selections from a list of nearly a dozen sides, such as cornbread stuffing, hand-cut french fries, or collard greens.
If the food, including glasses of fresh-squeezed lemonade and iced tea, isn't enough to invoke images of the Old South, Miss Mamie's decor might do the trick. After all, Norma modeled the cozy space after her mother's Alabama kitchen, complete with red-and-white checkerboard floors and strawberry curtains that cascade across the expansive windows. A variety of classic Southern desserts don't hurt either. The chef serves up generous slices of coconut layer cake, sweet-potato pie, and peach cobbler, and a Motown soundtrack provides tunes that are nearly as sweet.
Though the smells and sights might appear to be just like those at many barbecue places, Harlem BBQ Co takes a slightly different approach at the grill. Here the chefs specialize in ribs—which they slather in a choice of mild, hot, or spicy marinara sauce—and also focus on juicy rotisserie chicken. Each cut can be portioned out into smaller helpings or paired with sides such as collard greens and cinnamon-whipped sweet potatoes to create hearty meals fit for one or for a family. Corn muffins make a perfect tool for sopping up juices from each helping of meat, and also come with pats of cranberry butter. Slices of sweet potato pie are also on deck to add a balancing sweetness to each meal and to prove to friends that you're getting your daily allotment of vegetables.