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."
RW's BBQ satiates seekers of sauce with a menu of hickory-smoked meats, homemade spice rubs, and four made-from-scratch barbecue gravies. Owner Ron Wishna pit roasts butts and briskets for more than 12 hours and chicken and ribs for more than four, producing proteins so tender they swan dive off the bone into a savory side of sauce.
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.
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.
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.
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.