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Josh Bowen’s meat shrine sparked a renaissance in Queens—now home to three new-wave smokehouses—when it opened in 2011, resurrecting a legacy started by shuttered Pearson’s Texas Barbecue. The Hill Country alum’s Kansas City specialties draw in neighborhood families and burnt-end addicts, who make the trek down a desolate stretch of Long Island City for the fatty morsels of brisket deckle ($23/lb). Grab a beer from a bar stocked with both local and foreign brews (Rockaway ESB, Hitachino White ale) on your way to the mural-decorated backyard garden. At picnic-blanket-topped tables, diners tear into wobbly chunks of pork belly ($18/lb) and hefty spareribs ($9 per quarter slab). The pork is succulent on its own, but we recommend a drizzle of the tangy, molasses-infused sauce—you wouldn’t be chowing down in true K.C. fashion without some.
A very cool outfit with a very young clientele, John Brown in Queens doesn’t have the most intense barbecue, owing to its reliance on electric smokers, but its food is delicious and the atmosphere wonderfully chill. Other perks? Indescribably moist meat (try the St. Louis-cut ribs) and a back garden that makes you want to hang out all day—which, thanks to the low prices (platters with one side start at $13), you can do on a budget. The post-industrial desolation of Long Island City lends itself to meat-sated reverie.
This laid-back Long Island City barbecue joint makes a killer slab of Kansas City-style meat, serving everything from simple beef brisket sandwiches ($10) to massive, juicy pork ribs ($9-$26). Their real specialty, though, are "Burnt Ends," which are far tastier than they sound: crispy, sweet pieces of meat you can dip in housemade barbecue sauce. They come in sandwich form ($13) and by the pound ($24) and taste best when coupled with sweet coleslaw ($3-$9) and draft of Saratoga Lager or Speakeasy Prohibition Ale ($7-8) in the beer garden out back.
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