For one weekend every year, New York City gets a taste of some good, southern barbecue thanks to the Big Apple BBQ Festival. Madison Square Park is taken over by pitmasters from all over the south serving up their very best, and the smell in the air is to die for. For $8 per plate, you can sample any and all of the award-wining 'cue available. If you are a southern transplant like my husband and me, this is a must-do event. We went for the first time two years ago (when I met Billy Mays!), but last year, I was working and we didn't make it. This year, we came with our appetites ready.
This time around, Eric and I did our research and figured out exactly which places were our "Must Try" priorities. We remembered the long lines and thick crowds of last time, and knew that waits would be long and vendors may very well run out of food. So, prioritize!
Crowds of people lining up for 'cue this year
Waiting for some pulled pork
We knew our top two things to try this year were Ed Mitchell's whole hog sandwich (out of Raleigh, NC) and the beef brisket from Salt Lick BBQ (from Driftwood, TX). So, we split up. I got in the Salt Lick line, and Eric tracked down Ed Mitchell. We each bought a plate of the desired 'cue to share. As expected, lines were crazy long and we waited probably about a half hour, maybe more.
Salt Lick Tent
Ed Mitchell Whole Hog Gourmet BBQ: "Everything but the oink."
Ed Mitchell himself
Chopping up the meat
When we both had our food in hand, we reconvened at a center point and chowed down. Salt Lick's brisket was one we wanted to try the last time we came to the festival, but it had sold out by the time we got in line. When we were able to sample it this year, we thought it was quite tasty, but actually preferred the sausage to the brisket! As for Ed Mitchell's whole hog, it was the kind of sandwich that causes your eyes to roll back in your head after you take your first bite - it's that good. We were definitely fans.
Sausage, brisket and cole slaw from Salt Lick
Eric ready to eat some Ed Mitchell's whole hog sandwich
After our first round, we did some wandering through Madison Square Park, taking in the atmosphere and plotting our next move.
Madison Square Park
People relaxing on the lawn around the art installation entitled Echo, by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa
We decided we wanted a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson's (of Decatur, AL), but the line was long and they were running out of food. Rather than waiting for half an hour and risk having nothing to show for it, we decided to move on. We waited briefly in the line at Shake Shack, hoping to sample their honorary BBQ Festival fries, which were topped with Big Bob Gibson's pork and cheese. Unfortunately, that line was also too slow-moving for our tastes and we gave up.
Eric in line for Shake Shack
Our options were getting more and more limited as more and more places ran out of food and shut down their lines. We ended up in the Dinosaur BBQ (of New York, NY) line. We had vowed not to get any local BBQ at the festival, since we can get that any time, but hey, we needed some pulled pork in our lives and they had it to offer. Plus, it was on my NYC To-Do List to try Dinosaur BBQ, so why not? The line moved quickly, and before too long, our pulled pork needs were met.
In line for Dinosaur BBQ
Mmmm, pork just waiting to be put into sandwich form.
Pulled pork sandwich and baked beans from Dinosaur BBQ
You didn't really think I would go through a whole post about a food festival without a "taking a bite" photo, did you?
(For the record, we thought Dinosaur BBQ's pulled pork was quite yummy, but not better than our beloved Daisy May's, which still holds the "Best BBQ in New York" title for us!)
At last, we had our fill. We had sampled some utterly delicious 'cue, and it was time to move on to our next fun event of the day (coming up in tomorrow's post!). We bid farewell to the Flatiron Building and we were on our way!
See you next year, Big Apple BBQ Festival!