Barbecue restaurants on Long Island: Our critics' favorites
It's official: Barbecue has caught fire on Long Island. Only a few years back, one could count the number of serious local barbecue spots on one hand. Thankfully, those days of settling for so-so ribs, chicken, brisket and pulled pork smothered in sticky sauce are gone. Now, you can afford to be picky about where you go to satisfy a yen for something slow-smoked and delicious. Here are some of our favorites.
LI Pour House(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
LI Pour House, Port Jefferson Station: At LI Pour House, a lively sports bar, you get to pour your own craft beer and cider. The real draw, though, is the BBQ from chef co-owner Joseph Sestinger, who knows the art of slow-smoking. Top picks include burnt brisket ends, sliders with pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket, smoked and fried chicken thighs and mac and cheese-topped hot dogs.
Two racks of smoky baby-back ribs with beans, mac-and-cheese, Carolina coleslaw and cornbread at LI Pour House in Port Jefferson Station.
Townline BBQ(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
Townline BBQ, Sagaponack: A magnet for celebs as well as locals, this rustic order-at-the-counter spot keeps everybody coming back for more. Grab an outdoor table with a view of surrounding farmland. To eat: smoky ribs (both pork and beef), pulled pork, barbecued chicken and brisket. Sides include mac and cheese, roasted beets and collards. Finish with whoopie pie.
The pulled pork sandwich at Townline BBQ.
Biscuits & Barbeque(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)
Biscuits and Barbeque, Mineola: Meaty, spice-pebbled ribs and deeply smoky chicken are major draws at this friendly Southern spot, housed in a vintage diner. Precede the 'cue with a big, hot flaky biscuit with andouille sausage gravy. (Alligator sausage is pictured.) Or a rich and zesty bowl of seafood gumbo. Share a bubbling casserole of mac and cheese and finish with a slice of warm pecan pie.
Peach cobbler is served a la mode at Biscuits & Barbecue in Mineola.
Smokin' Wolf(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
Smokin' Wolf, East Hampton: Arthur Wolf's Smokin' Wolf is the flavorful heir to Turtle Crossing, where Wolf also specialized in Southwest barbecue. Bulk up at his own place with pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket, smoked sausage and barbecued chicken (pictured). You'll enjoy the fish tacos and fried chicken, too. But Smokin' Wolf earns its name the old-fashioned way. Good sides include collard greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato fries and coleslaw.
Barbecue brisket chili and corn bread is served at Smokin' Wolf.
North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse(Credit: Randee Daddona)
North Fork Bacon and Smokehouse, Wading River: Hours are limited to weekends (Friday to Sunday only) at this storefront, where disposable dinnerware and tight seating matter less than the high quality of the 'cue. From competition barbecue veteran Patrick Gaeta and crew come a brontosaurian beef rib topped with pickled red onion, baby back ribs and brisket -- all imbued with depth and smokiness. Sides are made to order -- even the hand-cut fries and mac and cheese laced with house-smoked bacon.
Bone-in beef short ribs are served with pickled onions and house slaw at North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse.
Mara's Homemade(Credit: Newsday / Elysia Smith)
Mara's Homemade, Syosset: A star of the menu are the tender ribs, which are smoked daily. Pulled pork and chopped brisket benefit from the terrific house-made hot sauce. Hush puppies, here fried cornbread spiked with jalapeño peppers, beat any rolls. Have some very good fried pickles and fried green tomatoes. Also notable are crawfish cheesecake, a lush wedge spiked with andouille sausage and crawfish tails, baked with cheese, under a bread-crumb crust; the house's crawfish boil, three pounds of the beloved pick-and-suck mudbugs, delivered in an Abita bucket; and any of the po'boys, oyster, shrimp, catfish, crawfish.
The oyster po'boy at Mara's Homemade stars Louisiana Gulf oysters coated with seasoned cornmeal and fried. They're served on a baguette dressed with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, Crystal Hot Sauce and Mara's own sauce rémoulade; no-mayo coleslaw on the side.
Maple Tree BBQ(Credit: Randee Daddona)
Maple Tree BBQ, Riverhead: The former Maple Tree Deli and Market is now a full-service barbecue house presided over by owner-pitmaster Kevin Judge and sons. They serve up lightly smoky, moist ribs and chicken, as well as brisket, but it's the house-smoked pastrami (pictured) -- dry-rubbed with coriander, paprika, brown sugar, garlic and mustard seed -- that can knock your socks off. Finish with homey pineapple upside-down cake.
A North Carolina burger with pulled pork and portobello mushrooms is served with sweet potato fries at Maple Tree BBQ.
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint(Credit: Donna Alberico)
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint, Massapequa Park: Barbecue boss Al Horowitz serves up moist spice-rubbed smoked baby backs as well as meaty St. Louis ribs at his Massapequa Park house of 'cue. (Pictured is the rib and chicken combo.) Monster beef bones are huge, smoky and tender. The ridiculously tall "haystack" of fried onions may obscure the person sitting opposite you. Try a Caesar salad topped with pulled pork. Or a bowl of smoky, creamy Brunswick stew, loaded with chicken, sausage, pork and vegetables. You won't leave hungry.
Mac and cheese is served at Smokin Al's Famous BBQ Joint in Massapequa Park.
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ(Credit: Linda Rosier)
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ, Long Beach: Having seen the wrath of superstorm Sandy, two renovations and five different pitmasters, Swingbellys comes out swinging harder than ever. Here, the meat is coated with an ingenious mix of dry-rub spices, imbued with a haunting smokiness. BBQ sauce is superfluous. Standouts include plump meaty chicken "swingz," smoky, tender St. Louis ribs, pulled pork and pit-smoked chicken. And don't miss the opulent "mac and Pete," a bowl of creamy, al dente mac and cheese laced with brisket burned ends.
The Classic BBQ sandwich is made with brisket and comes with coleslaw and crispy onions at Swingbellys Beachside BBQ in Long Beach.
Bobbique(Credit: Doug Young)
Bobbique, Patchogue: At this popular barbecue spot in the heart of Patchogue, you can wash down your 'cue with a craft brew from an impressive list of choices, both bottled and on tap. With the blues playing (either live or on the sound system), you can get into some jumbo barbecue chicken wings -- big and smoky, as well as smoky, tender St. Louis ribs (pictured) and well-burnished barbecue chicken. You'll also want to order some hand-cut fries, either regular or sweet potato. Finish with Southern banana pudding.
Tennessee Jed's BBQ Grille(Credit: Michael Falco)
Tennessee Jed's BBQ Grille, Wantagh: Pitmaster Francisco Gonzalez slow-cooks ribs, chicken and pork to smoky delectability. Try his beautifully bronzed chicken and dry-rubbed St. Louis ribs (pictured), which can stand alone, without sauce. Sides -- such as al dente mac and cheese, rich creamed spinach and smoky baked beans -- work well, too.