It's barbecue season. Fortunately, LI is home to some stellar spots, smoking up meats from beef to duck and creating crave-worthy meals with spicy rubs and spot-on sides.
So grab some napkins and get ready: Things are about to get saucy at these 11 restaurants. Some do just barbecue, while others carve out a special place on their menus for dishes cooked low and slow.
North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse(Credit: Randee Daddona)
The dedicated team at North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse in Wading River is headed by competition barbecue veteran Patrick Gaeta and focused on quality, so when the kitchen runs out of something, you'll have to come back another day. A brontosaurian beef rib topped with pickled red onion has great depth and smokiness. So, too, do baby back ribs and brisket. Sides are made to order -- even the hand-cut fries and mac and cheese laced with house-smoked bacon.
Maple Tree BBQ(Credit: Randee Daddona)
With table service, as well as beer, wine and hard cider, Maple Tree BBQ in Riverhead serves up lightly smoky, moist ribs, chicken and brisket. The house-smoked pastrami (pictured, with smoked beans and herb-crusted rosemary and thyme potatoes) -- dry-rubbed with coriander, paprika, brown sugar, garlic and mustard seed -- is something you'll dream about.
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint(Credit: Newsday / Donna Alberico)
Whether you go for the St. Louis-style, baby back or beef ribs at Smokin' Al's in Massapequa Park, you can't go wrong: All are first rate. Big appetites can tackle the the rib and chicken combo (pictured).
Smokin' Wolf BBQ & More(Credit: Smokin' Wolf)
In addition to a full barbecue menu -- ribs, pulled pork, brisket and duck -- Smokin' Wolf chef-owner Arthur Wolf serves up less-obvious options including pulled-duck quesadillas. And if you have a real hunger to satiate, the East Hampton eatery offers its namesake sampler (pictured, with a quarter chicken, ribs, grilled corn on the cob and corn bread).
South Shore BBQ Company(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
At South Shore BBQ Company in Patchogue, pitmaster Will Breakstone's menu is super-simple, focusing on brisket -- pictured is a chopped brisket sandwich with sides of collard greens, coleslaw and cornbread -- ribs, pulled pork and chicken, as well as house-made hot links or spicy sausage. Breakstone coats the meats with an unusual dry rub of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and allspice before slow-smoking them. The results take barbecue to the level of art.
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ(Credit: Swingbellys Beachside BBQ)
At Swingbellys Beachside BBQ in Long Beach, you'll find all manner of glistening meats served with a pile of paper plates, the better for sharing. Smoked favorites include half a chicken, brisket, pulled pork and St. Louis-style ribs (pictured).
Bobbique(Credit: Doug Young)
Chef-owner Eric Rivkin has designed Bobbique in Patchogue with informality in mind. Order at the counter, grab a table and soon you'll be elbow deep in messy ribs (St. Louis-style ribs, pictured), pulled pork and brisket. You'll also find an assortment of craft beers.
Joe's Garage and Grill(Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick)
Slow-smoked barbecue appears all over the menu of the snazzy race car-themed Joe's Garage and Grill in Riverhead. A section called Pit Row lists pulled pork, beef brisket and St. Louis ribs, but you'll also find smoked pork belly in the Tokyo Drift sliders (pictured, with kimchee and cucumber salsa) and smoked turkey in the turkey potpie. Chicken wings are first smoked, then fried; burnt brisket ends show up in the chili. Much of the time, chef Brian Burner's daily specials involve something smoked.
Mara's Too(Credit: Jeremy Bales)
Like the original Mara's Homemade in Syosset, the smaller and more casual spinoff Mara's Too in Wantagh offers a menu that's split between Southern and Cajun classics and a repertoire of dry-rubbed smoked meats. You can get smoked chicken, St. Louis and baby back ribs (pictured, with grits and cole slaw), brisket and pulled pork, as well as beef ribs and smoked sausage. A full range of traditional sides are available, too.
Chichimecas(Credit: Johnny Simon)
Using a slow smoker, Chichimecas in Farmingdale offers Mexican-style barbecue (including pulled pork, pictured) -- succulent, smoky ribs and juicy chicken with spice-coated burnished skin. Stellar sides include the moist cornbread and addictive fried plantains.
Tennessee Jed's(Credit: Ari Mintz)
Tennessee Jed's in Wantagh only gets better with age. Pitmaster and co-owner Francisco Gonzalez serves meaty, juicy St. Louis ribs, and the barbecued chicken is full of similar smoky goodness. Sides hold their own, with the mac and cheese perfectly al dente and sweet potato fries nice and toasty.