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.
Selections by Newsday food staff.
Maple Tree BBQ Smokehouse
Maple Tree BBQ Smokehouse (820 W. Main St., Riverhead): When Dennis O'Leary took over Maple Tree in 2016, the 14-year-old store was three years into its transition from deli to barbecue restaurant. It is now complete and smokin' away. Order at the counter, and your food will be delivered to you whether you're in the dining room, out back or at one of the picnic tables across Route 25, with a fine view of the Peconic River. If Maple Tree adheres to any one barbecue style, it's Texas. O'Leary and his pitmaster, Phil Liguori, excel at brisket, Texas' signature 'cue, as well as its cousins pastrami (brisket that's brined before smoking) and burnt ends (the carbonized tips of the brisket, doused with sauce). More info: 631-727-2819, mapletreebbq.com
A family pack, with a whole smoked chicken and a full rack of ribs, is served with cornbread at Maple Tree BBQ Smokehouse in Riverhead.
Radio Radio (24 Clinton Ave., Huntington): In a weird twist of fate in May 2017, Huntington village went from zero barbecue spots to two in the space of about a week. The first of those to open was Radio Radio, a cozy spot adjacent to its sister restaurant, Vauxhall, that feels like a cross between a bistro and a nouveau pit stop. Here, brisket cooks low and slow for 11 hours over applewood, and bone-in pork shoulder comes close to that, yielding falling-apart pulled pork. Pork ribs smolder with hints of the chili-flecked rub. These, along with halves of smoked chicken and a rotating cast of sausages from Jake's Handcrafted in Brooklyn, are listed daily on a roll of brown paper in the snug dining room. More info: 631-923-2622, radioradiohuntington.com
Mexican street corn is served at Radio Radio in Huntington.
Old Fields Barbecue
Old Fields Barbecue (15 New St., Huntington): The team behind Old Fields Barbecue, which opened on New Street in Huntington in mid-May 2017, form a tight trio. Owner David Tunney (also co-owner of Old Fields in Greenlawn), manager Rory Van Nostrand and chef Israel Castro crisscrossed the country to sample barbecue before forging their own particular style of dry rubs, meats smoked overnight on a Southern Pride smoker and techniques that borrow from all over the country. The menu features ribs, brisket, pulled pork, grilled chorizo sausage and more. More info: 631-923-1515, ofbarbecue.com
St. Louis-style pork ribs, brisket, house-made sausage, cornbread and watermelon-feta salad are served at Old Fields Barbecue in Huntington.
Stuey's Smokehouse BBQ
Stuey's Smokehouse BBQ (50 Birch Hill Rd., Locust Valley): This takeout spot has a country chic befitting Locust Valley, with a vaulted ceiling and exposed beams, subway tile counters and a lot of stainless steel. Pitmaster John Zervoulakos, formerly of John Brown Smokehouse and The Strand Smokehouse (both in Queens), puts out a classic menu of baby back ribs, brisket, smoked salmon, pulled pork and smoked sausage. More info: 516-277-2202, friendofafarmer.com/stueys-smokehouse-bbq
Brisket is served with fresh string beans and sweet potatoes at Stuey's Smokehouse BBQ in Locust Valley.
Smoke Shack Blues
Smoke Shack Blues (138 Main St., Port Jefferson): Smoke Shack Blues offers traditional pit-smoked barbecue in a modern, industrial setting. More info: 631-438-6797, smokeshackblues.com
A whole rack of ribs is served at Smoke Shack Blues in Port Jefferson.
LI Pour House
LI Pour House (650 Rte. 112, 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. More info: 631-509-1914, lipourhouse.com
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 (3593 Montauk Hwy., 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. More info: 631-537-2271, townlinebbq.com
The pulled pork sandwich at Townline BBQ.
Biscuits & Barbeque
Biscuits and Barbeque (106 E 2nd St., 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. More info: 516-493-9797
Peach cobbler is served a la mode at Biscuits & Barbecue in Mineola.
Smokin' Wolf (199 Pantigo Rd., 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. More info: 631-324-7166, smokinwolfbbq.com
Barbecue brisket chili and corn bread is served at Smokin' Wolf.
North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse
North Fork Bacon and Smokehouse (1 Sound Rd., 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. More info: 631-886-2220
Bone-in beef short ribs are served with pickled onions and house slaw at North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse.
Mara's Homemade (236 W. Jericho Tpke., 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. More info: 516-682-9200, marashomemade.com
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.
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint (4847 Merrick Rd., 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. More info: 516-779-4900, smokinals.com
Mac and cheese is served at Smokin Al's Famous BBQ Joint in Massapequa Park.
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ (909 W. Beech St., 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. More info: 516-431-3464, swingbellysbbq.com
The Classic BBQ sandwich is made with brisket and comes with coleslaw and crispy onions at Swingbellys Beachside BBQ in Long Beach.
Bobbique (70 W. Main St., 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. More info: 631-447-7744, bobbique.com
Tennessee Jed's BBQ Grille
Tennessee Jed's BBQ Grille (143 N. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst): 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. More info: 516-308-3355, tennjeds.com