Big Apple BBQ
Haven't been for a couple of years but going to brave it armed with my Fastpass (formerly known as the Bubba Pass). Will report back. Wish me luck.
found it really really odd that some stalls -- salt lick, for instance -- had huge lines even in fast pass mode (seems like they released more passes this year) while other really good ones had no wait at all. much to my delight, ed mitchell's new place had ONE person on line (fast pass that is) at two pm. doggone it, he's still my all time pork purveying idol. new place promotes hormone free, natural pork, which is great. the flavor is absolutely flawless -- highly recommended.
decided to diversify a bit this time, had the st louis ribs from bakers -- again,not much of a line (seems like the vendors on the fringes,physically, had less traffic). three good, meaty ribs and just enough sauce to set things off. didn't add more sauce 'cause i didn't think it necessary. really a good option.
the beef rib from mr cecil was good...not great. liked the siding salad -- cukes and tomatoes -- since even a cole slaw lover like me can get sick of traversing a one-side-dish town.
intend to try the checkered pig's pork tomorrow, as well as the crawfish stand.
more beer choices this year was nice -- yay abita -- but it was just too darn hot to take full advantage of that....
re: david sprague
Salt Lick always has a huge line. Because they're a well known name. And because they are one of two brisket vendors. Lots of TX ex-pats live in NYC, too.
A lot of the line management seems dictated by the batch-like nature of cooking BBQ.
If you like Ed Mitchell you'll like Checkered Pig but not as much.
And the "crawfish" stand is really crawfish-okra hush puppies. Not actual whole crawfish.
I had a Fast Pass as well:
The Pit - whole hog! It looks like pulled pork but is the whole hog. They'll gladly give you extra crackling if you wish. Make sure you get some of their vinegary, spicy sauce on the pork. It's really tender, melt-in-your-mouth good, but more on the subtle side in comparison to others. The slaw went well with the sauced pork, too. Really great pork flavor. Ed Mitchell is a master of the whole hog and they have a very impressive set up. Note that the register here is very close to the FastPass entrance, so it creates a little bit of a bottleneck in that corner of the park. I'll probably have another sandwich from here tomorrow. Line was about 10 minutes around 1pm.
Big Bob Gibson - Also delicious but a very different style. I love their Championship red sauce. Meaty, nice as finely chopped as The Pit, but the flavor is more assertive, in order to stand up to the sauce. A great pulled pork sandwich. Nice big chunks, and it is a treat to see the Lilly brothers chopping up pork in front of your eyes. I could eat at least two more of these before the weekend is up. Line was about 10 minutes around 1:30pm but got longer as the day went on.
Dinosaur BBQ - they ran out of beans for about ten minutes but we didn't care and they took $2 off. The pulled pork was nice but not as good as the others. Probably some of the best in NYC though. Line was very short around 2pm. Went here because the fiance wanted more pulled pork.
17th Street Baby Back Ribs - great, well sauced, delicious, tender, meaty, juicy. I got BBQ sauce all over my face eating these! Super messy but worth the effort. Fatty and delicious. Some of my favorite BBQ ever. The baked beans were good but I was saving room so only had a little bit. The line was pretty long around 2pm but died down around 3pm.
Checkered Pig - similar to Ed Mitchell's but not as good. A newcomer to BABBQ, and a friend told us it was the best thing he'd eaten that day. It was very tender, soft, silky pork, with a bit of sweetness to it. Nearly melt in your mouth but not as much as the whole hog from The Pit. I did like it, though, it just had a hard time standing up to The Pit and Big Bob. It was worth trying just because they were new, though.
Walked past Salt Lick, skipped eating there since I've been to the Dripping Springs TX location already, but the line was long. Tried to get into the hush puppies line but the line was just as long! They looked really good and smelled amazing, though. I'll try again tomorrow.
Eleven Madison Park beverage stand - I wanted some lemonade but they closed up shop early! They were also selling sweet tea. This is the stand outside the Bourbon Bar.
Tabla beverage / food stand - really nice limeade with seltzer water and pomegranate syrup in it, $5, non-Fast Pass unfortunately. A friend tried their tea infused with a bunch of stuff, wasn't too impressed.
Blue Smoke - good brownie but they were out of PB&J cupcakes! Boo. The root beer floats looked nice too.
Shake Shack - FAILURE, both the B-line and the regular line were down just past the sand a bit, I thought I'd stop by the B-line to grab some custard, we waited about 20 minutes, the line moved about 2 people. Very, very slow. A friend thought they might be training new employees -- why, on one of the busiest days of the year?! I don't think some of the people around me even understood the B line's purpose as they were talking about ordering burgers and shakes.
After sweating it out for 4 hours, I headed home. Tomorrow: hush puppies, the new brisket vendor from CT, maybe Big Bob and The Pit again.
"The Pit - whole hog! It looks like pulled pork but is the whole hog. They'll gladly give you extra crackling if you wish."
Yes, if you have the fast pass. I didn't get any skin on the regular line, so I asked if they had any; I was told that "it's only on that line" (pointing at the fast pass line). Still a great sandwich but annoying.
The hush puppies are terrific-the line is slow because they are frying them fresh, looks like about 10 per basket and maybe 4-5 baskets. They give you 5 with sauce-I'm not sure how much crawdad is in it (just a hint) but they are nice and spicy and not at all dry...but they are filling, so go easy on them.
We split up at the start (2 fast-passes)-they were letting us line up by 11:45-almost no one on the Salt Lick or Bob Gibson line. I really like the sausages at Salt Lick, a lot more than the brisket-we ended up enduring a longer wait to take some all- sausage home (I came supplied with those plastic take-out containers.) I liked the Bob Gibson, but the suprise for me and my wife and 2 friends was....
Checkered Pig-we all liked it better-the saucing has that vinegary taste to it...maybe it reminds me of my childhood pork sandwiches, I don't know, but I really liked it. We stopped by just before we left to get some more to take home (I find pork freezes well.)
The winner for all of us, again, is 17th Street-those are just amazing ribs, and I like the beans that go with it as well.
Did anyone have trouble with the new style containers they were using? I got cole-slaw sauce all over me-it seemed the container had a flaw in the lower corner.
The beer lines were out of control, so I passed on that.
And Edy's ice cream was handing out free small cups right next to the Wildwood dessert stand.
It was hot...but I'll brave it again tomorrow.
re: David W
wow, this was the first time i ever found the beer deal workable...with a fast pass that is. less than five mins to be punched, handed a receipt that was redeemable for a beer. noticed some people loading up the pass....if the receipt was for, say, six beers, you could buy two, have the receipt 'notarized' and save the rest for later. comparatively civilized...
Since it was also the day of the Belmont Stakes, I will analogize. At 11am I was the first horse at the gate, the gate being Ed Mitchell's The Pit-"everything but the squeal". Enjoyed talking to Ed as he supervised placing whole hogs in the smokers and adding the vinegar to the chopped pork. At 12:01 on the fast pass line I was 5 lengths ahead of the pack as I'd already consumed 2 sandwiches. Had park benches all to myself while they blasted some Albert King from the speakers placed around the park. The surprise winner this year IMHO was Ubon's pulled pork from Yazoo Miss. Great sauce. I bought a bottle. Big Bob Gibson was great as usual too. 4 pork sandwiches and it was only 12:15! Settled in to Eleven Mad's cafe which, to keep the horse theme, was serving Kentucky mint juleps. I needed babybacks, so the only local pitmaster I patronized (since I can always get Hill Country and Blue Smoke) was Rack and Soul, which I'd never been to before. Ribs were fantastic as were their beans. Brought half a rack home to Mrs. GG who devoured them. The only downer was the over hour wait even in the fastpass line for the crawfish/okra hushpuppies which they fried up fresh for each person. They were great but at 93+ degrees, it was brutal. The brewmasters were great, but after the juleps I could only do one Abita turbodog in the heat. All in all, a photo finish!
Went with 2 friends and split a Fastpass 3 ways.
Having tried all the chopped/pulled pork except one, the 3 of us universally agreed that Ubon's was far and away the best.
The best meat, the best sauce, the best 'slaw.
And when combined any 2 or 3 ways -- total heaven.