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BBQ near Penn Station

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Hi,

I'm going through NYC, from Canada, for a 2.5 hour stopover at Penn Station. I've been watching a lot Food Network lately and am very interested in the whole Smoked Brisket idea, which I have never tried. I also like pulled pork sandwiches but have only had a chance to try it in Canada and a Hard Rock Cafe in Asia. So I'm looking for a combo plate or sandwich. Based on Google maps, it seems the closest options are:

Spanky's
Virgil's
Rub BBQ

Of these three, which would you recommend? And is there anything better but just as close that is off Google's radar. I don't mind dirty hole-in-the-wall type places.

One more question, all the plates seems to come with one or 2 sides. What sides are recommended?

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  1. Hill Country, about a 10 minute walk from Penn (30 West 26th St), for sides, depends on what you like...I'm a mac and cheese addict, there's is good, so are the beans, slaw, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: owlwoman

      Yes. For brisket, you need to go somewhere that's more Texas style BBQ and Hill Country is quite good. The atmosphere is interesting and very much a clone of what you're find in the actual rural hill country of Texas. Focus is on brisket, ribs (pork and beef), no pulled pork (that's Carolinian). They do have a few other specialty items like beer can chicken.

      You're paying for BBQ by the pound at a counter, which is handed to you, grease and all on butcher paper. No utensils. Paper towel rolls on the tables. I think sides are separate though, and a big portion if you're just one person. The only "for one" sized platter they have is a combination of many different types of meat.

    2. Brother Jimmy's is right outside Penn, but I would aviod anything within spitting distance of Penn (way to crowded; not the best quality either).... you can walk about 10 blocks downtown to R.U.B (righteous urban barbeque) http://www.rubbbq.net/
      208 West 23rd.

      1. Blue Smoke, which is just about 15 minute cab ride east, has good BBQ items.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RCC

          agreed...must try the homemade BBQ chips with blue cheese dipping sauce.

          1. re: RCC

            I think Blue Smoke is known more for their ribs and pulled pork than brisket though. I do like their pulled pork a lot but the coleslaw is definitely nontraditional (has a bit of an Asian accent with the sesame seeds IIRC).

          2. I'd go to RUB, which is only one stop away on the subway -- you could even walk it. Haven't been to Hill Country but I hear good things.

            1. I would definitely recommend either Hill Country or R.U.B. as others have. Blue Smoke is okay, but it's a little too fancy/polished for me to feel like it's "credible." I've been there a number of times and come away feeling like I just paid for Haute-BBQ.

              Hill Country's definitely not a hole in the wall. In fact I'm surprised Google didn't find it for you. It's about a year and a half old and very popular.

              1. Agree w/Hill Coutry.

                1. Avoid everything near Penn--I work across the street, can attest to the poor quality. I'd go with Blue Smoke. Pulled pork is great there, just use extra sauce. And the deviled eggs are awesome.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bjorku

                    I guess you didn't get out much because there are many fine eats in the vicinity of Penn Station.

                  2. I think the 2 hour time limit pushes toward either Hill Country or RUB. Both are faster environments

                    1. Definitely Hill Country

                      1. Okay, I just re-read the request a little more carefully. You have a 2.5 hour layover at Penn Station. It really depends on what time of day this is. If it's at 8PM on a weekend, you may be out of luck at Hill Country. There's usually a wait for a table. And then there's a wait at the bbq line (cafeteria style, sort of).

                        For the most part the format at Hill Country will work in your favor unless you get there at a peak time. Another closer and decidedly mediocre option... but viable if it's a peak time and you just want to *try* some bbq is Brother Jimmy's on the corner of 31st and 8th. It's not GREAT or even GOOD bbq. But it's okay. And it will be faster and easier.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: egit

                          What about this? Get takeout bbq from Hill Country or RUB and eat it at Penn Station. One reason I suggested the latter is that it's such an easy subway ride. You could be there and back with your food in no time.

                          BTW, stay away from the place in the alley between 33rd and 34th, if it even still exists. Terrible...

                        2. Wow,

                          Thanks for all the advice. I think I'll go with Brisket at Hill Country and just keep it if there's leftovers. Do I want lean or moist? I appreciate the whole fat is flavor concept, but I am the type to cut the fat off f porkchops and steaks.

                          I hope I'm making the right decision forgoing NY style deli...but Katz and carnegie are just too far away.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: eco987

                            In Texas the fatty brisket is lean, and lean is fatty. In one of Hill Country's few concessions they give meaning to the common, non-Texan usage of the terms. Lean is lean, and "moist" (an unpleasant word, I think, it sounds like how I feel after a long jog or something) is fatty. Got that?

                            So, get lean. It's a decent rendition of authentic Texas BBQ, and probably the best example of that style brisket you'll get in the city. Also, get the jalepeno cheese sausage, which they ship from Kreuz's outside of Austin. It's the real deal.

                            An aside on sides. I think that's one of the big weaknesses of Hill Country. They have too many sides, and they're all over the place (another concession to NY expectations, I think). I think they should concentrate a bit more. If you're really after authenticity, the landmark 'cues in Texas would typically have Potato Salad, Slaw, and Beans (max). Sides are typically kept to Mrs. Baird's whitebread, pickles, onions, jalapeno, maybe some cheese and saltines. I'm not so much a purist and enjoyed the Black Eyed Peas (as food, not music). Please, Hill Country, get rid of the kitschy "cavier" title already for the BE Peas. Also, the Green Bean Casserole tasted like Mom would make (You can be the judge if that's good or bad).

                            I went last Sunday and got a 1/4 lb lean brisket, jalpeno sausage, and a couple pork ribs and the black-eyeds. It was a disgusting amount of food for about $25. Something like that might give you a good sampling, if that's what you're after.

                            Finally, you may want to plan out the after-effects of this adventure and make sure you're close to a bathroom on that train car wherever it's chugging you off too. I'll look forward to your "clean bathroom near Penn Station" post.

                            1. re: eco987

                              Hill Country is definitely the right choice, and because the meat is sold by the pound, you can get a few slices of lean and a few slices of moist. You can also get a single rib, a quarter chicken, etc., but beware that the price does add up. I don't think the sides are very good, but it's brisket you're after and HC is the best for that. They do make a really good salad, though, if you want some veggies with the meat.

                              It would probably be easiest to eat there, but if you're pressed for time you can take it back to the train. Walking from Penn, ordering and walking back would take less than an hour.

                            2. Go with Hill Country. Call ahead to make sure you can get it to go. I think they do that. Here is a link to a review I did (with pictures). I hope it's helpful:

                              http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic....