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Dinosaur, Hill Country or Daisy May's

Im organizing a birthday dinner for a friend and a group of about 7 people. Of the 3 bbq places what's the most fun? 2 people are vegetarians so also who has the best sides(mac and cheese etc). I welcome other options also.

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  1. We haven't been to Dinosaur.

    We've been to Hill Country several times. It's Texas-style bbq. My favorites are the brisket (ony fatty will do; the lean sucks!), the beer can Cornish hens, and the spicy Kreutz sausages. I don't care for the ribs. I'm not too crazy about most of Hill Country's sides, but the mac 'n' cheese is fine, and I love the sweet pickle mix.

    We've been to Daisy May's only once. Had the ribs, which are seriously delicious! It's been quite a while since we were there, so I don't remember which sides I had.

    Re: Ambiance. Daisy May's is a cafeteria-style set-up. There are long tables in a not very large room -- no decor to speak of -- adjacent to the room where you put in and pick up your order.

    Hill Country is a huge place with seating on the street level and downstairs. While you do have to line up to get your food, there are servers to bring you drinks, provide silverware if needed, and you can pay your bill through them instead of paying at the register on the way out. Live country music is piped throughout making for a very lively vibe while still managing to maintain a comfortable noise level. Between the two, I think Hill Country is definitely much more fun for a party.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Just went to Daisy Mays, terrific ribs and brisket

      If I had it to do over again (and had one other person), I would share a plate and order extra sides - mac and cheese, collards, and creamed spinach are all great.

      That said, I probably could have plowed through a whole other plate of ribs...

      There was a party doing a pig pickin when I went, that looks like fun and worthwhile

      1. re: RGR

        Agreed on the fatty brisket at Hill Country. I found the ribs better than I was led to believe. I wasn't bowled over by the sausage. The night I went they had a whole pig, which was excellent. Mac & cheese is good, but the corn pudding is excellent. I was very happy with my one meal at Hill Country.

        Daisy May's I've only had from their midtown truck, and a few years back. The Texas chopped beef sandwich was better than the pulled pork. Their chili is excellent, and I'm not a big chili fan.


        1. re: Peter Cherches

          can't argue with anything stated here, but will add that hill country probably offers vegetarians the best chance to put together something resembling an enjoyable meal. there're a good handful of sides and not just slaw/potato salad.

          1. re: david sprague

            Looking at the line-up of sides at Daisy May's on the website, I think a vegetarian would also do very well there.


            1. re: RGR

              i guess you're right....i only recalled the slaw and potato salad -- and the beans, which would be off limits to vegetarians, given the presence of meat.

      2. Those are the 3 best BBQ places in NYC, IMHO. You can't go wrong. Just had a dynamite plate at Dinosaur last night. Called "Ode to Elgin", it was Elgin sausage, brisket and ribs. Great meat, good sides. Great apps (wings and fried green tomatoes, especially). I love Hill Country, but as another poster said it is wait on line and buy meat by the slice/pound. I will tell you that you can get into serious huge bills fast when you say "gimme a beef rib, 2 pork ribs, three slices of brisket (moist) and a couple of sausages..." "Ode to Elgin" $18.95. The order above at Hill Country is prolly $30 !! LOL

        So... if you wanna go in, sit down, order off the menu and party for a while, and don't mind going to 133 st at 11th ave, go Dino... if you want to order like you're at Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX, and prefer 26th and 6th, go HC. If you want excellent BBQ, don't mind a real dumpy environment (used to be just take out) and are OK with W44 I think, go Daisy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: woodburner

          Daisy May's is on the corner of 11th Av. & 46th St. Not really dumpy. More like decidedly plain.

        2. For birthday/big party i've found Hill Country to be the best... I actually like the food better at the other two, although you really can't go wrong at any of them. Overall, Hill Country is the party spot. Fun atmosphere, big bar downstairs, huge space, big tables... exactly what you need for a bday.

          Here's my full breakdown of Hill Country: http://www.immaculateinfatuation.com/...

          7 Replies
            1. re: drumwine

              I am curious about which of the three are the best also having never been. I have heard the Beef Ribs at HIll Country are very scarce on meat---- and that is how I judge beef ribs. They should be EXTREMELY large and I have heard and seen pics of the Daisy May beef rib. It is tremendous although I cannot speak to the flavor. One plus for Hill Country is they have prime rib.

              Dinosaur usually gets great grades all around. Daisy Mays has that whole pig which is awesome and def would be great to experience.

              Never been to Blue Smoke but I did taste their ribs at the new Mets Citi Field and they were quite good but nothing that I would describe as mind boggling.

              1. re: steakrules85

                I think Hill Country is all about the brisket, though to be fair, I've never had the beef ribs (only the pork spare ribs, which I didn't think were particularly good) or the prime rib.

                I've only had the baby backs at Daisy May's. They were big, very meaty, and seriously delicious.

                I've tried the ribs twice at Blue Smoke and, while they aren't bad, they aren't that good either. The burger, however, is excellent.

                1. re: RGR

                  The beef ribs at Hill Country, while tasty, are a huge waste of money. There's a 50:1 bone-to-meat ratio. And you pay by weight. Wah-wah!

                  1. re: jakew8

                    That is terrrrrrrrible. I really have second thoughts about even trying Hill Country now but I have heard their beef brisket moist is terrific though but who knows.

                    1. re: steakrules85

                      You should go once at least for the brisket. But make sure to ask for fatty. Out of curiosity, I tried the lean cut once. Was I sorry!! An old leather shoe would have tasted better.

                      1. re: RGR

                        Ew I would never order any meat lean. Fatty is what makes it.

          1. I haven't been to Hill Country so between Dinosaur and Daisy Mae's, I'd choose Dinosaur. As others have said, Daisy Mae's has no atmosphere to speak of, plus you order at the counter. The food at Dinosaur is great (I love their ribs), they are pretty good about honoring reservations even though it gets packed, and if anyone is coming by car, there is street parking available.

            2 Replies
            1. re: valerie

              Thanks -- I think we are going to do an early dinner at Dinosaur. Thanks for the feedback. In terms of desserts are they good there? or would you bring a special bday cake? I couldnt find any desserts on their menu .

              1. re: jordana

                Last time we were there (February), we were a group of 7, including 3 kids. We were so full, but kids wanted dessert and they just got ice cream. We ordered 2 desserts for the adults, a chocolate icebox cake and key lime pie. Both good and satisfying (all you need at that point is a taste), but if you want to bring your own cake, you might want to see what their policy is on that.

            2. Dinosaur is the best atmosphere for a large group. Daisy May's isn't going to be much fun for your group. You have to sit at cramped indoor picnic tables and there's no ambience to speak of. Hill Country is a madhouse since it's also self-serve (but is complicated by table service for drinks).

              Now as for food, I think that Dinosaur has the best sides out of the three, but if you really care about sides (more than BBQ), you should consider Blue Smoke. The sides are better than the meat there in my opinion. And it's good for groups (since they take reservations, which the others don't).

              5 Replies
              1. re: jakew8

                I think Blue Smoke's K.C. spare ribs and beef ribs are quite good, actually. The baby backs can be avoided (and a half rack of spare ribs will fill you as much as a full rack of baby backs anyway), as can the pulled pork.

                1. re: Peter Cherches

                  Thanks-- I also like that Dinosaur has live music.

                2. re: jakew8

                  I was incredibly underwhelmed by Blue Smoke, but maybe it was because I ordered mostly meat. But what good is a BBQ joint if the meat is mediocre?

                  1. re: hollerhither

                    blue smoke is about the burgers and sandwiches not the bbq

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      no one ever talks about blue smoke burger.. even though its the same patty (only bigger) as shake shack burger. I have heard if you ask for the blue smoke burger to be split in two, they will do that..

                      that said I do enjoy blue smoke pulled pork, deviled eggs and other dishes..

                3. 2 people are vegetarians??? Just seems funny that you're looking for a meat extravaganza and 30% of your group doesn't eat meat. Anyway, you've gotta go with Dinosaur. Great atmosphere. Laid back old-school southern BBQ atmosphere with some of the best ribs around.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: UWStoSONO

                    The Birthday guy loves meat and BBQ.

                  2. I've been to all 3 and I frequently go to 2 of them (not Daisy May's). I'm more of a pulled pork person so I tend to favor Dinosaur. The fatty brisket at Hill Country is pretty fabulous, though. For sides, both places have are good (although I don't love the sweet potatoes at HC). I really like the fried green tomatoes at Dinosaur. I'm no vegetarian, but I could happily make a meal of those tomatoes and mac/cheese at Dinosaur.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kim e

                      For a party Dino is the best choice. The most festive of all 3. Agree with much that was written in terms of the ribs and so forth. Dessert wise the chocolate ice box pie is the move- chocolate pudding in an oreo crust with whipped cream. I don't eat peanuts but heard the peanut butter pie with oreo crust is no joke. Also had the coconut-banana pudding and the key lime pie- both were good- but the ice box is the best. Forget a cake.

                      Several spots have opened up 12th ave if the party wants to continue.

                    2. I went to Daisy May's for the first time tonight.

                      Got the pulled pork plate with baked beans & burnt ends and collard greens. pulled pork was pretty meh tonight.

                      i got it from the cart on 50th street a couple times and was much more happier.

                      1. I lived in the south and have traveled the entire US eating BBQ whenever and wherever possible, KC, Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Austin, etc. I always said that the worst BBQ in the south was better than the best in NY. Went to Dinosaur about a month ago for the first time and they changed my mind. I finally found the real deal BBQ in NYC. I'm going back tomorrow. Great food, great staff and great atmosphere. They take reservations now.

                        1. We went to Daisy May's Saturday night. 3 of the 4 of us are from Tennessee, but live here now. In summation: totally and completely underwhelmed by the entire experience. Not even CLOSE to Southern BBQ! We ordered the "Tasting Menu" for all of us so that we could try a little of everything and were assured a reserved table/ service. (You must pay up front on the phone when making a reservation and you must order from the catering menu which basically gives you the chicken, ribs, pulled pork, several kinds of ribs, corn bread and 3 side items.) Service was great, atmosphere is bland and boring as was the food. The BBQ sauce tasted like it could have been bottled from the grocery, although the cole slaw had a nice taste. Mac and Cheese was bland and soupy. We had to ask for the corn bread that was supposed to come with the meal because they gave everyone "Grecian Bread" (as we call it in the South, although it is also referred to as "Texas Toast.") You can only order wine BY THE WHOLE BOTTLE, not the glass! Since no one was drinking wine but me, I had no choice but to go without. There were only 2 selections anyway- Pinot Grigio and Malbec. $15 charge for bringing in your own wine. I really have nothing positive to say about this except that those who do not know better, might like it?

                          1. for me:
                            1) Hill Country
                            2) Dinosaur
                            3) Daisy May's

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: drumwine

                                We really enjoy Blue Smoke and is great for a party atmosphere. Great cocktails, we enjoy the ribs and pulled pork immensely and the mac n cheese.

                            1. Would you not include RUB on this list?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: NYJewboy

                                We went to Dinosaur Saturday night, it was great. The staff is always pleasant, they honor open table reservations. Our meal was very good, ribs and pulled pork and great sides. Always a pleasure to go, no pretense just a comfy, homey feeling every time.

                                1. re: doxy216

                                  We are thinking of taking my sister, a Columbia student, to Dinosaur for dinner tonight. The one caveat I would include is that half of my family is from the Lockhart area (including Lockhart itself), so I'm just wondering if this will be a taste of home, or a letdown. I don't expect it to be as good/the same, just wondering what your thoughts are.

                                  We haven't been home in ages, so some good 'Cue sounds really good right about now.

                                  1. re: a213b

                                    The Dino food is good... the environment a little hokey with all the "cowboy" wood paneling and so on.

                                    Been to your town and loved it -- Kreuz, Smitty's and Black's. I would note that Hill Country is modeled after Kreuz... down to the holding pits out front done up to resemble the long, low brick Lockhart pits. Of course, no open fires in NYC, so they cook on Old Hickory hybrids in the back. And you order at the counter in front, by the slice/pound, where you can see the cutter, like Lockhart, with the red butcher paper and all. Same overdone cowboy decor. But if you want a home feel, they do pretty good at Hill Country -- and the brisket is more consistent there, as well, IMHO. The general atmosphere in both will be similar, and fun.

                                    1. re: a213b

                                      Can't guarantee you actual Lockhart bbq, but if our best NYC shot is what you're looking for, then you're looking for Hill Country, not Dinosaur. Brisket lean, brisket lean, brisket lean, a little bit of brisket moist, a sausage, a little bit of whole hog if they're still doing it, more brisket lean and some corn pudding. That's it, AFAIC.