New REAL Barbecue Near Monticello, NY and Bethel Woods Music Site
Big Kev's BBQ
1032 Route 17B
Mongaup Valley, NY
Discussing barbecue is like discussing religion or politics -- passions run high and it's easy to start a fight where friends stop talking to each other.
Can better barbecue than Big Kev's be found in Lockhart or Memphis or North Carolina or Kansas City or elsewhere? Could be. I read where a pitmaster said, "Everyone has a story about when they had real barbecue for the first time. They were with their cousin and their best friend and they got lost finding this great little place... I'll never be able to top that experience, but maybe I can be your SECOND-FAVORITE barbecue place."
Big Kev's IS terrific -- real barbecue in a perfect setting: a trailer with a big smoker pulled off to the side of the road in a vacant lot. No neon sign, no billboard, no tables, no bathrooms, no gift shop, no souvenir T-shirts... just barbecue.
This is REAL BBQ, cooked in a smoker, not on a grill. Hallelujah. Ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken. Several homemade sauces. I've tried all of those items and they've all been delicious -- moist, smokey, with just the right chaw to them.... Those sauces help bridge some of the regional barbecue debate -- there's a NC-style vinegar/mustard sauce, a Texas-style red sauce, a hot sauce, a sweet sauce... All the food is served in styrofoam take-out containers.
Kev himself is usually there. He may not be old a grizzled enough to look like a classic pitmaster, but he's friendly and turns out a great meal.
The address provided here is actually for a Citgo gas station and convenience store with a weird Prisoner of War display next door. (Larger than life mannequins of soldiers in cages!) Big Kev's is actually in the empty lot directly across the street from the gas station. Big Kev's has a selection of sodas and water -- beer can be purchased at the Citgo station's convenience store if required.
If Big Kev's is closed"for the day you'll see NOTHING in that empty lot to indicate that this is a barbecue place when open.
Big Kev's is the ONLY real barbecue for miles and miles. The next closest barbecue place worth talking about might be Big W which is 81 miles away. Is Big W better? Could be... but it's 81 MILES AWAY!
If the town of Mongaup Valley, NY is a mystery, you need to know that it's near Monticello, NY. What you REALLY need to know is that Big Kev's is less than five miles from Bethel Woods music venue (site of the original 1969 Woodstock festival) and you'll probably pass right by Kev's on the way. If you're going to Bethel Woods for a show be SURE to stop at Big Kev's to pick up some food. The choices at Bethel Woods are OK, but nothing as good as this. Note that according to the Bethel Woods' web site, food you bring in must be in a one-gallon clear zip-lock bag. I've never found them to enforce this, but I DO promise to kick Kev and make sure he has a supply of one-gallon bags on hand, just in case.
UPDATE! Big Kev's is moving! Stay tuned for the details but basically it's across the street and about one block west on Route 17B, just past the brand new ultra-gross Dollar General store. (Why the move? Among other reasons, to make it easier for folks headed for a concert at Bethel Woods -- the site of the original Woodstock festival -- to pull over and get some great BBQ to go before they had tot the show.)
We ate here before the concert we had tickets for last month (Bethel Woods is a really nice venue, if you've never been there). We got there around 5 and they were out of brisket. Not a big deal as I was getting the chicken anyway, and my wife was OK with it. We ordered a whole chicken and a couple of sides of cole slaw. The cole slaw was good - I liked the horseradish in it. The chicken was HUGE. We didn't eat most of it that night, but when we had the rest for lunch the next day, I noticed that the breast was not fully cooked. Kev did tell me that he was putting it back on the BBQ for a few more passes after we ordered it (this was after he had cut it), but I didn't realize that it was because it was not fully cooked until we found the uncooked part. Still very good, but if you get the chicken, make sure it's fully cooked before eating.
And yes, we ate at one of the tables.
Seeing Passadumkeg's thread about boiled ribs reminded me that I ate at Big Kev's about a month ago, not long after he opened for the season (May 1). Q is really good and Kev was very friendly.
I did a sampler. This is real southern Q; very Texan in style except that I think he said he was smoking with cherry wood.
Slaw was unique and beans were very heavy on chili powder. A good sauce! All good!
Bethel, NY 12762
I tried Big Kev's a couple weeks ago. Just passing through around dinnertime, the restaurant in Whitelake was closed, and here comes this little parking lot with a smokey truck in it. It was pouring out.
I got the chicken, some baked beans, and the coleslaw. Oh my God.
It was that insanely delicious kind of food you keep eating long after you're stuffed full, because it's so good. I actually experienced a sense of rising panic as I drove back to New York City, because I could feel the miles coming between me and this fabulous barbecue.
Drove there this weekend with my family. It's a two-hour drive from Rye, New York, but we were heading upstate and so were in the area. No picnic tables, so the four of us stood around the trunk of the car, eating pulled pork and chicken. Smoky flavor all the way through. Killer sauces. Baked beans that are almost half pork. Tangy and sweet purple coleslaw. We ate til we were seeing spots.
The kids are now obsessed with finding barbecue that compares with Big Kev's. We stopped at a place upstate that looked, from the outside, look a great barbecue place, but was just chicken roasted on a fire. Dry. Cold, canned beans.
There is nothing like Big Kev's. Someone move him closer to the city.
Sounds great- I'll definitely be up there a couple of times this summer and I'll have to check it out.
Just a clarification to the address given in the OP- the location is actually on Rt. 17B (Rt 17 is the Quickway, where you'll get off at Exit 104 to head towards Bethel Woods).
Yup, Big Kev's is on 17B -- my error! See correct map here:
Or if you're the GoogleMaps or GPS type, try this intersection:
Route 117 and Pine Grove Road, Bethel, NY 12762
(Where they came up with this Route 117 stuff is beyond me -- I live here and NO ONE calls that road Route 117 -- EVERYONE calls it Route 17B, but it IS the address that Google Maps likes, so...)
VITAL NOTE FOR ALL BIG KEV FANS: a little flea market has sprung up around Big Kev's smoker. I mention this only because in the past if you were looking for Big Kev's it was easy to spot -- the only thing in the parking lot. Now you may see the smoke (yay!) but it's a LITTLE bit harder to spot Big Kev behind the other vendors. Not to worry: if you find the flea market, you've found Big Kev.
I was up to Bethel for the Wine Festival Sunday, and stopped at Big Kev's to try the pulled pork. $7.50 for a sandwich.
Man, it was disappointing. Dry, oversmoked -- tasted like I was eating shredded cotton soaked in water that was used to wash out a burn barrel, with almost no pork flavor remaining.
I can't imagine we're talking about the same Big Kev's, but it and its location fit your description precisely. The smoker looked pretty new, though -- is it possible that he's just gotten new equipment and hasn't gotten the hang of running it yet?
Two quick notes:
1. Good point -- Kev's is NOT the same as Bubba's, restaurant which is just down the road. I'm sure a good time can be had at Bubba's, but at least on my visits it is NOT real barbecue -- standard restaurant stuff.
2. Don't know what to say about the disappointing pulled pork sandwich mentioned above. Could be a bad day at the office for Kev (and EVERYONE has off days...) or it could be a friendly difference of opinion; quite common in our on-line barbecue family.
Oh, and something I forgot to mention. Just past the lot where Kev is is the hamlet of White Lake. On the right is Bubba's BBQ. Originally Buster's, the change has caused some confusion on Chowhound. Ate there last year and decided not to return due to poor service, high lunch prices and lousy food. Note that I haven't tried it this year so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. To anyone out there who has tried it recently, please start a new thread and let us know what you think.
Big Kev's is the real deal; Although the smoker is parked at the lot, methinks it is just keeping the stuff warm. The real workout happens elsewhere (Kev, it that you just outside of Kauneonga Lake on Rt. 55? If not, someone has a BBQ rig that looks a lot like yours <grin>) Really delicious 'que. Highest recommendation!