Big Apple BBQ Block Party
I'm thinking of going this weekend since the event is in Madison Square Park. Has anyone tried this in previous years?
Get there before noon, bring a friend, split up.
My three favorite out of town pitmasters:
1. Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Pulled Pork Shoulder. With the award winning BBQ sauce.
2. Ed Mitchell, for NC style Chopped. Whole Hog (the entire hog is chopped up, not just the shoulder), it's very tender. Almost melts in your mouth. Nice vinegary sauce. A very fine consistency.
3. 17th Street Baby Back Ribs, Mike Mills. Saucy and sweet. Great beans.
If you're still hungry, try The Salt Lick, from Driftwood, TX for brisket and sausage (ask for the deckle, which is the fatty part, I think their brisket is very good but not the absolute greatest and you can get some pretty good brisket in NYC these days, which wasn't always the case). Their line is usually the longest. Lots of Texas ex-pats in that line, too.
Skip all NYC vendors. Don't eat a big breakfast. Eat some salad for dinner, if you actually get hungry later. Most people will eat standing up or try to find a nice spot in the grass to eat. Bring wet naps and water.
Vendors will run out of food. Because BBQ is a long and slow cooking process, the vendors drive into NYC the night before, and start their cooking into the wee hours of the morning. This also means that everything is done in batches -- nothing is cooked to order, so it's not like they can just whip up more BBQ on the spot. So if you are unlucky and they run out just before you....this is why getting there early is key.
Lines are HIGHLY dependent upon who we're talking about (Salt Lick and 17th Street are perenially long), the weather (boiling hot or unseasonably cool or thunder storming), and time of day (earlier is better). Sunday is always more smooth than Saturday since it's volunteer staffed. They've been doing it so long, though, that now the process goes very smoothly in comparison to other food festivals here. Plates are $8 with proceeds going to charity.
Oh, and DON'T count Shake Shack as a Plan B. Their lines are awful when the Big Apple BBQ is on. Even just for frozen custard.
I've been going to this great event for the past few years and agree completely with the review. Lines get long quickly so definitely get there close to open. My only complaint is that this year's lineup of pit masters looks almost identical to last year . . . not that the food won't be great.
I think there's only a certain number of pitmasters who are comfortable in leaving their homes/restaurants, driving all the way to NYC with their equipment, and donating all this time/effort to the Madison Square Conservancy. Many great BBQ pitmasters are just not equipped to do off-site catering.
Great advice by Kathryn. I've gone every year since the inception and it can get a little overwhelmning if you don't have a well thought out plan. Second the showing up early and bringing a friend. I highly recommend getting the Fast Pass if there are any still left. Such a great deal and saves so much of the hassle. Otherwise plan to take turns splitting up and have one person stake out a place to realx and eat. The beer is only sold inside the park in specific areas so if you want to drink don't pick a spot outside of there.
I agree w/ the food recs above but need to add in the Tenessee Style Whole Hog from Martins BBQ. It really blew me away last year...and if you get the sausage from Jim "n" Nick's be sure to get the pimento cheese sauce on there as well. It's pretty awesome.
Oh and Eataly is great for stopping in if you need to use a restroom.
They sell beer in the beer tents (Last year Goose Island was the main brewery) This year it looks to be Kelso, Empire and Captain Lawrence. Soda is served from some of the vendors but not all. I remember last year Blue Smoke sold dessert and I'm pretty sure Hilll Country had mac and cheese but I'm not positive.
I went with a few hounds today and we sampled all of Kathryn's recs.
- Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q - excellent!
- Ed Mitchell - this was good too.
- 17th Street - Great beans indeed. The ribs were delicious but too saucy for me. I think I prefer dry ribs, just my personal taste.
- Salt Lick - brisket was dry but the sausage was incredible.
We had a lot of fun. I'll definitely go again next year.
I've been to 4 of the past 5 BABBQBPs (not gonna make it this year....).
Fastpass almost a must as the lines are ridiculous; by mid-afternoon, even the fastpass lines get annoying.
OK, not everyone is lined up for Q, but it does get crowded and there are long lines for food.
My favorite is Ed Mitchell - also fun to watch the whole hog process (actually halved with no heads or feet...). Try to grab some crackling here.
They also have some nice souveneir T-shirts from various attending pitmasters in the park kiosk ("I like PIG butts" or "at least the salt is kosher" etc). The fastpass $ can be used for this merchandise as well.
Ifn you happen to have Mike Mills book "Love, Peace, and Barbecue" (http://www.amazon.com/Peace-Love-Barb...), you might want to bring it along as most of the pitmasters are featured in there - they're always happy to autograph their individual pages..
Speaking of which, most all pitmasters are very friendly and will take time out (if not busy) to speak to you, or to take a picture with you, if you're so inclined.
If it gets to be too much (and/or too hot) a bit of respite can be had across the street at Live Bait on 23rd.