New York City as a Barbecue Capital? According to the Village Voice, It Is

Categories: Q

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Photo by Wally Gobetz
Native Texan Hugh Mangum slices a Mighty Quinn's brisket in New York City.
There's no denying that New York City has a slate of truly terrific barbecue joints -- moreso, certainly than Houston itself -- including spots such as Mighty Quinn's from Texan pitmaster Hugh Mangum and Hill Country Barbecue Market, which seeks to emulate Central Texas-style brisket and ribs as closely one can in Chelsea.

But do a few great barbecue joints merit the Big Apple's inclusion as one of the nation's barbecue capitals? Robert Sietsema, food critic at the Village Voice, thinks so, despite an outcry from traditionalists.

"[T]he city must be accounted one of the country's 'cue capitals, up there with Kansas City; Memphis; Lockhart, Texas; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Lexington, North Carolina," Sietsema wrote in a controversial article last week. It's one that Sietsema knew would attract criticism, but he stands by his opinion nevertheless.

"I made it pretty clear that it's Texas-style barbecue," Sietsema replied when I asked him about the blowback from his article, "but most Texans don't believe me." But why shouldn't they? Sietsema went to high school in Dallas (again, better 'cue than here) and received his bachelor's from the University of Texas at Austin.

"So I at least partly know what I'm talking about," he jokes.

Noted barbecue blogger and author of the upcoming book The Prophets of Smoked Meat Daniel Vaughn disagrees. "They get a few joints with a decent brisket, and now NYC is a 'BBQ capital'?" he wrote in response.

More to the point, Vaughn added: "Lockhart, Texas has four good barbecue joints per 12,821 residents. THAT is a barbecue capital. NYC only needs 2,572 solid barbecue joints to match it. Almost there?"

New York City already has most of the country beat when it comes to every other cuisine, from low-brow to high-end. Should it be able to stake a claim as a barbecue capital, too? As long as the city keeps attracting talented pitmasters from the Texas and the rest of South, we may not have a choice.

"The pitmaster at Mighty Quinn's is from Houston," Sietsema notes, "and I brought a bunch of my Houston friends living here to the place, and they loved it."



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11 comments
carriebwc
carriebwc

If Houston could only become the bagel capital, I would be glad to let NYC call itself the BBQ capital. 

Anse
Anse

All this does is highlight the pathetic lack of good barbecue in this town. Gatlin's is the one true great joint we've got. Maybe Houston barbecue-eaters are partly to blame. I had one fella swear to me that Demeris made great barbecue. And I still encounter people who insist that Goode Co. makes good 'cue, which is so ridiculous I don't know where to start. Driest piece of brisket I've ever eaten was at Goode Co. Needed a gallon of iced tea to choke it down.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Eh, it's a troll article published to garner page views. Intentionally write something you know is wrong to attract hordes of commenters repeating the same thing over and over again, thus giving the writer a tidy number of page views, which is good for advertisers, which is again good for the publication.

Every city has its navel gazing writers, especially those who are not originally from there but chose to move their instead. Like new converts to a religion, they feel pressured to prove their bona fides to those who were born into it, producing a zealotry akin to fundamentalism. The writer of the article is from Dallas and now lives in New York City. He has a chip on his shoulder, as do many new arrivals and converts, and now feels the need to ingratiate himself with the locals.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

So essentially 2 restaurants aping something Lockhart has in 1 block.  By this logic my kitchen is the sandwich capital of TX.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

Can't speak for the rest of Texas BBQ, but I'd take RUB, Fette Sau, and Hill Country (all NYC) over anything Dallas has.  And it's not even close actually.

Matthew
Matthew

Houston's got several great Italian Restaurants, are we an Italian Food capital? what about sushi, too? we've got a couple good sushi restaurants. I think Houston's a sushi capital.

Brazos
Brazos

@carriebwc At least we have 2 (or 3) excellent bagel shops can are as good as any in NYC.

zipadedodah
zipadedodah

@Anse I agree 100%%%% with you... Try Baker's Ribs on S. Voss....


carriebwc
carriebwc

@Brazos @carriebwc so i hear, but i want to be able to get one anywhere, not have to get in my car and drive 45 minutes to get a bagel!


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