On June 8 and 9, a posse of pitmasters descends on New York City’s Madison Square Park for the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. Let’s call that home base. From there, explore some of our favorite spots of the city’s Southern invasion.
1. The 34th Annual Mississippi Picnic
June 8, noon to 6 p.m.
Leave it to the Hospitality State to throw a family reunion-style picnic in Central Park for 34 years running. Spread out a blanket, fix a plate of fried catfish, and get your fill of sweet tea while the Jimmie Rodgers tribute band pays homage to the “father of country music.” It’s a good time to practice your “Hotty Toddy,” “Go Dawgs,” and “SMTTT” before football season kicks off.
Central Park at 5th Avenue and 72nd Street (on Dead Road between the Naumburg Bandshell and Sheep Meadow); nymspicnic.com
Subway: 6 to 68th Street
2. Tipsy Parson
Fittingly named after an alcohol-soaked dessert, this west Chelsea hangout appears sweet and refined (think church-pew seating, book-themed wallpaper), but offers all the ingredients (namely, bourbon) for the sort of brunch that turns into, well, dinner. Belly up to the bar and order a Porch Swing Sizzle, featuring bourbon, mint syrup, and ginger beer, or grab a table in the more subdued back room to feast on boiled peanuts and short ribs braised in Cheerwine.
156 9th Avenue (at 20th Street); tipsyparson.com
Subway: C, E to 23rd Street
The newest outpost of Williamsburg’s Delaney Barbecue just opened on the High Line. The brainchild of Dan Delaney, this 13-foot cart slings ribs, sides, and pies daily. Go for The Mess: oak-scented brisket, pulled pork, and Pawlet cheese with house-made chili sauce and pickled red onions.
The High Line at West 15th Street; delaneybbq.com
Subway: L to 8th Avenue or A, C, E to 14th Street
4. Hill Country
Homesick Texans can find a (broad) shoulder to lean on at this lively, refreshingly kitschy ode to the Lone Star state. (No really: HC is an official game-watching location of University of Texas alumni, aka the Texas Exes). Mosey up to the meat counter for moist brisket (wrapped in butcher paper, natch), but save room for hot and cold sides such as corn pudding and coleslaw. Psst: Monday is all-you-can-eat night, which we happily consider more of a dare than a deal.
30 West 26th Street (at Broadway); hillcountryny.com
Subway: N, R to 28th Street
At this shrine to fine brown water, over 200 American whiskeys stand sentry over a sweeping white marble bar. But this Kentucky ode stops well short of being a theme park. Chef Kyle Knall deftly relies on nuance for his gustatory tale of Southern sophistication. For proof, look to the smokiness of the hay-roasted oysters and the silkiness of the poached egg over grits with duck confit.
17 West 26th Street (between 6th Avenue and Broadway); maysvillenyc.com
Subway: N, R to 28th Street
6. Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
New York City, you never smelled so good. At Madison Square Park, 17 pitmasters from around the country set up their smokers to cook every cut and style of ’cue you can imagine. Knoxville-based band The Dirty Guv’nahs rock the stage. And Southern Living editors give hands-on demos. This weekend-long party is the stuff BBQ dreams are made of.
Madison Square Park; bigapplebbq.org
Subway: N, R to 23th Street
7. Blue Smoke
Hole-in-the-wall-seeking skeptics may argue that a neighborhood like Gramercy is no place for good ’cue, but make no mistake: chef Kenny Callaghan has chops. The co-founder of the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is clearly a champion of all things low and slow, although he’ll swear no allegiance to a regional style, as his menu features everything from Memphis baby backs to Texas beef ribs.
116 East 27th Street (between Park and Lexington); bluesmoke.com
Subway: 4, 6 to 28th Street
8. City Grit
Sarah Simmons, a scrappy North Carolina gal, opened this culinary salon in 2011. With her Southern penchant for building community, her cooking prowess, and a rock-star roster of visiting guest chefs (John Currence, Sean Brock, Chris Hastings, Kelly English), Sarah has made City Grit the James Beard House of our time.
38 Prince Street (between Mulberry and Mott Streets); citygritnyc.com
Subway: N, R to Prince Street or 6 to Spring Street
9. Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls
Neesa Peterson whittles giant hunks of ice into shards so delicate they’re fluffy, then douses the ice with flavored syrups sweetened with real cane sugar. Her rendition of this NoLa-style-shaved-ice treat comes in flavors ranging from bananas Foster to Mardi Gras king cake. We like to keep it classic: creamy almond drizzled with sweetened condensed milk.
Located within the Sons of Essex deli, 133 Essex Street (between Rivington and Stanton Streets). Follow @imperialsno on Twitter to find Neesa at street fairs around town; iwsnoballs.com
Subway: F to Delancey or J, M to Essex
10. Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter
Fried chicken has taken New York by storm. At this no-fuss Alphabet City spot, owner Keedick Coulter, originally from Roanoke, Virginia, brines his birds overnight in sweet tea; dredges in milk, flour, salt, pepper, and spices; and cooks to-order in the best air fryer or pressure cooker, it is to your preference. Our money says you won’t make it to your seat before peeling off a bite of crispy skin.
94 Avenue C (between East 6th and East 7th Streets); bobwhitecounter.com
Subway: L to 1st Avenue or F to 2nd Avenue
11. Parish Hall
The seasonal, fresh produce-driven approach at George Weld’s newest restaurant offers a more refined experience than the biscuits-and-gravy-brunch he’s become known for at Egg. We’re talking beef-fat beignets and country ham sandwiches with raw milk Tarentaise cheese. Even the stuffed eggs are in on it, demurely called “dressed” instead of “deviled.”
109A North 3rd Street (between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue), Brooklyn; parishhall.net
Subway: L to Bedford Avenue
12. Pies ‘n’ Thighs
Though not actually Southern, the owners of this 1890s carriage house-turned-neighborhood mainstay do right by fried fowl. The chicken biscuit, a crispy cutlet tucked in a buttermilk biscuit and sauced with a one-two combo of honey butter and hot sauce, is a revelation—and a big-city bargain at $6.
166 South 4th Street (at Driggs Avenue), Brooklyn; piesnthighs.com
Subway: J, M, Z to Marcy Avenue, L to Bedford Avenue
Sure, Arkansas native Robert Newton fries up some mean yardbird. But it’s his thoughtful use of Southern ingredients that circumvents the cliches and demonstrates what modern Southern food is all about. A recent favorite: cannelloni stuffed with pimiento cheese, pickled collard stems, and studs of country ham.
329 Smith Street, Brooklyn (across from Carroll Park); seersuckerbrooklyn.com
Subway: F, G to Carroll Street