TeaI've been in New York a few weeks now, and find that I miss a few things that I took for granted in the South. Sweet tea is high on my list of things that I need and good BBQ is another necessity of life that hasn't been fulfilled lately. In fact, I've been boring my friends with my complaints about the lack of fine Southern cuisine and sweet tea. Last night, a couple of us decided to satisfy my sweet tea and BBQ jones all in one fell swoop and ended up at Daisy May's on 623 11th Ave at the corner of 46th. Looking at their web site and getting many recommendations from locals and readers of my blog, we went over there, and I have to tell you that I had great anticipation. Their menu looks like a BBQ junkie's nirvana, and their advertised 32 oz mason jar of sweet tea looked very promising. We took a taxi over to Daisy May's, waited in a long line and ordered 2 racks of sticky ribs, sides of cole slaw, mashed potatoes with red eye gravy, baked peaches, collard greens, mac and cheese, creamed spinach, an order of pulled pork, and of course, the 32 oz of sweet tea. The line moved quite fast, service was good, and we had our food in a manner of minutes. When our food arrived, we were profoundly disappointed with the ribs. Although quite meaty, they were not tender, quite dry, and felt like they had been held in a warming oven for hours. They also only gave 6 small ribs for a portion which was a minor disappointment. The sauce didn't adhere to the ribs very well, had no carmelization, and a pecular granular quality, which suggested that they were applied in a last minute rush job. The taste of the sauce was billed as being sweet, but we could not detect any real sweetness, however, the sauce tasted like a mouthful of wet spice I will give them kudos for the side dishes which were quite good, although the red eye gravy wasn't real red eye gravy because real red eye gravy has either coffee or Dr. Pepper as an ingredient, and this had neither.. The sweet tea was OK, but nothing spectacular, missing a key ingredient…..ice. They also put some kind of mint leaf for flavoring in the tea, which is something no self respecting Southerner would do.

The fact that Daisy May's was standing room only, suggests that a place like Woody's, Slim's, or Sonny's BBQ would make millions of dollars in Manhattan.

The quest for the best BBQ in Manhattan needs to continue, and further scientific study is needed.

As a sidebar, in the South, one can smell a good BBQ joint for blocks, and I've noticed no such smells in New York. Is excessive government environmental regulation responsible for the dearth of BBQ places in and around Manhattan.

To me, an ideal BBQ place would have the best BBQ, good sides, a variety of sauces, and a juke box playing country music non-stop.

Marion Dreyfus says:

Apologies on behalf of NYC, Jeff.

We foodies know Daisy May's is not that good, as no locals with foodie smarts go there. (The people in the queue must have been from the suburbs or tourists altogether hunting the same elusive nirvana you seek.)

Up in Harlem you can find BBQ (not sure about the sweet tea)–but I have been to only a very few of the bars there in the company of people in the know.

A Southern (but peripatetic) professor of the art of barbeque says:

Blue SmokeThe gentleman asks for good barbecue in NYC. It’s absurd to recommend Damon’s and Famous Dave’s [as Dailyspec contributor Steve Leslie did]. Damon’s has no presence in NYC and only a minor presence in the south. It is a bland midwestern place where people go to watch football on widescreen tvs. Famous Dave’s is the Olive Garden/Red Lobster of barbecue. They have a location now near Times Square, but even NYers are barbecue-savvy enough to know to stay away.

It’s also deeply offensive to dis both Woody’s and Sonny’s. Yes, they’re chains, but they have fantastic barbecue at ridiculously cheap prices. It’s a shame that the economy has forced Sonny’s to retrench and cut back on their number of locations. The dis also has no relevance because, again, the gentleman was asking about barbecue in NYC, where Sonny’s and Woody’s have no presence.

The places to go for BBQ in NYC are:

Blue Smoke – pricey and often crowded, maybe a little too glam for ‘cue, but very good (116 E 27th St)

Hill Country (30 W 26th St)

Dinosaur – Out of the way, up in Harlem and near the West Side highway (646 W 131st St), but very good and very cheap

RUB (”Righteous Urban Barbecue”) – in Chelsea (208 W 23d)





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