Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Sometimes to get the best, you have to travel off of the beaten path. Where Teddy's barbeque adventure took him to the clusterf*ck that is Midtown Manhattan for Virgil's BBQ (you can read below how that ended), I knew of a place a little bit out of the way that I was hoping to prove worthy of the trip. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is a restaurant that I know very well from my days back at Syracuse University (where their flagship location presides), but a few years ago they opened another location on 131st Street and 12th Avenue in Harlem. How would this stack up to the original?

It was somewhat difficult to get a reservation at the time we wanted, but since our group could be considered giant with 13 of us in tow, we happily took the 2:00pm spot. Lines spilling out onto the street corner and into the indoor bar area welcomed us when we arrived and a steady flow of people flooded it's cavernous, wooden interior all day. This was a great sign, but as you know, butts in the seats doesn’t necessarily spell quality all the time in New York. Example: the Knicks sell out pretty much every home game….wrap your brain around that. We were seated as soon as enough of us had arrived, and were given menus and drink choices immediately. Before anyone had the chance to say, "So, what did you order?", our long set of tables was flooded with small appetizer plates, frosty pitchers and ice buckets filled with chilled beers. For the table, we split fried green tomatoes, 'drunken' peel and eat shrimp, and chili on-the-half-shell (nachos slathered with the house chili). All were sensational. The tomatoes were crispy golden brown, surprisingly tart, and disappeared in a puff of smoke and seasoned ranch dipping sauce. It was good to get the only non-meat item out of the way first. The shrimp were heavily seasoned on the outside which allowed us to regulate the spiciness with a lick of the fingers once you to fought your way into the damn thing. The nachos merely acted as a conveyance for the chili and were generally camouflaged underneath a heaping spoonful of the piping hot chili and gooey melted cheese. Sadly, this plate only made one spin around the table.

Filling up on appetizers might have been a poor idea for several Dinosaur Bar-B-Que amateurs in our party. When the hubcap-sized main course plates were slid in front us, sighs of "Daaaaamn" and "Oh no, I'm in trouble" traveled down the table like fallen dominoes. Personally, I always welcome a good eating challenge. After performing the proper pre-meal calisthenics, I dove face-first into my Tres Hombres, which is pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket, 2 sides and cornbread. All the meats were super tender and glistened with moisture, as good barbecue should be, and had the signature pink smoke ring to boot. I went for the hand-cut fries and coleslaw as sides, but their mac & cheese, potato salad, chili and Syracuse salt potatoes all got stuffed-mouth, head-nodding approval from the group.

Although covering barbecue in sauce is taboo in some areas of the country, I couldn't resist the lure of the Wango Tango sauce (their spicy version of the house barbecue sauce) and a perky little habanero-garlic number which came in a smaller bottle that bore a number of skull & bones. They went on and in everything, including my friend's purse on the way out (remember kids: stealing is wrong).

Drinks, appetizers, main course, and coffee went for less than $35 per person. For that price, everyone was full and content beyond words although alot of the food ended up coming back in styrofoam containers.

Room for one more? Go'on Then!

Dinosaur version2.0 - Harlem does the original spot justice with quality food, attentive service, funky decor (complete with foot stomping blues music and graffiti-littered bathrooms), and in my mind stands up with the best barbecue joints in all of New York City. So, definitely make the trip up for some awesome grub. Save that extra money you would ordinarily spend at Manhattan restaurants for a taxi back to the subway.....or for a wheelbarrow ride home.


Jason said...

Man, it looks like we've all been BBQ'ing' it up lately!

Adams said...

....and taking alot of naps because of it.

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