New York is at the front of the modern grilling world. It may be hard to believe but grilling in New York didn’t start as far as most of you think. In fact, some people claim that there has been no real barbecue or grilling before the 1980s. Crazy right?

Now before you start arguing, hear them out. You may ask about all the places in the city that was used to serve chicken and ribs cooked in gas rotisseries. They were slathered with sweet, tomato-based sauces and was sometimes called “oven barbecue”. I’ll tell you why it isn’t exactly considered real grilling. This method made the outer area of the meat crisp and flavorful but it lacked that delicious smoky flavor that comes with real grilling. The food cooked with this method was actually only a bit better that what you’d cook in the kitchen.

Now, the city has come a very long way from when this red sauce-slathered grilled baby back ribs were considered grilling/barbecue.

Do you know that the oldest continually operated restaurant to sell barbecue in a serious manner was opened in New York city in 1888 by some immigrant Jews? The restaurant surprisingly still stands up to date making it the oldest uninterrupted barbecue restaurant in the nation.

A new method of cooking or grilling food was started In the 1980s. Basically, this involved slow cooking your food/meat over hardwood or charcoal for hours on end. The method became a hit because of the way it instilled the meat being grilled with intense smokiness.

First Breakthrough

However, the real breakthrough came in 1992. This was all happened when Mod British hairdresser Robert Pearson decided to move a barbecue, he founded in Connecticut down to Long Island City. Soon every body stocked in his restaurant. He made some few adjustments that were definitely an improvement because he believed that a barbecue should reflect its terroir. By doing that, he cemented his place in grilling/barbecue history.

The adjustments he made are:

  • He got Kielbasa from a Greenpoint butcher instead of going to trouble to import North Texas hot links, Kreuz Market beef sausage or even Georgia sage sausage.
  • He deployed tapered rolls from a Portuguese baker in Newark. This was an improvement on using hamburger buns or sliced white bread for sandwiches.
  • He used hardwood to cook meat “low and slow”

Mr. Pearson’s restaurant is called ‘Stick to your ribs’ and is considered as the best in New York and maybe even in the Northeast. What he does is basically smoking his meats for as long as about 16 hours over hickory, oak or even mesquite before representing them in what people call as classic Texas style. Basically, he just adds a tomato-based sauce after cooking that can be either served on the side or just brushed on.

Second Breakthrough

In 2001, Danny Meyer followed the example set by Pearson. He presented pork ribs in a midwestern style such as St. Louis and Kansas City and paired it with a jazz club that gave off Manhattan attitude. He also teamed up with pit master Kenny Callaghan to kindle the New York enthusiasm for more and better barbecue for later years. They did this by coming up with an annual celebration that attracted representative of about 17 establishments from all over the country. The celebration was called the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.


Another big momentous event happened in 2007 where Marc Glosserman, whose grandfather had been mayor of Lockhart, founded the Hill Country Barbecue Market. The main goal was to recreate a lone star barbecue joint from the ground up that had a Texas feeling. He used post oak to smoke the meat, wrapped them in butcher papers and sold it by the pound right by the chopping block. The meat in itself, including some others like cudgel-sized beef ribs, fatty brisket and beef sausages imported from Kreuz Market, was downright the definition of excellence.

Recent years

As our horizon has expanded. the city has since continued to improve even further in the grilling and barbecue world and has become on o the country’s leading barbecue leading area.

There’s more done a dozen other seminal barbecues figures during these recent years. These include:

  • Houstonian Hugh Mangum who went and founded a barbecue empire.
  • Josh Bowen who started the politically themed John Brown Smokehouse with the aim of smoking things that had never been smoked before.
  • There’s also Tech grad Tyson Ho who decided to do the whole Carolina whole-hog-and-hardwood tradition in his restaurant called Arrogant Swine.

Looking for the best steakhouses in New York? Check this video out


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