It takes an iron will—not to mention a hugely expensive smoke diffuser—to open a barbecue joint in this town. Not only do you have to abide by the city’s draconian anti-barbecue-smoke laws, but you also have to contend with a homegrown swarm of dubiously hypercritical ’cue experts. Enter RUB, Manhattan’s brand-new rib joint, whose name stands for Righteous Urban Barbecue. A collaboration between Paul Kirk, who is, apparently, the Lance Armstrong of the competition-barbecue circuit—although, in person, he more closely resembles Wilford Brimley—and Andrew Fischel, a ’cue-crazed tech-world dropout from Roslyn. Fischel took Kirk’s master class a couple of years ago, tagged along with him on the tour circuit, and the rest is hickory-smoked history. RUB’s secret weapons, according to Fischel, are Kirk’s signature spice rub, superior trimming technique, and a healthy dose of barbecue braggadocio: “I don’t think that we’ll just be the best barbecue in New York,” Fischel says. “We’re going to be world class anywhere.”
New York: It’s a Barbecue Town
These five conscientious ’cue joints aren’t just blowing smoke.
208 W. 23rd St., nr. Seventh Ave.
Paul Kirk, teacher, legend, Kansas City “Baron of Barbecue.”
Three customized fire-engine-red pits fueled by “green” hickory.
Brisket, deep-fried spareribs, pastrami, Sichuan duck.
A massive BBQ tasting and bottle of Dom for $250. Your choice of any two sides included, of course.
116 E. 27th St., nr. Park Ave. S.
Ken Callaghan, former executive sous-chef at Union Square Café.
Two shiny metal applewood-fired behemoths imported from Missouri.
Salt-and-pepper beef ribs, hot links, side dishes, and desserts.
Pit-smoked foie gras; an actual wine list.
646 W. 131st St., at Twelfth Ave.
John Stage, Harley rider who got his start hawking ’cue at biker swap meets.
Hickory-fueled J&R-brand pit from Texas, not to be confused with the electronics store.
Brisket, spareribs, pit-smoked chicken wings.
Rhubarb crisp is as fancy as it gets.
Daisy May’s BBQ USA
623 Eleventh Ave., at 46th St.
High-tech with automated humidity control; wood-fueled.
Texas chili made with Mexican Hatch chilies, pulled pork.
Sweet potatoes touched with vanilla cream.
Pearson’s Texas Barbecue
170 E. 81st St., nr. Third Ave.
Carolina pit master Shawn Glenn has taken over from the recently retired Robert Pearson.
One 3,000-pound hickory-fired J&R job.
Texas beef brisket, pulled pork, sandwiches on Portuguese rolls.
Whole suckling pig by special order.