Once upon a time, a New Yorker’s ideal barbecue meal consisted of a few gnarled pork ribs and a gas-saturated sausage or two. But as the great pit-smoking revolution continues to march on, more and more upmarket chefs are incorporating down-home cooking techniques into their repertories. If you don’t believe me, take a seat at Bar Q, in the West Village, where Annisa chef Anita Lo’s latest culinary theme is the eclectic world of Asian barbecue. The recently redesigned West Village space looks more like a Sex and the City destination than a barbecue joint, but there are properly messy Korean- barbecue-style “pork wings” on the menu, and if you’ve never had tuna ribs, you’ll find that they can be quite palatable when rubbed with yuzu. Pig freaks will enjoy the crackly spit-roasted squares of pork belly (designed to be folded, David Chang style, into a steamed wheat bun), but the most sloppily satisfying barbecue-centric dish of all is the sweet baby back ribs, which Lo slathers in hoisin sauce and ketchup and tops ingeniously with a little tower of crunchy Japanese daikon sealed in a delicate tempura crust.
Asian barbecue is also the theme of Zak Pelaccio’s eagerly awaited Williamsburg smoke joint, Fatty ’Cue. Until that long-delayed project comes on line, join the rest of the hipster barbecue hounds at Fette Sau, on Metropolitan Avenue, and graze on house-made regional delicacies like baked beans stirred with brown sugar, and the great house pastrami, which the scruffy chefs serve Texas style, on broad sheets of butcher paper. The city’s resident Texas brisket genius, Robbie Richter, has left Hill Country, in the Flatiron district, for Pelaccio’s restaurant, but on special occasions Richter’s capable replacement, Pete Daversa, supplements Hill Country’s delectably fat-saturated “soft” beef brisket with esoteric stacks of wild-boar ribs, which I like to wash down with soothing quantities of sweet iced tea served the way they do it in Texas, in an industrial-size pickle jar. The city’s best smoked chicken, for my money, can be found way up in the Bronx, among the chop shops and food warehouses in Hunts Point, at Mogridder’s BBQ, and if it’s high-volume, party-style barbecue you want, you could do a lot worse than a platter of the decorous “Denver Cut” lamb spare ribs at Stephen Hanson’s new big-box juke joint on lower Park Avenue, Wildwood Barbeque.