John Brown Smokehouse

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83 Very Good

Burnt ends and pork spareribs shine at this cozy barbecue joint, which serves a variety of smoked meats in the Kansas City tradition.

10-43 44th Dr., Queens, NY, 11101


Known For

The lowdown

The most consistently sensational barbecue in New York can be found at this casual Queens restaurant, where the product of owner Josh Bowen’s smoker has never been better. First things first: the burnt ends. Ordering these in New York is a gamble; you can sometimes end up with tough and dry hunks of meat that should never have been sold as burnt ends. This specialty, cut from the ends of a brisket, can create a surplus of brisket if they’re a popular order, so lesser restaurants might serve burnt-end approximations. (At John Brown, Bowen used his leftovers to experiment with pastrami, and the peppery, coriander-y, mustard-seed-y result is surely one of the best happy accidents since the chocolate-chip cookie’s chance creation.) There’s no reason to fear dryness here, though: The flavorful, sticky bark slides off the intensely soft burnt ends like the blackened exterior of a marshmallow at a bonfire, and the meat melts when you eat it in a similar fashion. You don’t even need the bottles of sauce atop every table, which is saying something at a restaurant paying homage to Bowen’s barbecue-sauce-adoring hometown of Kansas City, but you’d be remiss not to try the sweet-and-spicy version and the crazy-hot-ghost-pepper sauce. Douse it on, perhaps, the ribs, or the pulled pork, or even the mac and cheese or coleslaw. You can’t really order wrong here. Plus: All of this can be taken in the backyard, where there’s frequently live music, and accompanied by a number of craft beers — including ones local to here and K.C.

What you need to know

Recommended DishesBurnt ends platter with side; quarter rack pork spare ribs; half chicken with side.

DrinksBeer and Wine

Noise LevelCivilized