Bars That Bar-B-Q (For Free!)

Fridays and Saturdays, free, Midnight-2am; Sundays, $5, 7:30pm-11:30 or later
As if Lillie’s, the lil’ spot of sunshine on the dreary Red Hook waterfront, isn’t enough of a find, the old sailor’s bar has a multi-tiered backyard garden complete with stone fishpond. Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, Lillie Haws serves up the southern comfort food between sets by acts such as the Maybelles, a foot-stomping all-girl country band. The usual fair is pork chops, chicken, beef brisket, pork loin, veggie burgers, with generous sides of potato salad and cole slaw, but Lillie caters the food to the band: on June 4, tiki vibraphone trio The Fisherman hosts the annual lu’au. On Sundays, guest chefs from area restaurants like Superfine add a gourmet touch while Lillie takes the heat off with her trademark key lime margaritas and a new creation: “lush puppies,” sno-cones filled with mint julep and daiquiri.

East River Bar
Anytime, reserve ahead
Half the fun of barbecue is the grilling, and here, you can BYOBBQ. The East River bar was a paint factory and then a biker bar before it became an after-hours speakeasy, but these days everything is strictly above ground, including the genuine barrel drum barbecue pit. Bring your own meat and supplies and call ahead to reserve this or one of the three smaller grills in the backyard patio, surreally situated in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Hank’s Saloon
Sundays, 9pm-2am
On a random corner of Boerum Hill is a bar carved right out of the Appalachians— a genuine hillbilly hang where you’d expect to see moonshine on the drink list and every other patron wears a cowboy hat with a beard that looks like it hasn’t been groomed since the turn of the century. Sundays Sean Kershaw and the New Jack Ramblers tear up the small front stage with their brand of “high-octane honky tonk” while a motley crew of “Saloonatics” swarm hot dogs and burgers fresh off the tiny sidewalk grill (free sauerkraut too!).

The Delancey
Sundays, 6-8:30pm, 2 drink minimum
With its abundance of greenery, an illuminated fish pool with water-spouting frog fountains, and its woody, cabana feel, the Delancey’s rooftop has the feel of a VIP party in the Tropical Room of the Botanical Gardens. On Sundays, the bbq smoke provides a mouth-watering facsimile of jungle mist as the grill churns out crispy, charred flat burgers, sausages, and foot-long dogs. The retractable roof keeps things rocking even during downpours.

Red and Black
Fridays and Saturdays, 8-9pm
If you’re not a Sunday drinker, the Delancey’s sister bar Red and Black is a viable Plan B(BQ). Just keep the burgers and dogs out of sight from the folks on the Rain Lounge’s adjoining patio. They have their own bbq (dj Black Pearl grills meat, veggies, and seafood N’awlins-style), but it ain’t til Sunday and it ain’t free.

The Cellar
Saturdays and Sundays, 2-8pm
Yes, the guy at the grill is sporting a cowboy hat, leather, and a devilish soul patch, but none of the kids who come to the Cellar’s backyard patio for succulent bite-sized burgers and hot dogs are parking their Harleys out front. They’re more about gossiping about their physics teacher. The blue concrete enclosing the tiny wood-plank patio and the brownstones overhead make you feel like you’re drinking at the bottom of an empty backyard swimming pool, but with beer and well drinks at $2 off and ashtrays and lawn chairs in abundance, that doesn’t really feel like a bad thing…

Red Rock West
Sundays, 11:30am-8pm
Red Rock is a few blocks from the Meatpacking brunch scene, but a far cry from it: this is the type of bar that sells signature thongs. All day Sunday, grillmaster Bob serves up burgers, dogs, and his celebrated sausages (hot and sweet) while the bartender serves up shots and clog-dances on the bartop. If it’s after May 29th, you’ve missed the Beach Bikini Barbecue Party (complete with limbo and tattoo contest), but you can still hop on your hog and catch the annual pig roast on Sunday, June 26th at noon.

Sundays, 5:30 til food runs out (usually around 8:30pm)
It might be a stretch to call this the gay Warm-Up, but as with PS-1’s Sunday afternoon party, the Met’s is a chilled out, loungy outdoor scene where the meats and beats are really just excuses to bump into old friends from lib-arts school. (Meats, in this case, includes veggie burgers and tofu dogs.) Unlike PS-1, though, the party doesn’t shut down early— instead it segways into the 6pm “Sunday Evening Social,” when the boys and girls, good and lubed care of the cook-out’s drink specials ($2 bud pints and $7 pitchers), get down to, er, “sexy easy listening.”

Madison Square Pork
If these burger-and-dog options don’t cut the mustard, the ultimate BBQ-and-booze event occurs from June 11-12th, from Noon-6pm at Madison Square Park. The 3rd Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party will feature live music, panel discussions with the likes of Danny Meyer and Dan Rather, and award-winning pitmasters from around the country serving up everything from pig snoots to the whole hog. Admission is free, but the grub will cost you.

Bars That Bar-B-Q (For Free!)