Virgil's Real BBQ

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I, like anybody who has lived in NYC for more than two seconds, pretty much avoid Times Square at all costs. For the most part, I tend to forget that it’s even there–let alone that it lies a mere 15 minutes from my apartment and attracts tourists from all across the globe.

That said, I never turn down a free meal. And I was offered one right in the heart of the madness. This would be interesting.

A close family friend graciously invited me to come along to a Broadway show; it’s a luxury that I certainly don’t splurge on myself, but that I have loved since I was a precocious little girl of eight who dreamt of gracing those stages.

We’d grab dinner before the show, he told me, and we’d do it at Virgil’s Real BBQ, located on W. 44th, off Broadway–right in the belly of the beast.

The restaurant was couched between huge light up signs; I entered the cavernous, two story joint. This wasn’t your down home back-door BBQ joint; this was a creature all its own.

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much of the food. Spots in the theater district are known for their quick turnaround, but not necessarily for their culinary prowess (at least not for a reasonable price).

I was late, arriving at 6:00 p.m. when we had a 7:00 p.m. show to make. “We’re going to have to make this quick,” we told our server, and we were off.

I opted for an old favorite of mine when it comes to Southern food; fried catfish. I got the platter, which came with cornbread and two sides; I chose baked beans and collards, obviously.

My companion got the brisket sandwich.

We waited for what seemed like all of three minutes before the food magically appeared on our table. We were unsure as to whether it was even our food, given that the wait time was so small. It was though, and we chowed down.

Everything was decent, nothing extraordinary–the catfish was tasty, not as crispy as I would’ve like, the beans were savory but could’ve used more ham hock. All and all, not the nightmare that I had anticipated.

However, I wouldn’t make the trip to Times Square just to eat there.