Here’s the deal. People talk on and on about the best BBQ in New York. As a native Texan, I know the best barbecue in Dallas, if not the whole world: Pecan Lodge. It’s the kind of place that sells out by 3 PM so you get there early. The best pulled pork I’ve ever had, a sausage that pops when you cut into it, unbelievable fried okra and rolls. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
But I’ve been struggling to find the “answer” in the city that I so desperately need when I’m homesick. So I’ve prowled the two most talked-about BBQ joints in the city in order to tell you how they compare. You’re welcome.
It’s every hipster’s favorite BBQ joint. A blend of Texas and Carolinas style meat, with a head chef from Houston, it already has points racking up in its favor. The menu rarely changes and they have an extensive selection of local draft beers.
So, let’s get to the food: The brisket and the pulled pork were both expertly cooked. The brisket didn’t need a knife, and was on the lean side. The pork was slightly pink in the middle. The sides varied. The coleslaw was completely average. I grew up in a house that said, “If the coleslaw isn’t good, none of it is good,” and I tend to agree. I had both the vinegar and mayo style coleslaw and was sorely disappointed. It was dry and unseasoned– I was basically eating flavorless cabbage. However, their pickled onions, cucumbers, and peppers were divine– I’m a sucker for fancy pickles. The burnt ends baked beans were of a certain style. Solid pinto beans, with not too much extra sauce, and big chunks of the perfect pork, savory and hot. I ate the entire serving myself. The potato bun was ok, but a little stale, probably because I went during the evening. And the final blow: they don’t hand out those sani-wipes that are essential after every down and dirty session with grilled meat.
Fette Sau is a great example of Texas style BBQ done well. The menu changes daily, and when I went I got a third pound of short ribs, third pound of pulled pork, and a third pound of brisket, with a side of burnt ends baked beans, German style potato salad and complimentary potato rolls. (All the meat is dry-rubbed.) They put both Carolinas style and Texas style barbeque sauce on the table, which I love, along with a roll of paper towels. No coleslaw, but they had sauerkraut– real German Texan stuff. I missed the pickles that are served at Quinn’s, but Fette made up for it in other ways.
The short ribs were chewy and delicious with an expert char. When it came to the pulled pork, I’ve had better, but to complain about Fette Sau’s would ultimately be picky. (Although, if I had to choose between Mighty Quinn’s and Fette, I might choose Quinn’s.) Their brisket was fatty and cooked medium, which is more of a “preference” than anything – I prefer leaner and rarer meats, but for the fat lover in all of us, Fette Sau’s brisket was succulent and delicious, and still didn’t really need a fork.
The best thing on the plate? The baked beans. I am kidding you not, those are the best burnt end baked beans I’d ever had in my life, and that includes backyard BBQs in East Dallas. They aren’t have pork burnt ends but also beef. These beans were rich and unbelievably saucy. I would legitimately go back to Fette Sau just to eat the beans. I. Love. These. Beans.
I had a bottled ginger ale (heavy on the ginger) because I’m not a big drinker while I’m eating lots of food. But their bar looked inviting and extensive, and on their website they boast that they have the “best American whisky list in NYC.”
At the end of the day, nothing will compare to Texas, but if I’m ever having a meat craving, I think either one of these will do.