Friday, June 02, 2006


"That's the best barbecue in the city," the cabbie claims as we roll past Virgil's through the slow midtown traffic on the way to my hotel.

It's a bold claim, and I wonder to myself how good can the best barbecue in New York City be?

It rains again that evening, and since I don't want to walk very far in the rain, I decide to put the cabbie's claim to the test. I cross 44th Street and enter Virgil's domain.
It's like stepping 1,200 miles back to Westport in Kansas city. The rustic decor definitely elicits the barbecue mood. I request a table for one. The place is packed, as I imagine most restaurants in Manhattan would be on a Friday night, raining or not.

I'm seated and order a Brooklyn Ale and the beef short rib. While I'm waiting for the food to arrive, I browse the placemats that tell a short story about Virgil's quest for great barbecue. It shows a map of the eastern half of the United States (they don't eat barbecue out west), along with markers for the best BBQ by region.

Happily, I see the KC metro with the highest concentration of notes:
  • Kansas City, Mo.: Haywards Pit Bar-B-Que, made "burnt ends" into an art form.
  • Kansas City Masterpiece, great example of KC style brisket.
  • Arthur Bryants, a Kansas City tradition.
  • Lenexa, Kansas, home of Paul Kirk, the "Baron of BBQ" world class cookoff champion and our Mentor and Hero
Presently my dinner arrives. The short rib is served in a bed of sauce and grits. It was good, though probably not worth the $25 price tag. Then again, diner was on the company tonight.

As for whether Virgil's is the best barbecue in the city, I really couldn't say since I didn't sample any other barbecue.

All I know is that it's no Oklahoma Joe's.

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  1. You are one in a million, emaw!

    Of course, that means there are like, eight of you in NY.

  2. Grits! That's a genuine bonus. Somebody will correct me if I'm mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that you can't get grits at any bbq joint in KC.

  3. no grits @KC BBQ joints that i know of. There are a couple of soul food joints, Maxine's Fine Foods and Grace's Soul Food Restaurant that serve grits.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Maxine's has been defunct and gone for at least 2 years now... You can get awesome grits (along with the best fried pork chops in town) at Neice's at around 56th and Prospect, though. It's a shame about Maxine's.

  6. I really have a hankering to dip meat and bbq sauce into grits.

  7. You know, I'm not even absolutely sure what a grit is. It's corn, right?


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