I’ve been wanting to here for a while- a big barbecue joint in an industrial section of Harlem, known for 2 hour waits, excellent ‘cue and a great beer selection. The Firecracker and the Beast had gone a few times; hell, even the Lou Costello-esque guy from Miami teaching me some IBM crap had been there and loved it. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is the best I’ve had in the tri-state area.
We made reservations with Open Table and got seated on time; I’d recommend it for this place, where even Sundays mean a long wait. The bar is often 2 or 3 deep, and they serve lots of upstate NY microbrews. There are highboy tables to wait at, and you can order appetizers there. The decor is typical BBQ roadhouse – license plates and old signs, tons of crappy old wood they probably paid a fortune for. Once you get seated it’s cozy but not cramped. A group of 16 was seated nearby. It’s not a bad spot for a group, and they also do take-out and catering.
Their menu is typical southern-style BBQ- but they do it right. For appies we had a “Swag platter” for two, which comes with 2 each of excellent hot wings in a sweet and spicy sauce, crisply fried green tomatoes with a remoulade, and creamy deviled eggs, plus a handful 0f some cold peel ‘n eat shrimp done in a spicy boil. It’s just enough to sate you after sitting at the bar waiting to taste some of that ‘cue you’ve been smelling as it passed by on platters. The tomatoes are especially good, and they sell a BLT sandwich with them in the tomato slot- I’ve got to come back for lunch sometime and try it.
The one thing we didn’t get between us was chicken, which I’ll try on a second run. BBQ chicken gets unfairly ignored, and I’ll be back to rectify that. The pulled pork is nice and tender, and only gently sauced; the pork flavor comes through fine. The folks at Dinosaur trust their smoker and they don’t slather the meat in sauce to cover up. The ribs are not fall off the bone tender, put they are pull off the bone tender, the right way. The meat is flavorful and the crust of rub and sauce has great smoky flavor with a tinge of sweetness. The brisket, which my Miami pal loves, was quite good too. They put a few slices of jalapeno next to it, and I wrapped each slice around some pepper. It went together great. In the meat deparment, the real surprise was their Elgin Texas sausage- which was nicely seared, had great snap to it, and excellent, juicy flavor. It’s not often that I talk about biting into a juicy sausage, but this time I will do so unashamedly. If you pass on their sausage, you are missing out.
BBQ is also about the sides, and sadly we only tried two- mac ‘n cheese, which was deliciously creamy, with a nice crunchy topping, and a real surprise- salted fingerling potatoes. They were great, sweet and covered in a thin butter sauce that didn’t drown the potato flavor out. And they’re the perfect size, too. Even the cornbread is pretty damn good. This is the best BBQ I’ve had up north- they beat Brother Jimmy’s handily on all counts. MoGridder has some strong competition, too; His BBQ truck is worth a visit to the Bronx, but you’ll freeze your ass off, this time of year. So wait until summer for Mo’s, and come to Harlem for Dinosaur BBQ, if you can get in. If ‘cue ain’t your thing, they have burgers, sandwiches, and buckets of shrimp boil to sate you. They cure their own bacon, and they definitely make their own pickles- they were crispy, tart and had more than just dill in there- ginger, I think.
We’ll be back to try sandwiches and dessert sometime- Key Lime pie made with real key lime juice, sweet potato pecan pie, peanut butter chocolate pie, and so on. After our platters there was no room for dessert, but if it’s as good as the rest of the meal, it’s worth gorging yourself on. If you’re on the Jersey side, we had no trouble finding free parking on a Saturday night, and they’re an easy shot from the George Washington Bridge- just take the Hudson down to 158th, and then take Broadway to 131st, hang a louie and park before 12th ave.
View Larger Map