Hailing from the unlikely Syracuse, Dinosaur BBQ is a trek to say the least. All the way in Morningside Heights, it is not for the subway squeamish. Once there however, the space is warm and bustling, a visceral aroma wakening the very core of caveman instincts. The entire space is generously sized, which speaks to how far someone has to go in Manhattan to breathe while eating. The bar area is sized in proper proportion, which only partially makes up for the unbelievable wait a table of six commands in the middle of nowhere. Local Ithaca brews anyone?
Reservation or not, we were seated when they were good and ready. We tore into the menu, fixating on every Southern stereotype. We of course ordered the fried green tomatoes, which in reality, arrived more in a shade of pink. However, this lie was hidden underneath a thoroughly fried exterior, so no harm done.
Seeing as we had a multitude of six diners, we ordered family styled it. A whole chicken, rack of ribs, a pound of brisket and 3 sides – it all sounded formidable, but we knew ourselves better than that. If there was enough room on our table, there was enough space in our stomachs.
I want to start with the chicken, because I find it a marginalized meat in the land of BBQ. This chicken was no less smoky or meaty than it’s dark meat cousins (many, many times removed). It was perfectly moist, and eagerly absorbed all the wonders of the pit. Next I had the brisket, which is my personal favorite for such meals. While it was certainly no disappointment, I find the fat parade of Hill Country’s brisket just a bit more up my alley and my arteries. Finally, the ribs, which is the apple of everyone’s eye – and these ribs had everyone holding their beers in that funny way when fingers are altogether indisposed. Sweet and slightly tangy, generously sauced and smoked, the ribs were tender and very soon left to the bones.
On the side, the sweet potatoes we got were unforgettably nutty, and even when I brought it home the next day, was no less delicious alone in a Styrofoam box. Moist, sweet, with cinnamon (I think) and nuts, it was the creme de la creme of tuber sides.
From the unlikely birthplace of Syracuse, to the unfindable location of Morningside heights, Dinosaur BBQ has a lot of ground to make up for when a diner arrives. However, we are left not regretting a thing, even as some of us climb into an empty crosstown bus, accompanied by fearful silence. The food is as Southern as New York can offer, even if it is on the more Northerly side. Until I try the other oases of BBQ in our city, I can’t say definitively if Dinosaur is best-of-breed, but certainly I wouldn’t let the distance stop you from having a taste.
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PS. It’s on Savored! (Do I get perks now?)
700 W 125th St
New York, NY 10027