Dinosaur Barbecue, NYC

February 28, 2012

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que began in 1983 with a 55-gallon drum cut in half at the Harley Rendezvous, a massive motorcycle gathering near Albany, NY. After five years doing motorcycle shows, fairs, and festivals throughout the Northeast, it settled down in Syracuse, New York. In 2004 Dinosaur Bar-B-Que opened in Harlem and became very popular. It is rated third in the Zagat listing of New York barbecue and even gets a one fork entry in the Michelin Guide. Last year the restaurant was evicted from its original Harlem space by the expansion of Columbia University and reopened nearby in a spacious old industrial building at 12th Avenue and 125th Street, just past the current version of the fabled Cotton Club.

Blair and Karyn drove Linda and me to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for lunch on December 24, 2011. (Driving was important as this was Linda’s first restaurant outing since the total replacement of her right knee November 8. She was walking with crutches and a taxi would have been awkward. The open spaciousness of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que worked well for her.)

The dining area has wooden tables and booths.

There is a bar off to the right of the entrance and a take-out window behind it.


We ordered a large pitcher of Yuengling Lager while we looked at the complicated menu. This was eventually followed by a pitcher of Empire India Pale Ale; its sharp hop presence helps it stand up to the spiciness of barbecue.

The cuisine is a mixture of various styles of Southern Barbecue and southern cooking. There is a wide choice on the menu, but we stuck to the basics.

The menu cover. 

To start we ordered the
SWAG Sampler Plate for four
Spicy Shrimp boil, Chicken Wings, Fried Green Tomatoes and Deviled Eggs

The tasty chicken wings were quite messy to eat, particularly if you used one of the dipping sauces in the center cups. (Fortunately there was a container on the table with plenty of paper napkins and wet naps.) The fried green tomato slices were very crisp on the outside, moist inside.

We went on to a
a Full Rack of Ribs + 4 Homemade Sides.

We also had two orders of
A Bar-B-Que duo of sliced brisket & pulled pork.

These plates were each entitled to two sides so we chose eight in total: Cole Slaw; Mac & cheese (2); the Special Side of the Day, which was Cajun Corn; Carrot & Raisin Salad; Simmered Greens (Vegetarian); Seasonal Curried Succotash; and Bar–B–Que Beans with Pork.
These are the Cajun Corn and the Simmered Greens, both very good

We each had a piece of the excellent round Honey Hush Cornbread.

The barbecued meat was very good with the pulled pork the standout. As good as it was, I did not enjoy it as much as my barbecue standard, Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City. The meat, particularly the ribs, did not have the same char it gets from Bryant’s very hot hickory wood fire. This is deliberate and a matter of style as the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que menu says, “Our ribs are marinated for 24 hours with our action spice rub; then slow pit smoked and lightly glazed with our original bar-b-que sauce.”  The flavor of the spice rub and sauce was good, complex and not overly peppered. The sides, served in little cardboard boats, were quite good and appropriately southern. We almost finished everything we had ordered, but skipped dessert.

The service was friendly and efficient, although our mains came too quickly after our starter plate. The restaurant was not full and the noise level was low, but this was lunch the day before Christmas. (There is live music on weekend evenings.)

On the way out we posed by the Christmas tree decorated with beer cans and lights.


4 Responses to “Dinosaur Barbecue, NYC”

  1. Sally McKinney Says:

    Carrot and raisin salad, oh my! Hadn’t even thought of that in years, fortunately. But do think often and fondly of Bryant’s and usually manage to pick up a bottle or two of sauce when back there. Dinosauer Barbeque sounds pretty good.

  2. ojile Says:

    Not familiar with much BBQ; but my parents, although from Omaha, Nebraska originally and thus closer to BBQ territory, not the outdoor enthusiasts – more the bookish, newspapery kinds of Minnesota folk.
    But I wouldn’t mind tackling some of that wondrous Southern Cooking.

  3. Karen Says:

    Having spent much time in the south, I LOVE barbecue! Can’t wait to go there!

  4. Dorie Guess Behrstock Says:

    It’s now on my list for NYC since I don’t have plans to go to Kansas City!! Enjoyed the description of proteins & the sides look great!

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