The first thing to say before talking about Mighty Quinn’s is it’s nice that New York has become a city in which there are barbecue options to nitpick to death.
There are some good things about this barbecue joint on Second Ave. and Sixth Street. And if you live or work in the area, it’s probably going to become a favorite of yours. But for folks who “travel” from other parts of the City to get their cue, I’m still going to recommend Hill Country as the go-to-place in the city.
Full disclosure, Texas style barbecue is my favorite, so if you like over-sauced ribs (and by over-sauced, I mean sauced) or pulled pork is your thing, feel free to disagree. But I’m also a certified barbecue judge, so that makes me like a professional barbecue complainer!
Dinosaur is fun but sporadic. Brisket Town’s Delaney makes amazing brisket, but I know nothing of his actual restaurant — and it’s in Williamsburg, which, blech. Fete Sau was okay, but also in Williamsburg. Fort Reno Provisions was solid on my first visit and a greasy pile of sorrow on the second. RUB is always a good bet–especially if you like Kansas style cue. Wild Wood Barbecue is really good for a corporate sort of place that does more than one style. Daisy May’s is decent but it didn’t do enough for me to drag ass all the way to the west side for it. Blue Smoke is too fancy.
Hill Country has it’s issues, but for consistency, service and a damn place to sit down and eat your food, it can’t be beat.
Lack of seating was my first impression of Mighty Quinn’s and I tried not to let that affect my judgment — after all, I’ve eaten Popeyes on the subway and while sitting on the sidewalk. A lot of the other barbecue places might have their lines and waits, but at least there seems to be some sort of system. Mighty Quinn’s, on the other hand, was a shit show. Or a clusterfuck. Or both.
Stand in line, order your food and then have a cashier repeatedly ask you if you want to eat in or take out while you try to figure out if a table is going to open up any time soon and see how you feel. Especially as others are standing around looking lost, or wondering up from the bathrooms downstairs with trays of food because they thought their might be some seating down there.
There’s only so much space in a restaurant. I understand that. Here’s a quick suggestion: Post of list of local bars that allow customers to bring their own food. Problem solved. The few staff people I asked didn’t even seem to know if there were bars in the area (which, East Village, hello).
The line, though, did move pretty smoothly. Like Hill Country, they do offer meat priced by the pound, but they also offer single servings priced between $7 and $9. This was a nice touch that I actually appreciated. Makes ordering easy and prevents the typical miscalculations in which you order 2 pounds of meat and end up paying for it (financially and otherwise).
I ordered pulled pork, brisket and the beans. They were out of spare ribs–highly annoying, but not something you can ding a barbecue place for. The brontosaurus rib looked exactly as you’d expect it to. But I didn’t want to spend $23 on something I wasn’t going to finish.
The food. My brisket was moist and had a great texture. The other guys at the table complained that theirs was on the dry side. I don’t know. I’ve had a lot dryer brisket in this town. They hit it with a sprinkling of salt before serving. The pulled pork was, indeed, pulled rather than the shredded goop a lot of places serve. They hit the pork with a squirt of some sort of sauce before serving — something that made me want to jump the counter and smack the server. Don’t sauce another man’s barbecue! But it was an inoffensive vinegary sauce that added a nice flavor to the meat.
Interestingly — and unfortunately — the one flavor the meat was missing was smoke. There are huge stacks of wood around the restaurant, and I witnessed workers actually using some of it. And about two hours after eating, when the barbecue burps started, I got plenty of smokey flavor burning it’s way back up. But the brisket and pulled pork we had on that particular night didn’t have a very strong smoky flavor. This might be a feature rather than a bug for some people. (One of my friends had the smoked sausage. I gave it a try and wasn’t impressed — but I’m rarely impressed by smoked sausages outside of Texas and Louisiana.)
Now, the beans. The burnt end baked beans might be the best barbecue restaurant side dish in all of New York. I had leftovers and ate them cold the next days because I couldn’t wait to heat them up. Plenty of smoky flavor in the beans — and plenty of meat. Hell, I might actually call the dish “Shredded Burnt Ends With Some Beans Thrown In.”
Overall, I’d recommend trying place. If I’m in the East Village and find myself in the mood for barbecue, I’d give it another go. If you’re looking for cue and have the patience to deal with the seating-or-lack-thereof situation or are lucky enough to catch it at a slow time, stop in. And if you work in the area, definitely a solid lunch option.