If you’ve spent any real time in Central New York, you probably have fond memories of Dinosaur BBQ. If not, just ask one of the 200 people you know who went to Syracuse - they’ll tell you all about it. Back in my Ithaca College days, we’d drive up to ’Cuse for three reasons: the mall, concerts, and (obviously) the original Dinosaur BBQ.
This Harlem branch manages to stave off Manhattan compromise and maintains every ounce of the free spirited, upstate sensibilities Dinosaur is known and loved for. It’s a breath of fresh air in the way it would be if a roadside carnival with a ferris wheel were to appear on 2nd Avenue in place of you standard street fair that sells tube socks and underwear. Who buys socks at those things?
But know that Dinosaur BBQ isn’t the best barbecue you’ll ever eat. It’s not even the best in Manhattan. It is, however, our kind of dining establishment. There isn’t a better place to congregate in Big Groups, eat lots of meat and drink cold pitchers of beer. The service is warm and friendly, prices are reasonable by NYC standards, and the place is just generally fun.
One of the things Dino BBQ is most well known for are these plump, deliciously juicy wings. They’re spice rubbed, pit smoked, then finished on the grill. Make sure you get a nice variety of the flavors they offer. Our two favorites were the mild honey barbecue and the spicy garlic chipotle.
A bite sized black pepper cracker with a slice of homemade sausage, pimento cheese and pickled onions. Yes.
A simple salad, but one that went fast around the table thanks to a really good house dressing. Order one for the table.
This nice iceberg wedge is served with smoky dressing and delicious bacon. What’s not to love?
The underlying theme in Dinosaur’s Bar-B-Cue isn’t the smoke, it’s actually the sweet. You’ll need a rack or two of these sweet St. Louis pork ribs. We weren’t blown away, but they definitely got the job done.
Our favorite thing at Dinosaur? The brisket. It’s really, really good. The thinly sliced strips are just fatty enough and perfectly juicy.
Another winner. The skin on the outside is charred to perfection, and the pearly white meat inside couldn’t be any better.
After the brisket, the pulled pork shoulder was our next favorite meat on the menu. This must be on your table.
Overall, the sides were disappointing. The fries were good, so definitely get some. The cole slaw was just OK. It had a nice kick to it, but it was a little too watery for our liking. But the mac & cheese was the real bummer. It is allegedly their best side, but we found it to be overcooked, dry and boring.
Holy good god. This thing is like a chocolate pudding wet dream. End your meal on a high note.