Gowanus has places to day drink outdoors (Lavender Lake), eat with a big group (Insa), and get some good BBQ (Dinosaur BBQ). And it has Pig Beach - a place to do all three. This BBQ spot next to the canal has some indoor space, but it’s best when you can drink frozen cocktails with a bunch of friends in the huge outdoor courtyard. You don’t need to go out of your way for the food alone, but you won’t be upset sharing some brisket and mac and cheese, or the very messy cheeseburger, which you can get with one, two, or three patties.
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A solid addition to Gowanus, Freek’s Mill is all about the wood-burning oven. It’s best when things don’t get too fussy.
Lavender Lake could get away with being a just great bar with a large outdoor patio. However, it scores extra points from us for putting some care into curating a small but solid selection of bar snacks and entree sized plates.
Runner & Stone
Don't make the trek down to Gowanus just for Runner & Stone, but if you want a reliable meal in the neighborhood, go for it.
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For barbecue on the Lower East Side, go to Randall’s. It’s counter-service, there’s a full bar, and they make some good sandwiches on bialys.
Butcher Bar is a decent barbecue restaurant in Astoria that works for a casual weeknight dinner.
The Strand Smokehouse
The Strand is a huge garage-like space filled with picnic tables. Bring a group, and try some of the best barbecue in Astoria.
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The best BBQ in New York City resides in Red Hook, in a Texas-style dining hall of sacred smoked meats known as Hometown Bar-B-Que.
Pig Bleecker is a meat-focused restaurant in Greenwich Village. Come here when you want to do something very bad (but also good) for you.
Queens Bully is a BBQ spot in Forest Hills that’s good for day drinking with a group or watching sports on TV.
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