NYC BBQ: Wings at Virgil's and Some Virgil's Comparisons to Daisy May's
Last Monday's Martin Luther King Day mini-crawl in the city followed up lunch at Southern Hospitality with a "dessert" of chili and wings at Virgil's. The wings, highly recommended by a reader several months ago, were of specific interest for possible inclusion in yesterday's These Are A Few Of My Favorite Wings list. I thought they were good enough to make the #9 slot; check the list for the pros and cons.
In my wings description I called Virgil's the joint that gets no respect. Part of that disrespect stems from their longevity: so many new (and good) barbecue joints have arrived in New York City that Virgil's has been upstaged by most of them. The other reason is also related to the stage (not John Stage of Dinosaur—he's part of the first reason). Because of its location in Times Square, Virgil's is extremely popular with tourists looking for a quick bite before or after a Broadway show, so the natural assumption is that Virgil's offers nothing more than a tourist brand of barbecue. I disagree. While they might not still be in my NYC top four, I think Virgil's is well worth checking out. And even though I'll take Daisy May's over Virgil's, I'll take a Virgil's pulled pork sandwich over a Daisy May's pulled pork sandwich any day.
That brings me—at the risk of sacrilege—to another Daisy May's-Virgil's comparison: the chili. Daisy May's wins this one hands down, but Daisy May's chili is so good it beats practically everyone's hands down. That doesn't mean we can't compare, does it?
Daisy May's chili is nearly all meat (and clearly smoked); Virgil's chili probably has only a third as much meat (hard to tell whether smoked or not).
Daisy May's chili has no beans; Virgil's chili has a handful of tiny ones that thankfully don't get in the way.
Are you sitting down? Flavorwise, Virgil's chili is very, very similar to Daisy May's chili, with that same peppery sweet ancho flavor, and it's actually a little spicier.
Virgil's chili wins presentation points for an artful swirl of chipotle cream; Daisy May's offers a tiny cup of sour cream still hardened from its time in the fridge.
Daisy May's chili.
Remember, I said Daisy May's wins hands down, both overall and for the chili. Just don't dismiss Virgil's as nothing more than a tourist trap. I guess it's only fitting that Monday's Martin Luther King Day crawl was a march for a cause or two.