NYC BBQ: Dinosaur Has Moved; Now Open in New Location One Block Away
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (New York NY) closed its doors at 646 West 131st Street last week and re-opened Thursday at their new location at 700 West 125th. That sounds like six blocks away but because of the way the streets run it's barely a block away, almost diagonally across the street. I visited on Saturday and found the new location roomier, brighter and less dangerous looking than the old one, with a much larger bar area. The picnic tables made the move, and apparently, so did the Harleys (I saw two parked by the rear door).
The grafitti didn't make the move to the new men's room, but some 1950s girly magazines did.
So with all the commotion tearing down the old building and readying a new one, how was the food? Not bad, especially for a Saturday visit. Here's a quick run-down.
Pulled pork sandwich: Ordered as an appetizer for the table, this sandwich had good tenderness but a turkey thigh consistency, very little smoke, very little moisture and practically no flavor, which was a surprising departure from my previous four Dinosaur visits where the pork was one of the highlights. The Wango Tango sauce on the table helped. While not an outright disaster, it was hardly a good start to the meal.
Ribs: The ribs took the opposite route. My first four visits to Dinosaur yielded average to above average pork ribs, but never the home run I'd heard so much about. On this visit they were fantastic. The exterior had a nice bark with some bumps from the rub; the interior was perfectly tender while retaining a nice snap; the saucing (more of a layered basting) was generous enough to impart extra flavor into the meat without taking over the show; smoke was noticeable; the flavors of smoke and spice penetrated all the way to the interior of the meat.
Chicken: The chicken served on the combo platter with the ribs had semi-crisp skin and a light glazing of sauce. Inside, the meat was tender and moist (even the breast), but the flavor came mostly from the sauce. Smoke was barely noticeable.
Brisket: Also on the combo platter, the brisket was sliced fairly thin, had some good pink coloring and the crispy edges I like. The flavor was also quite likeable, with a faintly hammy taste that complemented the beef flavor nicely. Texture was ideal, with good tenderness and just enough bite-back.
The B&B: Another sandwich rounded out the tasting: the bacon and brisket, topped with cheese. The brisket here was just as good as, if not better than, what was on the platter, and what sandwich is not improved by bacon?
Other thoughts: It's nice to know that even with Dinosaur Nation's hurricane of activity (closing the old Harlem location and opening the new one within days of each other; gearing up to open a fourth outpost in Troy later this month), it's possible to get a high quality meal at lunchtime on Saturday.
Final thoughts: Most of the reaction to Dinosaur seems to fall into two camps: the Dinosaur worshippers who think the food is spectacular and the Dinosaur bashers who think the food is vastly overrated at best and horrible at worst. After five visits I'm in neither of those camps. I've been served some items that made me wonder what all the fuss is about. And I've also been served some items that have been very good. Saturday's meal supplied a little of both, but most of it was very good.