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Dish no. 34: BBQ brisket plate with a lamb bahn mi and queso mac and cheese from Hometown Bar-B-Que (454 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn; 347-294-4644)
Hometown Bar-B-Que’s pitmaster Bill Durney is good at watching over things. A former celebrity bodyguard, Durney eventually decided the heat of the fire was more enjoyable than that of the paparazzi, and he sought out the advice of renowned pit gurus, like famed Texas barbecue man Wayne Mueller, to learn the art of smoking. Durney’s New York joint features a number of regional specialties: ribs from Illinois and pulled pork from North Carolina, for instance. But the best way to navigate the menu here is to drive straight to the heart of Texas. The Lone Star State-inspired brisket melts in your mouth, the crispy bark adding nice texture. Add in a side of spicy queso mac and cheese, whose creaminess helps temper that dry rub. However, dining here is all about being aggressive, and a empty looking plate needs a wild card side. Still hungry? Impossible. But you might want to throw in a lamb belly bahn mi, anyway– the smoky meat is topped with cilantro and served on a crunchy baguette.
In advance of our 2014 Best of NYC issue, we’re traipsing through the boroughs and divulging our favorite dishes of the year. They’re presented here as a countdown, but we’re listing them in no particular order. Consider this a guide to what’s good to eat in this town right this very second.