John Brown Smokehouse

25-08 37th Avenue (Crescent Avenue), Long Island City, Queens; (718) 361-0085.  Set in the middle of nowhere, these are the best burnt ends I’ve had, including Kansas City, and the best lamb sausage I’ve had, ever.  The pastrami is the other winner.  Quite possibly this is the best barbecue on the entire East Coast and it is one of the better barbecue experiences in the country.  Here is one review.

They let me sample about five other dishes, and while they were very tasty they did not compare to the absolute winners cited above.

Me: “I know this is a stupid question, but how come the food here is so good?”

The Pitmaster: “That’s how we make it.”


Looks pretty chi-chi from a Chicago point of view (i.e., no bulletproof glass). Let me take you to Lem's sometime.

uh, middle of nowhere?

Queens is the middle of nowhere for most 99% of Manhattanites and tourists.

Queens is vast. Much of it is the Middle of Nowhere, as attested by the semi-affordable housing.

I do not consider either Flushing or Corona to be "the Middle of Nowhere."

After reading 'middle of nowhere', I was thinking I would have to grab a zipcar, but that's accessible by two subway lines.

Not merely "accessible..." It's the Queensboro Plaza station, just over the East River from Manhattan. The restaurant is also walking distance from Roosevelt Island. Hardly "the middle of nowhere," even for jaded Manhattanites.

This. If you're too awesome to make it one stop into Queens & walk 4 blocks, do everyone a favor & stay in Manhattan.

I had thought that Americans didn't eat lamb much. Wrong?

Ewe are baahdly misinformed.

Let me guess. You learned English from the headlines of the Daily Mail

Correct. Majority of Americans don't. I could never quite understand why. The choice of lamb in local groceries is extremely limited. Least expensive stores only carry it as a seasonal item. Trader's Joe in this Midwestern town typically has has one-two offerings, Costco stably offers three (leg, chops, rack) and it's priced 3-4X over beef in upscale stores. With an exception of a single butcher shop in town, all of it is from Australia/New Zealand, i.e. frozen at some point.

Can't blame the stores: it is not as if there is a huge demand for lamb except among the gastronomically elite.

Yes, we don't, and these days the lamb we do have tends to be marked for its halal status.

Sort of seems odd to me, since the super-WASP side of my family was big on lamb in the pre-Clinton era.

Lamb has the worst environmental footprint.

Get with the program rest-of-the-planet.

An infographic that advises one to remove the skin from poultry is based on something other than environmental footprint.

Thank God for that, too.

I like their list of pesticides on produce, and don't care anything about their "save-the-earth" stuff.

Looks tasty, but significantly more tame than the doubly-smoked ribs of northeast GA. If NY were not long ago devoid of BBQ, how likely is it that its resurgence there has generated the finest BBQ on the east coast, in the country? Really, you must be joking. If not, you're guilty of hyperbole or regional exceptionalism.

If I recall this restaurant is the second "best X on the east coast" restaurant Tyler has eaten at in about a month.

Wonder if they are in Economist Gets Lunch (or possibly in the sequel...).

"...has generated the finest BBQ..." isn't the claim. "Has attracted the finest BBQ..." is a totally different concept. High prices, giving high profits, are an attraction that brings chefs of all disciplines.

The Pitmaster should have started her/his answer with "I know this is a stupid answer ..."

Q: Ribbs, ribs, how come you is so good?

A: 'Cause that's how we was braised.

is that the comments version of a raised eyebrow?

Going to try it out this week . As an undercover Southerner living in the belly of the beast in metro NY , I loves me some Q

"Long Island City, Queens" is nowhere near the middle of nowhere /especially/ for a BBQ place. I've been to remote bbq places, this is extremely urban.

Middle of nowhere for NYC, I assume.

As someone who has tried repeatedly, and failed repeatedly, to convince his girlfriend to venture to Queens for dinner, I can assure you that it is indeed "the middle of nowhere" for at least some people.

I'm skeptical, but intrigued. How comprehensive is your KC burnt ends expertise? The places I'd take people to if I had to pick one or two don't have the best burnt ends... for that I'd go with any of the Smoke/Jackstack spots or Haywards that focus more on meat/sides on their own than as vehicles for incredible sauce.

@dearieme -- Basically true. Chops/leg maybe in regular grocery stores, moreso for holidays; racks for ridiculous prices at Whole Foods and the like. However, frenched rack of lamb's a pretty common entree in the gastro-pub sort of restaurants that started showing up everywhere in recent years. It's not so hard to find locally grown lamb that's not stupid expensive here in Maryland, though.

Had some of their burnt ends for dinner tonight. Believe the hype!

By current wisdom, anything north of Queensboro Plaza (and the small demilitarized zone north of it) is really Astoria. Astoria is pretty trendy and restaurant-dense. This really shouldn't surprise anyone. I'll have to go sometime, since it's only a minor trek from Long Island City.

I just went there tonight and it is indeed great, I'll be going back soon. (It's also very close to Manhattan.)

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