Review: John Brown's Smokehouse (Astoria, NYC)

The biggest regret I have about John Brown's Smokehouse in Astoria, New York, is how long it missed my radar. [Update: John Brown's Smokehouse has since moved to Long Island City: 10-43 44th Dr., LIC, NY.] It opened this summer, but I hadn't heard about it until last week, when it landed a spot on  the Real Cheap Eats blog.

The small and casual barbecue restaurant is an under-appreciated smokey gem of the neighborhood. Charmingly out of the way on 37th Avenue, a few blocks from the foot of the Queensboro 59th Street Bridge, John Brown's Smokehouse takes Texas-style, cafeteria-tray eating and adds curious minute twists (barbecued pastrami) just enough to make the food enticing and interesting, but never steering too far from the beaten barbecue path. Those with an appetite for pulled pork and dry rub ribs will be sated and for a reasonable price.

Burnt ends are the showstopper, soft and delicate bits of fatty meat surrounded by crusty hunks of charred spices and skin. Pork ribs saw their share of dry-rub crust, too, a hefty layer on the top side of the ribs, and not a bit of it tasting bitter--just mildly smokey and charred.

The pulled pork was a little drier than I like, as were the baked beans. I like both to be almost soupy with sauce. Macaroni and cheese, a dish that I always find underwhelming, met expectations by being overcooked and slightly soggy.

For $22, Boyfriend and I had a filling meal. John Brown's Smokehouse has a BYOB policy at the moment. I'm not sure if the restaurant has applied for a beer and wine license, but BYOB joints in New York can be such a steal, so here's to hoping that it stays that way for a few more weeks at least.

10-43 44th Dr.
Long Island City, NY 11101