Barbecue is a cuisine I love, but all too rarely find the time to enjoy. Many of the recently acclaimed places have opened in Brooklyn or Queens, and I don’t love ’cue quite enough to head over there.
Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue is an exception, opening last December on a bright East Village street corner in the old Vandaag space. I had a mid-day appointment in the area, so I headed over at 11:30 a.m., when they open for lunch.
Good barbecue in NYC is still scarce enough that the better places can be packed at peak hours. Getting there early is a boon: I was served immediately. It’s not a huge space, and I’m sure at the dinner hour it’s packed.
The owners have put a high gloss on what is still, at root, a bare-bones operation. The space is bright, shiny, and comfortable. Nevertheless, you stand in a cafeteria line, and the food is served on metal trays.
It has been a while, but as I recall, Hill Country had tray service for the meats, but there were servers who came around to take drink orders. Mighty Quinn’s doesn’t even have that. If you want a drink refill, it’s back to the line.
There was plenty I wanted to try, but the Brontosaurus Rib ($23) beckoned, as most barbecue joints don’t serve it, and Pete Wells was ecstatic in a two-star review. It’s by far Mighty Quinn’s most expensive dish—most meats are under nine dollars a serving. But you get two huge ribs for your money, more than I could finish, plus a tiny side of cole slaw.
If I were scientific, I’d visit with three or four friends, and try a wider variety. But I was there alone, so the rib was all I could do. It was excellent. The server gave me a small sample of the burnt ends, which came slathered in an unpleasant sauce. That’s a dish I’m glad I didn’t pay for. The spare ribs, which I didn’t try, looked great.
I’d certainly return for more, but on such a small sample size I’m not anointing Mighty Quinn’s as destination barbecue. But it’s certainly worthwhile, if you don’t have to wait long.
Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue (103 Second Avenue at 6th Street, East Village)
Food: Very good barbecue
Service: Cafeteria style
Ambiance: A high-gloss space for a low-gloss product