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Dinosaur Bar-B-Que


I tend to scoff at New Yorkers who deem anyplace in the boroughs or far
reaches of Manhattan impossible to get to. There are very few subway
inaccessible spots on the big island, there's no excuse except not actually
wanting to make the effort. Ill cop to being ignorant of most of everything
above midtown, mainly because everyone I know lives south or east, not
north, but I'm not opposed to trying unfamiliar corners. When it came to
finding Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, my Brooklyn-centric stripes began to show.

In theory it seemed like either the 137th or 125th
street stations would be fine since theyre both equidistant number-wise from
131st. The 1/9 went screwy and bypassed 125th for
137th. Fine, no biggie. But instead of walking the six simple
blocks down Broadway, I opted away from the crowd and went for the next
block west, Riverside Dr. This shouldve been a tip off because I knew the
restaurant was underneath Riverside Dr. and how could it sit underneath a
street and also be along it?

Despite the snow flurries, as usual I was still sweaty from impatiently
huffing around. I made it past 134th before realizing that I was
up in the air on an overpass that extended as far as my line of vision.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was clearly somewhere beneath my feet. And I'd already
trudged what felt like a long way. I couldnt cut back to Broadway without
completely backtracking to where I'd originally came from. So frustrating,
and I had no one to blame except myself. At least I was working off my large
lunch from Bryant Park Grill (weird restaurant choice, but it wasn't mine to

Once inside, cozy with an IPA microbrew I was able to settle down and
take in the peculiar surroundings and now pretty falling snow. There would
be no guessing you were in New York City if you hadnt traipsed through East
Harlem (and had a large party of heavily accented, muscle bound, New
Jersey-esque type guys with cell phones attached to their ears, sitting
right next to you. I did appreciate that they considered Cuban sandwiches to
be perfectly normal appetizers to order. Never mind why Cubanos are on the
menu at all, though I faintly recall the same weirdness at Blue Smoke) to
get there. For one, the space is quite large, and woody, rustic like a
roadhouse. I don't know their whole history, except that theyre from
Syracuse, have something to do with bikers and have a loyal following.
Clearly theyre shooting for an outlaw vibe, which I've never really
understood about barbecue, how its somehow developed this extreme or tough
persona, perhaps because grilling, smoke and fire are mens domains, who
knows. The staff were also unusual for NYC—friendly, guiless,
bubbly—perhaps they are upstate tagalongs.

We started with spicy, earthy boiled shrimp, which felt very New
Orleans. I had the big-ass pork plate, despite minor reservations with
saying the name (not out of piousness but because I have issues with silly
food titles—moons over my hammy, anyone? I noticed a guy near us just
ordered “the pork plate” which prompted his server to force him
into saying big-ass).

Despite a short southern jaunt last summer, I'm hardly a barbecue
aficionado, but I would give high marks to the limited items I did taste at
Dinosaur. My pulled pork came with a slightly sweet sauce, which was fine
though others might prefer a different style topping (there are three sauce
choices on the table). I like that the meat was tender, yet also with a few
crispy bits on the fringe. I only ate one pork rib, but it was also
flavorful and not overly fatty. Barbecue isnt about the sides, but my beans
and salt potatoes were surprisingly good. I'm not usually a fan of bbq
beans, but these were loaded with smoky meat, and the potatoes were in a
slick of oozing butter. It's hard to beat butter and salt for simplicity and

There wasn't room for dessert, though I've heard good things. I hate to
say it, but I'd be inclined to use a car next time. Even so, Ill still
harbor ill will towards the subway-impaired, I cant help it.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que *
646 W. 131st St., New York, NY

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