Sunday, January 23, 2011

Memphis BBQ Ribs from Virgil's



I've been to well over 100 BBQ joints in the United States over the years. In the past, I'd hop in the car and go on month long road trips with my pre-cell phone, paper directory of BBQ locations. Once I had a cell phone and 7 years later and iPhone, it made it that much easier to go on BBQ exploration.

So it's at times embarrassing when I tell people I meet in places like Memphis and Arkansas, that my favorite Memphis style rib, or any BBQ, is in fact in New York City. Even worse, is that it is in Time's Square. In my defense, Virgil's has been a landmark and was in Time's Square back before the drugs and prostitutes were replaced by Disney plays and corporate chains.

I often go out of my way to get to Virgil's. Sometimes it's just a random trip from California to New York to go there. Other times, it's planning a 2 day stop in New York before heading to Europe. Or last week, I opted to fly to New York first from my home in Buenos Aires, before heading to California for 2 weeks. When it comes to Virgil's, it's worth it.


There are a number of items on the menu that you won't regret getting.

But the gauge of a good BBQ joint is in the ribs. You can dress up pulled pork with different sauces, but a good rib will prove itself without the need for sauce.

Through my many excursions there, I was told by the staff to try their chicken wings. They marinate them for 3-4 days, are smoked, and the staff prides themselves that it' all about the flavor, not just splashing a ton of hot sauce on them. I knew I didn't have any room in my stomach for a full rack of ribs, mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables and cornbread AND the wings, so I didn't order them. But the staff still brought me a plate free of charge just so I would try them. Can't beat that service.

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