I consider myself somewhat of a BBQ snob (but in a good way!). If I bite into a rib and the meat just falls off the bone, I’m outta there. After attending the World Championship BBQ Contest in Memphis two years ago, I learned a thing or two about BBQ, such as ribs from a true BBQ pit master should tug just a bit when you bite into it. And the rib should have that all-important smoke ring.
As an aside, if you really, really love barbeque, you should make the Memphis pilgrimage at least once in your life. It is an experience! Memphis, along with Kansas City, Austin, and Lexington (NC), comprise what I call the “BBQ Bucket List!” These are the capitals of authentic barbeque in the US. I’ve done Memphis and Lexington; two more to go!
Now, back to our original programming. I had just about given up hope of enjoying the real thing without getting on a plane or crossing the Hudson, when what should appear on my radar? Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque!
They call this “Texalina” BBQ, a melding of two great BBQ traditions. There’s nothing fancy here, “they just focus on making great food,” as partner Micha Migid told me when I spoke with him. They slow smoke for hours over wood, use quality ingredients and house made rubs. And let’s not forget about technique. Anybody can throw a brisket on the smoker and hope (hope!) that it turns out moist and tender. But Pit Master, Hugh Magnum, learned at a young age in Texas how to create the slow smoked goodness that people crave.
The choices are simple at Mighty Quinn’s: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, wings, smoked sausage. I’m proud to say I sampled them all! You can get any of these items as a sandwich or “naked,” but really is there any need for bread to get in the way of all that smoky flavor? I think not. The only choice on the menu that I backed away from was the $23.00 “brontosaurus rib.” Not that I wasn’t intrigued, especially after I saw one go by (it was huge!). Maybe next time.
I had been aware of Mighty Quinn’s before they opened in NJ, as they have been touted as one of the best (and most authentic) in NYC, and I’m always on the hunt for good barbeque. So did it live up to the hype? Indeed! Belly up to the counter to place your order and the servers will be slicing the ribs and the brisket and pulling the pork when you order. It doesn’t get any more real than that. The pork literally melts in your mouth. The brisket and the ribs are divine. But in my humble opinion, the burnt ends are the stars of the show. Small delicious chunks of exactly what they proffer – the burnt ends from the brisket – heaven. And like gilding the lily, the burnt ends are also in the baked beans! Never too much of a good thing.
Mighty Quinn’s offers some interesting sides (did I mention the baked beans with burnt ends?), including a very nice sweet potato casserole with maple and pecans, cole slaw two ways (mayo or vinegar – both very good), and two salad-type items that I didn’t try (hey, I came for the Q) - edamame and sweet pea salad, and a buttermilk broccoli salad with bacon.
I love the fact that they offer some great craft beers on tap and wine (alas, wine only by the bottle).
It’s a simple premise; order at the counter while ogling the gorgeous cuts of pork and beef, choose sides and drinks, take your silver tray heaped with luscious barbeque, head to a plain wooden table to engage in an age-old primal carnivorous feast. Listen carefully for the “yummy” sounds coming out of your mouth.
The Promenade Shops at Clifton
850 Rt 3 West
Sunday-Thursday – 11:30am-10:00pm
Friday & Saturday – 11:30am – 11:00pm