A reader has asked me for my list of top five barbecue joints in NYC.

What are yours? This is one everyone has an opinion on.

The more pertinent question is whether there are even five barbecue joints in NY with the hunger, passion and knowledge to do right by 'cue. I ended up writing about seven.

In alphabetical order (almost):

Blue Smoke: Danny Meyer, Kenny Callahan and Mark Parisi-Maynard are trying to do right by cue' lovers in NYC, and most of the time they succeed, although inconsistency continues to plague the 'cue here. The ribs are consistently excellent, the brisket less so, and the fried chicken at dinner rocks. On average I would give Blue Smoke a 90.

Daisy May's BBQ USA: Adam Perry Lang has hung up his fancy-pants toque in favor of the pursuit of the ultimate 'cue. I haven't had his barbecue recently enough, so I'll give it an incomplete for now. But I know Adam has been faring well on the competition barbecue circuit, so he's still got the smoke in his veins. In general I find he tries a little too hard with his barbecue sauces. His meat is generally far superior to his sauces.

Dinosaur Barbecue:John Stage took a lickin' from the critics when he first opened, and based on my recent experiences there, the critics were dead wrong. Stage knows his barbecue, uses plenty of real wood, and again has a passion for doing 'cue right. I'll give the it a 90.

Rack and Soul: I went early to Rack and Soul, and I found the barbecue hard to judge as it was slathered with very sweet barbecue sauce. So I'll give it an incomplete until I return. Charles Gabriel's fried chicken was way good, however. The chicken gets a 93.

RUB: Paul Kirk and his partner have done a pretty good job with RUB. The brisket is dry, the burnt ends rock, the ribs are generally damn fine, and I don't ever order barbecue chicken, but the duck was surprisingly good the one time I had it here. Burnt Ends: 92,Brisket: 70, Ribs: 88

Virgil's: You can't expect great barbecue in Times Square, but Virgil's serves up a creditable plate of ribs. I give it an 82.

One final entry not in alphabetical order:

Pies N Thighs Many writers I know and respect speak very highly of the pork shoulder here. The only time I had it, it was so smoky it tasted of nothing but smoke and vinegar. I'll be back, so for now it's an incomplete.

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