[All photos: Nick Solares]

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is coming up this weekend—and as most of us have limited stomach capacities as well as limited patience to wait in lines, I thought I'd give you my cheat sheet for how to get the most out out of your day in and around Madison Square Park.

Big Bob Gibson's championship pork shoulder sandwich, tended to by rock star pitmaster Chris Lilly, is simply the finest pork shoulder sandwich on the planet as far as I'm concerned.

New York barbecue lovers know that whole hog barbecue is a rare commodity here. To our rescue come two master whole hog pitmasters. Ed Mitchell has been coming to the block party since its inception, and his whole hog sandwich features all parts of the pig, including crunchy skin and maybe even a rib bone to gnaw on if you ask extra-nice.

Patrick Martin (Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint) is coming up from Nashville to do his western Tennessee-style whole hog thing. I met Patrick a couple of years ago when he was helping out at Ed Mitchell's booth, and the man has a serious passion for cooking barbecue and hanging out.

Of Murphysboro, Illinois, 17th Street Bar & Grill's Mike Mills is both a master storyteller and a baby back rib jedi pitmaster, and if you haven't had his crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, dry-rubbed baby back ribs, with just enough chew on them—you're in for a treat.

Kentucky is mutton barbecue country, and the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn folks from Owensboro will be gracing us with their presence this year. This is another rare eating opportunity for us regional food lovers; we simply don't find barbecue mutton and burgoo on New York barbecue joint menus very often.

I also look forward to trying some of the newcomers to the fest. It's always fun to be surprised by a pitmaster you haven't read much about.

Notably absent this year are any of the justifiably famous and classic Texas hill country barbecue joints, like Salt Lick and Southside Market. Their presence will be missed, though no barbecue lover will walk away hungry from the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.


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