We can’t remember the details of our first trip to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que almost eleven years ago when we were dating, or why we chose to go there. Perhaps it was the quirky name, the recommendation of a friend, or even the person working the front desk at the hotel where we were staying. All of that doesn’t seem to matter now since we long ago claimed it as one of our favorite haunts. What we do remember is the food, and every time we go back it seems to get better. Our annual summer pilgrimage to Upstate New York always includes an overnight stay at Mike’s parent’s house in Syracuse, where they give us a break and watch the boys as we jump into the car and visit this homage to grilled meats. Who would have thought one of the best rated barbecue joints in the country would be located just a short distance away from the Carrier dome where the Orangemen play.
If it weren’t for the sign overhead you’d swear you were in front of a biker bar. Everyone is polite as you make your way past the row of Harleys out front, walk through the carry out area, and wait to be seated in the back. The interior is dark and eclectic with photos of jazz greats and memorabilia encircling the walls. Graffiti frames the wooden booths and windows as light streams through the glass block weaving past the neon beer signs. If you’re lucky there will be someone inside playing the blues. If you didn’t know better you’d swear you were in some off-the-beaten-path small Southern town.
The restaurant is a gem, and they serve up some real down home stick-to-your-ribs goodness. Nothing here disappoints and the service is casual and terrific. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que makes their own sauces and rubs with a range of flavor and heat to tickle the palate. I like the Sensuous Slathering Sauce, a slightly sweet sauce that I douse on the beef brisket, and Michael goes for the Wango Tango Habanero Sauce. If you have a serious need for some Dinosaur Bar-B-Que sauce but can’t find it in your local grocery store, they’ll ship it to you. They even have a cookbook with many of their popular recipes, which I will feature in my next post.
Each time I sit down to look at the menu, I find myself lingering over the combination platters, dreaming of pulled pork, beef brisket, and ribs, then taking an eternity to decide on the sides. It’s very important to choose exactly what I want because I know we won’t be back for another year.
During our last visit I had the Tres Niño's, a daintier version of the Tres Hombres, which is loaded with pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket, honey hush cornbread, and served with fries and tomato cucumber salad on the side. See the charring on the ribs? That’s some good stuff.
Michael chose the Ragin’ Cajun chicken sandwich platter, loaded with hot Diablo sauce and served with fries and chili on the side.
We nibbled off each other’s plate, reminisced about our first visit all those years ago, and planned out the rest of the day. And of course we made plans to come back next year.
246 W. Willow Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
9 Court Street
Rochester, NY 14604
646 W 131st St.
New York, NY 10027