Monday, March 4, 2013

Dinner | Mighty Quinn's

Excuse my brief absence from Four Tines over the past six weeks. The bean counting part of my life has transitioned into its busiest time of the year, so I hope to resume regularly posting in March! Thank you for your continued support and understanding. February was a GREAT month for eating, dining, and nomming for me, so stay tuned for some awesome posts ahead!

Legit barbecue has finally arrived to New York City -- erm, well more specifically, in the East Village. Chef Hugh Mangum's most recent expansion brings his formerly traveling food stand to its very own brick-and-mortar space. I first came across its pure awesomeness at Smorgasburg last fall, where Mighty Quinn's had the longest line during the duration of our eating fest, convincing my friends and I that something great must be cooking up there. Indeed there was, and here we all were (more specifically Marcus, me, Jess, Jen, Jill, and a couple of friends in town visiting), returning for some more.

Chef Hugh Mangum, pit master extraordinaire, grew up with his father in Houston, Texas, where he learned to "explore the gritty local legends of barbecue fame," becoming his favorite activity and setting him on "a personal quest for slow, smoked perfection." It was on this journey (and {1} "copious piles of wood later") that Chef Mangum "attained barbecue excellence in both flavor and technique," resulting in the establishment of Mighty Quinn's that we see and witness today.

01 - MQ interiors

{2,4} We arrived around 7:30 PM, and considering it was only open for a month, {6} it was quite hoppin'. Thanksfully, even with our relatively large group of seven people, we were able to snag the banquette seating near the front of Mighty Quinn's so we could seat, chat, and enjoy some barbecue in this fast, casual setting. One interesting fact is that Mighty Quinn's "is committed to sustainable building, as the wood tables and bars found here have been reclaimed from the famous Puck Building in downtown Manhattan." Originally constructed in the late 1800s, The Puck has recently undergone a renovation enabling the builders of Mighty Quinn's to salvage the spruce wood planks that are over 125 years old.

{5} Once you arrive, a queue forms at the back of the restaurant, and it's kind of a friendly, assembly line of barbecue specialists carving and creating sandwiches and platters to your liking. {7} You have a choice between (beef) brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, spare ribs (1/3 rack), or beef ribs. My recommendation for first-time visitors would be the brisket or the pulled pork -- they're both straight up excellent and will draw you into the Mighty Quinn's way pretty instantly.


The barbecue at Mighty Quinn's actually "merges two great culinary traditions, Texas and the Carolinas, bringing together the best of both worlds and creating something uniquely of its own -- something they call Texalina Barbecue." The kitchen takes the "best, all-natural meats and poultry, seasons them with the perfect spice blends, and smokes them with wood for many, many hours until the perfect harmony of smoke, flavor, and time emerges." The ultimate part of Mighty Quinn's approach is quite simple -- "source the best quality ingredients that they can and do not fuss with them too much."

Whether the protein is carved straight or assembled into a thick and fluffy brioche bun, you can see the slices of meat oozing with the most flavorful juices and smoking with the most appetizing of aromas. To top off the meat, some flecks of salt are sprinkled over it to give it a little gritty, salty finish.

I don't become a creature of habit at many places, but when I do, I become a pretty monogamist eater, straying not too far from my favorites (e.g., always the Shack burger at Shake Shack, always the crispy chicken tacos at Dos Toros Taqueria, etc.). So just knowing what I had (and what I LOVED) from the slider-sized barbecue sandwiches we had sunk our teeth in at Smorgasburg last fall, I couldn't forego a chance to experience the braised brisket once again. Marcus, on the other hand, wanted to give the smoked sausage a chance. The smoked sausage was pretty good with an intense smokiness to it and a little kick from whatever seasoning they incorporated inside it. As for sides, I got a side of vinegared slaw (there was a choice between slaw with vinegar or with mayo) to top on my sandwich as well as a side of the edamame and sweet pea salad. While I wasn't crazy about the latter (maybe it was my distaste for sweet peas or the flavorless edamame), the slaw proved to be essential to any barbecue sandwich at Mighty Quinn's.


Here's a closeup of the insanely juicy goodness that is the beef brisket that comes to life at Mighty Quinn's. It's an irresistible combination of salty, savory, slightly tangy, and crunchy (from the slaw, pickles, peppers, and onions) that is captured in this braised brisket sandwich.

Jess, Jill, and Jen each had their own pulled pork sandwich -- essentially the same preparation and seasonings as the braised brisket, only with pork. Also went great with the slaw (both creamy and vinegared). They also shared a side of sweet potato casserole with maple and pecans, which they reported to be quite good as well.

Marcus was still a little hungry after his smoked sausage sandwich, so he went back for some more -- for the spare ribs, to be precise. Each rib had a generous amount of meat surrounding it, smoked and charred with a nice, even glaze. Definitely worth getting if you don't mind getting your hands a little messy!

Findings: If you've been looking for some hardcore awesome barbecue in New York City, Mighty Quinn's may very well be it. Not only is it incredibly flavorful, juicy, and tender, it goes easy on the wallet and the line moves quite quickly as there's an assembly line type deal going on here. Disclaimer though -- you may be waiting a decent amount of time for a table to free up -- this place is bustling with hungry eaters around prime dining hours, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings, and given the liquor license they were able to acquire, crowds tend to linger longer than you may think. With that being said, I would advise getting here early for an earlier dinner or later (around 8 PM) for a later dinner so you have a place to sit, eat, and enjoy. Slaw is a must, and if you don't leave with oily hands, you didn't get the true Mighty Quinn's experience.

Price point: $7.25-8.50 for each single-serving of barbecue, $3 for each small-sized side.

--January 12, 2013

Mighty Quinn's
103 Second Ave
New York, NY 10003

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