Mabel's Smokehouse & Banquet Hall

If you had told anyone five years ago that New York City would be bursting at the seams with barbecue restaurants, they most likely would have laughed at you. However, now New York boasts some excellent barbecue and Southern restaurants, many in the style of the cuisine from Georgia and Alabama. Some notable places include Pies n' Thighs, the Commodore, Georgia's Eastside BBQ, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Though these places boast excellent fried chicken, biscuits, and grits, something was still missing. Enter Mable's Smokehouse & Banquet Hall, located in Williamsburg.

Mable's brings real Oklahoma-style BBQ to an area that doesn't know much about it (not, being from Minnesota, that I can claim any authority). Immediately upon entering, you feel as though you have left New York City and entered a bar somewhere in Texas. The space is large, industrial and unpolished, with neon signs and long wooden tables. It's a slow night, and one of the cooks drinks a beer at the bar, chatting with the bartender and a couple of friends. The heavenly smell of smoked meat wafts from the open kitchen. There aren't many choices on the menu -- ribs, brisket, pulled pork, a veggie bbq option, and a handful of sides. Ari and I decide on the deluxe platter to split, so that we can try the most items. The platter includes three types of meat (clearly, we skip the veggie option), three sides, pickles, coleslaw, and Wonder bread. We chose candied yams, collard greens, and potato salad for our side dishes, and the entire platter arrived steaming on a cafeteria tray within minutes. Slightly panicked but also ecstatic about the amount and variety of food, I added everything to my (paper) plate in order to try it all. The ribs were crispy and caramelized on the outside, and tender and well-seasoned. The brisket seemed to fall apart when it touched the fork. I thought the pulled pork was rather on the dry side, but then, I generally like my pulled pork to be slathered in bbq sauce. The potato salad and coleslaw were classically creamy, nicely offsetting the smokiness of the meat. I also very much enjoyed the pickles and pickled jalapenos, which had a crisp acidity without being overwhelmingly bitter. I did not, however, like the candied yams, which were too cloying in a marshmallow-maple sauce.

Overall, Mable's is a good addition to an already restaurant-heavy neighborhood. I love trying new types of food, and it was interesting to see the differences between the all of types of bbq we now have in the city. While some dishes could use improvement, I would certainly recommend it for large parties and rib fanatics alike -- although vegetarians should probably stay away.