Saturday, July 9, 2011

Eating in NYC: Virgil's BBQ

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a craving for Virgil's BBQ, one of my favorite restaurants in the theatre district.  I'd say it is a medium-priced (for Manhattan, anyway) eatery which specializes in barbecue.  And it is genuine barbecue - there are stacks of the wood they use in the doorway where you enter!  (The restaurant is located at 152 W. 44th Street -it is mid-block, and there is a huge neon sign.)

The minute you walk in, you can smell the roasting meats, but, thankfully, not the smoke.  The downstairs seating area is divided into a pretty big bar area, which seems to be bustling even at 11:30 in the morning, and a seating area full of tables.  Close, but not crammed, the tables and the surrounding environment reminds me of a butcher shop, white walls and a black and white tiled floor.  Upstairs, is more woodsy, like a mountain lodge.  Wood floors, tables and wall paneling make the upstairs warm and inviting.  Like down stairs, the tables are close, for maximum capacity, but never uncomfortably close.  Both floors are covered with meat charts, ads for championship barbecue sauces and an amazingly wide variety of posters advertising barbecue contests.

Top to Bottom: Virgil's downstairs,
upstairs, and the bar

I have been there various times, but find the best to be around noon before a matinee.  There is never a wait.  On the other hand, arriving much later than 12:30 could cause you a brief wait, as the place fills up fast.  Weekend nights, you should definitely make a reservation, and even then, you might have to wait.  Wait of not, it is totally worth it.

The menu offers a wide variety of appetizers, salads, entrees and sandwiches.  On weekends they also serve breakfast, with brunch continuing until 3PM.  The entire menu has a down home feel, with most menu items having a Southern, home-cooked feel.  Even the beverage menu includes fresh brewed iced tea (delicious), hand squeezed lemonade, and sodas in bottles, including Stewart's and Orange Crush.

 Knowing that the portion sizes are enormous, I rarely get an appetizer, but Mike enjoys their chili (though he orders it cheese-less and without their signature sauce garnish), and other friends of mine swear by their hand rolled hush puppies.  I've only ever seen the salads as they whiz by the table, and they are HUGE...literally big enough for two adults.  And their presentation is very beautiful.

The ribs platter

As far as entrees go, I can testify to the terrific quality of their Kansas City Fried Chicken, with big juicy pieces and hand battered.  Mike usually gets the brisket platter, and always looks so satisfied as he eats it!  Among the sandwiches I've tried are the chicken Po Boy - tasty and filling, the Butterworth-style flat dogs (you get two) which are available with a variety of toppings.  But my favorite sandwich of all time is the melt-in-your-mouth brisket melt.  Perfectly seasoned, and huge - I'm guessing 3/4 of a pound of meat or more, with melted cheddar on crispy, buttered light rye toast.  The entrees come with cornbread and two sides, and the sandwiches come with potato salad and coleslaw with a pickle, or you can get their hand cut fries.  The fries are always hot and crispy, and I love their gravy (you have to ask for that).

The side orders are all terrific, and at $5.95 each, a bit pricey, until they serve them.  The homemade mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese are served in soup bowls.  Yes, bowls.  And sooo delicious!

No matter how much you finish of your meal, you have to get dessert!  All are $6.95, and all are homemade.  The apple pie is good, and the rice pudding is creamy and satisfying.  The warm chocolate chess pie is also great, but the best dessert they have is the hand made ice cream sandwich, served with your choice of ice cream flavor, whipped cream and chocolate sauce for dipping.

The full menu is HERE.

There is a children's menu, and for the drinkers in your group, they have an extensive beer list, and a full, and apparently popular, bar.

Two things I absolutely love about the service is that the silverware comes wrapped in a full-sized terrycloth hand towel, instead of napkins.  The other is the steaming hot towels that are served to you after your dinner dishes are cleared.  Refreshing!

It is just expensive enough that it isn't something I do every time, but not so costly that I have to go long between visits.  You can probably get a drink, an entree and dessert, plus tax and tip for around $25.00.  And when you consider the size of the portions, the excellent service and its close proximity to most of the Broadway theatres, you really can't beat it!

For full information - including a place to make online reservations - go to:

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1 comment:

  1. Jeff,
    Nice article on Virgil's! One of favorite places to eat in Manhattan!

    Next time, get the hush puppies! You will not regret it. My husband and I have a hard time figuring out if it's the hush puppies we love or are they just delivery devices for the maple syrup butter. You be the judge! Banana pudding rocks, too.

    Best regards,


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