It is no secret that the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, NJ is the go to destination for Portuguese and Brazilian food in the New York City area. There are many churrasquerias of both countries scattered throughout the streets. One such place is the workaday McWhorter B.B.Q., named for the sleepy street it is located on. This Portuguese mainstay is a complete throwback once you step inside, full of local regulars who work in the area and have probably been coming here for a quick lunch or takeout for years.
The bar is packed at lunch and the dining area gets full during dinner hours, but you can always find a place to sit down if that's what you are looking for. People are constantly coming in, placing their orders in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and leaving happy, with their massive bags full of meat-laden platters.
It only sits about a six or eight minute walk from Newark's Penn Station, so anyone can get here in pretty good time. Even if it took longer, it's still worth it.
For some reason, the restaurant only serves wine, so leave your beer cravings at the door. While I was slightly disappointed with this news before my food came, it really only surfaced as a memory when I read it in my notes, as the delicious food here really leaves no room in your brain for negative thoughts.
The sheer size of the portions here are amazing. One of the $11-13 "full portions" is big enough for two without a problem. Three people could probably fill themselves up sufficiently. A $12 pork ribs platter (above) is an overwhelming site when it arrives in front of you and was not planned for sharing. You are given the options of salad, fries, rice, and beans for your selection of two sides, and I thoroughly recommend the rice and beans.
A close up photo of the skin of these pork ribs is probably enough to make your mouth water, but I will describe them anyways. They made me want to hit things and people because they were so good. The moist meat inside this crispy dry skin was a revelation, some of the best I have ever had, and very different from saucy barbecue. The tastes emerging from this meat were so complex.
Order any plate with fries as your side and it will look like the photo below no matter what your entree is. What you can't see is the beef steak with onions and peppers ($12), a dish with juicy sirloin that will even bring a diner from Uruguay closer to home. It does have that feeling of steak you might find there or Argentina, it definitely reminded me of some of the better parrilla I had.
McWhorter is the type of place that will probably remain exactly the same for decades, and because of this will remain just as loved as it is today and has been for years. Take some time and walk around the quiet side streets of Ironbound while you are there, it is a thoroughly pleasant place to take a stroll.
104 McWhorter Street, Newark NJ