Dinosaur has a couple of things going for it, a charming location in the far west reaches of Harlem, a good reputation, and a comfortable space with a ton of room for large groups or small gatherings. The thing it did not have going for it when I went is that two weeks previously I had been to a sort of "holy grail" spot of BBQ in South Carolina.
This fact alone probably made me the most ho-hum about my meal, in comparison. But Dinosaur is a solid place in New York City, and rightly has earned a staying power that will probably continue to satisfy people for a long time.
Me and two others decided to order two large plates that come with two sides apiece. Before I get to the meat, I will touch just briefly on the sides, which are overall a bit lackluster. The mac n' cheese was the shining star of our selections with a nice top coating of burnt cheese and some kind of spiciness in the creamy sauce. The beans, greens, and sweet potatoes were all good, but not the kind of good you usually associate with fix-ins at a BBQ joint.
The first plate we had was the 1/2 rack ($16.50, above). Somehow this just seemed too clean for me, the edges nicely cut, the sauce not dripping everywhere. This might be whiney for me to say, but I want my ribs to make a mess, even before they come out. I did not even use the provided wet napkins! That being said, they use a tasty sauce here, and while they may not have been cooking super long, the meat is good.
The second portion we shared was the big ass pork plate ($15.50, above) pulled and smoked shoulder. This is definitely a step up, probably close to the best you will find in this city. You can really get a mouth full of the nice smoke with this plate, and I might try to order it with two sides of smoked pork shoulder next time I come!
700 West 125th Street, New York NY