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On Saturday, Justin and I went with two friends to the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, which takes place each summer in Madison Square Park. (I wrote a little more about it HERE.) We brought our appetites, our sunscreen, and our FastPass to skip the longest lines. The sun was shining, it was warm but not too hot, and we even landed prime park benches to enjoy our spoils. We were prepared to pig out. And pig out we did!

The Big Apple BBQ is one of my favorite summer events. I’ve gone six times since I moved to the city—by myself, with friends and roommates, and with my husband. Almost every time, I’ve gotten a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, which is based in Decatur, AL. (The one year we didn’t get Big Bob Gibson’s pulled pork was because they had so many customers that day they ran out of pork. Seriously!)

My family grew up on Big Bob Gibson’s. My dad (an Alabama native) ate there all the time as a child, and talks about the original owner, Big Bob Gibson himself, who’d give the kids bubble gum as they went out the door. When I was growing up, we’d eat at Big Bob Gibson’s when we drove down from Tennessee to Decatur to visit my dad’s mom. If we could, we’d take her out to lunch and have barbecue and slaw and lemon icebox pie. My brother had Big Bob Gibson’s pulled pork at his wedding reception, and I imported several cases of their Championship Red Sauce (which is AMAZING) up to Brooklyn for my wedding (which had pulled pork on the menu). So the first time I saw the chance to eat this incredible barbecue, a connection to my childhood and to my dad’s childhood, in the middle of Manhattan, I jumped on it. And I’ve tried to take advantage of the opportunity every year since.

Because we had the FastPass on Saturday, we sampled a few other BBQ restaurants in addition to Big Bob Gibson’s. We had pulled pork from Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville (which was excellent) and St. Louis-style ribs from Memphis Barbecue Co. in northern Mississippi (also excellent). If you’re ever interested in tasting some of the best barbecue the country has to offer without leaving NYC, keep your eye out for the Big Apple BBQ next year!

And now, the photos:

A big grill greeted us as we entered Madison Square Park from the southwest corner.

A big grill greeted us as we entered Madison Square Park from the southwest corner.

The famous Big Bob Gibson's pulled pork sandwich with Championship Red Sauce and a side of slaw — yum!

The famous Big Bob Gibson’s pulled pork sandwich with Championship Red Sauce and a side of slaw — yum!

Fun to see the Tennessee flag flying proudly in NYC.

Fun to see the Tennessee flag flying in NYC.

"Memphis whole-hog barbecue" is just that — a whole hog in a cooker!

“Memphis whole-hog barbecue” is just that — a whole hog in a cooker!

St. Louis-style ribs and baked beans — also yum! And very messy.

St. Louis-style ribs and baked beans — also yum! And very messy.

Our beloved FastPass — by the end of the day, we'd spent every dollar.

Our beloved FastPass — by the end of the day, we’d spent every dollar.

Is your mouth watering yet? Do you have a favorite barbecue joint in NYC—or in the country? Do tell! As a barbecue lover for life, I’m all ears. 🙂

~Kathryn

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