Restaurant Review: Hickory’s Famous Wood Pit BBQ, Port Washington, N.Y

By Paul Riegler on 15 August 2019
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When I think of barbecue, I think of my drives through the state of North Carolina, the spiritual home of American barbecue and its mouthwatering ‘cue.  

As people in the South are wont to say, barbecue is a noun, not a verb.  It isn’t grilling and one doesn’t barbecue something.  One eats barbecue.  

In the Carolinas, a small restaurant serving barbecue is a barbecue joint.  It’s not fancy – no white table cloths and napkins here – and there should be rolls of paper towels on each table.   There are literally thousands of barbecue joints and places in the Carolinas, while other parts of the country merely have a smattering.  I wasn’t even looking for a barbecue joint at the time.

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In searching for a good burger in the town of Port Washington, New York, I came across Hickory’s Famous Wood Pit BBQ, just a few minutes from where I was, and I headed over.  From the outside, it wasn’t much to look at – a storefront with supersized menus in the window, behind which the actual barbecue pit was, run by Eddie, the pitmaster and owner.  I walked in and realized I had to go past the ‘60s western-style swinging gates to get to the counter, where a patient staffer took my order.  I felt transported back to the Carolinas and the burger I had desired so strongly half an hour before was quickly forgotten, supplanted in my mind by visions of soft, succulent baby back ribs.

I ordered the smoked baby back ribs platter with coleslaw and fries (well done of course) and half a slice of corn bread and took a seat in the dining room, if one could call it that.

The small dining area is a bit rustic, to put it politely, and decorated with an eclectic selection of multiple Three Stooges and classic rock (think: Jimi Hendrix and Jethro Tull) posters. A sign on the window air conditioner indicated it would be fixed on Monday but I wasn’t sure if the sign referenced the coming Monday or one long in the past.

The art of barbecue is to cook meat slowly, using various hardwoods to flavor the meat.  Barbecue breaks down the connective tissue in the meat, producing a tender result.  Baby back ribs are short, succulent, well-marbled ribs from the top of the rib cage and are ideal for the full barbecue treatment.

By the time my order was ready, I was the only one in the dining room but numerous customers had arrived and departed with takeaway orders.  This joint was hoppin’.  The dining room may be short on décor but the wonderful smell of meat roasting more than made up for it and I was eagerly awaiting my order.  It took more than a little self restraint to take the time to get a good photograph of my ribs before digging in but I managed to do it.

The wait was well worth it and the first bites transported me back to the Carolinas.  I barely finished the delicious half rack, the perfectly prepared fries, and the just right coleslaw.  The only weakness in the meal was the corn bread but that didn’t take away from the experience.

BOTTOM LINE

While I only tried the smoked baby back ribs, the brisket looked quite alluring as did the chicken and I plan to sample those on a future visit.

THE DETAILS

Hickory’s Famous Wood Pit BBQ
674 Port Washington Boulevard
Port Washington, N.Y. 11050
www.hickorysbbq.com/

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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