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A DOGgone, finger-lickin' good time at Neely's BBQ Parlor

*NOTE: This restaurant has since closed.*

  • Restaurant  Neely's Barbecue Parlor
  • Cuisine  Southern American, BBQ
  • Location  1125 First Avenue (between 61st & 62nd Streets), Manhattan
  • Phone  212-832-1551
  • Directions  Hopstop
  • Atmosphere  *I cannot comment on the interior, as we dined al-fresco*
  • Attire  casual
  • Ideal for  small to medium-sized group dining, 1x1, happy hour, dog-friendly outdoor dining
  • Price  moderate

"We have to go somewhere with outdoor seating because I want Lucy to come, too," I said to my two Upper East Side-dwelling friends.  The plan was to meet for brunch.  In their neck of the woods.  An area that I rarely frequent in my free time.

After going back and forth, I learned that Neely's, a BBQ joint that I had long been wanting to check out, had outdoor seating.  "Oh, that place is great," Robin said.  "We go there for happy hour a lot, and both the food and drinks are delicious."  Sweet.

The three of us, plus Lucy, arrived at Neely's sometime after 12pm last Sunday.  I told the girls to go inside and inquire about an outdoor table while I stayed behind with my lil' pup.  Moments later, they emerged with a hostess in tow.  "Sit wherever you'd like," she said. 

After I tied Lucy's leash to one of my chair's legs, we plopped down at our spacious four-top table, underneath a sun-shielding umbrella.  Our friendly server immediately approached and handed us brunch and cocktail menus.  "And I'll be back with a bowl of water for you, Lil' One," she said to Lucy.   Awe!

Served in a salt and lime-rimmed mason jar, I got the party started with a passion-fruit margarita.  And before you go and judge me for ordering a margarita at a BBQ joint, let me just say that this was one of the best versions of my favorite cocktail I've had in a restaurant (vs a bar).  So there.

"We have to start with an order of fried pickles," Robin said to our server.  "But I don't see them on the brunch menu.  Did I miss something?"  Our server explained that the pickles aren't offered at brunch, but that she could see if the kitchen would make us a special order.  "If not," I chimed in, "we'll take the fried green tomatoes (available at brunch)!"  

About 10-minutes later, my eyes followed a kitchen-runner as he got closer and closer to our table.  With plate in hand.  "Enjoy ladies," he said.  And there they were.  The golden, fried pickles in all of their calorie-laden glory.  <Angelic choir music playing in the background...

Served atop a rectangular plate was a bowl filled to the brim with fried pickles, plus a side of spicy-ranch dipping sauce.  Warm, perfectly bite-sized, salty, briny, and encrusted with a dill-infused batter, these morsels were a true show stopper.  So much so, that we ordered *another* batch.  No wonder my pants are fitting so tight this week... 

Adding insult to injury or, in this case, pound on top of pound, I ordered a lumberjack-sized entree:  1/2 rack of "wet" Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs.  I chose the macaroni & cheese for my "choice of one side."  Oh, I'm not done yet, folks.  Add to that the biscuits I ordered.  You can imagine the horror when my two girlfriends each received their egg white omelettes.  Yawn.

I quickly stopped feeling guilty about what I had ordered after I took my first bite.  Each rib was enveloped by a generous amount of smoky, moist meat that had been crowned with a sweet 'n tangy BBQ sauce.  And, because I'm such a sauce fanatic, I made sure to sample each of the varieties on our table.  This included spicy, sweet, and "original." 

For those of you mac & cheese fans out there, Neely's makes a mean version.  Elbow noodles are drowned in a creamy roux of cheeses, before being baked and topped with bread crumbs.

And the biscuits?  Oh, forget it.  These were, hands down, the best biscuits I've ever had.  In my life.  They were so warm and moist on the inside, and perfectly crisp on the outside, that I did not even have to use the accompanying butter!  

I loved every last thing about my meal at Neely's.  First and foremost, a big 'thank you' to the staff for being so accommodating and not FREAKING OUT upon seeing my sweet little dog.  I was blown away by their compassion and warmth.  Our server was a doll and I wish that I could clone her for every future restaurant that I visit.  And the food/drink?  Seriously fcuking delicious.  I know that there are some Neely's critics out there, but y'all are just jealous.  Or insane.  Because this is some solid Southern cooking and hospitality!  Amen.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle       

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