Blue Smoke

I first found Blue Smoke in the September before I started Brunch with Bear. My family was in town, and it was my cousin’s birthday so we were trying to find a good restaurant that was allergy-friendly. The Flatiron District—named for the steaks, of course—has some really great barbecue places, and my cousin is basically a carnivore, so Blue Smoke seemed like a nice enough restaurant.

Turns out “nice enough” means “why don’t we come here more often?” When I came back into the city for the start of the fall semester this year, I spent a few days down in the Flatiron District. Paired with an evening at Newsies, a trip to Blue Smoke was the perfect welcome home-away-from-home.

Blue Smoke is located on 27th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. The closest subway station is the 28th Street stop on the 6 train, but you can also walk from the 28th Street stops on the 1, N or R trains. Blue Smoke also has a Battery Park location, but currently Bear has only visited the flagship Flatiron location.

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Blue Smoke reminds me of one of my favorite restaurants back home in California. It has the same old-fashioned barbecue feel with a little bit of that big city flair. The restaurant is also attached to a jazz club, so the whole joint is pretty swingin’ without being hokey or overly greasy. The bar and the booths are roomy and there’s a basin outside the restrooms for the sole purpose of washing barbecue sauce off your hands and face (and hair and clothes).

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Our waitress this time around was like a cross between Zooey Deschanel and Emma Stone: doe-eyed and very personable. I love their Memphis-style baby-back ribs and so she checked and double-checked on the allergy situation. Turns out the fries are fried in the same oil as the allergy-hostile onion rings, etc. but the sweet potato wedges can be baked as a good substitute.

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Blue Smoke has consistently delicious meat and sides. However, unlike the massacre that happened in May at Hill Country BBQ, this meal was more refined. Blue Smoke has a plethora of sauces to tailor to all the different tastes at the table, and the waitstaff is not shy about bringing more napkins. The baby-back ribs were delicious, and the sweet potato wedges—while a little undercooked and firm—balanced out the mess of meat.

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The clientele at Blue Smoke covers all sorts of New Yorkers. Feel free to bring people for all occasions ranging from family birthdays to business lunches to third-date-and-things-are-going-pretty-wells. Though I’ve only had the ribs—what else are you eating at a barbecue restaurant?—sources say the pulled pork sandwich and the veggie burger are also great.

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Blue Smoke is the perfect balance between upscale NYC and neighborhood comfort, which is something the Brunch with Bear team always appreciates. We can’t wait to go back soon!

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