When one thinks of Upstate New York, barbecue is typically not the first thing that crosses your mind. Yet when I had heard that Syracuse staple Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was opening a location near my hometown, I was pretty enthusiastic. Considering that we were in Albany this weekend to visit my family for Passover, this was an opportunity we could not pass up.
With several of my friends from home, we drove down to Troy for an early dinner on Saturday for our first experience of Upstate ‘cue. Situated right off the Hudson River in the former Fresno’s space, Dinosaur BBQ has an optimal location in the downtown area.
Once we stepped inside, we were overwhelmed not only by the massive space, but also by the wait for a table. Bear in mind that we arrived around 5pm, and there was already a 40 minute wait!
With our party of five in tow, we made our way towards the bar, which featured one of the better beer selections in the Capital District. New York State’s finest breweries were repped as Southern Tier, Ommegang, and Lake Placid were all found on the restaurant’s very impressive beer list.
It didn’t seem like too long of a wait, especially while enjoying a Southern Tier IPA draft, when we got the call that our table was ready. After looking over the menu, Rachel and I decided that we might as well sample as much BBQ as we possibly could and ordered the Extreme Samper.
It was an apt title for the combo given that it came with a) a half a rack of ribs, b) a half chicken, c) sliced Texas beef brisket, d) two sides, and e) corn bread. Yeah, you could say it was A LOT of food. But for $24.95 between two people, we weren’t really complaining.
So, how did this barbecue stack up to the likes of Kansas City, Austin, North Carolina, and even DC? I have to admit, I came away rather impressed.
Let’s just get right to the ribs: incredible. Honestly, these St. Louis-style cut pork ribs were some of the best I have had since Oklahoma Joe’s last year. The smoky, tender meat came right off the bone, and unlike Hill Country, you could take more than a handful of bites of each rib. And while I have grown used to dry ribs, I really enjoyed how Dinosaur’s were gently glazed with their homemade BBQ sauce. It was a beautiful mess.
The chicken was also a hit as both Rachel and I enjoyed how moist and delicious it was. Pit-smoked and apple brined, this was some quality ‘cue. There was clearly no way we were going to be able to finish a leg, thigh, breast, and wing in one sitting, but we (or mostly I) tried our hardest.
The only disappointment, at least for me, was the brisket. Now that may be because we have had sliced variations of this cut in other regions, but in all honestly, it just didn’t wow me. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but Dinosaur’s version made me want to use more sauce instead of less of it. Hill Country did a better job in this department, both in taste as well as thickness.
As for the sides, we ordered the maple whipped sweet potatoes and the mustard greens. We devoured the former faster than the latter, and we would have ordered seconds had we had the opportunity. These were arguably some of the best mashed sweet potatoes either of us have tasted. It’s a must-order when it comes to Dinosaur’s side items. Meanwhile the BBQ sauce wasn’t anything to write home about, although their Wango Tango variation captured a nice balance of sweet and spicy.
Overall, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was outstanding. Our entire party loved it and walked away more than satisfied. Rachel and I probably consumed at most 60% of our plate, but my dad was more than happy to eat the leftovers once we got home. Considering that we are going to be in the Albany area until Tuesday, I will go on record and say that a second trip is a very, very realistic possibility.