John Brown Smokehouse, Astoria

“Let’s go, it’s going to be really crowded. This place is popular.”

“Alright, already.”

john brown smokehouse burnt ends

burnt ends with macaroni and cheese

So we left for the John Brown Smokehouse, a barbecue place, at 5:30 pm. It took us about a half hour to walk there, and the farther we went, the more we realized that John Brown Smokehouse is in the middle of nowhere and that the chances of a crowd were slim. It turns out, we arrived at the right time–when we were the only customers in the joint. Five minutes after receiving our food, other hungry people trickled in and crowded the Smokehouse, a small establishment with about six tables that each seat around six people.

How’s the food? Excellent. This place is well worth the walk and would likely be a great destination on a warm summer day. There was a draft in the restaurant while we were there, which forced me to consider wearing my coat as I dined.

John Brown Smokehouse boasts a simple menu with reasonable prices. I ordered the burnt ends with macaroni and cheese for about $11. Often referred to as “nuggets of barbecue gold,” burnt ends are flavorful pieces of meat cut from the point half of a smoked brisket (yeah, I got that from Wikipedia). They’re fatty and salty and chewy and just plain delicious. According to reviews on yelp, John Brown sometimes sells out of their burnt ends by 4 pm, but I was lucky enough to catch them on a slow day. Mimicking my dining partner, I wrapped the burnt ends in the thick slices of country white bread that accompanied my meal. What a sandwich, I tell ya. I’d say the portion was adequate. The mac and cheese tasted greasy and cheesy, and was quite good.

john brown smokehouse apple cobbler

apple cobbler

My dining partner opted for the two meat platter for around $13: pulled pork and brisket with baked beans. The pulled pork was flavorful, but the brisket was on the dry side. I wouldn’t recommend it. I enjoyed the baked beans, which were flecked with pieces of pork/bacon.

For dessert, John Brown Smokehouse offers apple cobbler, apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and bread pudding. “What’s bread pudding?” my dining partner asked. “Not something I want to try,” I replied. So we went with the apple cobbler that closely resembled apple pie. Did they serve the apple pie on a plate but the “cobbler” in a bowl? we wondered. Nothing special to report on here. A pretty standard apple pie/cobbler.

Even though its far from the train, John Brown Smokehouse is well worth the walk. If you live nearby, good for you for having such a delectable take-out spot in your ‘hood.

John Brown Smokehouse

25-08 37th Avenue

Astoria, Queens

Take the N/Q to 36th Avenue. Walk to 37th Avenue and turn right. Walk a few blocks. 


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