You might find Neely’s Barbecue Parlor on Yelp, and, due to so-so reviews, cross it off your list of barbecue options to try. You’d be sorely mistaken. Neely’s is quite good and well worth the trek off the beaten path.
Located on First Avenue and 62nd Street, Neely’s is not what you’d expect in a typical barbecue joint. A few steps up the stairs by the entrance and you’ll find a lounge area near the bar where patrons sip drinks like Dad’s Day Off (an excellent combination of Jim Beam, lemonade and maple syrup) or green tomato sangria, and munch on Neely’s fare. Down a dim corridor where Neely’s staff warmly greet you are a number of break-out dining rooms with ornate furnishings. It’s not the well-lit, basic table-and-chair set-up of Hill Country, by any measure. No, Neely’s is something special.
The menu features standard barbecue options: pulled pork platter, various styles of ribs, and sides such as cole slaw and molasses baked beans. The dishes are decently priced and sized.
I ordered a half rack of the Memphis style baby back ribs, and boy were they good. Tender and succulent, these baby back ribs were easy to polish off. I got Gina’s collard greens as my side dish, a hint of pork in their flavor. I was pleased with my meal and felt quite full afterward.
MDP got the “blue ribbon” chicken, which is a chicken that has been cooked with a can of PBR inside of it. He was served half a chicken with two sides: corn bread and macaroni and cheese. The chicken was supple and flavorful, and MDP had no problem finishing every last bite. I enjoyed the moist corn bread, and the creamy macaroni and cheese tasted delicious.
For dessert, we ordered the red velvet cake and pecan pie a la mode. I preferred the red velvet cake topped with a delectable cream cheese frosting. The pecan pie was soupy and too sweet. MDP enjoyed the Haagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream served alongside the pecan pie so much, he gushed that we should get some for home. (Really, the ice cream was kind of basic to my palate, but, sure, let’s get a pint…)
As an aside, you’ve probably noticed that I only have pictures of desserts on this post. The table right next to us had two women who had equally poor manners–the older of the pair, in particular, had a severe staring problem–and I felt uncomfortable photographing my food in front of them. Pretty silly, but they were kind of strange. I hope you’ll forgive me.
Anyway, try Neely’s! Everyone at the restaurant seemed to be having a great time and enjoying their food. I think you would, too.
1125 First Avenue (at 62nd Street)
Upper East Side, Manhattan
Take the 4/5/6/N/Q/R to 59th-Lexington and walk east a few avenues and north a few blocks.