The Best Barbecue in Manhattan Is…Vegan? Why You Need to Visit Pure Grit BBQ, ASAP

Pure Grit BBQ

When it comes to vegan food, New Yorkers are spoiled for choice. After all, plant-based eating is seriously trending at the moment, so of course the coolest city in the world has plenty of dining options in the veggie-forward department. But there’s likely one type of cuisine that those going meat-free have had to give up on, even in as big of a foodie town as this—barbecue. Because BBQ is, after all, a carnivore’s delight…or is it? 

Located near Lexington Avenue and 23rd Street, Pure Grit BBQ is shaking up the barbecue game with its 100 percent vegan and gluten-free menu offering all that smoky, melt-in-your-mouth flavor, minus the meat. Even better? With a brick-and-mortar location in Flatiron plus a variety of catering options, we recently sampled the eatery’s offerings and let’s just say that even the most serious meat lovers in our group were impressed.

The fast food-meets-healthy restaurant offers up familiar BBQ staples like coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans and mac and cheese, plus a selection of mains. While we didn’t try everythingon the menu (we hear the waffles are fantastic), the items we did sample were pretty darn tasty.

Pure Grit BBQ

The mac and cheese was comforting and creamy, and held up well, which is no small feat with gluten-free pasta that tends to turn limp and soggy when doused in sauce. The beans had just the right amount of sweetness, but none of the heaviness that often comes with bacon- or brisket-loaded legumes. And the slaw was crunchy, tangy and so creamy that we could have sworn there was dairy in there (there wasn’t). But the real star of the show was the smoked Impossible cut, a stand-in for brisket—it was flavorful and soft, with just the right texture to pull it apart with a fork. Smothered in the restaurant’s signature BBQ sauce, the dish was tangy and sweet, and didn’t make us miss the original one bit. Especially when after we had finished our meal, we felt—dare we say—light and upbeat, rather than sluggish and lethargic like we usually do after a meat ‘cue.

While some of the dishes are clear substitutes for their meat counterparts (a chicken sandwich made with soy, for example ) others are content to do their own thing, like the flavor-packed pulled jackfruit or the smoked, battered and fried tofu bites. There’s something here for everyone—those who have embraced plant-based eating and have no qualms dipping chips into a cashew queso, or those who’d rather dip their toes into the whole vegan thing and take a bite out of something more familiar. Wherever you stand, rest assured that at Pure Grit, you’ll be digging into some damn good ‘cue.

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