2013-08-07 / Restaurant of the Week

Mexi BBQ Kitchen & Draught

On a delightful summer evening, nearly all the tables were full at Mexi BBQ, inside and outside, with friends enjoying a very festive Happy Hour and delicious appetizers. From 5pm until 7pm Monday to Friday, the friendly bar staff serves up $5 classic margaritas, half price beers and an array of very reasonably priced appetizers including mini chicken quesadillas, chicken flautas, and juicy sliders made with Mexi BBQ beef, chicken, and hickory smoked pulled pork at $3 each.

Mexi BBQ opened nearly three years ago on 30th Avenue in Astoria and they are proud to announce the upcoming opening of their second location on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Second Avenue and 85th Street. Mexi BBQ is the perfect spot for fine dining in a casual, comfortable space. Executive Chef Jonathan VanSleet uses only the finest ingredients and prepares everything from scratch, including the savory smoked meats, barbecue sauces, salad dressing and desserts. The outdoor picnic tables and benches invite friends and families to enjoy their signature barbecue ribs, smoked beef brisket and South Carolina pork. The service is courteous and very friendly and the prices are great, especially given the quality of the food.

Mexi BBQ’s margaritas are so refreshing, served on the rocks with a rim of salt or spice. My blood orange margarita was nice and citrusy, made with fine tequila and I loved the spices on the rim of the glass. My companion enjoyed a glass of red sangria, floating with fruit. The list of beers is impressive and you can request a sampling of Astoria’s own Single Cut brews. It doesn’t get more local than that. There’s a wide array of whiskey, cocktails and specialty bourbons, some of which are incorporated into the dishes served here. Every item on the menu offers a suggestion for a beer pairing to complement your meal.

We started with some of their most popular appetizers including crisp, light mini chimichangas. Tonight’s version was filled with smoked chicken and served with ancho chili sauce, pico de gallo and Mexican crema ($9). The guacamole is excellent, freshly made and beautifully presented in a gleaming white bowl with tostones for garnish. Adobe chicken wings are a house favorite and come eight to an order. These jumbo, spicy, marinated wings are served with house made jalapeño bleu cheese dip ($12). Fiesta nachos and dip is a real crowd pleaser with eight layers of cheddar cheese, japaleños, beans, salsa, pico de gallo, olives, and guacamole ($11).

As the name suggests, there are both Mexican dishes and BBQ dishes. Kudos is in order for the turkey enchiladas, filled with smoked turkey breast and healthy vegetables with gouda cheese all wrapped in a corn tortilla topped with salsa verde. Forget the smothered-in-cheese versions from most restaurants; these enchiladas are light, fresh and very flavorful. Tacos are made with soft tortillas and filled with barbecued brisket, adobe marinated grilled chicken, or fresh, flaky fried grouper, served with guacamole, jicama slaw, and pineapple salsa ($11). The juicy, grilled steak burrito is made with char-grilled Angus steak, sautéed peppers and onions, pinto beans, jack cheese and slaw. The new menu item is lobster cakes, made with sweet lobster, coated in pancko crumbs and pan- seared for the perfect summer dish, served with grilled asparagus and warm potato salad.

On the BBQ side of the menu, the smoked beef brisket is a house specialty that takes a total of nine hours to make. It is worth it for its melt in your mouth texture and flavor, served in a skillet or on a sandwich. The baby back ribs are equally as delicious; rubbed, smoked, and slow cooked for hours so that the meat renders easily from the bone, with a choice of sauces that include achiote BBQ, sweet and smokey BBQ, or South Carolina tangy mustard BBQ. The accompanying goat cheese and jalapeño corn bread and fries make this a hearty meal, in half rack or full rack portions. On Tuesday evenings you can take advantage of “Pig Out Tuesdays” with allyou can-eat ribs for just $19. The South Caroline pork skillet is another popular dish, served in a cast iron skillet full of crispy citrus marinated pork topped with tangy mustard barbecue sauce, creamy cole slaw and corn bread ($16). The kitchen stays open with a Late Nite menu from 11pm to 2am, where you’ll find exceptionally good bar food that includes the Mexi BBQ burger, Adobe wings, tacos and chimichangas.

Whatever you do, save room for the fabulous chocolate Stout cake, made with rich stout beer. This impressive wedge of cake is eight layers high and is the size of the Flatiron building! Classic tres leches cake is made with three kinds of milk, and the fried ice cream is over-the-top yummy.

Mexi BBQ has a very popular weekend brunch served from 10am to 3:45pm. Wake up with a cup of coffee or a brunch cocktail and a breakfast quesadilla, eggs Benedict made with smoked salmon or smoked brisket, or French toast encrusted with frosted flakes makes this spot so popular. The “Hangover Cure” or a pulled pork sandwich will keep you going all day.

For great Mexican and Barbecue dishes, cold brews, refreshing margaritas and cocktails served by friendly folks in a casual, cool environment, visit Mexi BBQ now on 30th Avenue, and soon in Manhattan. Cheers!

37-11 30th Avenue  Astoria


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