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A few weeks ago, I visited Governors Island for the first time this year with my girlfriend. It's a wonderful option for a day trip, especially if you can sneak away during the week.
While there, I noticed a set of mostly unused grills on the south side of the island and realized I never knew you could grill there. It looked like a wonderful place to grill for the day. Like this site on Governors Island, there are many parks in New York City where you can grill and barbecue with a permit or on a first-come-first-grill basis.
To help people like myself who would like to grill out at the park with friends, I've put together a list of the best parks in the city where you can grill and barbecue. Here are the best parks where you can grill your heart out in New York City, sorted by borough.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is one of the nicest parks in the borough and because it's across the river from Manhattan, it's a popular tourist destination with a lot of traffic. But on Pier 5, there is a dedicated "picnic peninsula" with hibachi-style grills for barbecuing and grilling. They are first-come-first-grill, with no grilling after 10 p.m. More info here.
Kaiser Park is located close to Coney Island in South Brooklyn, and as such, it's somewhat of a hidden park for many New Yorkers. It actually has a whopping 20 grills available for use. There are also areas with basketball, handball, baseball, soccer, playgrounds, fitness, and more. More info here.
North Brooklyn's McCarren Park, nestled in between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, might be best known as a place to people watch or play sports, but it also has three designated first-come-first-grill areas you can take over for a small event. Keep in mind that if you have a group with more than 20 people, you need a permit. More info here.
While it probably won't surprise anyone, Prospect Park (one of the largest parks in the city), has more than 10 barbecue and grilling spots through the park. Because it's a popular destination, there are lots of rules you must follow while there, so be sure to look those over before your event. The park also has lots of additional activities as well. More info here.
Pelham Bay Park
I didn't know of the existence of Pelham Bay Park until recently, when a friend suggested our group go to the beach there. But given that it is the city's largest park and three times the size of Central Park, I feel crazy for not knowing about it earlier. On top of spaces for nearly any activity you can name, it also has four sites for grilling. More info here.
Van Cortland Park
Van Cortland Park (located in the North Bronx) is the third largest park in the city and as such, it has a few spots for grilling out and space for nearly every sport or activity. More info here.
Randall's Island Park
Unfortunately Manhattan does not have many good places to grill (Central Park, for example, only allows grilling three days a year), but your best bet in the area is Randall's Island Park, which is technically in Manhattan. Randall's Island has six places to grill. I attended a friend's gathering there and can confirm it's a fantastic spot for grilling out with family or friends. More info here.
St. Nicholas Park
St. Nicholas Park is a very nice sliver of a park in Harlem between 127th and 141st Streets. It has two barbecue spots, along with a green lawn, playground, and basketball and handball courts. More info here.
While it might be a little bit of a hike, Cunningham Park is one of the largest parks in Queens and offers a little bit of everything. It has more than 10 areas for barbecuing and grilling, as well as sites for basketball, baseball, bocce, cricket, soccer, and more activities. More info here.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is another massive park in Queens that you might know as "that cool park near Citi Field that I've been meaning to go to but never have." I can confirm it's a great park that's worth checking out. It has two barbecuing/grilling areas, the Queens Museum, and much more. More info here.
Clove Lakes Park
Despite having a lot of parks, Staten Island is lacking in public spaces where you can grill. Clove Lakes Park, located near the northeast end of SI, is a protected ecological site with great lakes and a 300-year-old tulip tree. But it also has one designated area where you can grill out too. More info here.
Wolfe's Pond Park
Wolfe's Pond Park is a large park near the southern end of Staten Island. Because of its distance from the city center, there's a good chance you haven't been there. But if you have a car and live on Staten Island, you can take advantage of the park's beaches and its one designated grill area. More info here.
As mentioned in my introduction, Governors Island (just south of Manhattan and accessible by ferry), has small charcoal grills you can reserve for a whole day. The reservation includes two picnic tables and you get a wagon waiting for you at the ferry landing to take any supplies you have to the grill. It costs $26 to submit the application. More info here.
Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park is a great New Jersey park that is incredibly close to New York, so I'm adding it to this list. First, there are seven open-air picnic areas with one large grill a piece that you can reserve for free. There are also two pavilions you can secure at the park for between $150 and $250. The pavillion reservation includes charcoal grills, and those spots would be ideal for a large gathering of friends or family. The picnic sites and pavilions are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and are available between April 1 and October 31. More info here.
Did I miss your favorite spot where you can grill at a park in the city? Please let me know!
Founder, NYC BBQ
EAT ALL ABOUT IT
Here are the top BBQ and food stories in the New York area this week:
Red Hook Tavern, the much-anticipated new restaurant from Hometown Bar-B-Que's Billy Durney, will open in the next week or two, as soon as it has its liquor license approved. A few lucky souls were able to preview the menu, which includes a Peter Luger-style burger and grilled spot prawns.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que owner and pitmaster John Stage, one of the biggest names in barbecue in New York, showed up to CBS New Yorkto share his skirt steak with grilled tomato and avocado salsa recipe. He also discussed his business and a few tips for grilling and barbecuing at home.
Philadelphia has recently seen a boom in barbecue as well. Following the trend, a new "fast casual" barbecue joint called Butcher’s Smokehouse at 1221 Walnut Street will be opening in July. The menu features Texas brisket, St. Louis ribs, jalapeño-cheddar sausage, fried catfish, and more.
Bobbique, a popular Long Island-based barbecue joint in Patchogue, New York, is suing Suffolk County for $40 million in a class-action lawsuit concerning "false alarm fees that it claims are both unconstitutional and excessive," according to Patch.
Finally, in a sad bit of news, the great Lower East Side burger joint Mikey's Burger has abruptly gone out of business with little explanation. It was a great spot for a late-night burger and fries, and I'm glad I visited in May.
Here are the top BBQ (and related) food events coming soon to the New York metro and the Tri-state area:
July 5-7: Just after the fourth of July, the I Love BBQ and Music Festival 2019 will be revving up in Lake Placid, New York. This is a large event that attracts barbecue enthusiasts from all around the area. Not only are there Kansas City Barbeque Society competitions happening on-site, but there are also lots of food and drink vendors for the public to eat and drink well while watching lots of live music. More info here.
July 12-14: The New Jersey State Barbecue Championship will not only be about competition, but will also have live cooking demonstrations and music throughout the weekend. Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the NJ champ will have the opportunity to compete at the American Royal later this year. Details about the weekend here.
July 17: If you love beer and burgers, you will not want to miss NYC Brewers Choice in Brooklyn. This all-inclusive event will feature outdoor space, sunset views, live music, and a ton of beer tastings. The main food event will be the famous "smash burgers" from George Motz, who makes some of the best fried onion burgers in the country. If you're looking for beer, 15 diverse small batch brewers will come together to celebrate local grains and malts and you'll be able to try them all. Buy tickets here.
August 16-18: When it comes to barbecue festivals north of New York, Hudson Valley Ribfest 2019 is one of the top events. RibFest will be held at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz and it will feature family activities, live music, and more. More info here.
August 24: One of the last summer barbecue events held in NYC is the Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, which is held annually at Pier 97 at Hudson River Park on the west side of Manhattan. Admission is free and there will be five different blues acts throughout the day and BBQ vendors selling grub. More info here.
September 7: For those that love all things pork and barbecue, the 10th annual Pig Island NYC will be a can’t-miss affair. Held outdoors at beautiful Erie Basin Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this all-inclusive event will feature a ton of great food, beer, cider, and liquor. I’m already hungry for it all. Buy early bird tickets here.
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