Prolific restaurateur Steve Hanson's bbq venture has been smokin' since day one, appeasing rabid barbecue aficionados. Pit master (and former Queens cop) "Big Lou" Elrose deserves credit for excellent ribs: succulent lamb and saucy baby back. Dine at the bar or at adjacent high tables, where the animated scene is fueled by whiskey and potent mint juleps. Families should settle in the dining room for fiery fried jalapeño slices called "bottle caps," shareable platters
of apricot-glazed chicken and pulled pork, and towering carrot and chocolate layer cakes. A crafty combination of reclaimed wood, distressed garage doors, recycled paper, blackboards, and bell jars has made a trendy Manhattan block feel kitschy and comfortable.