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Smoke & Barrel in Rockaway Beach captures ‘Queens Best Barbecue’ title two months after opening

Sep. 15, 2023 By Bill Parry

When the owners of Smoke & Barrel opened their new barbecue restaurant in Rockaway Beach in July, they never could have imagined that they would be crowned as the champion of the inaugural Queens’ Best Barbecue Competition held by the Queens Chamber of Commerce just over two months later.

Over the past several weeks, foodies nominated and voted for their favorite barbecue joints across the borough including such celebrated establishments such as John Brown BBQ in Dutch Kills, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ in Forest Hills and Fogo de Chão in Elmhurst, but it was Smoke & Barrel that emerged as the borough’s best on Sept. 13.

Smoke & Barrel in Rockaway Beach was crowned the winner of the first-ever “Queens’ Best Barbecue Competition” by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.Photo courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce

“Queens residents have placed their votes and we’re delighted to honor Smoke & Barrel as the inaugural winner of the Queens’ Best Barbecue Competition,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said. “Everyone knows that Queens is the foodie capital of New York City and judging by the variety of barbecue types nominated for this contest we can see the borough’s remarkable diversity play out in our foods. Congratulations to Brian and Susan Baldwin and the entire team at Smoke & Barrel on winning this coveted title. They are worthy winners.”

Smoke & Barrel owners Brian and Susan Baldwin were ecstatic to be named as the borough’s best just two months after opening their doors at 97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

“We are honored to have been awarded the winner of the best barbecue in Queens. Thank you to Tom Grech and the rest of the Queens Chamber of Commerce for organizing this competition,” they said. “We want to thank our amazing staff, chef, and pitmaster for always bringing their best to work everyday. To our dedicated customers and community, thank you for your unwavering support and for coming back for more barbecue! We invite everyone to come and visit Smoke & Barrel and see why we were voted the best in the borough.”

Smoke & Barrel in Rockaway Beach was crowned the winner of the first-ever “Queens’ Best Barbecue Competition” by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.Photo courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce

In a further sign of Rockaway’s upward trajectory on the cuisine scene, Smoke & Barrel captured the “best in the borough” after Rocco’s of Roc Beach was declared the winner of the inaugural Queens’ Best Pizza Competition in February.

“It’s an honor to say that District 32 is home to both the winner of the Queens Chamber inaugural best pizza competition and now the best BBQ in the borough,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola said. “I look forward to Smoke and Barrel serving the community for years, and I congratulate them on this award.”

In total, 19 establishments were nominated for this contest and Smoke & Barrel was selected the winner after the public nomination process and vote. Nominations included traditional barbecue restaurants, as well as Brazilian-style barbecue, Filipino barbecue and others. In addition to earning the title of Queens’ Best Barbecue, Smoke & Barrel received a complimentary year of membership to the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Batesy’s BBQ in Arverne was the runner up, John BBQ finished third, the massive Pig Beach BBQ in Astoria came in fourth and Goody’s BBQ Chicken and Ribs in Arverne closed out the top 5. Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato presented the Baldwins with a legislative commendation for emerging as the borough’s best in the competition.

“I am so excited to hear about Smoke & Barrel winning this award,” Pheffer Amato said. “Having been able to help with the upbringing of this fine eatery, I am overjoyed to witness the Baldwin family’s hardwork and dedication being recognized.”

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