If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the 37 years I’ve been a licensed motorcyclist, it’s that bikers love good barbecue. Okay, I’ve been advised by my wife–an anthropologist–that one should never generalize about cultures or subcultures. But hey, I’m a biker, I love barbecue. Whenever I go to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, NY, there’s a buttload of bikes parked outside (well, maybe not at this time of year, but I digress). Ergo, I feel safe stating that bikers love BBQ.

I’m kind of picky about the stuff—I once lived in Kansas City, sometimes called the “world’s barbecue capital,” where smoked meat is considered an art form. For me, there’s almost nothing better than a pulled pork plate or sliced, pit-smoked beef brisket—tender inside with a pink smoke ring around the edges—slapped onto a couple of slices of white bread or a bun, and slathered in spicy sauce. Accompanied with a side of fresh-cut fries and a cold draft beer, it can be a near-religious experience. Call it a “guilty pleasure,” although I don’t really feel all that guilty about it. Barbecue is only an occasional indulgence, but it’s probably one of the things I’d miss most were I forced at gunpoint to become vegetarian.

Photo courtesy Mark Dolan

It’s also a given that barbecue tastes better eaten at a dive. “Upscale” and “barbecue” are a contradiction in terms. No doubt there are some fancy restaurants that serve great barbecue, but it just doesn’t feel right. Wood-plank floors, formica-topped or wooden tables and a raucous atmosphere seem to be prerequisites for the good stuff.

Which brings me to Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue in Syracuse. It’s not technically a dive—the restaurant opened in 1988 and the Travelin’ Gringo’s standards require pre-1970s for nomination to the National Dive Registry—but it’s crowded, noisy, and serves great ‘cue. Everything about the place feels—and tastes— right.

Photo courtesy Mark Dolan

As I write this, it’s the middle of winter here in Orlando, and I haven’t been to Dinosaur since the summer while visiting Syracuse with my wife. At that time, we dined there twice during our three-day visit (my choice, not hers—she doesn’t have quite the mania for BBQ that I do, but she’s an incredible wife and tolerates my eccentricities). On the first visit, I ordered the “Big Ass Pork Plate” (Dinosaur’s menu designation, not mine). No doubt the name refers to the size of the portion, but it might also refer to that part of the customer’s anatomy should he indulge in the dish too often .  On the second visit I had the sliced brisket/pulled pork combo plate.  The meats at Dinosaur are exactly as they should be: tender, smoky and delicious. You choose the sauce you like from among the various bottles of Dinosaur’s homemade sauces on each table; everything from sweet to spicy—it’s all good. Fries are fresh-cut; the vegetable of the day was mustard greens–which I love–and Dinosaur has a great selection of beers on-tap and in the bottle.

Photo courtesy Mark Dolan

The restaurant has exploded in popularity since opening its doors in Syracuse in 1988, and has added locations in Rochester, Troy, and Harlem, NY. While I haven’t been to the other locations, I can tell you that Dinosaur’s BBQ is some of the best I’ve found outside of Kansas City. I give Dinosaur Bar-B-Que a BIG “thumbs up!”



Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

246 W. Willow St.

Syracuse, NY 13202


My incredible wife enjoys a margarita before dinner arrives (the draft beer is mine).

Photo courtesy Mark Dolan

Photo courtesy Mark Dolan

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is regular contributor to Harley-Davidson's HOG Magazine, and his travel features appear regularly in motorcycle magazines and other publications.

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  1. Luis Perez

    January 6, 2011

    OK, I’m starving now!

  2. Jozef Maxted

    January 5, 2011

    We love a good bbq in the UK even despite the weather. Quite often we have one in the rain haha It just tastes too good to miss!
    Jozef Maxted recently posted..No 1 Tip Before You Leave

  3. Laurel

    January 5, 2011

    I’m living in Germany where a good BBQ is hard to find. I wasn’t hungry before reading this, but am now ravenous.

  4. Norbert

    January 5, 2011

    I used to live behind Harlem’s Dinosaur BBQ… Needless to say, they became part of my regular meals every now and then. They are duh-licious! Plus, every time I walked to the supermarket (which is in front of Dinosaur) I got extremely tempted to skip the groceries and just go there and eat! Now I don’t live as close, but it’s still a walking distance… yumm!! I give them two thumbs up!
    Norbert recently posted..Caving at Angeles Cave in Puerto Rico

  5. Adam

    January 5, 2011

    Despite the fact that I have yet to eat breakfast, now I really want some barbecue. I live in St. Louis, so I have been to KC many times and had some of their fantastic bbq. We love our bbq here, too, but it’s more common to do it ourselves. This cold weather and your post are really making me miss summer right now. Great post!!
    Adam recently posted..This feeling I get…

  6. Michele

    January 5, 2011

    And I thought it was North Carolina that had the best BBQ ..worth a trip to NY

  7. inka

    January 5, 2011

    That would be a place I’d love to visit. Thanks too for your tweets and comments on my post.
    inka recently posted..Playing at Hürrem in Istanbul

  8. Tim Carlson

    January 4, 2011

    You are making my mouth water as I read this. By far the best BBQ I have ever had!

  9. Chuck Buck

    January 4, 2011

    I live in TN. now but whenever I go back to Syr. we always have at least one meal at the Dinosaur. You just can’t get any better BBQ anywhere.

  10. Cathy Sweeney

    January 4, 2011

    Oh, that BBQ does look good and the place looks like much fun!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Lighting Up the Holidays

  11. artie

    January 4, 2011

    Dinosaur is perfection. I’m a regular at the Rochester Location and can attest that it’s as good as the original in Syracuse.

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