Dallas BBQ on St. Marks

Food for Thought @ Dallas BBQ East Village

Last week, I went to Dallas BBQ on St. Marks for the first time even though I have walked by there countless times in the last 30 years. According to my research, it first opened in 1984 which makes them one of the oldest restaurants in the East Village. My photo is from 1995.

What is somewhat ironic is that Dallas BBQ had been out of character for the neighborhood for most of its life, but now, finally, fits right in. Those who are unaware of the history of it may assume that it came with the recent wave of gentrification, but it was already there during the Tompkins Square Park riot in August 1988 when the park was occupied by drug dealers, homeless people, squatters and punks, not a typical clientele for Dallas BBQ.

Many of my friends lived and still live in the East Village but nobody I know has ever suggested going there. I wonder what the owners were thinking when they chose the location. Clearly, they knew something we didn’t.

I went last week for the first time because my daughter and her friend wanted to go there. It was exactly what I had always expected all those years. It’s a typical casual dining chain. Everyone’s food arrived literally within 5 minutes of ordering even though the place was full. It is the ultimate comfort food for everyone, from babies just beginning to eat solid foods, to death row inmates eating their last meals.

I know some people who are generally liked by everyone, don’t offend anyone, don’t do anything particularly interesting but are pleasant to be with. Friendships with people like that tend to last a long time because nothing ever happens that could break them up. I think Dallas BBQ is one of those people who somehow got along fine with the colorful neighbors in the East Village.