Flatiron Lunch: RUB is that Unique BBQ Spot With Tons of Stuff Under $10
This time of year is always the hardest for me. After months and months of darkness and snow, I can’t help feeling like summer will never make it. Thankfully, there are places that will give us a taste of summer even with months to go before the mercury reaches 75 again.
It’s been a few years now since BBQ burst into New York’s food scene, replacing the sad shadow of a thing that used to pass for BBQ in this city. In Flatiron Lunch bounds in particular, options abound. Blue Smoke, Hill Country, The Hog Pit, two branches of Brother Jimmy’s and Wildwood BBQ are all between 31st Street and 17th Street. And pretty much none of them have more than one or two options under $10. And then there’s RUB.
I was reminded of RUB in my recent (and regular) sojourns to get my doughnut fix. I peeked at the menu on the way one day and realized that half of their sandwiches and a few other items fell under the $10 mark.
Now, the hazard of going to RUB looking for a ML-priced deal is that there are also many other options on the menu that are out of range that sound profoundly good. That $10.25 Pastrami sandwich certainly caught my eye. The various meats are sold by the pound, with a minimum of a quarter, meaning you could get half pound of pulled pork or pastrami for under $10.
They also have a full bar and taps featuring some fine southern beers like Abita Turbodog, which I may or may not have toasted Mardi Gras with.
On my first lunch visit, I had the pulled pork sandwich ($9.25) on a soft, chewy sesame seed bun. The meat was everything pulled pork should be: smoky, moist and delicious. The only problem is that I wish it had been bigger. It was no slider, but I could definitely have had a bit more. I was okay with that though, as it was an excuse to finish off with a doughnut for dessert. (I told you… I’m obsessed.)
Every table is provided bottles of ketchup and three variants of barbecue sauces, a vinegar based NC-style sauce, their thicker original sauce and a spicier version of that which has red pepper flakes mixed in. They each add tang and a bit of spice, but even the hot one warms more than it burns.
On my return visit, I stopped in with a friend, who lunched on a starter order of BBQ Chicken Wings ($8.95). The wings were thick and meaty and the sauce was sweet and smoky with the slightest tingle on the end.
I had the BBQ Ham sandwich ($9.25) on white bread. The thick slices of ham were tasty, but a bit plain on their own. Thankfully a little squeeze of sauce livened things up. Maybe it’s because I stole a wing or two (for research, of course), but I didn’t walk away wanting as much as I had on the previous trip. That’s not to say I didn’t get a doughnut anyway, just that I split it with my companion.
As a lifelong New Yorker, I won’t get into arguments of authenticity. Fine, no one is ever going to make barbecue in New York better than the one five miles from nowhere, an hour outside of Memphis/Austin/Charlotte. Regardless, RUB is one of the best places for it in town and manages to serve it at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
The + (What somebody who likes about this place would say)
- Real, good barbecue for reasonable prices
- Hey, doughnuts are right down the street!
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I know it’s a good deal, but I really wish the sandwiches were about a third bigger.
RUB, 208 W 23rd St (btw 7+8th), 212-524-4300