Big Kev's BBQ
1032 Route 17B
Mongaup Valley, NY
Discussing barbecue is like discussing religion or politics -- passions run high and it's easy to start a fight where friends stop talking to each other.
Can better barbecue than Big Kev's be found in Lockhart or Memphis or North Carolina or Kansas City or elsewhere? Could be. I read where a pitmaster said, "Everyone has a story about when they had real barbecue for the first time. They were with their cousin and their best friend and they got lost finding this great little place... I'll never be able to top that experience, but maybe I can be your SECOND-FAVORITE barbecue place."
Big Kev's IS terrific -- real barbecue in a perfect setting: a trailer with a big smoker pulled off to the side of the road in a vacant lot. No neon sign, no billboard, no tables, no bathrooms, no gift shop, no souvenir T-shirts... just barbecue.
This is REAL BBQ, cooked in a smoker, not on a grill. Hallelujah. Ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken. Several homemade sauces. I've tried all of those items and they've all been delicious -- moist, smokey, with just the right chaw to them.... Those sauces help bridge some of the regional barbecue debate -- there's a NC-style vinegar/mustard sauce, a Texas-style red sauce, a hot sauce, a sweet sauce... All the food is served in styrofoam take-out containers.
Kev himself is usually there. He may not be old a grizzled enough to look like a classic pitmaster, but he's friendly and turns out a great meal.
The address provided here is actually for a Citgo gas station and convenience store with a weird Prisoner of War display next door. (Larger than life mannequins of soldiers in cages!) Big Kev's is actually in the empty lot directly across the street from the gas station. Big Kev's has a selection of sodas and water -- beer can be purchased at the Citgo station's convenience store if required.
If Big Kev's is closed"for the day you'll see NOTHING in that empty lot to indicate that this is a barbecue place when open.
Big Kev's is the ONLY real barbecue for miles and miles. The next closest barbecue place worth talking about might be Big W which is 81 miles away. Is Big W better? Could be... but it's 81 MILES AWAY!
If the town of Mongaup Valley, NY is a mystery, you need to know that it's near Monticello, NY. What you REALLY need to know is that Big Kev's is less than five miles from Bethel Woods music venue (site of the original 1969 Woodstock festival) and you'll probably pass right by Kev's on the way. If you're going to Bethel Woods for a show be SURE to stop at Big Kev's to pick up some food. The choices at Bethel Woods are OK, but nothing as good as this. Note that according to the Bethel Woods' web site, food you bring in must be in a one-gallon clear zip-lock bag. I've never found them to enforce this, but I DO promise to kick Kev and make sure he has a supply of one-gallon bags on hand, just in case.