Trying to determine a list of the best barbecue is kind of like trying to find the best pair of jeans. There are so many different cuts, styles, and fabrics, the idea of picking just one that represents them all perfectly is near-impossible.
American barbecue is not something that can be easily defined. From North to South — and the East Coast to the West — there are literally dozens of regional styles to consider, from Memphis and Carolina's famed pulled pork to St. Louis-style spare ribs, Alabama's white-barbecue-
Here in South Florida, where the Southern influence can be felt even hundreds of miles from the 'c
10. Blue Front Bar & Grill
1132 N. Dixie Highway, Lake Worth. Call 561-833-6651, or visit mybluefront.com.
Don't let the quasi-art-deco building that once housed Jetsetters Lounge in West Palm Beach fool you: Blue Front Bar & Grill is as good as it gets in Palm Beach County when it comes to barbecue. The menu is a mashup of all-American soul classics, everything from ribs, pulled pork, and collard greens to some killer cornbread and macaroni and cheese. Owner David Paladino and his family purchased the iconic, Florida-born Blue Front Bar-B-Que sauce company in 2011 from Annie Nelson, widow of the company's founder, Norris Nelson. As the story goes, Nelson began his barbecue operation in 1964 at the corner of 15th Street and Tamarind Avenue in West Palm Beach. Growing up in Eastman, Georgia, he learned to cook from his father — ribs and chicken slathered in a spicy BBQ sauce that quickly became a hit, beloved by all the locals who frequented his shop. It became so popular, Norris began selling his sauce in empty soda bottles. Later, in 1979, he patented the name Blue Front Bar-B-Que Inc. and began marketing his sauce to the public in many stores throughout the country. Now, more than 40 years later, you can even get a potent cocktail during happy hour, a side or two of live music to go along with your meal, and a to-go bottle of that famous barbecue sauce for savoring the flavor at home.
9. Carousel BBQ
204 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach. Call 754-212-4535.
Happy customers and barbecue lovers know 1-year-old Carousel BBQ in Deerfield Beach well, where chef-owner Leroy Jones has been cooking his Memphis- and Georgia-style eats and Southern soul food in the former Lil' Ole Caboose space. The restaurant, once a food truck based in West Palm Beach, actually got its start with Dora McElhaney, a Georgia native known for many years across the region for her Southern-style dishes she'd learned to make from her mother and aunt, like collard greens, green beans, and candied yams. Her specialty was barbecued ribs. A regular contestant for the city's Ribfest, she took home four first-place finishes during her time at Carousel, including her last in 1996. The next year, McElhaney partnered with Jones, and together they moved the business to Pompano Beach, where they continued to cook for many years, melding the best of both families' secret recipes to create the Carousel BBQ menu. Today, the Carousel menu is simple and straightforward: barbecued meats, fried seafood, and sides that can be mixed and matched in lunch- or dinner-sized portions. That includes racks of spare and baby back ribs, pulled pork served with buttered and toasted slices of white bread, and baskets of fried shrimp and conch — all of it prepared by Jones, who slow-cooks meats for hours at a time in the restaurant's new propane and wood-fired smoker out back.
8. Greenwood BBQ
2014 NE 36th St., Lighthouse Point. Call 954-971-1369, or visit gwoodbbq.com.
7. BBQ King
2500 W. Davie Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-835-5325.
Located on a strange little stretch of West Davie Boulevard, between I-95 and 441, is BBQ King — one of many hole-in-the-wall restaurants littered among a string of ethnic joints you'll find in this area.
6. Texas Hold 'Em BBQ
2528 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-527-4115, or visit texasholdembbq.com.
Jeremy Armstead is the man behind Texas Hold 'Em BBQ, which first opened off Sunrise Boulevard in 2004 and later relocated to a funky old building just south of Oakland Park Boulevard that once housed a number of establishments including Green Fish, Bo Riley's, and Shuck's on the Water. Now in its third incarnation in South Florida — and despite a failed second location — the original is still going strong thanks to its Texas-style barbecue, where Armstead churns out piles of wood-fired, slow-cooked brisket that could be the envy of many a pit master in Texas. Here, you can grab a dinner of St. Louis-cut ribs, served with the membrane on (many barbecue chefs choose to remove the chewy coating on the bottom of each rack) and smoked slowly over oak and hickory. These ribs are some of the best: moist and tender spears with a light-pink smoke ring and a rich, porky finish. Armstead uses a fairly mild spice rub on its ribs and serves them naked, a big plus for barbecue lovers who prefer sauce on the side.
5. Smoke BBQ
8 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-330-4236, or visit eatbbqnow.com.
Last yea,r Smoke BBQ cofounders and owners Scott Kennedy and Steve Chin wasted no time transforming their popular sushi restaurant and late-night destination into a sleek new barbecue joint off Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. What did they know about the stuff? Enough to nab pit master Bryan Tyrell, a Kansas City, Missouri, native with a barbecue résumé that's something of a legend, known for his ties to Kansas City's Oklahoma Joe's as well as Bodean's BBQ in London, England. They say you can separate a good barbecue restaurant from the bad by its ribs, and if that's the case, Tyrell has his bases covered; we even named this place this year's Best Ribs in our annual awards publication. Despite being a newcomer to the South Florida scene, Smoke serves some of the tastiest 'cue around, pork spare ribs and beef ribs smoked over low heat for hours, permeating the meat with a soft smoky essence and melting away fat for a rich flavor and unforgettable char crust. The key to rib heaven begins with
4. Hickory Sticks BBQ
899 E. Cypress Creek Road, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-916-7023, or visit hickorysticksbbq.com.
In 2013, New Times named this the Best Barbecue in Broward and Palm Beach counties in its annual awards issue, and that's because Hickory Sticks serves some of the most authentic Texas-style
3. Tom Jenkins' Bar-B-Q
1236 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-522-5046, or visit tomjenkinsbbq.net.
If you happen to be in the area, you can smell it a mile away: the barbecue cooking up at Tom Jenkins. Now a Fort Lauderdale institution, the place has been smoking up the neighborhood since 1990, what was once a traveling barbecue trailer. In 1996, Tom Jenkins became a 40-seat restaurant, and while it may have moved up in terms of location — and some
2. The Georgia Pig
1285 S. State Road 7, Davie. Call 954-587-4420.
Like 21-year-old Dixie Pig, there's another pig place that does the pork good and has been serving it for more than a few decades. Yep, things haven't changed much at this longtime South Florida barbecue joint since founding owner Linton Anderson opened it off State Road 7 at Davie Boulevard in 1953. Two of the biggest sticking points people who remember its early days can appreciate: It's still cash only, and its chopped-pork sandwich is still the best around. Today, after a string of owners, the Georgia Pig is operated by Robert and Luke Moorman, brothers who have been dining at the Pig since their high school days at St. Thomas Aquinas and learned to make the restaurant's iconic 'cue from former pit master Dan Fitzgerald. Thanks to a healthy appreciation for the family business, that means the place continues to thrive, serving traditional Southern-style pork specialties barbecued on an open, live-oak-fired pit. From there, all you need is a bottle of the restaurant's signature sauce — a thin, tangy, mustardy, red-orange concoction that doesn't have the tomatoey flavor of many barbecue sauces. And don't just take our word for it: Even Southern Living magazine included it as one of the 20 best barbecue joints in the South in 2012.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
1. Blue Willy's BBQ
1386 S. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach. Call 954-224-6120.
Blue Willy's Barbecue Market in Pompano Beach is a re-creation of the 1950s Texas butcher shops where owners realized there was more money to be made from smoking and slicing meat than selling it raw by the pound. Here you'll find owner Will Banks behind the counter, slicing and dicing up some of the area's — nay, we're tempted to say the region's — best Texas-style barbecue. You see, Banks comes from a long line of 'cue experts; his grandfather owned a shop on the outskirts of Dallas and helped instill the love he shares with us today. Banks' barbecue holds true to his roots and family traditions, piles of tender, fall-apart brisket and juicy, St. Louis-style cut spare ribs served on a sheet of
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.