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Sara Ventiera

Blue Willy's Barbecue

There's barbecue, and then there's good barbecue. At Blue Willy's BBQ in Oakland Park, you'll get some of the best Texas-style barbecue around, meats such as beef brisket and pork spare ribs prepared the same way chef-owner Will Banks' grandfather cooked them at the family's butcher shop-turned-restaurant. It all starts with the meat, delivered by the same purveyor for over six years, one reason his 'cue remains consistent and some of the best in the tri-county area, from the meaty spare ribs to the juice-dribbling brisket. Aquick drive from I-95 and just a stone's throw from Dixie Highway, the restaurant attracts hundreds of patrons that visit each day. A towering Blue Willy's sign marks the spot, impossible to miss. The menu is the same one Banks has been serving for close to a decade, ten items in all, including five well-constructed staples and five sides, the meat smoked in Banks' hickory-fueled monster, a well-seasoned piece of equipment that's been running almost 24 hours a day for nearly 24 years. In Texas, beef is king, and beef brisket is what Banks does best. His comes out moist and smoky, blanketed in a dense blanket of spices charred black from the smoker, and rendered tender enough to cut with a fork. But make no mistake, though: Banks knows what to do with the hog too. His spare ribs, often considered the Holy Grail of good barbecue, remain this food critic's favorite in these parts. They boast a mélange of flavors, from the pasty spice rub that stains the meat (and your fingers) a rust-colored red to the delicate kiss of hardwood smoke and the distinct flavor of perfectly cooked pork. The juicy, fatty meat is so tender it tugs cleanly off the bone, no scraping or sucking needed. If you so choose, you can end it with Banks' grandfather's tangy, vinegary-sweet barbecue sauce. So what's the secret to all that meaty goodness? Lots of smoke and love.Read our full review.