Most barbecue joints slather their food in one type of sauce—the smoky Texas style, the sweet Memphis style, or the vinegary North Carolina style. That’s not the case at Red's Backwoods BBQ. There, six signature sauces from various regions coat fall-off-the-bone ribs, slow-cooked pulled pork, and juicy chicken.
The chefs also use a secret rub to bring out the flavor of their homemade gator bites. And though the large portions of meat and two sides offer filling meals by themselves, taste buds pine for decadent Southern sweets such as housemade banana pudding, Kentucky bourbon pecan pie topped with scoops of ice cream, and frothy root-beer floats that harken back to a simpler time when everyone moved at a slower pace and rode dinosaurs everywhere.
Keeping one secret can be challenging for some, but the chefs who brew Chez Porky's housemade barbecue sauce have to keep at least 25. That's how many ingredients go into the signature marinade—one of nine memorable sauces on the menu. Another popular and equally guarded recipe yields the sweet-and-sour raspberry sauce, which decorates helpings of wings and skewered, bacon-wrapped shrimp. The jamaican jerk sauce, meanwhile, bespeaks the staff’s talent for mingling tropical spices. They channel this skill set to produce plates of farm-raised new zealand mussels—prepped with Cajun-spiced butter—and to stir up zesty bowls of caribbean coconut soup. Even steaks benefit from their sauce expertise; the bourbon street new york strip steak, for example, basks in a bourbon-rosemary-teriyaki mixture.
The kitchen has been coating entrees in tangy house flavors since 1985. Cooks refrain from freezing any of their seafood or meat and instead offer cool refreshment in the form of domestic and imported bottles of beer that patrons can stuff up their sleeves. They also cater meals for any type of special event, transporting pans of gumbo, smoked sausage, and barbecue pork to parties both big and small.
When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.
The menu at Scruby's BBQ is authentic Southern through and through, but the ribs have an unexpected source: Denmark. The country's pork is widely held to be some of the highest quality in the world, and Scruby's pitmasters find that it's their best bet for optimal age, weight, and meat content. The chosen ribs make their way to an open brick pit along with dry-rubbed chicken, brisket, turkey, beef, and, of course, more pork, where they slowly drink in the smoke of black jack oak.
Once they're fall-off-the-bone tender, the ribs are slathered with home-made sauce?deemed good enough to "eat it on crackers" in a 2011 SunSentinel review?and char-grilled until they acquire a sweet, caramelized crust. Then it's time to slap them on a plate and surround them with any of a dozen sides, all made from scratch or nostalgic helpings of macaroni and cheese. Desserts are made in-house, too, including peanut-butter pie and fruit-filled banana-split cake.
Inside the brick oven at Texas Hold'Em BBQ, meats sizzle alongside whole bell peppers. There's a reason why the latter are called The Grilled Stuffed Bell Peppers Bluff—behind the vegetable exterior and under the blue-cheese crumbles lie hidden helpings of beef or pulled pork. The restaurant's menu carries its poker theme across meals such as the Nachos Two Pair and the All In sandwich, but its classic barbecue dinners have no need for a new name. Guests can order chicken, ribs, sausages, and brisket to pair with traditional sides, including baked beans and corn on the cob. At the bar, a catalog of craft beers from assorted breweries counterbalances saucy bites more refreshingly than iced glasses of more sauce. With TVs spread along the length of the bar and a penchant for private sports parties, Texas Hold'Em BBQ advocates for team spirit in addition to smoky roadhouse dining.