Thirty years ago, a mother, a son, and his wife joined forces to create their own barbecue restaurant, starting with family-inspired, made-from-scratch recipes. They formula proved to be a success, and Woody’s Bar-B-Q now dishes the same quality eats from locations in six states. The restaurant’s defining secret sauce decorates baby back ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and roasted half-chickens at each location.
Chef Pedro Ramirez can often be seen hovering over a crackling spit, tending to the pig that roasts over its flame in the open air. When the bounty is finished cooking, Ramirez whips it up into pork sandwiches and platters—a Ramirez Restaurant specialty for nearly two decades. A retired US Navy Chief, Ramirez now leads his kitchen staff as they craft fresh ingredients into authentic Cuban, Mexican, and Puerto Rican dishes infused with homemade spices akin to the ones used by Ramirez's ancestors from Santo Domingo. In the dining room, designed in the style of a beach bungalow, Latin paintings hang over tables topped with homemade sangria and margaritas, and an outdoor patio supports the tropical atmosphere with flags and strands of lights as powerful as a billionth of a sun.
In a mobile food truck, Driftwood's pit masters slow cook the menu's meaty offerings for up to 16 hours on site at various Jacksonville locations as well as catered events. Lunchers refuel with daily selections, such as pulled pork, chicken breast, or ribs, that are each smoked over wood cut from cherry, apple, or bacon trees. Chefs craft homemade sides including baked beans and coleslaw to complement the protein-packed morsels. For catering, the mobile barbecue mavens journey to company picnics, weddings, and other events to fill the stomachs of 15 or more people. Meal planners can select spreads of one ($14/person), two ($16/person), or three ($18/person) meats, each of which comes with a choice of two sides and bread. Skilled servers emerge from the food truck to help customers pile up plates and bury leftover rib bones in their garden.
Mojo Bar-b-Que is a true Southern blues kitchen, named for that good luck feeling that is often the antithesis of the blues. But good food mojo is exactly what’s on order here at this eatery on University Boulevard, thanks to a special selection of back-home barbecue that runs from North Carolina pulled pork and Texas hotlinks to simple dry-rub spareribs. There’s a host of sandwiches, salads, soups and seafood entrées to choose from as well, though meat-free sides like cheese grits, collard greens, black eyed peas and smoked yellow corn might be enough to keep any vegetarian happy. With yellow walls, roomy booths and a variety of funky blues artist photos on the wall, Mojo’s is a true barbecue favorite in Jacksonville.
Serving up sauce-slathered eats since 1980, Woody's has garnered praise from publications including the Ledger and continues to woo taste buds with succulent ribs, chicken, pork, and sides. Patrons can perform cheek-stretching calisthenics with the super sampler starter, a piled-high platter of pop-able bites including fried garlic mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, corn nuggets, and onion rings ($7.99), before moving on to a main event such as a full rack of Woody's signature baby back ribs, featuring pork that slips off the bone as sure as a cat slips off an ice sculpture of a larger cat ($14.99). Meat disciplinarians might consider the Sloppy Woody, pulled pork and Woody's secret sauce caught in a prison of formalist bread loaves ($6.99). Vegetarians are invited to pig out on the tossed salad ($2.69) or the country vegetables ($1.89).
Though not traditionally considered a first-date food, a romantic pit-barbecue lunch or dinner functions as a relationship barometer, marking a milestone in your relationship's level of security and sauce. Take your saucy sweetie to Dave's Brick Pit BBQ for the restaurant's titular barbecue, made authentically in a brick pit over hickory and oak wood. Try a pulled-pork sandwich with house-made slaw, or a traditional cheeseburger with sweet-potato fries. Once the sun is hanging low and all the day's duels are done, start dinner off with appetizers such as fried pickles, fried corn nuggets, or fried mushrooms. Dinners come on plate-shaped pedestals, served with two sides and two pieces of garlic bread for sopping up loose sauce. Endulge in a tumbling-off-the-bone baby-back-rib dinner or brick-pit pork. Balance the scales with a tossed salad, then give up the battle altogether and indulge in a gooey dessert. A variety of libations are also available to cleanse barbecue-saturated palates; draft beer comes by the pitcher, or get fancy with a margarita or Jim Beam and coke.