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.
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.
Mojo's owner and proprietor, Todd Lineberry, grew up in North Carolina, right in the epicenter of one of the most thriving barbecue regions in the country. Todd grew to appreciate the distinctive tastes and flavors of different barbecue traditions, which is why he fuses flavors from the major barbecue regions—North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, Texas, and the tour bus for the Charlie Daniels Band—into the dishes served at Mojo. Using authentic cooking techniques and housemade sauces, chefs stuff the menu with dishes such as pulled-pork shoulder, pit-smoked chicken, and chopped-brisket sandwiches. To complement these regional barbecued delicacies, they also prepare housemade Southern sides such as collard greens and creamy coleslaw.
Each Mojo Jacksonville-area location has an identity as distinct as the dishes it serves. Live blues music permeates the airwaves and nearby ocean waves at Mojo Kitchen, BBQ Pit, and Blues Bar, while Mojo no. 4 stocks more than 175 whiskies such as Jameson, The Macallan, Wild Turkey, and Jack Daniels. Each location also caters for parties and events of all types.
Gator Q flavors meats with the restaurant's signature dry rub before smoking them on-site over local Black Jack oak steeped in apple cider. Savory smoked meats such as pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, turkey, and chicken are served au naturel or can be accented with a choice of 10 signature sauces. Servers clad in tie-dye also ferry signature dishes such as the pulled-pork deep-fried barbecue eggroll and the Memphis club, a Texas toast sandwich that towers as high as the state's naturally occurring meat geyser, stuffed with pulled pork, smoked turkey, and cheese. Sides crafted from local produce complement meals, along with a dose of festive aesthetics in the form of University of Florida Gator colors and memorabilia.
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).
BubbaQue's emulates the renowned culture of southern hospitality with a cheerful, welcoming atmosphere and a menu of hearty, southern-style barbecue. It's chefs slow-smoke premium cuts of pork, beef, and poultry to creating mouthwatering sandwiches and barbeque specialties— including the barbecue wings that won them the champion title at Lakeland's King of the Wing competition. The chefs utilize their barbecuing expertise to create seven different types of sauces, with flavors ranging from spicy to smoky to sweet.
Out in the dining room, baskets of barbecue and bottles of beer speckle wooden picnic tables. The restaurant decor is lively—with colorful knickknacks, playful signs, and zero marble busts of a glowering Andrew Jackson.
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.