The spirit of a traditional Irish public house lives on at McGarvey's Wee Pub. Aside from serving up pot pies and amber brews, there’s a devotion to maintaining a rollicking, lighthearted atmosphere. The occasional sounds of Live music also fills he air on weekends, while a full bar boasts draft beer, premium ESPN and NFL programming plays on the big screens, and the kitchen dishes up onion rings and beer-battered fries. Boisterous crowds often spill over to the awning-covered patio dotted with picnic tables.
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.
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 Number 4 is an urban barbecue and whiskey bar in the historic Avondale section of Jacksonville. Just one of four in this chain around town, each Mojo has a different name and a slightly different look, though their brand of Southern-style barbecue stays relatively true to form. Known for its huge portions and warm, inviting ambience, Mojo pushes entrées like the BBQ Blues Burger, topped with bacon, Mojo BBQ sauce and a blend of cheeses, while pit-smoked chicken and chopped brisket sandwich remain true classics. Everything is made from scratch here, including the barbecue sauce, while the walls are equally heartfelt. Full of funky blues artist’s photos and assorted paraphernalia, Mojo Number 4 skips the chivalry and heads straight for the stomach, with warm plates of great Jacksonville barbecue.
With entrées like Trailer Trash Special (smoked chopped pork sandwich, 15 piece lightly battered fried shrimp and fried green tomatoes) and Redneck Serf & Turf (smoked pork ribs and two dozen lightly battered fried shrimp), Checkers BBQ on the south side is the go-to spot for large plates of Southern-inspired cooking. There’s pork, turkey and seafood dinners complete with southern sides like fried corn, coleslaw and collard greens, as well as an assortment of traditional barbecue sandwiches. Friday and Saturday nights have an all-you-can-eat buffet that includes all their specialties. With its lime green walls, overhead cafeteria lighting and simple wood tables and chairs set up for large parties, Checkers BBQ is casual comfort food at its finest.
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.