Woody Mills is thinking of his mother, Grace Meyer. In 1980, she collaborated with Woody and his wife Yolanda to formulate three recipes that became Woody's sweet, hot, and tangy-mustard sauces—the linchpins of the first Woody's Bar-B-Q in Jacksonville. At that point, Woody became the guardian of the family's legacy of southern-style barbecue, which medal-winning pitmaster Paul Kirk and barbecue historian Ardie Davis went on to feature in their roaster's anthology America's Best BBQ. And while the recipes remain a secret, Grace Meyer's legacy is anything but. Today, Woody's Bar-B-Q franchises bring the celebrated marriage between pickles and pulled pork to eight states throughout the country.
The menu kicks off with battered okra—fried exclusively with trans-fat-free oil—alongside the hearty and hotly contentious Brunswick stew, which both Georgia and Virginia claim as their own unique creation. Two types of pulled pork and ribs star among a roundup of beef brisket, shrimp, and chicken, all of which can be packed into a sandwich for a quick drive-thru meal or spread on platters for catered events. Through helpings of garlic toast, Texas gets a special nod on nearly every plate, whereas signature baked beans and fluffy cream pies evoke a broader southern tradition of using rich comfort food for physical comedy.