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Restaurants & Bars

Pearson's BBQ, Ft. Lauderdale

s.m. koppelman | Apr 22, 200410:01 PM

I'm a terrible person. What kind of Broward barbecue hound am I? When I'm out by Wilton Manors I go to Jack's; when I'm on the western edge of town, there's the Georgia Pig. I've been to suburban barbecues good and bad, to barbecues that went under in a month, to soul-food takeouts from Hollywood to Pompano and to gas-station parking lot barbecues and roadside trailers. And Tom Jenkins? I live a short walk from Tom Jenkins. Praise be.

But I never stopped at Pearson's, the little shack with the yellow sign just east of NW 31 Av. on Sunrise, a block or so east of the Swap Shop. I don't go past that intersection too often and if I'm coming from the west there's that Iranian place and the Pakistani place along the way. And besides, half the time, Pearson's looks like it's closed.

A few weeks ago I made a U-turn and made a point of stopping by; someone was outside tending an outdoor smoker. But they were closed. It turns out they're closed 3 days a week.

Today. Finally.

The place has been there a good 20 years and I think it changed ownership in the last year or two. I never got to try it before, but based on the one yellowed newspaper clipping they have from circa 1984, it seems the current crew uses the original recipes (and has since added some Caribbean food for the changing neighborhood demo).

How is it? Very good ribs, in the second tier of area 'cue. Not as smooth and lean as the Tom Jenkins state-of-the-art, but smoky and honest with no trace of boiling or steam. Very similar style to what Jack's does, but maybe with a spicier glaze. The sauce is from the dark and tangy school with a unique cajun kick and is served warm on the meat. They don't use the leanest, meatiest ribs but they do give you a half dozen or so of them in the $8.95 dinner combo. [Please note that a "rib sandwich" ($6.95) at a place like this isn't one. It's just going to be a few ribs and a couple of slices of white bread for mopping up the sauce. Caveat sandwich orderer.]

For sides I tried the collards and the mac and cheese. The collards were about average, cooked in chicken broth. The mac and cheese was homemade and pretty good in a moist, Veveta-y way. Nothing spectacular, but given how often I run into inedible sides, no complaints.

The sweet tea had a Nestea-ish flavor. Ehh. Certainly sweet, though. Things I'll try later: the BBQ chicken and the other sides. I didn't ask whether the desserts are homemade.

Seating? It's a shack with 8 or so seats at counters by the windows and 3 4-person picnic tables outside. When I was there, one table was occupied by what I guess was the pit boss, his boombox and a bunch of R+B CDs.

Works for me.

Open Thursdays to Sundays til pretty late at night. Closed Monday to Wednesday.

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