Restaurants & Bars

Tampa Bay's Three Best BBQ Joints

winesmoke | Aug 15, 200306:41 PM     4

Trying to put together a home bbq taste off. But want to whittle it down to three legitimate contenders. I have some experience with Tampa BBQ - mostly on the St. Pete side - don't get to Tampa often. Would like your feedback and your favorite or top three - here's some recent reports on my experiences.

Fred's on Fourth St. - St. Pete. Just went back there tonight after a two year absence. My first visits were marked by indifferent food and service - tonight was a noticeable change - lots of service staff and smily faces. Moreover, food was a nice surprise.
Pulled pork - white and stringy, good conistency and texture, maybe leaning to the mushy side. But real pulled pork, not chopped, not bathed in sauce.
Ribs - good flavor, again leaning to the mushy side, not very lean, more fat than expected.
Brisket - falls apart, in a good way. good tenderness. Not overly smoked, mild BBQ flavor, good flavor and balance.
Thought the brisket was the best of three, then pork, good ribs. Overall good performance for "chain" restaurant.
Mustard Sauce had creamy consistency, sweet with a tang - not heavy on vinegar. Good, but I am not a mustard-base fan,
Dark Molasses Based brown sauce - very sweet.

Kojak's - Gandy Blvd - Tampa. AFter seeing the cars swarming the place for over 20 years and hearing some good reports, I had to try them a few weeks ago. Probably the most disappointing bbq restaurant experience ever.
The "brisket" was dried, roast beef. No flavor or tenderness.
The Ribs had to be boiled. Insipid. So bad we didn't eat them and we came hungry.
Parsley White Potatoes were good - but it was senior family restaurant fare.

Sonny's - Tyrone Blvd. St. Pete. Last weekend. I eat at Sonny's three or four times a year and feel they do a good job on spares. Good tenderness, firm, pull from the bone. I always fine oversmoked for me - maybe this chain was to say we MAKE BBQ and use lots of wood.
Bake sweet potato with cinnamon butter is nice touch, beans are good. I have tried the babybacks before and they are to be avoided. Not very meaty, and tough. One server confided to me that they were made at a central kitchen and sent in to be reheated. Stick with the spares.

Roger's. 66 Street - St. Pete. This is the place to order the ribs and salad bar - eat the salad bar and take the ribs home for tomorrow. I enjoy the salad bar but can't eat both. Here, just the opposite of Sonny's, the stand outs are the babybacks, not the spares. Signature beans, sweet and with chunks of meat in the mixed. Good garlic bread, friendly staff.

Jimbo's on Kennedy in Tampa. Haven't been there in years but always good memories and recommendations of the place.

Let me hear about your bay area bbq discoveries - particularly interested in those sole proprietor places around Tampa - Moses White, etc.

Also, any place out for Hawaiian or Polynesian ribs; Oriental Style Ribs.

Thanks. Winesmoke.

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