Blue Willy’s Barbecue

Blue Willy’s Barbecue – 1386 S Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach, (954) 224-6120, http://on.fb.me/1dmTZ61

I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time. A local Florida BBQ joint that just does it right…with folks who know what they’re doing and enjoy it! The owner, Will Banks, not only tends to the smoker and meat prep, but also works the line while schmoozing with the customers. Originally from Tennessee, this guy is no stranger to BBQ biz and in years past could be seen flogging Que from his food truck parked near the Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale. In July he opened his first brick & mortar store off Federal Hwy in Pompano Beach. Using social media and word of mouth they came…the foodies, former food truck customers, BBQ aficionados & the curious…all to sample some of the wonderful meats he prepares. Now this is not a fancy sit-down restaurant with table service. Some days there’s a line just to get in. But once you do you’ll be in BBQ heaven. The experience is reminiscent of Lockhart, Texas, where they’re famous for serving up your meat order on trays lined with butcher paper with some bread and plastic utensils. The focus here is on the food.

The place has got a kind of strange electricity about it. Grown men seated around communal wood tables eating their treasured trays of Que and discussing with others, in most cases perfect strangers, the great favors and techniques that must have been employed to achieve it! One gentleman quickly sat down near us with his Pastrami sandwich and immediately called his friend, “get down here now” he implored, “they’ve got it and its going fast!”  My group left that day…belly’s full, appetites sated and new friendships made.

So what should you have at Blue Willy’s?  Well first of all bring some friends so you can taste everything. I’d start off with a pound of Brisket…so juicy it will make your mouth water and your momma cry. Nice bark and smoke ring…this is the real deal, Texas style. Next have rack of St. Louis style spare ribs with that nice dark bark and wonderful smoky porky taste you want. Got room? The Carolina chopped pork is moist…good on a sandwich, but I order, by the pound and eat it with a squirt of sauce.  You must try the house made sausage. This is just great stuff. Half an order is good if you’re sampling. Thursday is Pastrami day and this you must try! This stuff is so popular that devoted fans, me included, wait on-line to get a couple of sandwiches and it’s all gone by 1 or 2pm. All hand cut and house made, Blue Willy’s is one of a handful of places in Florida that can produce a product like this and do it well.  The sides we tasted were good…we had the Mac n’ Cheese, Cornbread, & Baked Beans. There are several sauces on the tables that represent some of the regional favorites. If your like me you’ll taste a little of each.  Check out all my Blue Willy’s pix at http://on.fb.me/1j2sbFg

For me this trip was the best of all things…eating some of the best local BBQ, meeting an owner/operator who has built his business by working hard and a staff that shares the owner’s excitement about what they do.  Also… it didn’t bother me at all that I finally ate somewhere, really good, before Guy Fieri, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain.  Just say’n!

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© 2013 alanEATS

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Rock n Roll Ribs

Rock n Roll Ribs – 4651 State Rd 7, Coral Springs, Coral Creek Plaza, 954-345-7429, http://www.rocknrollribs.org

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Tucked into a shopping center in Coral Springs is a Rock n Roll themed BBQ restaurant that the locals flock to when they want to get their “Heavy Metal” Q on. My twelve-year-old nephew is a regular and made me promise to try the Baby Back Ribs. Turns out this kid can eat a full rack on his own. What you get is St. Louie style ribs that are first smoked then liberally brushed with sauce and finished off on the grill. The meat falls off the bone and the sauce has that nice tang that you’ll happily lick off your fingers.  We also liked the X-large Stack of Onion Rings with spicy Grammy Sauce for dipping. The well-rounded menu has many options for non-Q folks like hotdogs, burgers, chicken and fish. Causal, friendly and a no brainer especially if you live in the area.

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© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Red Cow

Red Cow – 1025 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale,(954) 652-1524, http://redcowftl.com

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There’s a new Q in town where you’ll find all the expected BBQ meats and some new twists. I enjoyed the dry rubbed slow smoked Spare Ribs, which had a nice bark and tender meat. Unexpected was the Pan-seared Scallops with Pork Belly served over grits. Don’t forget the sides, like the fried Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower Puree and Slaw. I’m slowly going through all twelve of them. For my next visit I’ve got my eye on the Shepherd’s Pie with Burnt Ends. Truth be told, it would be nice to go in just for their starters with names like, Chile Dusted Port Rinds, Fried Quail & Waffle and “Jerk Cuterie” Plate. Even with a full stomach, I was almost tempted to order the Chocolate Pecan Pie for dessert…maybe next time. Nice place, attentive service, casual and easy to like.

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© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Texas Hold’em BBQ

Texas Hold ’em BBQ, 2528 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, (954) 527-4115 – http://www.texasholdembbq.com

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This place recently moved to a new water view location on Federal Hwy. They say “third times the charm”, so if true, owner Jay Armstead is well on his way. This is Texas style BBQ…smoked with dry rub and a tangy vinegar based sauce offered on the side. BBQ favorites include Pork Ribs (Spare Rib & Baby Back), Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ Chicken and more. I usually order the 6-bone Spare Rib dinner with collards and slaw. Liked their Mac ’n Cheese too. Click here for more info.

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© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant

Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant- ‪‪601 NW 22nd Rd, Fort Lauderdale

Betty’s is to Fort Lauderdale what Sylvia’s is to Harlem. And like that great New York soul food restaurant, people who know good Southern cooking in Fort Lauderdale must inevitably show up at Betty’s. I’ve heard about this place forever so after further recommendations from Clean Plate Charlie and an article from Jamie Long, both from New Times, I ventured out to try Betty’s with a foodie friend who knows Southern cooking. The place has thirteen tables and seven counter stools, all full when we arrived for lunch. I’m told Betty plays to a full house every day and for many good reasons. One would be for the Fried Chicken and that’s what I came for this day. “Hello there, I hear the chicken is good here” I said to the server. “Best you’ll ever have,” she answered confidently! With our orders placed, I continued to lust over the menu. It was difficult to pass up some of my other Southern favorites like Oxtail, Beef Ribs, Smothered Pork Chops, Chicken Livers and Fried Mullet. And then there was the stuff I always wanted to try like Pigs Tails, Ham Hocks, Neck Bones and Chitterlings. Oh my! …you must never leave me alone in this place or I’ll order it all!  Regaining my composure I stuck to the plan, crispy Fried Chicken, with Candied Yams and Black-eyed Peas. The Chicken here is nothing short of amazing.  Each order is prepared using Betty’s secret wet batter and fried up as needed, served hot and cooked perfectly. After a short while I had done such a good job of striping every morsel of meat off the bones they could have reassembled it as a science project. The sides of Yams and Peas were perfect for me, but next time I need to try the Mac N Cheese, Collards, Pigeon Peas & Rice, and Cabbage.  Sadly I did not get to meet Betty on this trip, but I did chat with our server on the way out to tell her how much we enjoyed lunch, to which she replied with a big smile and a wink, “I told you it was the best you’d ever tasted!”  I’ll be back soon Betty!

Update- March 26, 2012 – And back I did go recently for another helping of that really good Fried Chicken with Collards and Mac & Cheese this time. My dining companion had the same with the Fried Okra. Everyone in the place is genuine and happy to see you, even when we walked in after the normal lunch service. Regards to Connie, our server on this visit, a person who it seemed could be in many places at the same time. And finally, I did get to meet Betty. I thought she might scold me for not coming back sooner, as I had promised. Not so, but I’ll try not to let that happen again, I’ve got far too much to try!

© 2011 alanEATS