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Sep 1, 2002 08:45 AM

Charlie's BBQ, Dania

  • s

I tried Charlie's BBQ on the recommendation of a few people here. The ribs were fine, nothing amazing. Better than Soul Food And More, I guess, but nothing that would keep me from driving 5 minutes north on Federal Highway to wait on line at Tom Jenkins on the 5 days a week the latter is open. And the sides. I'd chalk the mushy, acidic collard greens up to a slow afternoon, but the macaroni and cheese was just awful: think cheap supermarket-brand fake Kraft Dinner, only gritty. Inedible. Ew. The sides were so bad that I only decided I sort of liked the ribs after I chucked the sides and left.

No sweet tea, either. Sigh.

If you go, just get meat.

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  1. My sentiments also. Jenkins never has a slow period--just busy and busier. They are the best I've tried in the south end of the state, rivaling only The Miracle
    Rib in Ft. Pierce. They are, in fact, remarkably similar operations except the Miracle has a superior sauce and a dangerous location. The meat, ribs and sides are nearly identical. There are some very decent
    non-chain operations around (Scruby's, Shorty's, Barbeque Ben's, Charlies, Park Ave., Norris's, Dale's, CW) but the Miracle and Jenkins are the Kings of 'Que, in my opinion. These folks just know what's good.

    4 Replies
    1. re: flavrmeistr

      Flavor Dude - One of the reasons I, too, love Tom Jenkins is just exactly what you said - they do such a volume (amazing volume) that all is fresh at all times - SK took exception to that anaylsis but the fact remains its a vicious cycle in the restaurant business for those who understand it. Your food cost is a critical component of the triad that makes or breaks your place - food, labor and fixed costs. One of the only two variables is food so if you don't move the goods fast enough, you still have to serve a less than first rate product or throw it out and suffer on he bottom line. Most operators will not throw it out!

      Jenkins and others with such success don't have the problems that Jack's and Charlies does - I noted many times that Jack's has to keep their ribs in a warmer because they are simply not selling them fast enough for you to get it right off the pit. So, they get very soft, lose all texture and get greasy. Hey, I still loved them, but there's no way they are of the same quality and texture as ones served to the customer directly off the pit al la Jenkins. End of story. And the same goes for the side dishes. Volume in an independent type of operation, not fast food, means everything. Show me a indi place with big volume and I'll show you a place to get a good meal.

      Hey, where exactly is that "Q" place in Ft. Pierce? I do remember you mentioning something about it months ago and being in a bad neighborhood. How far away is it from the Fla Turnpike exit at Ft. Fierce? Directions? Is it really that bad an area?

      Finally, how would you rate Tom Tenkins vs Tom's in Boca? Never been to Tom's, but they have a major league business there, too.


      1. re: Chuck
        s.m. koppelman

        Different strokes for different folks. Me, I chalk up the soft, falling-off-the-bone rib meat at Jack's to a stylistic choice on their part. The meat is plenty smoky and a deep pink color. Warmer or no, it's no worse for wear to me, with no steam-table taste to me (and oh, those molten candied yams!)

        1. re: s.m. koppelman

          Hey SK - I never said I did not like Jack's. I do and posted many times on them. But, we're making comparisons here so... And, I agree that the smoke is there! But the texture is another thing and that's what I was discussing. Perhaps one day they will be just as successful as Jenkin's - they are super nice people at Jacks. Never tried Jack's sweets, but I will next time. I think their beans are better than Jenkin's, too.

          Keep eating and keep reporting Brother Hound. We enjoy your posts!

        2. re: Chuck

          Sorry to say, Avenue "D" off US1 is and always was a very rough part of a rough town (Ft. Pierce). Shootings, stabbings, robbery, mayhem and misery are daily facts of life. I worked and lived up that way for many years at the nuclear plant on Hutchinson Island and have enough stories from that one street to take us completely off-topic (I'll refrain). The Miracle Rib was started by a Baptist preacher to sustain his church. The food was so popular they spread out from the kitchen on Ave. "D" with a mobile
          kitchen serving the power plant and some large construction sites, which was my introduction. Occasionally, I'd take a few of my more fearless companions over to the Avenue for a meal. The ladies always remembered me and would treat us like kings, even having a kid keep an eye on the car while we ate.
          Still, you just never know how things will turn out over there. The Miracle still caters many public events and the St. Lucie county fair. Out of all the vendors, they always have the longest line.

      2. Good to see you, too, can be critical at times. Thanks for your frank report on Charlies. For me, I take your word on the place and see no need to be disappointed and waste my money. I, too, will just go to Jenkin's.

        That's what the site is all about for me - I just love great places to eat and appreciate hearing about the good and the bad ahead of time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chuck

          Chuck, very unhound-like to skip a place for fear you won't like it...especially when I've recommended it (wink).

          Charlie's is a) good, b) Texas style (i.e., different from Tom Jenkins). You'll likely prefer TJ, especially given your preference for "smoky" bbq. But try it, fer cryin' out loud!

        2. Sorry if I helped lead you down an unpleasant path. I reported based on one visit, albeit during a week sampling lots of cue: thought the St. Louis ribs were the best of the ribs tasted (compared with Woody's, Shorty's, Mrs. Smokey's, Scruby's); excellent brisket, and the sausage was amazing. I liked the macaroni and cheese, so there you go (maybe the batches were different, or simply our respective taste buds). It's true that they have only commercial beverages (Minute Maid lemonade -- yech!) and deserve a demerit for that.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Neil G

            If they have Nehi Peach or Cheerwine, they go to the head of the class. These are the true barbecue beverages of choice.

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              tea and my favorite, homemade lemonade.

          2. r
            Randy K. Lay

            I don't know if it's the soulfood thing or what but Tom Jenkins & Jacks are just too smokey for my taste. I was tasting that over-smoked taste for three days after my last visit. I find it overpowering.

            Charlies is much more to my liking, especially the brisket. I guess my tastebuds just prefer the Texas Q.

            1. the ribs are state of the art. the thick, sweet sauce is not my ideal one.i might sneak in my own next time. the beans (i know a place tba) don't send me. the corn muffins are heavy duty perfect. the potato salad and slaw, the rings. they know what their do'in. now, i'm really looking forward to try'in the miracle rib in ft pierce.

              7 Replies
              1. re: goodbelly

                I know what you mean about the sauce. Okay, but just a little too sweet with a backnote of something slightly cloying (cinnamon, perhaps?). Above all, it just isn't hot enough. Not that it really matters. Nothing short of a mortal ass-whipping is enough to keep me away from those ribs and collards when the jones is upon me. Thus, I have devised a Sauce Remedy, to wit: Order the sauce on the side. Get a bottle of pepper vinegar from the counter (a must for the greens, anyway). Mix a little in w/the sauce. Punches it up nicely.

                1. re: flavrmeistr

                  my guess it has lots of molasses & worcestershire and maybe some brown sugar plus .. i don't think add'in the pepper sauce is gonna take ya, where you want to be. i know that it wouldn't for me. apart from the sauce, are the miracle ribs really as good? the quality? how do the prices compare? jenkins is a bargain for down here.

                2. re: goodbelly

                  Mr. Goodbelly: I agree 100% - Ol' Tom's ribs are terrific quality and yes, their sauce is nothing special. I personally would love to combine Jack's sauce with Tom Jenkins ribs. And, I also agree that Tom's beans are not that great - the quality is there but here, too, I like Jack's beans better. Both places have great corn bread, too.

                  Incidently, you know who has some terrific table sauces? Lucille's Bad to The Bone in Boca and the one a bit further up in Delray. Their problem is they are not cooking with any wood and they are far more expensive than either Jacks or Tom Jenkins. Their ribs are tasty and tender, but lack that great flavor. Nice place though with a good bar if that's of interest.

                  For about $7 bucks for 4-5 bones and sides, Tom Jenkin's is a wonderful deal. Can't beat it with a stick.

                  1. re: Chuck

                    i know Toms in Boca. lotta hype. talk about ribs lacking soul, burried under a sugar sludge. i'm still thinking about that miracle rib place. would you go first? i trust you.

                    1. re: goodbelly

                      Just wondering what you thought of Lucille's Bad To The Bone? Sorry to hear the negative info on Tom's in Boca - they are doing the business though

                      1. re: Chuck

                        i read about it. do you own stock in it? got any buy one .. get one for the place? what's better? china dumpling or gary woo's? please answer that one. GB

                      2. re: goodbelly

                        FWIW the Sun-Sentinel just gave Tom's four stars. They don't give many places four stars.