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Dec 5, 2003 02:58 PM

BBQ in Orlando

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Believe it or not, as part of a scientific society to which I belong, there is a committee on BBQ... we'll be in Orlando the second week in January. We're looking for- what else- decent BBQ.

Anyone got any decent suggestions (ie. not Sonny's or Disney..) on BBQ in the Orlando area?


Art S.

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  1. It has become somewhat more difficult to get consistently excellent barbecue in Orlando than it used to be. Several old standbys have closed during the last few years, such as B's and Red's.

    At present I believe O'Boys on West Colonial near the T.D. Waterhouse Center is probably day in and day out the best in town, particularly for ribs. The chicken is also good but the sliced pork can be a bit dry at times. Don't let the exterior of the building scare you off (it used to be a Steak & Ale). There's a second location in Winter Park.

    Blackwater Barbecue on South Orange Avenue near Gatlin opened earlier this year and it has the best pulled pork in my opinion. The folks who own it are heavily into the competition circuit. I find the sauce too sweet for my taste but the meat is very good.

    Just West of Orlando up U.S. 27 in Minneola, Jack's (also known as Jack Benny's by old-timers) offers consistently good barbecue. My favorite is the pork which is coarsely chopped but many like the smoked turkey best and I'll have to concede it's quite tasty. Jack's sauce is a yellowish thin variety with some mustard (obviously), vinegar and pepper; it's unlike the sweet mustard sauce commonly found around Columbia, S.C. Jack's is also a veritable shrine to the Florida Gators which gets bonus points in my book as you might expect.

    I'd like to put in a good word for Johnson's Diner on West Robinson Street in Orlando, also near the T.D. Waterhouse Center. Although not a barbecue joint, Johnson's is great for a "meat and three" lunch. The menu is slightly different each day but always offers a good selection such as smothered pork chops, fried fish, smothered chicken, stew beef, meat loaf, greens, black-eyed peas, corn casserole, macaroni & cheese, cornbread, and as good a sweet potato pie as you'll find anywhere. Johnson's is a small family-owned and run staple of the black neighborhood and a favorite of NBA teams but everyone is always made to feel more than welcome.

    Hope these comments prove helpful and that you enjoy your stay.

    1. Can't pass up Jones Barbecue, in Altamonte Springs just west of 17-92 on south side of 436 (Semoran Blvd.). Ideally, get the ribs and sauce to go -- but if you eat in, only get ribs from buffet if early (before 12-1:00). Otherwise, if dinnertime, get him to pull you a fresh slab, and order some collards and corn bread separately. Don't bother with anything else.

      Also, you'll want to eat at Wildfires in Thornton Park downtown. That's corner of Summerlin and Washington. Everything is smoked -- sauce is too sweet, but both pork and bird are great.

      There are fans of Bubbaloo's Bodacious BBQ (several locations, 5818 Conroy Rd, 407-295-1212, 1471 Lee Rd, Winter Park 407-628-1212 and one on Semoran (near Jones) about two or threee miles west of Jones on Semoran. The ribs are passable -- they offer three saucesm I like the mustard -- but I usually go for the bbq lamb.

      Cecil's does Texas style. Brisket is OK -- depends on how fresh it is, they plastic wrap and hold it, so sometimes it can be a couple of days old. Sausage is good, Texas style and sides are pretty good. One on S. Orange below Michigan and on Lee Road next door to Del Fricso's (west of I-4 on Lee Road).

      Also Darden has a chain called Smokey Bones. Room is more sports bar than bbq, but the selection is quite extensive and none of it is bad. I usually do brisket or ribs.

      Here's a pretty comprehensive list >> <<
      if you want to be thorough.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Bob Mervine

        We just tried Cecil's and were very disappointed! Meat was dry and sides were not very good either. BBQ sauce was NASTY!!

      2. Hands down: Wildfire's just east of Lake Eola. Being a former Georgia boy, I am always in search of BBQ. In Florida, Wildfire's ranks second only to Selmon's in Tampa. Am going to Wildfire's Saturday on my next trip to Orlando.

        1. The Fl BBQ Assoc. has a site that covers most of those mentioned.

          Just a short drive to the Lakeland exit you can find one of the nation's top competition cooks and teachers.

          drbbq at Bonesmoker's BigTime BBQ.


          1. TEXAS de BRAZIL!!! Although, more of a steak house, the resto offers a huge buffet and high quality meats. not to mention a vast wine list. i must say, it was a great dining experince.