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Apr 13, 2008 10:32 PM

Orlando - ISO Best Baby Back Ribs

I'll be in Orlando in a couple weeks and am looking for the best baby back ribs Orlando has to offer. I am looking for falling-off-the-bone meat, can have either a dry rub or a fantastic sauce. I will be staying close to Animal Kingdom and would prefer not to drive more than 30 minutes one way.


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  1. This is the Fl BBQ Assoc,list posted by judges,cooks,etc.

    Maybe this will help you get started.

    Smokey Bones near the Fashion Square Mall has pulled pork and ribs that are almost as good as they make in competition.

    Smokey Bones, one of the newest in Orlando's lineup of Q spots is another of the Darden Restaurant Chain. They do their Q the way it should be done, low and slow. Their competition team is one to be reckoned with and many of the same methods are used in the restaurant that is used on the competition circuit. The ribs are smoky and sweet and the pulled pork melts in your mouth. With three locations around Orlando It's definitely the place to try for good barbecue.

    Cecil's Texas Style Barbecue is another great place for Q. Their pork sandwiches are made with slow smoked pork loin and are plenty for a healthy appetite. They claim they smoke their briskets 18-22 hours and believe me they are tender and tasty. Along with smoked sausage and smoked turkey is a hot line of vegetables to load up on. Free soft serve ice cream when you finish if you can hold it.

    Uncle Jones BBQ located on SR 436 just west of 17-92 about 500 yards on the south side of 436. They have a full menu butt most have the buffet rib's, pork, chicken and ALL the trimins tater's, green's, string bean's butter beans the list goes on. NO GAS here the Q is cooked slow with oak, not a fancy place just a real good BBQ joint.

    One of the newcomers is Blackwater Bar-b-q, which recently set up its smokers in a small strip mall next door to Le Coq au Vin. Blackwater opens with the bragging rights that its ribs placed fifth out of 107 contestants at Memphis in May, a barbecue competition held in Memphis. In May. I liked most everything I sampled at Blackwater. The pulled pork was especially good, moist and tender with a taste of smoke that made extra sauce superfluous. And the baby back and St. Louis-style ribs were pretty tasty too. I especially liked the spiciness of the dry rub on the ribs. Blackwater Bar-b-q is at 4718 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. The hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Beer and wine are available, and you can use credit cards. The phone number is 407-888-2033.

    I stopped by O'Boys Real Smoked Bar-b-q's newest location. The boys moved down Colonial Drive to the corner of Edgewater Drive and took over a former Steak and Ale restaurant. The new space gives them a lot more room, and the bar now serves full liquor. When I went in for 'cue recently, I was shown to a rustic booth (think woodshed) in the bar area. We're basically talking about planks of wood slapped together, and not very thoughtfully. The bench was so high and uncomfortable to sit on that I got up and moved to the bar so I could sit on a stool. My feet still didn't touch the floor, but at least I was able to regain circulation in my legs. There's another O'Boys in Winter Park at 610 Morse Blvd.

    There's a new Cecil's Texas Style BBQ in town. You may be familiar with the one at 2800 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, which has been there for a number of years. Now there's one at 5320 Alloway St., just north of Lee Road and west of Interstate 4. But this new place is a franchise -- the first, so the owners tell the Hound. For those of you unfamiliar with Texas-style barbecue, the thing to have here is brisket. Sausages are also popular with Texas 'cue, although you'll still find ribs and chicken too. But brisket is a must if you're doing that Texas thing.

    Wildsides: 700 E. Washington St., Orlando; 407-872-8665. The winner of the 2002 Critic's Foodie Award. The ribs are big, fat and fatty -- just the way I like them. But the pulled pork is pretty tasty too.

    Concha Me Crazy: 191 E. Pine St., Orlando; 407-246-0011. Although he no longer serves diners at his West Colonial Drive Smokehouse, Johnny Rivers provides his barbecue to a number of area restaurants, including his own Concha Me Crazy in the Embassy Suites hotel in downtown. The pulled pork is his forte, and the sweet sauce is what makes it so special. You can also get some of this great 'cue at one of the Johnny Rivers Smokehouse stands at Orlando International Airport to take on your next flight. Beats a bag of peanuts.

    Smokey Bones BBQ and Sports Bar: 303 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando; 407-248-2009. The ribs at this fast-growing chain don't do much for me, but during a recent visit to the Waterford Lakes location, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pulled pork. Good stuff.

    Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ: 12100 Alafaya Trail, Orlando; 407-423-1212. As I've reported in the past -- most recently when a new location opened in Altamonte Springs -- things have slipped at Bubbalou's over the years. But a recent visit to the east Orlando restaurant showed that there may be a renewed concentration on producing good 'cue. The ribs weren't as tender as I'd like, but the pulled pork and chicken were nice.

    Conway's BBQ: 3418 S. Conway Road, Orlando; 407-382-7172. This little shop has been growing quite a bit the last few years. I like the setting of this location, and I prefer their barbecue served as a sandwich.

    5 Replies
    1. re: TomFl

      Thanks for posting the article, but have you actually eaten at any of those places yourself and can recommend their baby backs? While I appreciate the time it took for you to search out that list and post it here, I am looking for places where chowhounds have actually eaten. I only have one shot at finding some great ribs and I am looking for tried-and-true favorites!

      1. re: mdepsmom

        I don't know how recent that list is, since I have never even heard of Concha Me Crazy in my 3 1/2 years of living here. Also, Smokey Bones is a Darden-owned chain that has recently undergone massive downsizing across the country, in large part because cities with regional barbecue styles didn't care for what they were doing.

        Of all the places listed, I'd go with Uncle Jones. I admit I haven't been there myself, but Bob Mervine, a very well-informed and prolific poster on the Florida Chowhound board who passed away last year, spoke very highly of it. In fact, he'd usually list it as his #1 pick for good ribs in the Orlando area. It's a little shack -- not much to look at from the outside, and probably not much better on the inside, so he would often suggest taking your ribs and a few sides to go. Regardless, I keep meaning to try it out, and you may want to do the same with your limited time here.

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          Thank you -- I am off to do a search on Uncle Jones and may very well give it a try. If I do, I will definitely post a review on this thread.

          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            Concha Me Crazy closed several years ago. It was owned by Johnny Rivers, who owns the barbecue joints at the airport.

        2. re: TomFl

          Smokey Bones BBQ and Sports Bar has been sold by Darden, which created Smokey Bones and owned the chain when the above tasting occurred. The new ownership changed the menu as of March 18, 2008.

          The Orlando locations are still open, as are numerous Central FL locations.

          I haven't been in since the menu change, so I don't know how things measure up now that the Darden machine is not behind the chain.

        3. Well,to editorialize,Fl has a great quantity of bbq joints,but the quality has always been somewhat suspect.

          If Smoky Bones is still open,they were part of Darden,which had some spotty service problems.
          That said, they are one of the prominent comp teams in the country and I have competed against them,and judged them at Memphis in May.

          The executive chef/pitmaster is from Orlando and probably put in more time there.

          For what it is worth,he also developed the Disney bbq operations at the resorts.

          Blackwater BBQ is also a top national comp team,that I have competed against and Judged their comp bbq.

          No, I have not eaten at their restaurant.

          My teammate is a longtime Orlando resident,and also a certified bbq judge.

          He kinda likes Cecil's Texas style,if he had to eat out.

          I have eaten at Uncle Jones,and try not to say anything negative that might be considered personal taste.

          All this said,if you want loinbacks,Sonny's-if you caught them on a good day,at the right time of day,is probably as good as Orlando offers.

          Hope this helps a little.

          1. The list was to help spot places that might be in your 30 min drive range,as near Disney,that could be 5-10 miles many days.


            1. I think what this nice person is looking for is served at Tony Roma's or Flanigans (if there is a location in Orlando)...."Fall off the bone" ribs are what these two establishments claim to serve....For BBQ aficionados...."fall off the bone" ribs are not considered "real bbq"......In the "real bbq world"....rib meat is supposed to be pulled gently from the bone...but not falling off the bone per se.....Alot of folks like the "falling off the bone" type of ribs and that's's just a matter of taste...that's all.....I smoke my ribs on a Big Green Egg and can make them fall off the bone...but that's not the way we like 'em.....Just individual taste and preference....das all.....


              6 Replies
              1. re: LargeLife

                I think it's because a lot of restaurants parboil their ribs before grilling or smoking them, to get the meat super-tender. Personally, I'm most used to "fall off the bone" ribs just due to a lifetime of eating more at chain restaurants than authentic barbecue joints, but I like them both ways. Flanagan's does indeed have amazing baby backs, but they don't have any Orlando locations.

                1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                  lol . . . at the risk of being flamed, I actually *love* Tony Roma's and it is on my short list b/c they have closed all their Phx-area locations. But I thought I'd see if there was something local that was as good or better. I checked Flanigan's website and they sound great. We will be doing a beach day in Cocoa Beach but it looks like Flanigan's northernmost location is in Stuart -- a little too far to justify the drive!

                  1. re: mdepsmom

                    Now that you have clarified your tastes,maybe we can try to help and not flame.LOL

                    Since you will be in Cocoa Beach,Texas Roadhouse Restaurant is a couple causeways-about 15 mins South of you.
                    A couple hundred yards off A1A.

                    They actually brag about boiling their ribs,ala Tony Romas.

                    They even give you the recipe to "try this at home",so you'll never be at a loss.

                    : Texas Roadhouse 'Legendary' Ribs
                    How to Create Legendary Ribs At Home

                    Start With The Right Product:
                    At Texas Roadhouse we use only American grown product. USDA #1 inspected fresh domestic Pork Loin Back Ribs. Starting with the right product will give you a Legendary result. We will show you how to make the best ribs possible with the equipment available in an average home kitchen. Just remember that most home kitchens do not have the equipment we have in our restaurant, and the product may differ some from our fall-off-the-bone ribs.

                    STEP ONE: Seasoning
                    In a deep baking pan, add water and some type of Liquid Smoke. (We do this step a little differently at the restaurant, due to our equipment, but if I shared that information, I would be fired.)
                    Mix well.
                    Take Ribs, use a shaker and your favorite dry seasoning (we have our seasoning for sale online at and thoroughly coat each of the Ribs.
                    Place Ribs in the pan.

                    STEP TWO: Cooking
                    Place pans in 300° F oven and bake slowly until done.
                    Ribs are fully cooked when the bone in the center pulls freely from the meat. At this point, remove from the oven.

                    STEP THREE: Grilling
                    Pick your favorite BBQ sauce for re-heating and basting the Ribs.
                    Pre-heat grill.
                    Brush and season the grill before use.
                    Place the Rack of Ribs vertically, with the underside down to the grates.
                    Heat until sizzling hot.
                    Turn Ribs over and baste the underside of the Ribs, and heat until sizzling hot.
                    Baste the top.
                    Turn the Ribs over one last time and baste with a final coat.
                    Serve to your guests and accept their complements graciously!!!

                    Remember, these are only tips for you to try it at home. This is not the Texas Roadhouse Legendary Recipe. We can't give that to just anyone, you know. If you want the real deal you will have to stop by your area Texas Roadhouse. We hope to see you there!

                    Hope my teammate, Ribdog ,doesn't see this,but hopefully you will have an acceptable dining experience .


                    1. re: TomFl

                      When I lived in Gainesville, I absolutely loved the baby back ribs at Texas Roadhouse! They have a nice, thick, sweet sauce, and the meat definitely falls off the bone. I also like their food in general more than other similar casual steakhouses (Outback, Longhorn, Lone Star, Roadhouse Grille, etc).

                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                        Take it from a serious BBQ fan. The best I've had lately is Blackwater BBQ. The ribs are great! You also should get a pull pork sandwich. It is stacked SUPER high. When you go in there, you will see 100's of trophy's from them placing and winning BBQ competitions. They JUST opened in the last couple of years. They were quickly my favorite after I tried them. From Disney, during the day, it will take you 20-30 minutes to get there. During rush hour it may take you 45 minutes.

                        For my taste, Cecil's is overrated and expensive for what you get.

                        Stay away from Smokey Bones.

                        1. re: CFLagent

                          I thought the name "Texas Roadhouse" sounded familiar so I went to their website to check their locations and yup, sure enough, they have locations here in Phoenix. So I will definitely give them a try, but not while in FL. Blackwater BBQ sounds great and I think it may be just what I am looking for.

              2. The only place in town I'll get the ribs is Blackwater. Smokey Bones is OK, nothing more (but I will second someone's previous notion about the pulled pork). However, from where you'll be, you'd be hard pressed to get to Blackwater in 30 minutes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: oneofthesedaysAlice

                  I did a mapquest on it, and it's 22 miles from our condo. I'm fine w/ that, esp. since all the other restaurants at which we'll be dining are to please the 5-yo DS!