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Orlando Q. Your ideas.

I see this topic comes up every now and again. Just a few questions.
I hope to be in Orlando in the next few weeks. Along with other destinations, we'd like to find good barbecue. Reading through a few threads, I'm thinking of

Blackwater Barbecue
Uncle Jones
BCs General Store
The Damn Smoker

I realize some of these aren't in Orlando proper, but we'd make an afternoon of it if highly recommended...what are your thoughts?
A few key points: Open regularly or sketchy?
Beer/wine or no alcohol?
Eat in or take-out?

Finally, I sometimes come across responses for roadside barbecue - an independant guy setting up in a parking lot. These are probably the most unpredictable, but do you know of any which might be around the first two weeks of April?


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  1. I have to admit that I wasn't impressed by Uncle Jones at all, but I ate off the lunch buffet (maybe my first mistake) and didn't order the ribs (a favorite of the late Chowhound Bob Mervine, a published expert on Orlando restaurants). The "ambience" sucks, so you may just want to order some ribs to go if you try it at all. Definitely don't do the buffet.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I'm a big fan of Sonny's. It might be a chain, but it started in nearby Gainesville and is now based in Maitland (an Orlando suburb). I've seriously never had a bad meal there, and I've been going since 1996. Their brisket is top-notch, and their sweet sauce makes everything even better.

    Bubbalou's is solid as well, and the older location on Lee Road off 17-92 in Winter Park has barbecue lamb. That's probably the highlight over there.

    I've never been to Blackwater and never heard of your latter three choices. Sorry I'm not more help there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

      I'm not interested in ambience. Matter of fact, I'd shy away from any fancy shmancy place.

      Note to self: put Sonny's and Bubbalou's on the list.

      I put the list together from going through older threads and as usual on any topic, each has its fans and detractors. Thats partly why I'm posting, to get a feel on 'current conditions'.

      Reading through a few of those threads (some from '06), Bob Mervine came up pretty regularly, and yes, his opinion was steeped in authority and knowledge.
      Didn't know he was an expert of sorts, but was saddened, reading another thread, to discover that he has since passed.
      I was very interested in a location Bob Mervine had singled out called "Its A Secret", a one-lady operation.
      He summed it up as
      "...a hidden barbecue treasure In Orlando, on the south side, that deserves more attention and at least a stop to try it"
      It was an ancient thread by restaurant/chowhound standards, so I kept my fingers crossed. But alas it closed some time after that.

      Thanks for your input, BBV Lou!

      1. re: porker

        I will advise you to pick a sonny's location that stands above the rest. There are differences in locations such as one pit master might be more experienced and yes I have had a bad meal at sonny's when it came to ribs. They wern't cooked long enough! I have had the same problem here in Mtdora at sugarboos but only once. I noticed that three of your posts were located here in lake county. You might want to consider a couple trips if you have time. I will add two more to your list. Mike's at the corner of hwy441 and limit ave. Mikes is a roadside stand that has the best sweet sauce in the area. If he would just put it on the ribs a little later in the cooking process they wouldn't seem so burnt to the average person.
        They are good,, imagine a sweet burnt layer on the outside.
        The second one is another of the great Bob's favorites. Kings in Eustis. This is the only place i know that serves only mustard bbq sauce. It's so popular the sell it in orlando grocery stores in little milk jug containers.
        The damn smoker is also killer and if you feel like driving up to the forest, dont forget about Old Crow BBq in Umatilla. It is a sit down place and I think they have beer.

        I would love the lake county chamber to sponsor a bbq between all the great places we have here!

        Forget about sonny's! you can have that anytime
        and remember,,these places don't sell beer and are only open thurs thru Sunday

    2. I hate Sonny's, and feel like its the McDonalds of BBQ. Blackwater gets my vote b/c of the great dry rub. Mix the hot and sweet sauce together and you're good to go. I suggest the location off of Orange Ave.

      Bubbulous is not bad at all. I prefer their baby back ribs as their normal ribs are bit fatty and greasy. But their sauces are great, as is their baked beans.

      1. We love Blackwater and Keller's BBQ. Uncle Jones is more soul/southern food (very good though). Sonny's although a chain place is good too but I like to support the smaller establishments.

        1. Thanks for the input, guys. I am getting a much better feel for the kinds of places these are.

          1. Jacks Barbecue in clermont, on highway 27 close to the citrus tower is my favorite place around for ribs.

            Some people swear by Brodus (on 50 near groveland) but I don't care for the wet barbeque style that they have.

            1. I'm an O'Boy's girl. Three locations in Orlando area. It's only a chain because it did so well that they expanded.

              1 Reply
              1. re: starbucksbrew

                I've been to Blackwater and It's a Secret and enjoyed both but I am almost certain that It's a Secret is now It's a Memory--I drove by the place and it looked vacated. Granted it is kind of tucked away but I didn't see any signs left.

                It was a great little place but the roadside visibility was horrible--you could drive by it 5 times and never notice it.

              2. I've been to the majority of these BBQ's joints listed, I really enjoy Cecil's off of Orange Ave (there's one off of Lee Road, but I've never eaten there); no one mentioned that one. I think Cecil's offers something a little different them most BBQ places listed here (its what they refer to as Texas style). The pulled pork is my fav, there sides are the best and I love getting my free soft serve ice cream cone afterwards.

                4 Replies
                1. re: melpadilla

                  The Cecil's off Lee Road went out of business, and I never even got to try it!

                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                    As far as I know, the Cecil's on South Orange ave is still open. I think that it is the best BBQ going- and I am a BBQ junkie. The beef brisket is my favorite, but I have had the pork and chicken and they rock too. The sides should be mentioned too- there is lots of variety and all are great!

                    My true favorite is Cliffs on West Colonial Drive (also called 50 west.) just east of the corner of Pine Hills Road. They have pork, chicken and more all week, but do their ribs on Fridays. If they have chocolate cake when you go, grab it- it is really good.

                    There is a roadside BBQ place that has been running for quite a while. I have just had the chicken, but it was true smokey, slow cooked BBQ chicken. It is on the corner of North Pine Hills road and Colonial Drive West It is worth checking out and is usually open early evenings Thursday through Sunday.

                    1. re: rosewood

                      Yeah,, Cliffs is it! I think he used to work for Redd when she had her place I belive at the same location?

                      1. re: mountdorahound

                        It is now on Silver Star road- the intersection of Silver star and maybe Hiawassee?