Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Sep 20, 2009 06:13 PM

What variety of BBQ is the really good BBQ found all over Florida? What's it called? (Falling off bone, vinegary sauce etc.)

So here I am in L.A. now. Where they have all variety of barbecue trying to be as good as what's found in the Southeast. It's not, of course, but I find myself awash in a bunch of varieties I don't like, so now I'm wondering what the official name is for the type of barbecue perhaps most often found in Florida's best barbecue joints?

What I recall is that the sauces all had a little vinegar kick to them, they weren't cloyingly sweet. And they most definitely didn't have a chipotle roasted-pepper taste, they weren't super-thick. The meat was so tender and moist it would nearly fall off the bone. The sauce always came with the ribs (a 'mop'?) not as an afterthought. I do recall a smoky taste to the meat (but maybe not as deeply smoky as some of the dry stuff out here.

What the heck do you call the most common tasty Florida barbecue variety? Is it Eastern Carolina or (maybe more likely) Western Carolina Dip or something else? There's a taxonomy of barbecue sauces under the "United States" heading here:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, it's definitely neither one of the Carolina types because Carolina bbq isn't about the ribs at all. it's about the chopped pork shoulder (western) or whole hog (eastern). Both of the accompanying sauces are thinner than the FL variety.

    When I think of FL Barbeque, I think Sonny's, since that's what I grew up with. It was a reddish sauce, pretty thick, that seemed to have a bit of brown sugar and/or molasses along with the tomato and vinegar. I *think* that's more similar to Memphis-style sauce more than anything else.

    1. Mythical? I'm not sure what part of Florida you're speaking of, but most that I've encountered in South Florida (Miami-Dade / Broward / Palm Beach) is typically oversauced with too-sweet tomato-based sauce more often than not only given a brief pass over the grill rather than true BBQ cooked low-and-slow.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Frodnesor

        I am surprised to hear you say that LA does not have good bbq. In my opinion, Phillips BBQ is top notch, far superior to anything i have eaten in Florida. I don't know about the culinary lineage of Florida bbq. I like the bbq here well enough but to my mind it doesn't hold a candle to Phillips.

        1. re: CFishman

          What variety does Phillips have? It may be down to individual preference as to types. I prefer thinner, vinegary sauces and really don't like Texan style. I realize lots of other people may.

          1. re: Cinnamon

            I wouldn't know how to classify Phillips' style. The sauce is thick and tomato-based but not sweet. Even more significantly the sauce is full of flavors like a mole. In addition to the outstanding sauce, they make delicious beef ribs, an item that is hard to find in many other places. When you go, make sure to eat at least one rib in the parking lot. They travel well-enough but when they are hot out of the smoker they are truly exceptional. I think the bbq sauce burnt a hole on the trunk of my last rental car. As for vinegar based sauces, I have come to like them as well living in Florida. I don't remember eating any such sauces in LA when I lived there but things could have changed since then.

            1. re: CFishman

              Nah - we've got some good things out here (fish tacos, and a Mexican shrimp place so particular the owner's family commutes weekly to Mazatlan ... including 24 hours one way by bus... to bring back the best shrimp).

              But a lot of the food is... not good. BBQ is just not a civic pastime and don't get me started on the Cuban! Maybe a certain level of humidity is really necessary to both.

              1. re: Cinnamon

                Yeah, we are not going to agree on anything. Versailles, in my opinion, is way better than any of the Cuban food in Tampa. You want to talk sandwiches? Bay City's "Godmother" kills any Cuban I have ever tasted. I like the food in Florida (Tampa) but LA is in a different league.

      2. Here in Central FL, it seems most places triy to have something from every "school" of Q. Every place has a variation of St. Louis ribs, some pulled pork, some brisket & maybe some Memphis style ribs. While this gives you variety, it usually ends up in the place not doing any style of Q all that well.

        1. I don't see Florida as having one "style" of BBQ. And in my opinion, that is a good thing. Having the diversity allows patrons to pick what the style they like and go for it. Plus, it also gives you the chance to try the other styles.

          2 Replies
          1. re: RibDog

            agreed. most everyone is here form someplace else. The only true florida BBQ may be smoked mullet, which is not what most people would consider BBQ and has no sauce.

            1. re: andy huse

              My dear old dad, born and bred in Newberry, FL, once told me that when he was a kid BBQ meant goat. That was Depression Era. I had some as a kid during the '60s when I was down that way. It was strong tasting but tender and not without a certain appeal. I hadn had that particular flavor before nor since.

          2. Most Florida BBQ is simply based upon another recognized style.

            The sauce I make at home has a ton of brown sugar, citrus juice and zest, mustard and red wine vinegar - the closest thing I know to Florida style sauce (I grew up and still live in North Florida). Focus has always been on sauce with minimal rub and long cooking/smoking time.

            Also Floridians do smoke lots of seafood, so attending a BBQ or going out to eat some can appeal to a lot more people.

            2 Replies
            1. re: probert

              Neither Florida nor Georgia have any pronounced style of BBQ that they can call their own. Both states borrow from other origins. I do have to say that Ga.'s standard of Q is much higher than most everything I have had here in SoFla. Most Fla sauces I have come across have been variations of tomato base mixed with mustard.

              I make my own version of a "Fla." Q sauce which includes orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice reduced down in tomato sauce, cider vinegar, brown sugar to even out the acid, and various secret spices.

              What is the official name of Fla style BBQ? You probably don't want me to answer that.

              1. re: probert

                Yours sounds like it has some components of Eastern Carolina and Western Carolina style. One of those (I think Eastern) is a mustard-based sauce that I believe is not sweet.

                I like that focus "on sauce with minimal rub and long cooking/smoking time."