While “Florida barbecue” doesn’t exactly have the same ring as say, the Texas or Carolina variety, it’s still from the south, where the cuisine is elevated to an art. In fact, Orlando has seen a number of barbecue spots open in recent months, while local stalwarts remain popular for good, meat-a-licious reasons.
Barbecue gets a hipster makeover at Pig Floyd’s, a quick-serve hot spot which opened in Orlando’s trendy Mills 50 neighborhood. The usual suspects appear on the menu: ribs, brisket, pork belly and chicken. But it’s the Latin and Asian flare infusing nearly all the menu items that makes Floyd’s stand out from the masses. Dig into a plate of tender, St. Louis-style ribs served with a side of Cuban black beans and rice, or treat yourself to juicy pork belly tacos served with corn on the cob that’s been spiced with a tangy combo of chili, lime and cotija cheese. Other stand-outs include the oak wood-smoked pulled pork banh mi sandwich, and the Cuban banana pudding for dessert.
Barbecue aficionados will lick their chops upon discovering American Kitchen Bar and Brill, formerly known as American Q. Much to carnivores’ delight, this new barbecue joint dishes out mountains of locally sourced meats that have been smoked and barbecued to perfection. Order the all-you-can-eat buffet and a team of “cowboy carvers” will stroll past, doling out an array of meats such as flank steak, brisket and sausages until you’re fit to burst. A kitschy, 1950s-style, red Ford pick-up truck greets diners upon entering the restaurant. Splayed out across the truck’s flatbed is an appetizer, salad and sides bar that includes favorites like mac ‘n cheese, chili, and peel-and-eat shrimp.
4 Rivers Smokehouse restaurants dot the Orlando region, and it’s hard to pick just one locale as a favorite. Still, the flagship Winter Park outpost never disappoints. St. Louis-style ribs are a fall-off-the-bone crowd pleaser; other favorites include burnt ends and the restaurant’s signature Angus brisket. Sandwich lovers can get down and dirty with the “Messy Pig,” a mountainous pile of pulled pork stuffed between 2 layers of coleslaw, a load of pickles, jalapeños and dripping with barbecue sauce. In fact, 4 Rivers barbecue sauce — where sweet and tangy flavors are finished with a touch of smoky spice — has become the stuff of local legend.