Best Bets for BBQ in Orlando


Florida may not technically be in the barbecue belt, but it’s still home to some great ‘cue. We’ll leave it to the stalwarts to argue whether Texas or Tennessee is tops. Meanwhile, check out our list for the best BBQ Orlando has to offer.

pulled pork sandwich


The perfect pulled pork at Swine & Sons stars in its own sandwich, makes a cameo in the Southern Cuban (pictured), or covers a pile of fries tossed with pimento cheese, pickled jalepeños, “fierce Pierce” bbq sauce and bacon. You can also order it à la carte to heat and eat at home. 669 North Orange Ave., Winter Park.

Jesse’s Rib Shack has been serving ribs with their “magic” sauce since 1987. Check their Facebook page for hours and specials, including fried lobster and seafood mac-and-cheese. 2202 West Pine St., Orlando.

The recipes used at Keller’s Real Smoked BBQ were passed down from Andy Keller, founder of the Florida-based Fat Boys Bar-B-Q restaurants in the 1950s. Their menu is mostly traditional–no twists on the classics, just straight-up classics such as Brunswick stew, smoked turkey, brisket and sliced pork with sides of collards and green beans that would make your Southern granny proud. 280 South SR 434, Altamonte Springs; 3893 Lake Emma Rd., Lake Mary.


courtesy of Git-N-Messy

The folks behind Git-N-Messy BBQ maintain that “If it ain’t messy, it ain’t BBQ.” You’ll want to slather your St. Louis ribs, slow-smoked brisket and pulled pork with a messy amount of Chef Chuck Cobb’s sauces (pictured). Don’t spend too much time dallying over their website, just make like a regular and get there early before it’s gone. 4980 Hall Rd., Orlando.

Lots of locales claim to be the barbecue capitol, but for the owners of Uncle Kenny’s BBQ it’s no contest: their home state of Missouri. They continue to compete (and win) competitions sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and the Florida Barbeque Association, though their menu gives space to outliers like Nashville hot chicken and Carolina pork. 141 US-27, Clermont.



4Rivers Smokehouse fans may clamor for newfangled menu items such as the Messy Pig–a pile of pulled pork between layers of coleslaw topped with pickles and jalepeños and sandwiched in a brioche bun–but it all began with brisket when the first location opened in Winter Park in 2009. The 4Rivers version is aged for 30 days, rubbed with a signature blend of spices, smoked for 18 hours and sliced to order. Locations throughout Central Florida.

bbq sandwich


There are a couple of plain Jane sandwiches–that’s literally what they’re called–at Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa. We say go big, or stay home. The biggest by far is the Matahambre (pictured), or “Hunger Killer,” a toasted baguette piled high with oak-smoked brisket and topped with fried cheese, potato sticks and a sunny-side up egg. Other menu options feature meats tucked into tacos or in a bento box. 1326 North Mills Ave., Orlando.
You may have previously enjoyed barbecue without a hot donut to accompany it, but Ian Russel has made sure that you never have to do so again. The Culinary Institute of America grad is the chef/owner of Smoke & Donuts, where traditionally spiced and smoked meats meet regionally inspired and locally sourced side and of course, donuts. The menu is small but mighty, and both classic and creative sandwiches are served on potato rolls from Olde Hearth Bread Company. Sliders (pictured above) are served on vanilla-glazed donuts with sea salt. 2545 Coolidge Ave., Orlando and at Á la Carte, 609 Irvington Ave., Orlando.



All of the meats at Cecil’s Texas Style Bar-B-Que are smoked over hickory, and have been ever since Cecil Reaves founded this old-school eatery in 1992. There are jalepeños in side of both mashed potatoes and chili beans, but otherwise the menu is as classic Southern as it gets. 2800 South Orange Ave., Orlando. 
At The Ravenous Pig, the kitchen is as adept with wild-caught seafood or Moulard duck breast as it is with tacos and burgers. Keep an eye out for heat-and-eat BBQ pack on the weekly curbside menu at their General Store and score slow-roasted baby back ribs, jalepeño cheddar wurst, half a smoked chicken and sides. 565 West Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park.
For more Orlando dining inspiration, visit our archives.