J.R.’s Ribshack

One of the best

JR’s really is a shack — a ramshackle building with decor that includes a few dozen game animal trophies, pig figurines, and signs with slogans such as “If my pick-up truck ain’t here, I’m in the woods chasin’ deer…” Bathrooms are labeled Bucks and Does. When waitress Susan comes to take our order she notices that the roll of paper towels on the table (in lieu of puny single napkins) is low, so the first order of business — after bringing 32-ounce flagons of sweet tea — is to replace it with a full roll.

Ribs star. Although meat slips easily from the bone, they provide a serious, ecstatic chew that sets forth great waves of smoky, piggy flavor. Barbecued chicken is so tender that juice-saturated dark meat quite literally falls from a drumstick when we lift it from the plate. It is memorably delicious chicken, some of the best anywhere.

Only the chopped barbecue (pork, of course) is disappointing – somewhat drab and dry. That situation is easily remedied by application of one of three sauces provided to the table: mild, sweet, and hot. White sauce, echoing Alabama preferences to the north, also is available on request. It’s probably best suited for the chicken, but for me, this chicken is too good to mess with.

Fine, fine side dishes: thick, firm mac ‘n’ cheese; sweet, meat-laden barbecue beans; crisp and refreshing cole slaw. While Brunswick stew can sometimes seem like a kitchen afterthought, JR’s is nothing short of magnificent: packed with big shreds of pork, sweet tomato-fruity, and tongue-tickling spicy. When Susan heard me and Jane declaiming our admiration for it, she piped in, “I eat Brunswick stew here six days a week. I’ve been working here twelve years and I could never leave … because the food’s too good!”

Donald Frantz | November 19, 2008

While you enjoy the sun on Florida’s “Forgotten Coast,” your stomach starts to rumble, and the only thing that will satisfy it is BBQ. Well, J.R.’s Ribshack is just the place to stop that rumbling.

The first thing you notice as you pull into the parking lot (besides the heavenly aroma of smoked meats) is that the locals know about this place and they beat you here. You walk into the small dining room and are immediately greeted by the wonderful scent of pit-smoked meats; it welcomes you and lets you know you made the right choice.

Seat yourself at an open table if you can find one, but you’d better be quick about it for someone might steal your table first. The decor in the dining room just cries out “SMALL TOWN” and “FAMILY”; all around on the walls are certificates of appreciation from the Little League, Soccer League, and local dirt track racers. Other walls are decorated with colored drawings from the smallest of J.R.’s customers and, yes, J.R.’s Southern pride shows through with the mounted heads of deer and wild boar. The menu is straightforward and easy to read, but not so easy as to make your decision simple.

The pit-smoked BBQ pork shows its pink smoke ring and is tender and smokey. The quarter or half smoked chicken is truly a work of art: skin well-smoked, the white with just a tinge of smoke ring. The meat is juicy and easily comes apart from the bone. The ribs, too, have a nice smoke ring; the meat just comes off the bone with the slightest of tugs.

The meats do not need BBQ sauce, but for those who feel they must, J.R.’s has three different sauces to choose from. The first: a Tennessee sweet red sauce, thick and smokey sweet. The second: mild, a mixture of sweet and vinegar, somewhat thinner than the first, but it goes great with the chicken. The third sauce: XXX (hot), this sauce will make you sweat. It is based on the first sauce but with red pepper flakes and some serious heat.

The waitstaff is very attentive and quick to refill your half-empty glass of tea, or whatever you may be drinking. Their iced tea (unsweetened) is clear and tastes great, and helps quench the fire from the XXX sauce.

The dessert menu has brownie delight, banana pudding, and peach or apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I asked for peach cobbler but I was too late, so I chose my all-time favorite: banana pudding. I was not disappointed. The pudding was fresh, dense, and full of banana chunks, while the Nilla wafers disappeared into the creaminess. This is some seriously good banana pudding.

J.R.’s also offers AYCE pit-smoked meat plates, pit-smoked meat by the pound, and Picnic Specials. J.R.’s tabletops have their secret ingredient listed on them… “Good Old Fashioned Southern Pride.”

What to Eat
J.R.’s Ribshack, Baked Beans
Baked Beans
JR's beans are loaded with shreds of pork.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Brunswick Stew
Brunswick Stew
Sweet, spicy, and hugely satisfying, this Brunswick stew would be a happy meal unto itself. But, then, it would be a shame not to also eat some of JR's ribs or chicken.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Pit-Smoked Chicken and Rib Platter
Pit-Smoked Chicken and Rib Platter
A deliriously delicious combo: pit-smoked ribs and a quarter chicken.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
The banana pudding is dense and delicious, full of banana chunks and full of flavor. You can get it in two sizes: 8 ounces or 16 ounces.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Pit-Smoked Rib Platter
Pit-Smoked Rib Platter
This big, brawny spare rib makes little baby backs seem juvenile.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea
The champagne of the South: sweet, sweet tea. It is served in tumblers big enough to sate serious thirst.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Potato Salad
Potato Salad
J.R.'s potato salad is a "mashed" potato salad. The texture is almost like lumpy mashed potatos, with bits of onion and pickle. This is a mustard-based potato salad and it goes great with the pit-smoked meats.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Pit-Smoked Meat Combo Basket
Pit-Smoked Meat Combo Basket
A quarter pit-smoked chicken and a serving of pit-smoked BBQ pork, served with fresh hot fries and toast. 3 Choices of BBQ sauce - Sweet, Mild & XXX (HOT)
J.R.’s Ribshack, Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
A crispy juicy delight with a creamy ranch dipping sauce.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Fried Okra & Squash
Fried Okra & Squash
We tried several different appetizers and our favorite was the half-pound basket of heavily coated fried okra and squash.
J.R.’s Ribshack, Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Cheese
Fine, chewy macaroni & cheese
J.R.’s Ribshack, Chopped BBQ Sandwich
Chopped BBQ Sandwich
Dry as served, the chopped BBQ sandwich perks right up with an application of one of JR's excellent sauces.
J.R.’s Ribshack, BBQ Sauce
BBQ Sauce
White BBQ sauce is provided on request and is somewhat suited to barbecue chicken ... if you like white BBQ sauce.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Monday10:30 am - 8:30 pm
Tuesday10:30 am - 8:30 pm
Wednesday10:30 am - 8:30 pm
Thursday10:30 am - 8:30 pm
Friday10:30 am - 9:30 pm
Saturday10:30 am - 9:30 pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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