Tom Jenkins is a small place with a big reputation as a source of classic southern-style BBQ meals. Opened in 1996 by a couple of guys who already were known for making fine BBQ sauce, it is a worthy Fort Lauderdale destination for anyone in search of good ribs.
Chopped pork, plump sausages, chicken, and brisket also are on the menu, but meat-laden bones are what draw the crowds. For supreme tenderness, there are baby backs; for maximum flavor, spare ribs. I love the latter: hefty logs laden with meat that pulls easily from the bone and is relatively tender, but muscular enough to offer all the flavor of a good chew. Jenkins’ famous sauce is faintly sweet, complex, and laced with a subtle shot of pepper.
Side dishes, served in Styrofoam (like everything else), look ordinary but taste better than that. Mac & cheese is as tangy as it is comfy; aromatic collard greens are beguilingly pungent. Other available companions include Brunswick stew, potato salad, baked beans, and corn on the cob.
For dessert, sweet potato pie offers just the right palliative note to end an exciting meal.
Even when it isn’t busy, Tom Jenkins demands patience. Once you place an order at the counter and pay for it, you will wait a while for it to be assembled, at which point you are called up to get it, then find a place at one of the few picnic tables available. When it is crowded (every weekend night, for sure), parking can be scarce and you definitely will wait. It’s worth it.