Best barbecue restaurants in Jacksonville

When it comes to barbecue joints, Jacksonville has its fair share, including a couple of locally-based chains dating back decades.  

But over the last 20 years — and especially the last 10 — the city has welcomed a whole new generation of pitmasters and newer concepts that have elevated barbecue beyond the traditional BBQ joints filled with tables covered in red-and-white-checkered tablecloths.

Here’s a look at some of the city’s local barbecue legends and newcomers.

The Bearded Pig 

1224 Kings Ave., Jacksonville, (904) 619-2247, thebeardedpigbbq.com 

When it first opened in 2016, the Southbank restaurant closed up early some nights after lunchtime and dinner crowds regularly pigged out on pulled pork. The same happened in March 2021, when the restaurant opened a second location at Jacksonville Beach. (A third will open soon, down the street from the original.) 

On the menu, you’ll find Texas-style barbecue staples brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, chicken and more, available a-la-carte and on sandwiches and platters, as well as classic BBQ sides, including favorite Mac-N-Cheese. 

Pro tip: Try the Bearded Poutine ($9), the Bearded Pig’s take on the Canadian import. But instead of smothered in gravy and cheese curds, french fries instead are dressed in beef brisket burnt ends, cheese curds and pimento cheese. 

There’s a dozen beers on tap, including rotating selections from Jacksonville’s own Engine 15, Intuition and Aardwolf craft breweries as well as Florida favorite Cigar City Brewing. 

Seating inside is limited to 65, but regulars know the covered patio/beer garden is the best seat in the house, thanks to the generous cooling misters to provide relief from the Florida heat. The enclosed courtyard is family-friendly, with a patch of grass for cornhole boards and other fun. 

The Bearded Pig is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Friday and Saturday). 

4 Rivers Smokehouse: Half-rack of St. Louis Style Ribs, Smokehouse Corn and Collards

4 Rivers Smokehouse 

9220 Baymeadows Road, Jacksonville, (844) 474-8377, 4rsmokehouse.com 

What began in a small transmission shop in Winter Park, Fla., is now one of Florida’s most talked about barbecue joints, 4 Rivers Smokehouse.  

Founded by Jacksonville native John Rivers in 2009, 4 Rivers had gained a cult-like following by the time Rivers opened his first restaurant in his hometown — and outside of Central Florida — in 2013. 

With smokers running 24 hours a day, six days a week, 4 Rivers brings Southern-style pulled pork, Texas-inspired 18-hour smoked brisket and burnt ends and St. Louis-style ribs all on one menu with classic, comfort-food sides like Sweet Potato Casserole, Mac & Cheese, BBQ Baked Beans and more. 

But no trip to 4 Rivers is complete without a stop at the counter of The Sweet Shop, the restaurant’s in-house bakery that offers cakes — whole and by the slice — as well as cupcakes, cookies, dessert bars and more. 

Don’t let the long line queue fool you: 4 Rivers staff makes quick work of serving up a quick lunch. (And besides, it’ll give you plenty of time to settle and re-settle on your menu choice.)  

Skip the booths and make new friends at the counter-height community tables or pick a picnic table on the covered patio. 

A second area location opened in Orange Park at 220 Park Ave. in 2014. 

But like Chick-fil-A, 4 Rivers is closed Sundays. So plan ahead. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 

ABBQ Meat & Drink, 461 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach

ABBQ 

461 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach, (904) 853-6427, ABBQMeatDrink.com 

Short for Atlantic Beach BBQ, ABBQ brings Texas-style barbecue to Jacksonville’s beaches. And like Texas, everything’s bigger at ABBQ, including the portions (and your check). So bring your appetite and your wallet — it’s worth the trip across the Intracoastal. 

Open since just 2019, ABBQ has quickly made a name for itself at the beaches and beyond for its top-notch barbecue served in a family-friendly setting. 

An open-air carving station offers prime brisket, pulled pork, turkey breast, spare ribs and more all sliced (and priced) in half-pound increments while you wait. From your table, choose your sides — Mac & Cheese and Baked Cowboy beans come highly recommended — or salads, sandwiches and more. 

For something a little different from your typical barbecue joint, ABBQ offers a weekend brunch menu with its own take on brunch classics, including Pulled Pork Benedict, Brisket Hash, Brisket Biscuit and more along with a brunch cocktail menu. 

Speaking of cocktails, ABBQ offers a full bar plus plenty of beer and wine options. 

Except for Mondays, ABBQ is open daily at 11 a.m. 

Todd Lineberry, chef/owner of Mojo Kitchen, is shown with The Whole Hawg dinner — ribs, chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket, turkey breast and smoked sausage along with 4 side dishes.

Mojo Bar-B-Que 

1607 University Blvd., Jacksonville, (904) 732-7200, mojobbq.com 

What started in a strip mall in 2003 as an alternative to Jacksonville’s established barbecue pit scene, Mojo Bar-B-Que has grown into one of Northeast Florida’s most-recognized names in barbecue, with additional locations opening in Jacksonville Beach, Avondale, Fleming Island, St. Augustine and Gainesville. 

Billed as “A Southern Blues Kitchen,” Mojo brings barbecue and the blues under one roof, offering its takes on Texas beef brisket, Carolina pork, St. Louis-style pork spareribs, pulled pork, smoked turkey and more as well as a large selection of homemade sides, including Sweet Potato Mash, Texas Chili and Frito Pie. 

With the launch of owner Todd Lineberry’s fourth restaurant, Mojo No. 4 Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar in Avondale, came the addition of the whiskey bar to the concept, where you’ll find more than 100 whiskey varieties at each location (except for the original). 

All locations are open daily at 11 a.m. 

Woody Mills opened his first Woody's Bar-B-Q more than 40 years ago on University Boulevard S.

Woody’s Bar-B-Q 

1638 University Blvd S., Jacksonville, (904) 721-8836, woodys.com 

More than 40 years ago, Woody Mills and business partner Yolanda Mills-Mawman opened their first restaurant on University Boulevard near Atlantic Boulevard, serving their signature Baby Back Ribs. Memphis-style Spare Ribs and other BBQ staples, including many sides and desserts (Banana Pudding) using original recipes from Woody’s mother, Grace Mills. 

Though its footprint in Jacksonville has shrunk from as many as eight restaurants in 2003, Woody’s has expanded its brand to include several franchised locations in central Florida as well as one in Pennsylvania. 

In the greater Jacksonville area, other locations include 5930 Powers Ave.; 226 Solana Road, Ponte Vedra Beach; 1301 N Orange Ave., Green Cove Springs; 1482 South 6th St., Macclenny; and 474323 E. State Road 200, Fernandina. 

Don’t forget to save room for Woody’s Sky High Pie, the perfect way to end any meal. 

Opens daily at 11 a.m.

Bono's Bar-B-Q's original location, at 4907 Beach Blvd.

Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q

4907 Beach Blvd., (904) 398-4248, bonosbarbq.com (18 Jacksonville-area locations)

“If you don’t see a pit, it ain’t legit” is the company’s unofficial slogan. Suffice it to say, you will find an honest-to-goodness barbecue pit in every Bono’s location. 

Bono’s has been a Jacksonville barbecue favorite since 1949, when Lou Bono first fired up his pit on Beach Boulevard. The company now has locations all around town, so chances are you won’t have to travel far to find one. And if you’re on the road, stop by the Bono’s down south in Stuart or the one in the Denver area. 

Prices can vary from location to location, but you’ll find pretty much the same menu at every Bono’s. Try the smoked wings or the fried pickles from the appetizers menu, but be sure to save room for the main course. 

You’ll find everything you’d expect from a barbecue joint – St. Louis ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey. You can also find family meals that will feed three to seven people, and many locations offer barbecue and desserts by the pound. You can even get a gallon of Bono’s barbecue sauce to go. 

Treemendous BBQ & Catering: Two-meat

Treemendous BBQ & Catering

8927 Herlong Road, (904) 329-2888, treemendousbbq.com 

Known for its polka-dot pig and generous portions, Treemendous got its start in 2000, when founder Terry Rountree realized that the big barbecue events he was putting on could be a business of their own. Treemendous quickly became a Westside favorite. 

The Treemendous menu offers a few surprises alongside the standard barbecue fare. Banana pudding and the entire sides menu are available as individual dishes, but also as pint, quart or gallons to go. There are fish and shrimp dinners on the menu, and you can get 100 smoked wings at once if that’s your thing.  

Gators BBQ and Catering

Gators BBQ & Catering 

8142 West Beaver St., (904) 683-4941, gatorsbbq.net 

Eighteen hours is what it takes to properly make barbecue the Gators way. The menu is packed with the sort of stuff you really only find at a good Southern barbecue place – fried green tomatoes, corn nuggets, fried pickles, smoked hamburgers, sweet potato with cinnamon butter, Brunswick stew and banana pudding.  

Yelp reviewers really love the ribs, which come as a full rack with two sides for $10.99. “The quality of the food never disappoints. Customer service is phenomenal,” wrote one reviewer. Hard to argue with that. 

Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Berndt Ends: Pulled pork and brisket with green beans and mac-n-cheese.

Berndt Ends BBQ 

10131 San Jose Blvd., (904) 379-0222, www.facebook.com/berndtendsbbq/ 

It seems like every region of the country has its own take on barbecue, and Berndt Ends makes an effort to satisfy all of them. Their menu offers five sauces – sweet, Carolina, mustard, datil pepper and Alabama white sauce – along with Texas toast, St. Louis-style ribs and a smoked macaroni and cheese called “crack mac.” The menu also puts an emphasis on heat, with datil-seasoned cornbread and beans.  

Located in a former Which Wich location, Berndt Ends has quickly become a customer favorite. Just check their Yelp reviews: “Great food. Better customer service.” “Everything they make is delicious!” “If you love fatty brisket then this is the place to be at.”  

Open Tuesday through Sunday at 11 a.m.

Monroe's Smokehouse and Catering

Monroe’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q 

10771 Beach Blvd., 4838 Highway Ave., monroessmokehousebbq.com/ 

Barbecue goes back generations in the Monroe family, which traces its smoking roots back 150 years to North Carolina. They now operate two restaurants in Jacksonville. 

The Westside location is a favorite lunch spot for folks working in the area and it’s not unusual to have to wait for a seat to open up. The Memphis Deluxe (pulled pork piled high with coleslaw) and the Texas Deluxe (beef brisket with coleslaw) are particular favorites, along with the sweet potato souffle. 

Monroe’s also operates the Monroe’s On-the-Go food truck, which can be found around town. To see where the truck is headed next, check Monroe’s Facebook page at facebook.com/MonroesBBQ/ 

Open daily at 11 a.m. (Highway Ave. location closed Saturday and Sunday.)

The Pig Bar-B-Q, 5456 Normandy Blvd.

The Pig Bar-B-Q 

5456 Normandy Blvd., thepigbarbq.com

Additional locations: 9760 Lem Turner Road; 450102 State Road 200 in Callahan; 1330 Blanding Blvd. in Orange Park 

Four generations of the same family have been running The Pig since the first location opened on Kings Road in 1955. It’s the sort of place where you can sit down and order the same lunch your grandfather did 40 years ago. 

There are a few things you’ll notice right away about The Pig that you don’t normally find in barbecue restaurants. Seafood on the menu, for one.  Catfish, oysters, fish and shrimp have long been part of the menu, dating back to the days when family friends in the fishing business insisted on it.  

The other odd thing you’ll find is breakfast, which has been on the menu since the 1960s and is served seven days a week. Where else are you going to find catfish and grits?  

Jenkins Quality Barbecue owner Meltonia Jenkins-DuBois

Jenkins Quality Barbecue 

830 N. Pearl St., 5945 New Kings Road, 2025 Emerson St., Jenkinsqualitybarbecue.com

Jenkins has been feeding Jacksonville since 1957, when the first location opened on Kings Road, offering ribs and chicken. The menu has grown and Jenkins now operates three locations. 

Jenkins keeps things simple, offering a relatively small menu full of things they do very well. Ribs and chicken are still mainstays, but they also offer sliced beef and pork sandwiches, wings and corn nuggets. Mild, hot and sweet sauces are also offered to go, in pint, half-gallon and gallon sizes. 

Open Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. (Pearl Street restaurant open Sunday at noon.)

Fred Cottens Landmark BBQ

Fred Cotten’s Landmark BBQ 

1417 N. Main St., (904) 634-7571, fredcottenslandmarkbbq.com 

No discussion about barbecue in Jacksonville is complete without the name Fred Cotten. 

In 1946, Cotten opened his landmark barbecue joint at 2623 N. Main St., where over the decades, it became a melting pot of Jaxsons, drawing blue-collar and white-collar workers alike, enjoying barbecued pork, beef, ribs and chicken served on Styrofoam plates and eaten with plastic forks. 

It was “the place to go,” said the late Jacksonville Mayor Jake Godbold, who helped make Cotten’s a hangout for the city’s political powerbrokers.  

Cotten died in 1982, and his family sold the place in 2000 to Billy Cowart, who renamed it Billy C’s Fred Cotten Bar-B-Que until he closed it in 2014 and sold it to Melanie Dosztan, who later moved the restaurant to its current spot in the heart of Springfield in January 2019, renaming it Fred Cotten’s Landmark BBQ. 

On the menu, ribs still take center stage, but you’ll also find all of the regular BBQ staples and a selection of classic BBQ sides that’s made Cotten’s a destination for 75 years.  

Open daily at 11 a.m. 

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