Ahhh… 4th of July barbecue at its finest. I took my kids over to Eustis, Florida for the Red, White & BBQ Independence Day celebration today. We enjoyed good food, listened to great music, then enjoyed their fireworks display out over the lake after sunset.
There was a barbecue cookoff earlier in the day, judged by the public, but we didn’t have time to attend. I had a hunch they would have plenty of BBQ available during the evening activities, though, so we headed over later in the afternoon. A quick survey of the grounds revealed the following barbecue just waiting to be enjoyed:
2 Guys BBQ
We stopped by 2 Guys BBQ first, and took a long look at what they had to offer in the way of 4th of July barbecue. Their smoker was up and running, smelled great, and they were kind enough to let me snap these photos.
We weren’t quite ready to eat yet, and hadn’t checked out their competition, either, so we moved on.
Later, I looked for their website but couldn’t find one. They must be new. There were two reviews on Yelp, and two on Urban Spoon, though, with ratings of 4.5-5 stars on each, so I wouldn’t hesitate to try them sometime.
Black Bear Smokehouse
Our next stop was Black Bear Smokehouse. I liked their presentation, with a steam table right out in front so I could see what they had to offer. The smoked beef brisket sandwich sounded good, and the pan of chopped brisket looked nice and juicy, so we ordered a sandwich to split.
Farther down their table was a row of sauces numbered from one to twenty-something, and labeled with different barbecue regions around the southeast US. What a great approach to take with sauces.
Knowing this vast sauce selection must seem overwhelming to some patrons, they ask what kind of sauce each person normally likes. I said “sweet,” so they recommended three of the numbers. We loaded up a small pile of each on our plate, and moved to a bench to give it all a taste.
Overall, I enjoyed the flavor. Smoke was there. The brisket wasn’t quite as soft and juicy as expected, though – and nowhere near as tender as I was able to achieve with my own Smoked Brisket Recipe (click here). The sauces were all good, but the Memphis style sweet sauce, was outstanding – as in “can’t get enough of it.” I think they hit the jackpot with this sauce.
Barnwood had an impressive trailer for smoking their meats and housing a kitchen with serving windows. After carefully surveying their menu choices, we decided to try a pulled pork sandwich. Actually, for just over half the price of a regular sandwich, they offer pulled pork sliders, so we opted for two of those and a side of slaw.
There were no questions about sauces, and no sauce table. Each sandwich was instead served pre-sauced. I would have preferred having a choice of sauces, and to make my own decision about quantity applied.
However, after taking one look at the end result, I was convinced I wouldn’t be disappointed. They were beautiful, not only because the pork looked great, but because they set the bun top off to the side and let your eyes go right to the meat. A very nice touch.
We found a seat and dug right in. It was perfect. Just as pulled pork should be; Moist, tender, delicious. There wasn’t an excessive amount of smoke flavor, but it was present. I even liked their sauce and the quantity they applied. It was a great sandwich, and well-represented 4th of July barbeque.
Their slaw was course-chopped and mildly seasoned. Very tasty.
Between our barbecue sampling time and the evening’s fireworks display, we enjoyed some great music by the band Tobacco Road, tried Hawaiian Shaved Ice and a soft serve ice cream cone, then sipped a cold Vernor’s Ginger Soda while sitting along the lakefront. The setting sun provided a beautiful display of colors before slipping below the horizon, and fireworks soon followed.
This 4th of July barbecue trek made for a great evening with my girls. We’re all vowing to go back next year.