Keller’s smokes their meats with Blackjack oak, which is part of the red oak group (used by Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish). Oak is used in most barbecue restaurants that I consider to be “doing it right,” and they’re usually successful, decades-old establishments with very loyal customer bases – as is Keller’s – so I think oak is key.
Keller’s was running a BOGO special on smoked beef or smoked pork sandwiches when we visited. BOGO means “buy one get one” free, and they’ve been featuring a different menu item each Wednesday after 3pm.
We couldn’t resist, so we arrived early to beat the crowd and found one of the last available tables. Obviously word has sprad about these deals. The wait was reasonable, especially considering the crowd, and we soon had the following meals in front of us.
Sliced Beef Sandwich
I originally wanted the beef brisket sandwich, which is a “Keller’s Signature Item,” but it wasn’t part of the beef or pork sandwich BOGO special, so I decided to try their sliced beef sandwich, instead. Hesitantly, though, because I had sworn off Sonny’s sliced beef years ago, way before the current ownership. It tended to be dry and chewy from over-cooking. Not so, with Keller’s.
This beef was perfect.
It was cooked to medium, with a light shade of pink still present throughout (not just in the smoke ring). It was also very tender, perfectly moist, and had the right amount of smokiness. My preference was to dress it up like a pulled pork sandwich, with sauce and slaw on top.
I now have a new favorite in the sliced beef sandwich category!
Pulled Pork Dinner
This is purely a matter of personal preference, but I do have reservations about Keller’s pulled pork. Appearance-wise, it looks forced – meaning it doesn’t appear to be cooked long enough to begin falling apart on its own, so it has to be forcefully separated. It’s also not as moist as it should be. At least, not nearly as moist as mine usually turns out when smoking it at home.
Don’t avoid it based on my opinion, though. Try it for yourself, and draw your own conclusions. They’ve been consistently serving it this way for 15-20 years, so there are obviously many people who truly enjoy it. And the flavor is good. Smoke is definitely there.
Add a comment below if you give it a try. It will be great to have other opinions.
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Order their pulled pork as a sandwich, however, topped with sauce and maybe some coleslaw, and you can ignore all of my previous comments about it. Keller’s sweet sauce added a pleasant touch, and the pork’s smoke flavor comes through very well. They toast or grill their sandwich buns, which adds a grilled flavor.
I would order this sandwich anytime.
My youngest daughter isn’t a barbecue fan, so she ordered Keller’s Western Burger, minus the Bar-B-Q Sauce, and was pleasantly surprised with her meal. The bacon was cooked just right (not too crisp), as was the beef, and it was one of the better burgers she’s had.
This is a large burger, by the way: A generous half pound of beef, so come hungry.
The last time we dined at Keller’s, I asked for a small sample of their beef brisket, and they happily obliged. I found it to be moist and tender, and it had a decent smoke flavor. There were no medium or medium-rare sections in the sample, though, which I prefer. Still, based on how good it was, brisket will definitely be my choice on a future visit.
Try it, yourself, and let me know what you think by adding a comment below.
Keller’s beans are medium-brown colored (not as dark as I expected), but full of flavor. I think they’re some of the best, as far as the type I prefer. Try them. You won’t be disappointed.
Keller’s slaw is course-cut, or chopped, which I prefer, and very similar to the slaw served by Barnwood Bar-B-Que at the 4th of July Festival in Eustis, in Eustis, Florida, this year. It’s cool and creamy without too much of any one flavor, and a great complement to both the sliced beef and pork sandwiches (or just on it’s own). Very well done.
Collard greens are definitely a love or hate item, and most of the time I’m nowhere near the loving side. In fact, I’ve only found one or two other recipes that are even worth having.
Keller’s collard greens are being added to my list, though, because I really enjoy them! Whatever they’re doing, I hope they keep it up.
If you like collard greens, you’ll likely love theirs. If you’re on the fence, try them and you probably won’t be disappointed. If you aren’t a collard greens person, at least try a little bite just to make sure. These may just win you over.
Macaroni and Cheese
This is definitely not instant mac and cheese. It was real. It was baked. And, it was creamy.
Bart’s Bottom Line
Keller’s is “doing it right” when it comes to sliced beef sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, and their Western Burger. However, I have a personal preference for pulled pork that is more moist and fall-apart tender, so you’ll have to give try it and judge for yourself.
Ribs are missing from this review, as is the smoked chicken, ham, turkey, sausage, sloppy pork, etc. I’ll enjoy some of those on future visits.
In the mean time, give Keller’s a try. You’ll be glad you did. You can even bring non-barbecue lovers, because Keller’s serves a variety of non-smoked items, including chicken, catfish fillets, wings, Brunswick stew, etc. The list goes on. Everyone in your party is bound to find something they like.
Let me know what you think. Your comments are welcome below.
Too Far to Drive?
If Keller’s is too far to drive, yet your mouth is still watering for great barbecue, you may want to give Pig of the Month a try. They deliver delicious barbecue right to your door – one order at a time, or as part of their Pig of the Month program. Click the image below to learn more:
Keller’s Real Smoked Bar-B-Q
3893 Lake Emma Rd.
Lake Mary, FL 32746
Phone – 407-333-1444
280 South S.R. 434, Ste. 1047
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
Phone – 407-786-7750