BBQ joints are plentiful in Tampa, Florida, and the surrounding areas, a region that many would say constitutes the furthest reaches in Florida of the traditional Deep South. While the area is widely known for international tourism, there are plenty of great BBQ restaurants in the Tampa area that boast some good-to-the-bone, “down home” Southern menu selections.
My fiancée and I make a regular habit of trying out local restaurants, and the following four BBQ joints are among our homegrown favorites in the entire Tampa Bay area.
Jimbo’s Pit Bar B-Q
4103 W. Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33609
Jimbo’s Pit Bar B-Q has been serving hungry Tampa residents and tourists since 1970, and was one of my parents’ favorite local BBQ restaurants when they were dating back in the 1970s. Today, Jimbo’s continues to serve some of the best BBQ food near South Tampa.
The Jimbo’s menu consists of the traditional BBQ food, including ribs, beef, and chicken, and they even serve breakfast items such as omelets, grits, and home fries. You can dine in and enjoy the rustic interior adorned with local memorabilia and tons of vintage license plates, or you can opt for the drive-through if you’re in a hurry for some good BBQ on the go.
Either way, you’ll be charmed by the great service and find the prices finger-lickin’ fantastic.
Alex’s Southern Style BBQ
5362 West Village Drive
Carrollwood, FL 33624
This authentic BBQ joint in Carrollwood serves residents from North Tampa, Lutz, Westchase, and even draws devotees from across the bay in Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Alex’s Southern Style BBQ has been smokin’ up the BBQ scene since the mid 1990s with some hearty helpings of ribs, chicken, and beef platters, and they offer a variety of great BBQ sandwiches, too.
Eating at Alex’s BBQ helps support a good cause, too – the restaurant is locally famous for supporting children with its annual, Christmastime bike giveaway. There’s some truly feel-good BBQ for you!
360 Skinner Boulevard
Dunedin, FL 34698
They may be open only on Fridays and Saturdays, but that doesn’t matter – Eli’s Bar-B-Que in Dunedin sees enough foot traffic to make up for the five days a week when locals have to endure going without the food from this amazing BBQ restaurant.
My fiancée and I will happily take the 45-minute drive across the bay from our home near Tampa to enjoy some Eli’s Bar-B-Que goodness. A typical Friday or Saturday stop at Eli’s Bar-B-Que means having to stand in a line of hungry diners just waiting to enjoy some fall-off-the bone ribs, savory chicken, or juicy beef. Side dishes are usually cole slaw and beans.
Unlike the other Tampa Bay, FL, BBQ restaurants listed in this article, Eli’s Bar-B-Que only offers outdoor seating at picnic tables. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of shade, and the restaurant is right along the scenic Pinellas Trail. To order, you walk up to a window at a cute little building that has a small cotton plant growing next to it. There’s a big smokehouse in the back that pumps out some pretty tantalizing scents, too! How’s that for some authentic southern BBQ flair?
When you go to Eli’s Bar-B-Que, make sure you bring cash – because that’s the only form of money accepted at this Tampa Bay BBQ hotspot!
Hank’s Catfish & BBQ
8546 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33614
Hank’s Catfish & BBQ is the newest Tampa BBQ restaurant in the rotation of local eateries that my fiancée and I have made a habit of visiting.
Located right along busy North Dale Mabry Highway near the suburb of Carrollwood, Hank’s Catfish & BBQ offers a wide range of Southern-style BBQ fare with a flair for both traditional BBQ offerings such as ribs (luscious) and sandwiches (large) and seafood as well. Seafood offerings include generous portions of catfish, fried shrimp, clam strips, and even gator tail. They also provide a nice selection of sides that include okra, fries, green beans, hushpuppies, fried pickles, chees grits, collard greens, potato salad, and – of course(!) – mac n’ cheese.
The eclectic décor features memorabilia from yesteryear, outdoor seating is available, and live bands play at Hank’s Catfish & BBQ from time to time. Get ready for some good ol’ BBQ – Tampa, FL, “bayou” style!