Amazingly enough, I am speaking at SQL Saturday – Jacksonville (#3) today. As usual, I rode up to Jacksonville with Joe Healy (Microsoft dude) and both of us being from the rural part of the country enjoy bbq. When I say BBQ, I don’t mean chicken smothered in BBQ sauce like you will find at your local Applebees (priced $12 for $2 worth of food + $1 of preparation expense). I’m talking good, southern BBQ – the kind that a local guy owns a smoker and cooks ribs, pork, or chicken all day in smoke at 250 degrees until the meat is so tenderized it falls off the bone. On our road trips in the past we have discovered some local gem BBQ places, generally on the old country roads between major cities. There’s good places we’ve discovered outside of Tampa, Lakeland, Suwanee, and Gainesville.
Interestingly enough, we planned our route to intersect a new BBQ join. We drove up I-75 to Ocala, 301 to Gainesville, SR 20 to Palatka, and SR 17 to Green Cove Springs outside of Jax. Ironically, we passed a grand total of two bbq places, of which exactly 0 were open. We arrived at Tommy’s BBQ just north of Ocala on 301 at 3:05 PM. They were open but stopped serving lunch at 3 PM, and the lady was eager to head on home, so we moved on up the road. Passing two Sonny’s BBQ later, we arrived in Jax without having succeeded on the mission. A BBQ Bills’ place north of Palatka was closed as well.
I’m not a huge Sonny’s fan – but it would have sufficed given the precarious situation, but Joe was hell bent on finding a real place or going hungry, so we arrived in Jax about 5 PM starved and disappointed. I planned the route home on different roads, hoping to intersect with a new, hidden gem of a BBQ restaurant.