Miami isn’t exactly known for barbecue like Texas, Memphis, North Carolina and Kansas City, but we try hard. However, it sure does seem like there are more and more barbecue restaurants popping up all over town. And I must confess that I have eaten at most of them. You see, blog photographer, husband Curt, loves barbecue. He loves barbecue so much that he wakes up at 4:00am to smoke brisket. And no, I am not kidding! But I have to admit that his brisket rivals the pros. With all of this, Curt and I decided that I needed to search high and low to find the 3 best bets for barbecue in Miami. Now, I don’t mean rib stickn’ finger lickn’ barbecue because that kind of barbecue isn’t the real deal. What we were lookin’ for is the kind of barbecue where low and slow is the name of the game and the meat comes out of the pit with a wonderfully infused smoke flavor. So, after overindulging at many barbecue joints in Miami, here are our 3 best bets, in no particular order!
1. Bulldog Barbecue, North Miami
Bulldog Barbecue and Bulldog Burger are located on Biscayne Boulevard in Aventura near the Aventura Mall. When we first pulled up, I didn’t quite know what to expect. It sort of didn’t look like your typical barbecue restaurant because it’s in a small strip mall. But once you step inside and take a whiff, there’s no doubt that it’s the real thing. The owner of Bulldog Barbecue, Howard Kleinberg has appeared on the televisions shows, Top Chef and Barbecue Pitmasters, so you know he knows his stuff. He claims his barbecue success comes from fact that he only buys Certified Angus Beef, which is a step above what other BBQ joints serve. He starts his cooking process in an offset smoker using hard lump charcoal and oak to render that magnificent barbecue flavor. His barbecue sauce was perfect in our book and when we asked Howard if it was homemade he answered, “yes, but good BBQ doesn’t need sauce. BBQ sauce is only used to cover up bad BBQ.” Hmmm, think about that one! I love the shirt! I know it’s not barbecue, but I had to try the wedge! Howard had us sample everything. Those are St. Louis ribs, pulled pork and pork sausage. We also tried his smoked turkey which was out of this world…..moist and tender with a mild smoke flavor. Other menu items to note: mac n’ cheese, cornbread, baked beans and fried pickles.
2. Shivers BBQ, Homestead
Shivers BBQ has been smoking down in Homestead for more than 60 years. And it’s so smoking hot that it’s hard to find a parking spot at any hour of the day. And, expect to make new friends because seating is at long picnic tables inside of the restaurant. You just find an open bench and sit right down. We spoke to the owner’s daughter, Cindy Campbell. Her family bought the restaurant from the Shivers in 1988. She said that they attribute their success to the fact that they have very loyal customers. Would you believe that many eat there seven days a week? Cindy and her husband Bill are constantly trying new recipes and pay attention to the feedback from their customers. The day we ate there they were trying a new honey Habanero sauce. Shivers serves only Angus Beef and smokes using a 60-year-old Southern Pride Smoker; hickory is their wood of choice. Their sides were out of sight and some of the notables: sweet potato souffle, cornbread and hash brown casserole.
3. Sparky’s Roadside Barbecue, Miami
Last on the barbecue hit parade, and certainly not least, is Sparky’s Roadside Barbecue located in downtown Miami. A relative newcomer to the area, Sparky’s opened its doors in 2010. Judging by the overflowing lunch crowds, it’s a big hit with the locals. So, you’re asking yourself –downtown Miami? Really? Yup. It is real barbecue right in the heart of downtown Miami. Owner , Kevin Kehoe , does it right using a combination of hickory and apple woods. Kevin, a trained chef for over 30 years, turned to becoming a pit master a number of years ago and the reason….he simply loves eating good barbecue. A funny side note, Kevin actually went to high school with Howie Kleinberg of Bulldog Barbecue. Sparky’s offers a varied menu including some unusual BBQ items such as the smoked duck and jerk chickens wings. The mac n’ cheese is outstanding along with unusually moist soft cornbread and the fried pickles are a must. Lastly, be sure to save room for one of Sparky’s home-made desserts such as the pecan pie or banana pudding.
Final thoughts on the 3 best bets for barbecue in Miami
We don’t think you’ll find better than our 3 best bets for Barbecue in Miami. ALL 3 owners showed great passion for their BBQ. Great BBQ requires a long cooking process and attentiveness to the details. This is why each of these pit masters will always be found in their respective restaurants. As much as each of these pit masters love eating barbecue, they love interacting with customers even more. All we can say is Bulldog, Shivers and Sparky’s: you guys ROCK….keep it low and slow!!!!