G's Slow Smoked BBQ defines BBQ joint

Sizzle & Smoke
By R. Kell Phelps
Publisher, NBBQN

Everyone has their own definition of what a true barbecue joint is. I formed this opinion many years ago after hearing tons of discussions about what it takes to be considered a true BBQ joint and hearing the thousands of requirements needed to qualify for this title.  What does it take for you to qualify a place as a great barbecue joint?  I have narrowed my requirements down to one simple question: Is this a place I want to tell others about?

My newest BBQ joint find is located down in the Jacksonville, Florida, area and will be showcased as part of the annual National Barbecue Association Convention Barbecue Restaurant Tour coming up in March. I have heard hundreds of comments about this place over the past few years and finally got to try it out a few weeks ago. G’s Slow Smoked BBQ is a creation of Gary Park, Jr. He has turned his passion into a business the right way by growing slow and steady. I personally look forward to seeing this place continue to grow and expand, bringing more barbecue smiles to the area there.

Gary started seriously cooking barbecue around 2006 when a long time friend, John Bennett, with whom he graduated had moved to South Carolina and had a BBQ restaurant. Gary told us, “I caught the BBQ bug from him, and I've always loved the idea, but he kind of sparked my interest for sure. I decided around 2005-2006 to purchase my first stick burner, and I started practicing my new love of BBQ.”

The next step that Gary took is not normal, but it turned out to be a great move on his part. Most new barbecue fans want to compete with their newfound skills before heading out in the business side; however, in 2006 Gary started setting up and selling barbecue on a local street corner. After several years and a few bumps in the road, he opened up G's Slow Smoked BBQ in May of 2012.

When talking to Gary about the pits he cooks on, he let us know that he really has a passion for cooking old school.  Gary told us, “Every pit made has a purpose and most work really well with enough practice or tweaks to them, but I love the old process of stick burners when I am cooking for pleasure.” He even has an old school concrete block pit in front of his place where he hosts “pig pickings” on select weekends. His choice pit inside the restaurant is a Southern Pride, and the food from it is nothing short of amazing!  Gary also told us, “The very first commercial-built stick burner I ever cooked on was a Lang that I borrowed from my friend, Richard Davis, for my birthday party. After that, I fell in love with that style of cooker.”

Now that you know a bit about the man behind this joint, I want to tell you more about my experience and why I am proud to tell others about this place. When walking in the door, everyone working there seems to be extremely happy and welcome every customer like they are friends. This is one of those requirements of a true barbecue joint that I have heard many times before. The walls look like a proud display of awards and sayings that back up the staff’s smiles as genuine joy to be there. Again, this type of atmosphere is yet another one of the thousands of requirements that have been discussed for years to be considered to be a true barbecue joint and is very evident here.

I ordered a sampler of meats that included ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. This “sampler” item doesn’t exist on their menu board, but the young lady didn’t hesitate to place that exact order to the kitchen crew. Before I was finished with my visit, Gary made sure I had the opportunity to try his beef ribs, banana pudding, beef brisket, and also some venison chili that he had made for his crew that was working. I was beyond stuffed before attempting to walk around and take some photos of his joint. Every morsel of food that I ate was beyond excellent! I told Gary before leaving that I had found a new favorite barbecue joint.

The pork ribs were super tender without being mushy, while the pulled pork was awesome and served exactly like I love it…naked with the sauce on the side. The beef rib (G-rassic beef rib) was excellent and cooked to perfection. The chicken thigh was moist, tender, and juicy, with the perfect hint of smoke and also cooked to perfection and served with the sauce on the side. I am very sad to report that I didn’t even get to try the sides, which consist of collard greens, cole slaw, potato salad, and French fries. I can only tell you that I will be going back soon to try the other offerings of this awesome barbecue joint!

G’s Slow Smoked BBQ is located at 1691 Russell Road, Middleburg, FL, 32068. They are open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find more information and follow them on their FaceBook page at Gs-Slow-Smoked-BBQ-LLC. I can’t wait to get back there and pig out again!
Until Next Month...Keep It Smokin’!

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Front view of G's Slow Smoked BBQ joint.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
The menu board and counter inside at G's Slow Smoke BBQ joint.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Some of the awards and decorations found that make this a true barbecue joint.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Concrete block pit used for occasional pig pickings.

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