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Blackjack: Jax Best BBQ.
Finally, Great Jacksonville Barbecue!
By Cole Pepper
WOKV Barbecue Director

Itís been said before. I am a barbecue snob. Iíve judged contests, smoked ribs, shoulder, brisket and just about anything else you can think of myself. Heck, I grew up in the barbecue capitol of the world, Kansas City. So you can imagine my skepticism when I got a call a couple of months ago inviting me to try a new BBQ joint.

Located in an old Skinnerís Dairy drive-thru building on the Westside, Blackjack Barbecue gets my title as ďBest Barbecue Restaurant in Jacksonville.Ē This stuff is great! Art Franco and Rich Goldfarb arenít just some guys who decided to open up a chain. These guys LOVE barbecue. They have competed in sanctioned barbecue contests. They talk about barbecue like a vintner discussed his most recently bottled wine. These guys I can relate to!

As you drive down Shirley Avenue between Cassat and Blanding, donít be fooled by the typical Westside amalgamation of tire stores, chain-linked residences and the odd stereo shop, itís not the atmosphere of the take out only business that makes it great. In barbecue the three Tís rule: taste, texture, tenderness. And Blackjack Barbecue gets straight Aís.

The menu includes the usual hits: ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork shoulder (or Boston Butt), and a perfect example of southern smoked chicken. On a cold day, donít miss Artís Texas Chili. Baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad are also available (Joe recommends the garlic bread, too). At some barbecue joints, the lunch meat is reheated from the previous days batch. Not at Blackjack. Either Art or Rich is on the smoker around 4 AM to get the dayís meat started. There is a drawback: sometimes they run out earlier than they hope for lunch. But the upside is awesome. Itís like pulling ribs off your smoker and loading them up as you orderÖthat is in essence exactly what they do.

Blackjack Barbecue (named for the Blackjack oak, a wood they use predominantly in their smoker) is open Friday, Saturday and Monday. Rich and Art have other ďreal jobs.Ē But it is a real treat to eat barbecue from somebody who loves to slave over the smoker as much as they love to eat it. If you have ever enjoyed smoked meat, donít miss Blackjack Barbecue.

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