Readers’ Choice: Top 5 barbecue places in Palm Beach County

A full rack of baby back ribs with corn bread, corn, and greens prepared at PA BBQ’s newest location on Indiantown Rd. in Jupiter. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post
A full rack of baby back ribs with cornbread, corn, and greens prepared at PA BBQ’s newest location on Indiantown Rd. in Jupiter. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Last month we announced the winner of our latest Readers’ Choice Award. For ‘Best BBQ in Palm Beach County, our readers chose Park Ave BBQ’.

The winner was selected from our online poll which was created based on your social comments. Want to know the runners-up? Here are the top five places for barbecue, based on your votes:

Park Ave BBQ, various locations (won with 352 votes)

An excerpt from our original story ‘Best BBQ’ story:

“The centerpiece reason most people flock to PA BBQ is meat – smoky, succulent meats. Whether your plate is piled high with ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket or chicken, one thing is certain: Your choice of meat was made fresh on premises.”

Park Avenue (PA) BBQ has nine locations across Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. To find one near you, visit check Park Avenue’s website.

Derrick McCray's barbecue is a Palm Beach County favorite. (Contributed)
Derrick McCray’s barbecue is a Palm Beach County favorite. (Contributed)

McCray’s Backyard BBQ (235 votes)

This local pit master, Derrick McCray, has been asked to cook his barbecue at the Super Bowl seven times. The family has been in the barbecue business for 80 years.

McCray’s has two locations: 1098 Military Trail, West Palm Beach; 1521 45th Street, Mangonia Park. Information: 561-684-1113 or visit McCrays BBQ website.

Mississippi Sweets, Wellington/Lake Worth; Boca Raton (146 votes)

This eatery has many barbecue offerings, including ‘spit-roasted chicken,’ pulled pork and other favorites.

Mississippi Sweets has two locations, for more information visit Mississippi Sweets’ website.

photo mrs smokeys bbq
Elisa Caplan, the owner of Mrs. Smokeys Real Pit Bar-B-Q in Lake Park, holds up a tray of barbecue dishes prepared at her restaurant, including smoked spare ribs, fried biscuits, cole slaw, mac n’ cheese, taters, collards, and succotash. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Mrs. Smokeys, Jupiter (199 votes)

An excerpt from our previous story on Mrs. Smokey’s:

“Elisa Caplan, who has spent more than 30 years in the ‘cue business, long ago earned her nickname, “Mrs. Smokeys.” It’s the name that graces her family-owned, Lake Park eatery, where Caplan is known for her hot-smoked meats, and spicy blends of fresh-made sauces.”

Mrs. Smokey’s has two locations, for more information visit Mrs. Smokey’s website.

Carnivore city: Chef's Kitchen and Smokehouse. (Contributed by Ian Jacob)
Carnivore city: Chef’s Kitchen and Smokehouse. (Contributed by Ian Jacob)

Chef’s Kitchen and Smokehouse, West Palm Beach (133 votes)

An excerpt from our previous story on Chef’s Kitchen:

“On the menu: unique items such as a burnt ends sandwich made of pork butt and brisket and crispy fried onions, a Cubano sandwich that layers house-smoked Black Forest ham and shredded pork with pickled fennel, and fried honey cornbread croutons.”

Chef’s Kitchen: 2911 N. Military Tr., West Palm Beach; 561-530-4822 or visit Chef’s Kitchen website.




Video: Beef jerky heads, check out our taste-test, which was our favorite?

Jerky is hot stuff. There’s a reason low-carb and paleo dieters have flocked to dehydrated or smoked meat snacks. Jerky is lean. It packs a wallop of bold flavors. It’s chewy. Unlike other snacks, jerky is not meant to be scarfed down, but chewed and enjoyed.

In fact, the more you chew it the more flavorful it is.

Just ask jerky entrepreneur Don Jones. He and his wife, Lupe, sell 200 varieties of jerky at their newly opened Beef Jerky Outlet. The shop debuted at the Palm Beach Outlets last month, ready to ride the national jerky wave.

Exotic game jerky, including smoked elk, smoked alligator and smoked kangaroo are on display here. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Exotic game jerky is on display at the Beef Jerky Outlet. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

America gobbled up $2.8 billion worth of meat snacks last year, according to market researchers.

Jones’ inventory includes more than just beef jerky. There’s elk, duck, venison, buffalo, pheasant, kangaroo, antelope, boar, ostrich, duck, turkey, and alligator jerky.

And that’s just the start of it.



What’s one of the best ‘main-course’ appetizers in Palm Beach County?

photo lettuce wraps
P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps. (ALICIA HANSEN/STAFF)

I first discovered P.F. Chang’s vegetarian lettuce wrap during an after-church lunch, and ordered them off the appetizer menu, along with some fried rice for my main course. But the delicious, sizzling hot combination of diced tofu, water chestnuts, onion and mint over this crunchy rice sticks, wrapped in cool lettuce leaves was so filling that I remember wrapping the fried rice up to take it home.

And then wishing I’d ordered another order of the lettuce wraps.

Since then, they’ve been my go-to meal when I go to P.F. Chang’s, and a perfect fit for my budget dining story about appetizers found around Palm Beach County that would make a good dinner. They’re delicious!

Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day with this crispy rendition

Fried chicken to remember. Autry's secret: a dip in lemony buttermilk. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)
Fried bird to remember. Autry’s secret: a dip in lemony buttermilk. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)

The realization that today is National Fried Chicken Day sparked a craving for a favorite recipe: Lindsay Autry’s addictive rendition of the Southern classic.

The North Carolina-born chef, who plans to open The Regional Kitchen & Public House restaurant in West Palm Beach this summer, gives her bird a nice, long bath in a zesty buttermilk marinade before dusting with a flour-cornstarch mixture, then frying.

Southern-born Chef Lindsay Autry at work. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)
Southern-born Chef Lindsay Autry at work. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)

Here’s the recipe: http://sp/cox/web/html_writer_shared.jshttp://sp/cox/web/html_writer.js //

    Serves 42 cups buttermilk
2 lemons, zest only (reserve juice for another use)
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano or fresh oregano
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

    1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces: 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts cut in half (or 10 pieces of your favorite cuts of chicken)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 quart pure canola oil for frying
1/2 cup Florida honey
2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce (we used sriracha)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped roughly1. In a blender, combine the buttermilk, lemon zest, oregano, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, black pepper and thyme. Blend until well combined. Place all the chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag and pour buttermilk mixture over chicken. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight to get the best flavor. Remove chicken from the buttermilk brine, drain well, and discard the liquid.
2. In a large bowl combine the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, kosher salt and pepper. Use a whisk or fork to combine well. Place the chicken into the flour mixture and press into the flour, making sure to coat well. Allow the chicken to sit in the flour mixture while the oil is preheating.
3. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat with the canola oil until it reaches 315°. Shake off the excess flour from the chicken pieces, and gently place in the skillet.
4. Fry the chicken for 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Use a thermometer to test the internal temperature of the chicken, making sure it is at 165°.
5. Drain the chicken on a rack or paper towels, seasoning with kosher salt as they come out of the fryer. While the chicken is cooling, combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Step away from the lard. Frying in canola oil yields decadent fried chicken. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)
Never mind the lard. Frying in canola oil yields decadent chicken. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)


Note: A small deep fryer can be used for frying the chicken, but using a large cast-iron skillet will give you better results.