Much like the habit of referring to all forms of tissue as “Kleenex” or any carbonated beverage as a “Coke,” the word “barbecue” is often considered synonymous with all things related to the al fresco cooking of meat over an open flame. But barbecuing isn’t merely throwing a piece of meat on a grill for a few minutes; rather, it’s a process that requires patience and skill — not to mention a very keen understanding of how to handle low heat to achieve meat that is tender, moist and flavorful enough to make even the staunchest vegetarians contemplate abandoning their principals to turn carnivorous. And while Panama City Beach may be a coastal town where seafood ranks high on the hit list, it’s also one where the “cue is given its due.” Here are a few hotspots that are downright addictive…
Danny and Monica Cosenzi are household names in Rosemary Beach, due to their ownership of the popular Restaurant Paradis; now, the Cosenzis have brought their skill to the west end of Panama City Beach with their latest venture, Back Beach Barbecue, located in the space formerly occupied by Coram’s. Back Beach Barbecue serves comfort food in a laid-back atmosphere. Here, chefs rub their ribs, brisket, pork, sausage, chicken and turkey with a blend of dry spices, and then they smoke the meat over locally sourced wood, at the front of the restaurant. Guests order their meal from a chalk board style menu, right at the counter, and they can watch the chefs slice their meats, too. If you like a little sauce with your barbecue, try the house-made Spicy Three Pepper, Carolina Mustard, House Sauce and Alabama White Sauce — made using Grayton Beer Company’s Beach Permit Blonde Ale. Diners can also choose from any of six home-style sides: macaroni and cheese, pinto beans, collard greens, potato salad, coleslaw and brisket Brunswick stew. Also on the menu are wine and beer options, classic soda options and delicious homemade desserts. Guests receive their meal on butcher paper that is placed on an old-fashioned, school style cafeteria tray and head for either of the seating areas. Two garage doors provide a fun, open segue between the indoor and outdoor dining spaces. Back Beach Barbecue is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The restaurant also offers catering for private or corporate events, a fully equipped food truck and delivery service.
Although not actually billed as a barbecue restaurant, the eclectic menu at Billy Bones boasts barbecue dishes so tasty, they’ll shiver your timbers. Since opening in 2016, owners David and Deanna Hollinger have been serving their guests everything from deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to burgers, seafood and tacos; and their laid-back, family-friendly restaurant has become a hit for their unique way of doing things. In fact, they’re the only place around with deep-fried ribs. But if true barbecue is what makes your mouth water, try their dry-rubbed smoked ribs served with a choice of three tasty sauces that will make your taste buds say “Ahoy!” Or double-fist it with a sandwich loaded with pulled pork and coleslaw. Top sellers range all over the (treasure) map; so if you’re looking for something to satisfy every member of your crew, head to Billy Bones! It’s more than arrrr-right!
Moe’s Original Bar B Que
The brainchild of three boys from ’Bama who learned from a pitmaster named Moses, Moe’s Original Bar B Que is a true taste of the South that socks your mouth with the kind of flavor you can only get from smoke and wood. More than 25 years after the first Moe’s opened, the restaurant has become a successful chain of franchises. Determined to show their guests just what makes Moe’s such a do when it comes to the ’cue, Will Cassanova and Ryan Helsley fired up their own pit in Panama City Beach in 2014. High on their list of raves-to crave is the ’Bama-style pulled pork sandwich: a pile of dry rubbed, succulent pulled pork dressed up with a killer combo of Moe’s signature white barbecue sauce and traditional red barbecue sauce and topped in their addictive marinated slaw and tangy pickles. They go whole hog here, when it comes to letting the meat speak for itself; but the pig isn’t the only meat they’ve mastered: Try their smoked chicken wings, tender ribs and turkey (It’s so moist, you’ll gobble it down!). With so much to love, Moe’s is one pit that’s a sure-fire hit.
Overlooking the Gulf, Pineapple Willy’s is a family friendly joint that serves up a fun mix of tasty foods that combine island flavor with Cajun flare. You’ll find fan-favorites on the menu (try the crispy-fried alligator bites and the plump, grilled shrimp) as well as some truly unique dishes. Jack Daniel’s makes an appearance on more than just the restaurant’s drink menu; it’s a key ingredient in the sauce slathered on their World Famous Barbecue Ribs. The sauce is owner Bill Buskell’s ingenious variation on a recipe he found in a Jack Daniel’s cookbook (the original was just too intense for general audiences). Altering it just enough, Buskell came up with his award-winning formula that combines a sweet barbecue sauce with a blend of spices, a few doses of Texas Pete hot sauce and a bit of Jack Daniel’s. The ribs at Pineapple Willy’s are definitely a “can’t miss,” but the dry rubbed, pit smoked pulled pork is also worth piling on the plate.
For nearly a decade, Salty Sue’s has been a PCB favorite for everything from seafood and steaks to salads and burgers. But the Knowles family goes whole hog for the ’cue, too, doing it Southern-style. Salty Sue’s barbecue dishes include St. Louis-style ribs, injection marinated chicken and beef brisket. The meat is hickory smoked with a dry rub and is served up sauceless, to highlight the taste of the meat. For those who like things on the saucy side, Salty Sue’s homemade sweet and mild, hickory hot and Texas mustard sauces are delicious. There’s nothing salty about the way Salty Sue’s treats their customers: They serve generous portions in a welcoming atmosphere, where guests are treated like family. Whether you love the catch of the day or the ’cue, Salty Sue’s is sure to satisfy.
For more places to eat in Panama City Beach, click here.