While one may not traditionally associate Florida with Southern barbecue, Tampa Bay has its fair share of great barbecue restaurants. From Clearwater to Plant City and Dunedin to Tampa, we’ve collected a list of the five best barbecue spots in the region. Now all that’s left for you to do is to choose the right sauce.
Hungry Harry’s Family Bar-B-Que
3116 Land O’ Lakes Blvd.
Land O’ Lakes, FL 34639
(813) 949-2025

Looking for the best in traditional barbecue? If so, Hungry Harry’s is your place. This family-friendly restaurant was founded nearly 30 years ago, and there’s a reason why it’s still flourishing. Where else can you find six different types of homemade barbecue sauce? All-you-can-eat specials make Hungry Harry’s the perfect solution for those with big appetites. Proportionally sized for the extremely hungry doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. Whether you prefer ribs, chicken, beef or pulled pork, Harry’s does justice to each of the pillars in its barbecue repertoire. Harry’s also offers its famous Bar-B-Que Catering on the go for parties.

Rumba Island Bar & Grill
1800 Gulf to Bay Blvd.
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 446-7027

What’s better than barbecue and tropical daiquiris? You’ll find this winning combination at Rumba Island Grill, which adds a Caribbean flavor to traditional barbecue fare. This restaurant’s unique takes on island classics, including shrimp chowder, conch fritters, crab mac ‘n cheese, “Rasta Pasta,” barbecue salmon and pulled pork with a side of Jamaican-style greens and coconut rice. A large patio makes this an ideal spot for any Sunday brunch as well. Putting the cherry on top, the attentive staff ensures rapid service with a consistent smile on.

Holy Hog Barbecue
3501 N. Armenia Ave.
Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 879-4647

Many claim Holy Hog among the best places in Tampa to get your barbecue fix. In addition to classic meat dishes, the sides are outstanding, including fried okra, mac ‘n cheese, brunswick stew, loaded potato salad and grilled corn. Holy Hog masters the importance of a smokey flavor and a wide selection of delicious sauces for the ideal barbecue taste. The servings are generous and the prices affordable, making it an ideal lunch or dinner spot for BBQ fans on a budget.

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Johnson Barbecue
1407 W. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Plant City, FL 33563
(813) 759-0009

Friends and neighbors of the eastern part of Hillsborough County, we’ve got the barbecue spot for you. Grandpa Johnson’s has you covered for the best barbecue in this part of town. Some highlights of the menu include the pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, apple coleslaw and beef brisket. The latter goes especially well with a sauce normally used for ribs, available at special request. In terms of desserts, you can’t go wrong with the homemade ice cream, cookies or cakes. Generous portions mean that it’s hard to find a better deal for such an accessible price.

Eli’s Bar-B-Que
360 Skinner Blvd.
Dunedin, FL 34698
(727) 738-4856

At Eli’s Bar-B-Que, the sandwiches are what really shine. Between the barbecue pork and barbecue chicken sandwiches, you will find a quality bun, delicious sauces and the perfect amount of smokey flavor to complement your meat. The ribs are amongst the most tender in the region. On the side, the baked beans and coleslaw won’t disappoint either. However, with every great place comes a few disadvantages, so beware of the restaurant’s regimented schedule, because Eli’s is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. And when Eli’s is open, it can be quite busy, so if you want to avoid the rush, try to stop by in the afternoon or early evening.

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Aaron Phillips has experience in marketing and journalism. Recently back to his hometown, he’s excited to discover and share what Tampa has to offer. His work can be found at Examiner.com.