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J.R.'s Ribshack

281 North Star Avenue, Panama City, FL - (850) 871-5601
Posted By Michael Stern on 9/13/2013 1:31:00 PM
JR's really is a shack, in the best sense of the term. The building is ramshackle, décor inside includes a few dozen game animal trophies, pig figurines, and signs with slogans such as "If my pick-up truck ain't here, I'm in the woods chasin' deer…" Bathrooms are labeled Bucks and Does. When waitress Susan comes to take our order she notices that the roll of paper towels on the table (in lieu of puny single napkins) is low, so the first order of business (after bringing 32-ounce tankards of sweet tea) is to replace it with a full roll.

Ribs are the star of the show, and although the meat slips easily from the bone, they provide a serious, ecstatic chew that sets forth great waves of smoky, piggy flavor. Barbecued chicken is so tender that juice-saturated dark meat quite literally falls from a drumstick when we lift it from the plate. It is memorably delicious chicken, some of the best anywhere.

Only the chopped barbecue (pork, of course) is disappointing – somewhat drab and dry. But that situation is easily remedied by application of one of three sauces provided to the table: mild, sweet, and hot. White sauce, echoing Alabama preferences to the north, also is available on request. It's probably best suited for the chicken, but for me, this chicken is too good to mess with.

Fine, fine side dishes: thick, firm mac 'n' cheese, sweet, meat-laden barbecue beans, crisp and refreshing cole slaw. While Brunswick stew can sometimes seem like a kitchen afterthought, JR's is nothing short of magnificent: packed with big shreds of pork, sweet tomato-fruity, and tongue-tickling spicy. When Susan heard me and Jane declaiming our admiration for it, she piped in, "I eat Brunswick stew here six days a week. I've been working here twelve years and I could never leave … because the food's too good!"

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Brunswick Stew
Baked Beans
1/2 Pit-Smoked Chicken Dinner
Sweet Tea
Pit-Smoked Chicken and Rib Platter
BBQ Sauce
Pit-Smoked Rib Platter
Macaroni & Cheese
Collard Greens
Chopped BBQ Sandwich
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

This big, brawny spare rib makes little baby backs seem juvenile.
"This big, brawny spare rib makes little baby backs seem juvenile."
Michael Stern





A deliriously delicious combo: pit-smoked ribs and a quarter chicken.
"A deliriously delicious combo: pit-smoked ribs and a quarter chicken."
Michael Stern


JR's beans are loaded with shreds of pork.
"JR's beans are loaded with shreds of pork."
Michael Stern


The 'regular' size platter with four generous ribs and hearty homemade sides.
"The 'regular' size platter with four generous ribs and hearty homemade sides."
Pam Mason


The peach cobbler was more sugary sweet and soft breading than fruit, but we still loved every bite of this dessert.
"The peach cobbler was more sugary sweet and soft breading than fruit, but we still loved every bite of this dessert."
Cliff Strutz


The champagne of the South: sweet, sweet tea. It is served in tumblers big enough to sate serious thirst.
"The champagne of the South: sweet, sweet tea. It is served in tumblers big enough to sate serious thirst."
Michael Stern


We tried several different appetizers and our favorite was the half-pound basket of heavily coated fried okra and squash.
"We tried several different appetizers and our favorite was the half-pound basket of heavily coated fried okra and squash."
Cliff Strutz


Stepping out of the air conditioned car into panhandle heat and humidity, my camera lens fogged up and gave this exterior shot a dreamy look.
"Stepping out of the air conditioned car into panhandle heat and humidity, my camera lens fogged up and gave this exterior shot a dreamy look."
Michael Stern


The banana pudding is dense and delicious, full of banana chunks and full of flavor.  You can get it in two sizes: 8 ounces or 16 ounces.
"The banana pudding is dense and delicious, full of banana chunks and full of flavor. You can get it in two sizes: 8 ounces or 16 ounces."
Donald Frantz


A quarter pit-smoked chicken and a serving of pit-smoked BBQ pork, served with fresh hot fries and toast.

3 Choices of BBQ sauce - Sweet, Mild & XXX (HOT)
"A quarter pit-smoked chicken and a serving of pit-smoked BBQ pork, served with fresh hot fries and toast. 3 Choices of BBQ sauce - Sweet, Mild & XXX (HOT)"
Donald Frantz


J.R.'s potato salad is a
"J.R.'s potato salad is a "mashed" potato salad. The texture is almost like lumpy mashed potatos, with bits of onion and pickle. This is a mustard-based potato salad and it goes great with the pit-smoked meats."
Donald Frantz


J.R.'s Ribshack's secret ingredient: Good Old Fashioned Southern Pride...

And it SHOWS!
"J.R.'s Ribshack's secret ingredient: Good Old Fashioned Southern Pride... And it SHOWS!"
Donald Frantz


Even though J.R.'s is close to Panama City/Panama City Beach, it is still Southern country, and folks are proud of the hunting trophies.
"Even though J.R.'s is close to Panama City/Panama City Beach, it is still Southern country, and folks are proud of the hunting trophies."
Donald Frantz


J.R.'s Ribshack: this unassuming little building produces some of the best BBQ in the Florida panhandle.
"J.R.'s Ribshack: this unassuming little building produces some of the best BBQ in the Florida panhandle."
Donald Frantz


White BBQ sauce is provided on request and is somewhat suited to barbecue chicken ... if you like white BBQ sauce.
"White BBQ sauce is provided on request and is somewhat suited to barbecue chicken ... if you like white BBQ sauce."
Michael Stern


Sweet or unsweetened tea is available, along with the three finger-lickin' sauce options and peppery vinegar
"Sweet or unsweetened tea is available, along with the three finger-lickin' sauce options and peppery vinegar"
Pam Mason


A crispy juicy delight with a creamy ranch dipping sauce.
"A crispy juicy delight with a creamy ranch dipping sauce. "
Pam Mason


Sweet, spicy, and hugely satisfying, this Brunswick stew would be a happy meal unto itself. But, then, it would be a shame not to also eat some of JR's ribs or chicken.
"Sweet, spicy, and hugely satisfying, this Brunswick stew would be a happy meal unto itself. But, then, it would be a shame not to also eat some of JR's ribs or chicken."
Michael Stern


Fine, chewy macaroni & cheese
"Fine, chewy macaroni & cheese"
Michael Stern


Dry as served, the chopped BBQ sandwich perks right up with an application of one of JR's excellent sauces.
"Dry as served, the chopped BBQ sandwich perks right up with an application of one of JR's excellent sauces."
Michael Stern


Take your pick of sauces. Each delivers what it promises. The hot is not all that ferocious.
"Take your pick of sauces. Each delivers what it promises. The hot is not all that ferocious."
Michael Stern



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