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J.R.'s Ribshack

281 North Star Avenue, Panama City, FL - (850) 871-5601
Posted By Donald Frantz on 11/19/2008 1:15:00 PM
While you enjoy the sun on Florida's "Forgotten Coast," your stomach starts to rumble, and the only thing that will satisfy it is BBQ. Well, J.R.'s Ribshack is just the place to stop that rumbling.

The first thing you notice as you pull into the parking lot (besides the heavenly aroma of smoked meats) is that the locals know about this place and they beat you here. You walk into the small dining room and are immediately greeted by the wonderful scent of pit-smoked meats; it welcomes you and lets you know you made the right choice.

Seat yourself at an open table if you can find one, but you'd better be quick about it for someone might steal your table first. The decor in the dining room just cries out "SMALL TOWN" and "FAMILY"; all around on the walls are certificates of appreciation from the Little League, Soccer League, and local dirt track racers. Other walls are decorated with colored drawings from the smallest of J.R.'s customers and, yes, J.R.'s Southern pride shows through with the mounted heads of deer and wild boar. The menu is straightforward and easy to read, but not so easy as to make your decision simple.

The pit-smoked BBQ pork shows its pink smoke ring and is tender and smokey. The quarter or half smoked chicken is truly a work of art: skin well-smoked, the white with just a tinge of smoke ring. The meat is juicy and easily comes apart from the bone. The ribs, too, have a nice smoke ring; the meat just comes off the bone with the slightest of tugs.

The meats do not need BBQ sauce, but for those who feel they must, J.R.'s has three different sauces to choose from. The first: a Tennessee sweet red sauce, thick and smokey sweet. The second: mild, a mixture of sweet and vinegar, somewhat thinner than the first, but it goes great with the chicken. The third sauce: XXX (hot), this sauce will make you sweat. It is based on the first sauce but with red pepper flakes and some serious heat.

The waitstaff is very attentive and quick to refill your half-empty glass of tea, or whatever you may be drinking. Their iced tea (unsweetened) is clear and tastes great, and helps quench the fire from the XXX sauce.

The dessert menu has brownie delight, banana pudding, and peach or apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I asked for peach cobbler but I was too late, so I chose my all-time favorite: banana pudding. I was not disappointed. The pudding was fresh, dense, and full of banana chunks, while the Nilla wafers disappeared into the creaminess. This is some seriously good banana pudding.

J.R.'s also offers AYCE pit-smoked meat plates, pit-smoked meat by the pound, and Picnic Specials. J.R.'s tabletops have their secret ingredient listed on them... "Good Old Fashioned Southern Pride."

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Pit-Smoked Chicken and Pork Dinner
Banana Pudding
Pit-Smoked BBQ Pork Sandwich
Pit-Smoked Meat Combo Basket
Brunswick Stew
Potato Salad
1/2 Pit-Smoked Chicken Dinner
Pit-Smoked Turkey Sandwich
Pit-Smoked Chicken and Rib Platter
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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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