More barbecue to 'worship'
The SouthShore and Brandon area has as many barbecue restaurants as it does churches. Well, not quite but for many, 'cue is a religion unto itself. In addition to the local restaurants we reviewed, here are some of the places you can worship.
— Ernest Hooper, Times staff writer
957 E Brandon Blvd., Brandon
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-9 p.m.
Hooper's take: Relatively new to Brandon. Salads are referred to as "rabbit food" and "Rocky Mountain oysters" are really fried chicken breast bites stuffed with swiss cheese and bacon, but you can "fool your friends in the trailer park."
Down To The Bone
110 S Kings Ave., Brandon
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Hooper's take: Open since 2003, owner/founder Mark Nettles operates with recipes handed down from his "Madea" in St. Petersburg.
10113 Adamo Drive, Brandon
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Hooper's take: A favorite of chief financial officer Alex Sink, First Choice has drawn lines since 1992. It now has a second location in Plant City (712 S Collins St.).
3331 Lithia-Pinecrest Road, Valrico
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Hooper's take: Open since 2005, Jaymer prides himself on tender, fully-smoked meats. He shares a patio with the adjacent Cyndi's Corner Cafe, operated by his wife.
JR's Floribbean Outpost
1001 W U.S. 92, Seffner
Hours: Noon until ...
Hooper's take: A restaurant/watering hole, JR's is known for Caribbean-flavored meats and an impressive collection of hot sauces.
Shane's Rib Shack
6020 Winthrop Town Drive, Riverview
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Hooper's take: On the Web site, visitors must agree to legal terms before learning the secret of Shane's sauce.
10010 Adamo Drive, Brandon
724 Cypress Village Blvd., Sun City Center
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Hooper's take: Founded in Gainesville in 1968, the Brandon store consistently ranks as one of the top 10 performers in the franchise. Gators like me swear by Sonny's.
Mike's Smokehouse BBQ & Grill
7117 N U.S. 301, Tampa
Hours: Monday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Hooper's take: The "Redneck Platter" features frog legs, gator, catfish, hush puppies and coleslaw.
136 Brandon Town Center Drive
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight. Open till 1 a.m. Tuesdays for beer pong tournament.
Hooper's take: Probably best place in Brandon to eat barbecue and catch the big game.
10252 County Road 39 S, Lithia
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Hooper's take: Next to the Rick's Custom Meats, it has quickly built a reputation as one of the area's best.
Bloomingdale Avenue and Hoover Road
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Hooper's take: Great pulled pork and side dishes. Offers smoked mullet, too.
8624 U.S. 301 S, Riverview
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.
Hooper's take: Spices and sauce complement the meat without overpowering it. Ribs are a must-try.