Southern Living Magazine has been posting an annual contest of “The Best” (The best restaurant, inn, beach town, chef, hotel, etc.) for years and their list of “The South’s Best BBQ Joints” since 2011. The magazine’s readers play a part in voting and unlike some online popularity contests, the results are carefully screened and reviewed by the third party research firm, GBH Insights.
ANY BBQ place in the Top Ten is sure to be amazing but unless you make a special trip to, say, St. Simons Island, GA or Lexington, NC, you’re probably going to miss some great ‘cue. Well, that isn’t a problem this year because the Southern BBQ voted #3 for 2019 is just a hop, skip and a jump from Walt Disney World…
4 Rivers Smokehouse snagged the #3 spot this year and as a frequent visitor since its first BBQ joint opened just a decade ago, I can tell you that it is indeed delicious! So much so that we included it in our list of favorite restaurants in Central Florida that are off theme park property.
4 Rivers’ first restaurant was (well, still is) in Winter Park, FL, which is about 5 miles north of Downtown Orlando (20 miles from WDW). It opened in 2009 as a VERY small quick service sort of place, and the line to order food was easily an hour or more almost all the time…and then you had to find an open table (good luck on that!). They moved into a larger restaurant just down the block a few years later. The lines were still long, but not as bad as at that original spot.
Since then, 4 Rivers has expanded to 14 locations, most of which are in Central FL, but with a few in other Florida cities (Coral Springs, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Tampa), and one in Atlanta, Georgia.
The closest 4 Rivers location to WDW (20 minutes), Universal (25 minutes) and SeaWorld (20 minutes) is the one in Kissimmee. This is the location that Joe and I lovingly call “the best worst place in the world” because it’s also the closest to where we live…no more driving 45 minutes to get to Winter Park when there’s a 4 Rivers just 5-10 minutes from your house! And let me tell you, it’s pretty tempting to stop there for dinner sometimes, instead of cooking something a little more healthy.
Anyway, click here for 4 Rivers’ website, and this page has more info specifically about the Kissimmee location. If you can make it there, we strongly recommend the brisket, burnt ends and/or pulled pork!
P.S. – 4 Rivers also has food truck called 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa at Disney Springs. It’s good, but it’s not the same. Go to a smokehouse location. TRUST ME! 😉
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary