My gas tank and stomach were both on empty as I slid off I-75 at Exit 374. Bypassing the infamous Cafe Risque I navigated my way towards Pearl County Store and the promise of good BBQ. The restaurant is located in Micanopy, Florida on U.S. 441 at the blinking light. After missing lunch I was looking forward to bypassing fast food and eating some quality local grub.
Pulling into the parking lot Pearl County Store looks like countless other roadside gas stations. The low slung concrete building had several gas pumps near the street. An ice cooler, three newspaper boxes, and a pair of benches lined the front. I parked and passed a guy wearing a Gator t-shirt and hat as I made my way inside eager to try what was said to be the best BBQ in Alachua County.
The clerk gave me a slight nod as I moved towards the back. A menu board hung above a case containing assorted meats and side items. I took a seat at the dark green counter. A smiling employee approached me and asked me what I wanted. I decided on the chopped pork sandwich, a side of macaroni ‘n cheese, and a sweet tea. While my sandwich was prepared, I filled my cup and took in Pearl County Store’s unique atmosphere.
The store is a mixture of convenience store and sit down restaurant. Beer and drink coolers line the walls while rows of chips, snack foods, and other small items lined the shelves. A low slung panel wall delineated the restaurant’s boundary. In addition to the stools at the counter several small square faux wood tables provided a second eating area. It was out of date, a bit tacky, but delightful in its own kitchy way.
My dinner was served in two foam containers and the girl apologized for making it to-go instead of dine in as I had ordered. It did not bother me, and I opened the square containers to reveal a large hamburger bun overflowing with chopped pork. I took a piece of the meat and popped it into my mouth. It was moist but despite having a decent smoke ring, did not have much smoked flavor. I topped one of their ketchup based sauces to up the flavor factor and happily ate my sandwich until I bit into a large piece of fat. Despite this issue, it was decent BBQ. The macaroni ‘n cheese on the other hand was less than mediocre. It consisted of cooked elbow pasta, a bit of cheddar cheese, and no seasoning. The sweet tea was good and sweet without being syrupy.
While my dinner at Pearl County Store was not amazing, it easily beat anything out of a brown paper sack. I would give them another shot when I am in the Gainesville area craving BBQ, but would try another side dish. Pearl County Store can be found online and contacted at (352) 466-4025. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: