My wife’s family lives in the Hilliard/Callahan, Florida, area. Sometimes when we drive home from a visit we will take the back roads through Baldwin, Florida, to the interstate. On these drives I noticed a small bbq restaurant. It was called Fat Jack’s Smoke Stack BBQ and I added it to my mental to-do list. Recently I was driving back from Jacksonville, Florida, when I decided to stop in for some lunch. Fat Jack’s Smoke Stack BBQ is located near the interchange on U.S. 301 off of I-10 Exit 343. It is on the right side of the road in a low slung red sided building. The shutters and doors are black. A weathered sign stands over the parking lot, and a banner advertising it is open on Sundays (a rarity in these parts) is slung on a faded fence.
Despite its unassuming appearance the parking lot was packed. I opened the front door and was greeted by a smiling waitress. She called me darling and told me to take a seat wherever I liked. The dining room was divided into two parts that are separated by a partial wall. The front portion contained eight tables with several larger ones in the rear area. The tables were covered with red and white checkered plastic table clothes. Brown vinyl chairs with black metal frames served as seating. It was modestly decorated with various pictures dotting the wall. The only thing I would have changed was the large gator standing between the two dining areas. I think something Seminole themed would have looked much nicer.
After taking my seat the waitress came over and took my drink order while I looked over the menu. She returned moments later with a tall glass filled to the brim. It was just right, as it tasted sweet without being syrupy. When I am at a bbq place I normally order the chopped/pulled pork, but the waitress said they had killer ribs. I took her advice and ordered the sampler. It came with ribs, sliced pork, and chopped pork. For my side I ordered fries and some mac ‘n cheese.
Sitting at the table I decided to try the sauces. There were three of them, two mustard based and one tomato based. Tomato bbq sauce being my least favorite I sampled it first. It was thick and tasted of brown sugar. Next up was the mild mustard based sauce. It had a nice vinegar kick. Last was the hot mustard based sauce. It was similar to the first but packed a nice little bit of heat. It was my favorite and by the time I was done checking out the sauces the waitress reappeared.
She carried a round silver pizza plate piled high with meat, sides, and garlic toast. I picked up a rib and noticed the nice smoke ring. The meat came off the bone with a tug of my teeth. It was moist and very flavorful. The ribs were nicely seasoned and I did not put a drop of sauce on them. As I ate them I wished I had put in for a full order. I then tried a slice of the pork. It has a very nice smoke ring and was also moist. The meat had a good smoke flavor and again needed no sauce. Finally I sampled the chopped pork. The pieces or pork were a mix of moist interior meat and chips of the pork butt’s smoked exterior. The mixture of texture and flavors were very good. As was the case with the ribs and sliced pork the chopped pork needed no sauce. As for the side dishes, both were hot and were nice compliments to the delicious smoked meat. I enjoyed dousing the fries in their variety of sauces as I finished my meal.
Fat Jack’s Smoke Stack BBQ was a pleasant surprise. All three of their meats were fantastic, and before I left I got a to-go order of chopped pork for Becky. I was very happy I finally got a chance to stop in for lunch, and look forward to swinging in again the next time we are in the area.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: