Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Head to the Q for Good Barbecue; San Marco Restaurant's Sides Need Some Work, but Meats Are Delicious

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Head to the Q for Good Barbecue; San Marco Restaurant's Sides Need Some Work, but Meats Are Delicious

Article excerpt

Byline: J.F. MIX

For too long, barbecue in Jacksonville seemed to be dominated by the chains. That's not a sin, but I applaud the entrepreneurs who are bringing their smoke skills to the market. The latest to have caught my fancy is the quaint The Q: Old San Marco.

In a neighborhood known for its upscale brethren like Bistro Aix up the street and bb's a few streets over on Hendricks Avenue, The Q is a straightforward, comfortable barbecue joint. Locals could only wish that it was open later for dinner (although it does offer another breakfast option in the neighborhood). For now, it serves dinner until 8 p.m. I'm an early riser, but a breakfast trek wasn't in the cards. Instead, I enjoyed lunch there on a couple of occasions.

The Q interior is long and narrow with three separate dining areas. It is best suited for groups no larger than four. Also, my advice is to cut out of work a bit early to beat the noon rush. If you have to wait for a table, it is worth it, as the barbecue is authentic and very tasty.

I skipped the appetizers as the onion rings, fried squash, fried okra and corn nuggets (all priced at $4.79 each) sounded like too much fried food for a midday meal. Besides, when I saw the size of the chicken plate, I wanted to be sure to have room to enjoy every bite. Too often, smoked chicken is dry and tough. That was not the case here. The Half Smoked Chicken ($8.99) was juicy throughout. The meat easily came off the bone, which made eating it with a knife and fork a tidy process. The skin, lightly seasoned, was a decadent treat.

The dinner comes with toast and two sides. On one visit, the toast was cold and limp; on the next, it came out hot and crispy. The sides are lacking. The lima beans, for instance, are bland. The green beans arrive as if they were just dumped from a can. It should be noted that a dining partner appreciated the fact that the beans weren't accompanied by bacon chunks or another fat. I wish the black-eyed peas had a greater presence. It's this assortment of soggy vegetables that justifies a child's refusal to try anything coming out of the ground.

Go for a double serving of The Q Famous BBQ Beans (offered in several sizes, from an individual serving for $2. …

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