____What's Andy eating?

I approached the right corner of the strip mall in Sarasota, Fla., last week with extreme caution. Southwest Florida barbecue had burned me before, and I didn't want to get my hopes too high only to have them dashed again. A few years ago, some readers recommended a place in Ellenton, Fla., that they claimed served some of the best barbecue they'd ever eaten. So I visited. The ribs tasted microwaved and came slathered in a sauce that belonged on waffles. As I chewed the ruined pork, I extrapolated. I was in an area populated mostly by transplanted Yankees. They probably like this slop, I reasoned. And with that, I unfairly stereotyped an entire area.


Fortunately, the restaurant on the right corner of that strip mall proved me wrong. Roadside Rib Shack doesn't look like a shack. Given its location, it looks more like a nail salon, a laundromat or a Chinese buffet. In fact, a nail salon sits two doors down. The laundromat? Three doors down. The buffet? Four doors down. But the building doesn't matter when judging barbecue. Only the meat matters. That place in Ellenton looked the part but turned its ribs to mush. Roadside Rib Shack, the king of the shopping center, smokes ribs the way the good lord had in mind when He created pigs and made them so delicious.


 Andy Staples

RRS sources slabs with thick pillows of meat atop each bone. They are then cooked so that the meat disengages from the bone with a gentle tug. (Remember, if someone tells you they make fall-off-the-bone ribs, just order a salad and save your calories for another day.) RRS serves its ribs without sauce because they don't need any. They are tender and juicy and the seasoning produces a bark that provides all the necessary flavor enhancement.


RRS does offer several sauces, of course. Their mustard-based sauce would make certain South Carolinians proud. The most interesting of the options was the Sweet Heat. Plenty of sauces combine sugar and pepper, but this one tasted different yet familiar. I couldn't quite place it until a friend's taste buds provided the answer. "It's sort of like sweet and sour sauce," he said. He was correct. Imagine your favorite Chinese takeout place's sauce with less sugar, more tomato and copious amounts of red pepper. It may sound all wrong, but it works on the ribs and on RRS's excellent pulled pork.


If you choose only one meat, get the ribs. Then order some collard greens. And you're going to want more of the jalapeño cornbread, so just order that off the top. After you've finished, don't be surprised if you start looking for shacks in every strip mall you pass.


I ordered a pulled pork sandwich meal which came with a side of cornbread, mac and cheese and a drink. The food was excellent! The pulled pork was tender and the mac and cheese was creamy and to die for. A fantastic meal for under $10!

Road tripping is fun especially when accompanied by good food.


On our usual search for what holds up well with a bunch of hours left on the road we searched yelp for BBQ, and found this place.

We hightailed it off the 95 in search of this place and it didn't disappoint.


Firstly, adorable precious decor.


Inviting, fun and friendly, for us Miami folk it was a breath of fresh air.


Second, the service. What a pleasure. Perhaps it was the owner who assisted us together with a sweet girl, but it was with pride and knowledge.


We wanted those tips off the ribs - yup those little bites nobody wants but my are they yummy! It was nice seeing him chop and cut up our tips right there, as well as the fresh spare ribs right on the spot.


Food: outstanding. Now when they say their collards and Mac and cheese are out of this world we did have to take it with a grain of salt being that we are in a food Mecca here in Miami and in New York and oftentimes Chicago. But I was very happy with the greens. The meat - definitely top shelf BBQ.


There were many many fun flavors of sauces as well. Don't think that's small potatoes! Cause in the world of BBQ you need that perfect sauce. So the big variety of hot, very hot and packing major heat sauce - was great. There was a yummy mustard and a few sweet versions as well.


They were generous with the Cups to hold the sauces.


They helped us pack it up being that we were continuing our travels.


So, if you're out there it's definitely a spot you want to check out.
Just do it!


If you want a true down-home southern meal, eat here. The greens were out of this world, and every kind of meat they had was succulent & flavorful. The prices can't be beat, and you get well more than what you pay for. I highly recommend for a delicious lunch or dinner, especially if you're in a hurry.

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich meal which came with a side of cornbread, mac and cheese and a drink. The food was excellent! The pulled pork was tender and the mac and cheese was creamy and to die for. A fantastic meal for under $10!


Pulled pork meal with cornbread and mac and cheese


OUTSTANDING pork ribs and coleslaw - and I don't say that lightly. Best slaw I've had in 40+ years. And the ribs - simply the best prepared and cooked I've had - gently and flavorfully seasoned, lovingly cooked. Man, are they good. The pulled pork and baked beans were pedestrian but. OMG I'm coming back! Note - if I'd known, as the locals must, I would've gotten there BEFORE he ran out of food (yes, it's that good!). If you're anywhere nearby, and you're a BBQ foodie, you've got to try this place.


Best BBQ

by cstrazzera

Roadside hands down is the best BBQ in Sarasota!! Eat there and nowhere else or you will be disappointed.


This place is the real deal!

by Jeff Wolach

Heard about Roadside one day while listening to Bubba The Love Sponge. So, while I was traveling back from Tampa the other day I decide to vier off and check them out. AWESOME BBQ!!! These guys are the real deal. Great sandwich and sides. Made fresh daily. I'm definitely going back there soon!!


I know good bbq

by Domenic J Valentine

I smoke my own brisket, chicken ,and pork. You can tell the difference between authentic slow cooked BBQ and what you usually get at most restaurants. These guys obviously know what they are doing. Great BBQ .... and as usual, off the beaten track.


Cute BBQ eatery!

by Steve Weller

What a cute little BBQ eatery! Good, cheap and authentic Southern BBQ! Owned, run and operated by 2 guys. Lots of atmosphere, and good prices! Located right on Bahia Vista Rd., just west of 41, very close to Sarasota High School.


Mobile review by Vicki

Fantastic BBQ with homemade Mac & cheese @ great price. Will definitely be back for more.


Mobile review by Sarah King

Finally a real southern BBQ Place! I love the food and try and go at least once weekly! It's cheap, and it's good and you get so much food!


Skip the chains by D.

Super friendly service, generous portions, and authentic southern barbecue tastes make Roadside a treat from the chain restaurants. Be sure to try the sweet sauce - it's so tasty and you're not limited to two small packs of it like at some places (Sonny's).


Lady V. Miami, FL

After returning from our lil adventure in Bush Gardens, as we were driving back to Sarasota, I went through YELP to find a place to eat near our hotel. We were half starved! I found this lil hole in the wall here, Roadside Rib Shack. The food here was incredible.. I've never eaten ribs like their ribs.. First off the portion of my HALF of babyback ribs were "Fred Flintstone" style.. I even confirmed with the guy and told him, I asked for half of babyback ribs and he said with a huge smile that is half.. I was dumbfounded.. When I say HUGE, I mean HUGE!! The flavor was amazing.. Mi Bebe had the pull pork, shredded chicken and these huge ribs. He was in HOG HEAVEN.. LOL.. The only thing I kept seeing was eyes rolled back to his head in euphoria.. LOL.. The owner behind the counter was a friendly family guy.. Didn't cared too much for the greens but I loved the mac & cheese.. When I returned back to Sarasota, I will definitely return to this place.. We loved it.. Our bellies were happy happy joy joy... LOL


John M. Chicago, IL

Just got into Sarasota today from Chicago and my girlfriend and I were both starving, not being from here and not knowing where to eat I searched Yelp & lo and behold I found a gem! The Roadside Rib Shack in Sarasota. Let me begin by telling you all that I am an experienced BBQ connoisseur and this is among the best I've ever had I ordered a rib tips meal which came with 1 side and 1 piece of corn bread and a drink. The tips were fresh, meaty, juicy as hell and seasoned to perfection my girlfriend ordered the Chicken wing meal deal with two sides and a drink the wings too were cooked and seasoned to perfection. Roadside Rib Shack had several different BBQ sauces to choose from, and I highly recommend the mac n cheese and colored greens as sides. Overall we both had a very memorable experience thanks to an employee who took the time to talk to us about the food and the other area restaurants & even sent us packing with extra rib tips and wings which I am munching on right now in fact. Thank you Roadside Rib Shack, keep on Queing! John Mac


Fuzzy B. Seattle WA

Large portions. Lots of different sauce flavors. Very friendly and helpful guy behind the counter (the owner?). They were out of ribs by 5:30 on the Saturday we tried to go there, so either go early or call ahead.


Matthew T. Bradenton, FL

The Roadside Rib Shack is one of those places that is on my lunch rotation list. It is fairly good Bar B Q, not the best I've ever had, but pretty darn good. And it seems the last few months that some of their so so things have improved and are much tastier now. Which I'm happy about. The beans are much improved. Typically I go for a pulled pork sandwich and a side of mac and cheese. I love their mac and cheese. You almost always get a bit of the top part with the browned cheese. It is creamy and yummy and just right under neath. Heck sometimes, I just want the mac and cheese and could forget the pulled pork. They have a few different sauces and a reasonable selection of sides. The ribs are reliable but not the best ever. A co-worker loves their smoked chicken but I've never had it. But he has decent taste so give it a try. but remember, the mac and cheese.......It haunts my dreams.


Steve G. San Francisco, CA

Very solid BBQ at this joint off Siesta Key. The owner is an absolute gem and guaranteed we would enjoy anything off the menu. He was was right. The ribs were fatty, tender, full of flavor and dripping with homemade hot sauce. Plus, my sides: old school mac & cheese and unbelievably tasty potato salad...with mustard mixed in as a special kick. If your driving along US 41 and tempted to pull in for a steak at longhorn or outback, just take a minute and pull off the road to this joint. You'll spend much less and actually remember the experience.


Carolyn H. Washington, DC

If you're in Sarasota and looking for BBQ, definitely check this place out. The owner, who is from Ohio, is a self-taught BBQ master. His ribs are amazing -- tender, fall off the bone, and flavored just right. My guy ordered pulled pork and said it was delicious. I wasn't starving when I arrived, so the owner kindly let me order a smaller plate than what was on the menu: 4 baby back ribs + 1 side for about $8 (as opposed to a half rack + 2 sides for $15). It was just the right amount of food for me. The collard greens were my side, and they were spot-on. The owner also makes his own BBQ sauce -- and apparently his original recipe won an award at a BBQ competition. I can see why. It was tangy, complex, and addictive. The one disappointment was dessert. I ordered the peach cobbler, and it was too sweet (almost cloying) and mainly crust. I kept searching for peach slices, but I found maybe 4 in my entire serving.


SaraSoda. Sarasota, FL

This is the best BBQ place in the area. The ribs are sooo tender and fall off the bone. The spicy bbq sauce is the best out of the sauces. All meals come with delicious cornbread and they offer combo meals. Their smoked chicken is tender too, but I prefer the ribs. You must get their mac & cheese and mashed sweet potato. Both are amazing. I used to get the collard greens which were my favorite until I found out it was cooked with ham hock and later found a chunk. That is the way to cook em' though, just not my thing. ... The restaurant itself is what you would expect with a name like Rib Shack, located in a small strip and has a few booths. It's clean though!



For Current Prices

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2045 Bahia Vista Street ~ Sarasota, Florida 34239

Corner of Bahia Vista & US 41


Email: info@roadsideribshack.com

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