I first noticed Monroe's Smokehouse while driving down a side street off Cassat Avenue, and made a note to give it a try next time I was in the area. A quick Google search revealed many great reviews, several even proclaiming it the best in Jacksonville and making me more eager to try it out. A couple weeks later, the opportunity arose, and I stopped in for a Friday afternoon lunch. The parking lot was packed, but I managed to find a spot. After entering the front door, you place your order at the counter straight ahead of you. A colorful chalkboard lists the days specials and available side items.
They had a two meat combo, so I went for pulled pork and brisket along with sides of baked beans and collard greens. A piece of texas toast was also included. After ordering, you take a number and seat yourself at one of the oversized booths. A few minutes later, my food arrived and I dug in.
I hit the sides first and was immediately impressed with both. The beans were loaded with bacon and tasted heavily of brown sugar, maybe a bit too sweet but I loved them. The greens were tender, cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and had tons of flavor. I was excited to try the meats, especially since I don't usually get brisket and this seemed like the place to try some. Maybe all the glowing reviews and my excitement got my hopes too high, but this meat was a letdown. It was tender and moist, appeared to have a little bit of smoke ring, but I had to strain to find any smoky flavor. Also, the brisket had a big strip of unrendered fat running up the middle, which I have learned from @BBQsnob is not a good sign. It was a great pork roast and roast beef, but fell short of awesome barbecue. While coming to this realization I was also contemplating the sauce lineup:
As good as everything besides the meat was, I wish I could give them a better rating. Best in Jax? I would actually agree with that. Unfortunately, that doesn't say very much.
FOOD RATING: 3 OF 5OVERALL RATING: 3.5 OF 5