Monday, November 19, 2012

Billy C's Fred Cotton BBQ, Jacksonville, FL

Although I had heard the name once or twice, I might have never tried Fred Cotton BBQ if I hadn't ran across their story in this book. It sits quietly beside Main Street in the rougher north side of town, and on the off chance I might have driven by, I don't know that even I would have been compelled to stop after seeing the ramshackle exterior.

The windows have all been boarded up for who knows how long, but a bit of smoke still hung around, like a ghost of bbq past. According to the story, 'Billy C' took over in 2000 from the original owner who established it in 1948. On entering the dimly lit interior, it became apparent that he didn't make many changes.

A few bulbs hanging from the ceiling shed the only light on miniature tile floors, a wooden counter, and cracked leather bar stools that looked like they hadn't been updated since at best the '70s.

Behind the counter, a wiry black man, who might have also been here since then, shoveled, sliced and chopped his wares on the smoke stained brick pit.

I only needed a quick meal so I ordered a rib sandwich to go. After a few minutes in which it felt like time was slowly being rewound, I paid for my sandwich and exited the building, blinking several times as my eyes readjusted to the bright sunlight outside. A quick peek in my styrofoam box revealed this:

 The spare ribs were cooked well even though their taste was a little hidden by the flood of sauce drenching them. It was a nicely balanced mustard sauce but just a little more than the tiny ribs needed. I sopped some of it up with the fresh white bread, alternating with slightly chewy bits of well seasoned meat and ended up with just what I came for, a craving-satisfying snack. I have to say though, if I had been hungry for a full lunch, this sandwich would have came up short.

I am very curious about the rest of the menu, so if I'm ever in the area again, I'll be sure to stop in again for some vintage 'que. Based on this visit though, it only gets average marks for the ribs and the atmosphere of a place that feels like it may have been great once, but who's time is passed and slowly dying.


Fred Cotten Barbeque on Urbanspoon


Gary Thomas Tanner said...

Cotten's is definitely not what it once was, but the food has kept me coming back for 50 years. By the way, the windowns have been blacked out since at least the mid 60s.

Rella said...

My sister and I were there today for lunch. Pork platter was excellent as always. We were told Monday, September 15th would be the last day of business. Since going there for over 40 years, I am sorry to see it close.