Three Little Pigs

Prices range between $6.25 for barbecue beef or ham sliced to order, to $11.95 for a full slab of spare or baby back ribs. We swilled iced tea, but beer is available at $1.75 per mug, $3.95 for a small pitcher, and $4.95 for a large pitcher.

While the spare ribs ($11.95) numbered about the same as those we'd had at the other places, they were shorter, and worse, much fattier; in fact, several were almost completely made up of fat, and the rather watery, only slightly tangy barbecue sauce did little to cleanse our grease-coated palates. I fared better with a combo plate of turkey, beef, and ham ($7.45 - a Sunday special with slightly less meat goes for $4.35). This choice was just the opposite of the ribs: lean, thick slices full of enticing hickory flavor.

All meals come with French fries, cole slaw, and garlic bread, but I can't tell you about this last because it was never brought to the table, which we realized only after the meal had ended. The fries, though better than those at Shorty's, were fair at best; the cole slaw was a little more vinegary and not so gooey with mayo. An order of corn-on-the-cob, however, served in a plastic canoe and with wooden handles protruding from the ear, was first-rate and naturally sweet. But a side of beans I ordered - served in a miniature glazed pot - had Campbell's written all over them and were immersed in a cloyingly sweet sauce.

As we finished our barbecue-in-Miami experiment, we concluded that we would have to continue our quest for the culinary holy grail of good ol' boys everywhere. And we concurred that there's only one (unscientific) guide to great barbecue in South Florida: if you see that fat guy trying with no little amount of maneuvering to get through the door - that's our kind of barbecue.

SHORTY'S BAR-B-Q
9200 S. Dixie Hwy; 665-5732. Open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday to 11:00 p.m. Also located in Davie at 5989 S. University Dr; 944-0348

NEW HICKORY BAR-B-QUE
3170 Coral Way; 443-0842. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

THE BAR-B-Q-BARN
11575 Bird Rd; 220-7675. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:00 am. to 10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday to 11:00 p.m. Also located at 11705 NW 7th Ave; 68l-249l

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