Eating at the Pit Bar-B-Q is like taking a seat at Merlotte's in Bon Temps, the fictional restaurant in True Blood, minus the vampires and werewolves. Just switch those out for gator bites and frogs' legs (shipped overnight from Louisiana) and the place you're imagining is pretty darn close to the real thing. Although if they existed, fricasseed werewolf surely would be on the Pit's menu too, and you bet your sweet granny it'd be delicious.
This restaurant opened in 1965 in what used to be swampland, and now has an expansive menu covering Southern delicacies and Latin dishes alike.
Owner Mike Gonzalez offered us a complimentary helping to various items on the menu, and we settled on a few classics along with a few bites of dishes you'd normally see swimming around in the murky Everglades. We eat and report all of this for you folks!
Sitting down in the small indoor dining area (there's a huge outdoor area, too), we were surrounded by red-checkered tables with ceilings and walls covered in bayou kitsch décor. Our happy waitress, Madeline, started us with the new smoked fish dip, which was a creamy heap of smoked salmon served with the obligatory side of saltines.
In came the crispy frog legs ($8) and cubed gator bites ($12). They looked downright appetizing, so we dove right in. Both had a light, spicy breading. Where the frogs' legs had supple, tender meat, the gator was slightly denser and had a texture and taste reminiscent of pork. While these two dishes might put off some patrons, we thought they were good eats, no two ways about it.
We admit there isn't much meat on frogs' legs, and we were hankering for something more ample to munch. We didn't have to wait long before a full plate of sweet, smoky ribs was slapped on our laden table, followed by a helping of steaming-hot chicken with white rice, fried
platanos (plantains, for non-Spanish-speaking folks), and a side of black
beans ($13). The chicken platter was good, but the ribs -- oh the ribs, we
could go on for days.
We commend the Pit for not ridiculously slathering the ribs in syrupy barbecue goo; they're just dry-rubbed in the basics and smoked to perfection. It was tough to tear our mouth away from those succulent pork batonnets. It was like eating the most substantially meaty slice of
applewood-smoked bacon we have ever had the sinful pleasure of getting our
grubby hands on.
Prying our greedy fingers from the ribs, sweetly charred chicken, and light and airy fried plaintains, we tried a piping-hot plate of churrasco steak with a towering side of seasoned fries and fried biscuits ($15). Because of all our horrid experiences with dry, stringy,
jerky-like churrasco, we were tentative to try this. We were blissfully surprised when our knives sliced through like meat like butter, revealing delicate, moist mouthfuls cooked to a perfect medium-rare. This is the way churrasco is meant to be eaten.
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Our appetites had long been fully sated, but somehow, with each plate presented, we ecstatically made room for more, like a bovine's multichambered belly. It might be their Southern twang, the way they answered many questions with a guttural "mm-hmm," or the fact that if you close your eyes, you swear you can hear the splash of kids in a nearby fishing hole, but all we have to say is the Pit Bar-B-Q sure does make you feel at home and mighty welcome too.
The Pit Bar-B-Q offers live music on the weekends and Bikers' Night every Saturday evening. They also offer pony rides on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.!