It's one of the very last vestiges of Old Florida. The Uncle Tom's Barbecue sign has shown hungry travelers on the Tamiami Trail the way to smoked meat since it opened around 1948 with a name that probably wasn't so ironic back in the day.
The walls of the restaurant were plastered with photos of beauty queens and movie stars such as Rita Hayworth, along with photos of more recent Latin heartthrobs. The log cabin-themed restaurant saw many changes in the neighborhood and ownership, with the current owners adding both Latin and generic dishes, such as lechon with rice and beans and mozzarella sticks, to the menu.
A recent visit to the restaurant was underwhelming. The wine was presented in an unopened plastic bottle, the chicken was a little dry, and the vegetables were overcooked. Still, the restaurant was a time warp and a place to visit every once in a while if only for the nostalgia.
See also: Best Barbecue 2007: Uncle Tom's Barbecue
Driving recently on the "Trail," we noticed the welcoming neon of the Uncle Tom's sign was off. A large banner informed passersby that the restaurant was renovating. A "Notice to Vacate" sign was placed on the front door, issued by Miami-Dade County because the building is unsafe.
A series of violations were also listed, including hazardous electrical or mechanical installations, unsanitary conditions due to inadequate or malfunctioning sanitary facilities or waste disposal systems, work done without permit or with expired permit, and fire or windstorm hazard.
The notice also recommended that the main CBS structure be repaired or demolished and the metal-and-wood frame structure, presumably the patio, be demolished.
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As of August 26, the restaurant's Facebook page said, "Get Ready... We're coming back strong."
Let's hope so, if only to restore one of the oldest remnants of Miami culinary history.