The Town's Best Kept BBQ Secret is in South Miami, Tonight

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Every Friday and Saturday, things get ridiculously tasty at the intersection of SW 62nd Avenue and SW 64th Street. The vacant lot behind St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Miami fills with the town’s unsung gourmands. In the distance, a yard full of dudes plays dominoes under a stumpy tree.

An old dude named Levi Kelly rolls a huge pit BBQ trailer out to the empty lot. Behind a tiny blue tent, Kelly serves up perhaps the best kept secret in the town: $8 gets you a “rib sandwich,” which basically consists of a half rack of crispy-smoked mouth-shattering ribs chopped up and laid over two pieces of white bread. $24 gets you a whole rack (I can only imagine…).

By the time you get down to the bread (two hours later), it’s nothing but a sponge of grease and spicy-sweet sauce. Ask for sauce and he’ll pour it on with an iced tea pitcher. Sit down and talk to the old timers on SW 64th Street about South Miami’s racist history.

“There used to be a fence right over there that black folk didn’t cross,” said Sarah Tompkins, an aging native. Her face lit up when her son, a bear of a man, showed up in UPS shorts, his shirt opened down to the fifth button, with his arms full of kids. “Here comes the boss,” Tompkins said, eying her pre-teenage grandaughter.

“Grandmama,” the girlsaid, rolling her eyes in anticipation of the answer. “Can I have five dollars?”


“Why not,” she said, stamping her foot. “I left my money in my locker.”

"That doesn’t sound like a good place for it."

The Boss’ brother arrived hungry and Tompkins tossed a whole snapper into a plastic tupperware filled with fine flour. She shook them up with a thump-thump and tossed them into a propane fryer. Too bad I was stuffed to the gills with pork.

Kelly and Tompkins were nice. And they were right, it was good talking to some old folks for a change.

Saturday night at 8:30, I found an graying Caribbean couple closing up shop. All she had left were conch fritters (3 for $1) and I bought a brown paper bag. By the time I got them back to the office, the bag had formed a greasy window from which you could peer into the delectible almost latke-like treats inside. Ah, yes. --Calvin Godfrey

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Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


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