Monroe's Smokehouse Bar-B-Q4838 Highway Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32254
User Ratings and Reviews:smokedpig
June 24, 2011, 7:31 p.m.
I first noticed Monroe's Smokehouse while driving down a side street off Cassat Avenue, and made a note to give it a try next time I was in the area. A quick Google search revealed many great reviews, several even proclaiming it the best in Jacksonville and making me more eager to try it out. A couple weeks later, the opportunity arose, and I stopped in for a Friday afternoon lunch. The parking lot was packed, but I managed to find a spot. After entering the front door, you place your order at the counter straight ahead of you. A colorful chalkboard lists the days specials and available side items.
They had a two meat combo, so I went for pulled pork and brisket along with sides of baked beans and collard greens. A piece of texas toast was also included. After ordering, you take a number and seat yourself at one of the oversized booths. A few minutes later, my food arrived and I dug in.
I hit the sides first and was immediately impressed with both. The beans were loaded with bacon and tasted heavily of brown sugar, maybe a bit too sweet but I loved them. The greens were tender, cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and had tons of flavor. I was excited to try the meats, especially since I don't usually get brisket and this seemed like the place to try some. Maybe all the glowing reviews and my excitement got my hopes too high, but this meat was a letdown. It was tender and moist, appeared to have a little bit of smoke ring, but I had to strain to find any smoky flavor. Also, the brisket had a big strip of unrendered fat running up the middle, which I have learned from @BBQsnob is not a good sign. It was a great pork roast and roast beef, but fell short of awesome barbecue. While coming to this realization I was also contemplating the sauce lineup:
I poured out a little of the "Monroe Sauce", dipped a couple chunks of meat and found where all the smoke had gone. The sauce, like the sides, was intensely flavorful and it's sweet smokiness almost made up for the lack of it in the meats. The mustard sauce was great as well, but the original remained my favorite.
As good as everything besides the meat was, I wish I could give them a better rating. Best in Jax? I would actually agree with that. Unfortunately, that doesn't say very much.