Warning: Reading the following may induce symptoms including but not limited to — excessive salivating, uncontrollable thirst for sweet tea, and growling stomachs. Continue at your own risk.
If you’ve had visions of hushpuppies dancing in your head, mosey over to one of these nearby spots for a plate.
- Blue Dog Craft Barbecue, 640 E. Main St. | Pop into The Joinery for your favorite BBQ classics — pro tip: Order the family sampler for your next gathering.
- Lakeland BBQ Company, 2101 S. Combee Rd. | Debbie S. recommends Lakeland BBQ Company, which offers online ordering, catering, and wedding packages. Pitmaster Joel Vann has competed in FBA and KCBS Professional BBQ competitions and is known for excellence in chicken, pork, and brisket.
- Jimbo’s Pit Bar BQ, 1215 E. Memorial Blvd. | This family-run restaurant specializes in ribs, chicken, and pork and has been open for nearly 60 years. Pro tip: Stop by the drive-thru and walk-up windows for quick ordering.
- Mission BBQ, 4014 Florida Ave. S. | Although it’s not a Lakeland-based business, Mission BBQ is loved by Lakelanders for its signature sandwiches and dedication to serving active-duty military personnel and veterans.
- Mojo Federal Swine & Spirits, 130 S. Tennessee Ave. | Located in the downtown’s historic Federal Building, Mojo Federal is known for its craft cocktails, whiskey bar, outdoor seating, and pet-friendly atmosphere in addition to its fan-favorite BBQ.
- Peebles BBQ, 441 Dixie Hwy., Auburndale | This Auburndale staple has been around since 1947. If you’re wondering what 73 years in the BBQ biz tastes like, make the 20-minute drive from downtown Lakeland soon, because they close during July and August.
- Gaskins Barbecue and Lobster, 1614 Town Center Dr. | This Lakeside Village spot was voted the Best New Restaurant in 2022 by HAVEN Magazine — stop by to try the famous lobster rolls and BBQ that make it a Lakeland staple, and Reader R. B.'s favorite.
- Granger & Sons Barbecue, 8121 US Hwy. 98 N., Lakeland | Reader Wendy S. said our list wouldn’t be complete without this spot, which boasts nearly 4,000 likes on the business’s Facebook page.
Oh, and we have one more on the way. 4 Rivers Smokehouse (4747 S. Florida Ave.) is coming in 2023.