Our favorite barbecue spots around Lakeland, Florida

Pork, brisket, and macaroni and cheese from Blue Dog Craft Barbecue
Feast your eyes on this spread from Blue Dog Craft Barbecue | Photo via @bluedogcraftbarbecue

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.

Now that our disclaimer is out of the way, Mon., May 16 is National Barbecue Day. If you’ve had visions of hushpuppies dancing in your head, mosey over to one of these nearby spots for a plate.  

  • 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
  • Blackburn’s BBQ 169 5th St., Eagle Lake | Cherie D. recommended this spotjust 26 minutes from downtown Lakeland — to us when we asked you on Facebook where we can find the best BBQ around. Currently, the biz is running a special on chicken salad sandwiches

Looking for more? Two more BBQ spots are coming soon: Blue Dog Craft Barbecue (640 E. Main St., coming this summer at The Joinery), and 4 Rivers Smokehouse (4747 S. Florida Ave., coming in 2022.)