Kojaks House of Ribs
2808 Gandy Blvd.
Tampa, FL, US 33611
While on vacation this past week one of my quests was to spend some time at Spring Training games here in Florida the only challenge was that I had a few things I wanted to get done around the house as well as it was unseasonably cold here and I know to most 40-50s sound like a head wave to me its not ☺
I looked at the schedule each morning and everyday I had been to the stadiums already for the games I was semi interested in. So instead I worked on my list of projects at home and decided I would do some Tampa BBQ tasting. I had several places I wanted to try but Kojak’s had been calling me for some time. I had driven past it one day by accident turning off of Bayshore onto Gandy and whenever I see a sign for RIBs my heart always flutters a little. My favorite order on BBQ menus is Spareribs.
Now if you don’t know my qualifications and found this article on Google or Bing you could search my other pages but needless to say I’m a KCBS and FL BBQ Judge as well as have attended several cooking schools (Myron Mixon’s being the most famous). I have judged 30-40 contests including Grilling in Mesquite, NV and the Lakeland, FL Pigfest to name just a couple you might have heard of. I have three smokers at my house, cook almost every weekend and I know BBQ ☺
Enough about me – on to Kojak’s House of Ribs….
So first of all pulling up to Kojak’s the parking lot is full of cars, which to me is always a good sign. It’s is an old white South Tampa style house with a great wrap around porch. Very cool looking building with old school picnic tables and fans above. Very clean, very retro looking just a cool environment outside – for me again it was a little cold so I opted to eat inside.
Inside could be even a cooler experience – older house with great old hard wood floors and small tables in each room. I went to the left into the small room with the fireplace, which I assumed was a dinning or living room at one time. I told the lady at the front where you could either order your togo or grab a table it was my first time and she gave me a menu. Since I normally bring a camera and I am snapping a few pictures of the place I suspect they know I am writing about the BBQ or the experience but who knows.
Looking over the menu I of course was going to order ribs since I mean that is the name of the place and was trying to figure out a 2 or 3 item combination. I went for 3 what the heck I’m on vacation – Spareribs, Chopped Pork (their most popular I was told) and Chopped Beef. The Chopped came in their special blend of sauces so I assumed a rub and light sauce which was fine. The waitress – and let me say the service as wonderful. Oh I forgot – a Sweet Tea to get started as well… Their Sweet Tea was really nice – not overpowering sweet but enough you could taste the tea and the sweet… really nice.
Sides I always forget about looking at because I’m so ready for BBQ but I also consider that having a great BBQ restaurant you must have great sides… you are ordering a plate of food while when I’m judging at a contest I’m only judging meat… restaurant to me is a little different. The food, the venue, the service and the overall experience to me are important. In a contest I’m in a big room that is normally used for something else and is setup with tables just for this one day (or two) but a restaurant is setup for me to want to come back over and over.
Back to the food ☺ Getting sidetracked a lot this morning while writing this post.
Choose from Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Green Beans, Apple Sauce, Macaroni Salad, Potato Salad or Parsley Potatoes… Again I was so interested in the BBQ I forgot to look. So the waitress was nice enough to help me her recommendations were the Parsley Potatoes and the Baked Beans which both sounded wonderful to me.
One other side note about the venue is you are very close to McDill Air Force Base so you get a lot of soldiers in camo in the restaurant – that tells me two things one is it must be good because soldiers know food and I am quite sure they will keep it safe from any issues that might arise. Thank you to all our military for your service!
So almost 800 words and now my food comes ☺
Now this is a plate full of food – exactly what I would expect large amount of sides and large amount of BBQ. There were three sauce options on the table, regular, sweet and hot. I couldn’t take it any longer so I dug into the ribs – first bite was to check tenderness and it was a clean bit with just the perfect amount of tug to know that they knew where they were doing so a second bite leads me to my tasting of the ribs, which were great. Nice smooth rub not over spiced or over rubbed and they were dry ribs (moist of course dry) so no sauce or glaze but that is just fine. Ribs were spot on and very happy…
The Pork and Beef were the mystery to me… now this could just be me but they were way over sauced. They were covered and then sitting in a pool of sauce. I was surprised by how much sauce there was and wondered why you would even put more on the table… but I tired both. Honestly at the beginning I had to look to see which was pork and which was beef – it was hard to tell at first. To me – I want my BBQ to taste like what it is – is it pork? It should taste like pork first and the same with beef. I was a little disappointed in these two meats and I did scrape off the sauce and tried them both and they were cooked great but so hard to tell flavor at that point.
The sides – outstanding I cleared both of them like it was nothing. The baked beans had a perfect snap to them and there was a flavor added to them that I couldn’t figure out but whatever it was it worked great!! I loved it and them. The Parsley Potatoes were highly recommended so I tried them and what appeared to be Red Potatoes with oil, parsley and garlic was a perfect combination.
When the waitress came back she could see what I enjoyed and what I didn’t which is the sign of good service and knowing a customer she brought my bill back and a small stainless restaurant serving cup of their new pulled pork. She said I wanted you to try this and I did… Out of this world. Perfectly cooked, pulled, taste, texture all spot on… I wish I had known and would have ordered that ☺
My overall experience is that I would say Kojak’s Ribs is a great place that I will try again – The Ribs were perfect and I did try the sauces which were all good – but you will have to find the taste your looking for the sweet was the best to me. The pulled pork that was brought to me at the end was again perfectly done but the I just wish they didn’t over sauce the chopped… maybe it’s what their customer bases wants and I could be wrong which I have been before but to me too much sauce. Sides were perfect and unique as well as the venue and wait staff were perfect. I will return.