One bite of anything on 4 Rivers Smokehouse’s extensive menu and you’re hooked. Seriously. Unique barbeque-centric menu items range from my traditional pulled pork and brisket, to new favorites like Burnt Ends (1/2 brisket, 1/2 pulled pork) or Santa Maria Tri-Tip Steak sandwich. Sides vary from mac ‘n cheese to baked cheese grits to the biggest fried pickles you’ve ever seen.
With family-style seating indoor and huge picnic tables outside, 4 Rivers Smokehouse is the perfect casual family restaurant. However, such a delicious menu didn’t come from the likes of a classically-trained chef — instead, owner John Rivers parlayed a 20-year career in healthcare into a “BBQ Ministry” in 2004 when Rivers hosted a BBQ fundraiser to support a local family facing the increasing medical bills of their young daughter’s battle with cancer. Working from his garage, Rivers’ ministry quickly grew in popularity, prompting the bottling of his 4R Signature Barbecue Sauce and the ultimate leap of faith to open the first smokehouse in Winter Park, Fla. The flagship store was recreated less than one mile away to offer The Sweet Shop and additional indoor seating to accommodate ‘cue fans.
Today there are five operating Smokehouses spanning Central and North Florida. A line of sauces, rubs, smoked proteins and merchandise are available for mail order throughout the United States. 4 Rivers Smokehouse hasn’t forgotten its charitable roots though and continues the tradition of donating proceeds to local churches and school endeavors.
Recently, Chef-Owner Rivers wrote and curated his own cookbook, The Southern Cowboy. Featuring more than 80 recipes, including kolaches (an amazing sweet or savory pastry well-known in Texas), the famous 4 Rivers’ Cornbread Salad, and a Krispy Kreme doughnut bread pudding, the 217-page cookbook is available for purchase via 4 Rivers website.
One lucky Orlando Moms Blog reader will receive a copy of The Southern Cowboy Cookbook, plus a dinner for two certificate, which values at $60! Enter to win below through Thursday, November 14. The winner will be notified by email.