Soul Food for Potential Soul Mate at Tom Jenkins' Bar-B-Q

Categories: Rants
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Photo by Flickr user Marshall Astor Food Pornographer
Barbecue: the perfect date tester.

When it comes to both dating and dining, I generally try to keep an open mind. But there are some tenets I stick to like paper on a slightly melted Blow Pop.

With regards to dating, I stay away from guys still married, separated, or recently divorced, and if a man makes a dry-heaving sound when raw food of any sort arrives at the table, I kick him to the curb.

Dining is just as intimate a matter, and most of the lessons I've learned in this department came from my daddy. The first thing he taught me was that just because you can't pronounce it doesn't mean it's not good eatin'. Also, never order a hamburger in a Chinese restaurant. And last, don't try ribs, collard greens, or sweet potato pie from any barbecue place that employs only white chefs.

Now I know I can get respectable ribs at any number of joints in Wellington and Boca -- Park Avenue and Mississippi Sweets come to mind -- but I need to eat where the brothers are. Only they can tap into their roots and bring forth true soul food.
Sensing my little 24-year-old cougar cub would enjoy some baby backs and sweet tea, I suggested Tom Jenkins' Bar-B-Q, my go-to. He protested at first, claiming he was overdressed and his whitey local barbecue chain in Boca, Smokey Bones, was top-notch. But I pulled out the claws and gave him a bad-kitty look until he relented. 

Once inside my mecca, I could see he was still reluctant. I'm sure he was wondering why he put on a snappy 7 Diamonds button-down to sit at a picnic table and, above all else, why a nice Jewish girl like me would rather be here scarfing down a slab than eating steak at Morton's. But once he got a taste of the sweet and vinegary sauce shellacked on those tender red ribs, Tom's cool and crispy coleslaw, and the simple yet magically sticky mac 'n' cheese, it all became clear. Halfway through our Styrofoam-divided meals, I could see that the touristy gay couple canoodling beside us no longer bothered him. Motown music filled the air, great eats filled our bellies, and I dare say he thought I was that much cooler of a chick for taking him here. The only downside? My date used a knife and fork to eat his ribs.

Sure, there were some downfalls -- we both had to unceremoniously pick pork and greens out of our teeth, we both smelled like a smokehouse afterward, and we had to wait so long for our order that I thought we might pass out. Yet overall, Tom's was a great place to test my new boyfriend-of-the-week's level of adventurousness and to devour some damned fine 'cue. I know I will definitely be coming back to Tom's for more Southern comfort. As to whether I'll be bringing Mr. Boca along... well, that has yet to be determined. I'm not convinced a guy who refuses to eat ribs with his hands is man enough for me.

Tom Jenkins' Bar-B-Q is located at 1236 S. Federal Hwy. in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-522-5046, or click here.

Riki Altman eats everything that won't try and eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.

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