The familiar aroma of BBQ wafting through the air, plumes of smoke soaring to the sky and paper towel resting on the table top, this scene can only mean one thing, it’s time to eat some BBQ! After being gone for almost two weeks for work, and flying home on his birthday, I picked up Pellet Guy (aka my husband) from the airport and told him we needed to make a detour on our way home. That detour was a stop at a local BBQ place called Short Stack that I had been hearing great things about. Pellet Guy loves BBQ as much as I do, so I knew he would enjoy this birthday surprise.
Short Stack BBQ is located in Clearwater, FL about 20 minutes from the Tampa International Airport and about 20 minutes from the white powdery sands of Clearwater Beach. This location has only been open since February 2018, but before that they spent years in Port Richey, a few towns to the north. The shopping center it’s in was a little tired and the restaurant was located on the backside of the building so it wasn’t easy to find at first, but once we saw the giant smoker we knew we were at the right place. Once inside I was shocked at how big the venue was, there were tons of tables and even a recreation area to one side that didn’t look finished yet, but looks like it will be pretty cool once it’s done.
If I sit down at any other type of restaurant and things are a little sticky I tend to be turned off, but for some reason if I am at a BBQ place and everything seems a little sticky I think nothing of it, and that was the case here. On the table you will find their four BBQ sauces (original, sweet, vinegar spicy, mustard) as well as the must have paper towel roll. I make it a habit to try all the sauces right away because that is usually a good indicator of how the BBQ is going to taste. The sauces were awesome! I am not always a big mustard sauce fan but this one was off the charts good. Seriously, it tasted like honey mustard and BBQ sauce mixed together, it was so good I put it on everything. Pellet Guy and I both agreed that mixing the sweet with the vinegar spicy was a killer combo too.
Ok, enough about sauces, onto the meat! I ordered the 1/2 rack of ribs with fried okra (my absolute favorite side dish ever) and corn pudding. You get a choice of Texas toast or cornbread with that too and I went with the cornbread. Pellet Guy ordered the 2 meat combo platter with pulled pork and sausage with his two sides being fries and mac ‘n cheese and he selected Texas toast with his meal. I swear if sausage is on the menu he will order it, he won’t admit it, but I think that might be his favorite BBQ dish.
The portions here are HUGE, Pellet Guy’s meal could easily have fed two people, and while my half rack of ribs were just that, a half rack, they were super meaty with no fat, and the sides were a very generous portion, so there was no way I could finish it all. As you can see from the picture, the ribs came clean off the bone, they were moist, smokey and damn delicious. They may have been just a hint smokier than I normally like, but I would still order them again and again. The fried okra was perfect and the corn pudding was different than I have had before. I actually only ate a few bites of it and took the rest home, and found that I preferred it cold later that day than I did warm when it was served with the meal. The cornbread was some of the best I have ever had, it was not dry at all, it was sweet and most. I would order that as a side if it didn’t already come with the meal. For $13.99 I really felt like I got my money’s worth, and that is not something that can always be said when it comes to BBQ because it can get pricey and sometimes a half rack will only be a few bones with little meat on them, so I was incredibly pleased with the quality and value I received.
Pellet Guy said his pulled pork was some of the best he ever had and the sausage was delicious. I was too busy stuffing my face with my food to even try his, and by the time I thought to try it I was already so full I couldn’t, so I can’t speak first hand for how his was, but he raved about it. Another thing I was really impressed with was their fries, as you can see from the pictures they are fresh, hand cut fries and I swear they must have put 2 or 3 full potatoes on his plates. He also said the mac ‘n cheese was “legit”, and that says a lot because he thinks of himself as a mac ‘n cheese connoisseurs. Which I guess I should appreciate since he always says mine is the best….but maybe that’s just for brownie points?
Short Stack BBQ was one of the best BBQ experiences we have had locally, and I can’t wait to go back. The menu says to ask about Brisket and Burnt ends, so I think next time I will ask about that, or maybe get the pulled pork, or maybe do ribs again since they were so good, it’s such a hard decision. I also want to try the Brunswick stew, I may have to go for lunch and then come back for dinner in order to try everything I want. For those that like to drink they also offer a full bar.
If you are ever in the Clearwater area and craving some BBQ do yourself a favor and check out Short Stack. They are in a tough location, so I hope the word of mouth spreads and they do well, it would be a shame to see a place this good go away.
What’s your favorite local BBQ restaurant? What’s your go-to dish to order?