By Anna-Marie Menhenott
FORT PIERCE -- The thing I love about barbecue is how the aroma of meat grilling lingers in the air, enticing my taste buds and making my stomach growl.
There's something comforting about barbecue fare. The ribs and chicken and all of the delicious side dishes that accompany them make sitting down for barbecue less of a meal and more of an experience.
D's Smoke House BBQ in Fort Pierce didn't disappoint... the smell of meat smoking on the grill greeted me and my dining companion as we neared the restaurant, which is located in the Sunoco plaza on the corner of Orange Avenue and Angle Road in Fort Pierce.
D's has been open for business for three months, and during that time, business has been good.
"Fort Pierce isn't where I expected to open a barbecue restaurant," explained Mark Ramey, owner. "But, I'm so glad we ended up here. There's such a great community feel and there's so many wonderful people that come in and out of the store."
And, while I was there, many people did just that. There was a steady flow of customers calling ahead and coming in to pick up their dinner. Passersby dropped in to grab wings, fries or ribs to take on their way and workers from nearby job sites made D's their choice for an evening meal.
"We have such a diverse crowd of people coming in here," Mr. Ramey said. "It's best to call ahead if you want to take your food home or back to work. Everything is made fresh so you may have a wait to get your food. We're not a fast food restaurant. If you order fries with your meal, they're going to be hot and fresh. They don't sit in a warmer for hours."
Although 90 percent of business is carry-out, there are tables available to sit and enjoy your food inside the restaurant.
Mr. Ramey suggested my companion and I try the smoked meats with a variety of homemade sauces. The meats are smoked with cherry and hickory, giving them an incredible base flavor. The flavorful meats were delicious without sauces, but we decided to give each one a try.
The smoked chicken, already juicy and bursting with flavor, became heavenly once paired with the hot jerk barbecue sauce. The heat from the sauce wasn't too over-whelming; instead, it added the perfect amount of kick to the chicken.
We paired the smoked pork ribs with the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, which seemed to bring out just a hint of the smoked cherry flavoring. The hot and tangy barbecue sauce was another perfect pairing. It was very difficult to settle on just one flavor.
We also paired pulled pork and sliced pork slices with a garlic honey barbecue sauce and mild barbecue sauce.
Each of the sauces had their own uniqueness that brought out different qualities of the meat.
The smoked meats were accompanied by homemade side dishes that gave the meal a southern-style, home-cooked feel to them.
The collard greens, made daily by Ernie 'Orange Man' Daley, were a hit. As each bite melted in my mouth, there was no doubt that the greens were made with love.
Other delicious side dishes offered are macaroni and cheese, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, corn muffins and French fries. I suggest taking an appetite and trying them all.
Mr. Daley brought out a serving of the daily special; oxtails with rice and red beans. I've had oxtails before and have always enjoyed the tenderness of that particular cut of meat, but these were exceptional. The meat fell off the bone and the flavor of the beans and rice were out of this world. I hope the next time I visit, these are on the menu again.
Fried chicken wings are also on the menu. I tried them with the homemade roasted garlic parmesan sauce. The wings, which are smoked before frying for an incredible base flavor, were top-notch. If you're not in the mood for barbecue, the wings are a perfect choice.
"At the end of the night, we freeze all of our leftovers and then donate them to churches in the area that feed the homeless," Mr. Ramey said. "There's no need for food to go to waste and the churches make sure people get fed. Soon, we will be open on Sundays, and we hope to fill the parking lot with music and have a barbecue outside. This community has really supported us and we want to give that support back."
The small, friendly barbecue restaurant, nestled between stores on the corner of a busy intersection in Fort Pierce is definitely worth checking out. If you're in that area, just follow your nose... I'm willing to bet you'll end up at D's Smoke House BBQ.
D's Smoke House BBQ is located at 3304 Orange Ave., in Fort Pierce, next to the Sunoco gas station. To place an order or for more information, call (772) 465-0009.