By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - At Dale's Bar-B-Q, Fort Pierce residents already know they are going to get good food. But it's the small details that go into getting the food to the table that makes this one of the best barbecue restaurants on the Treasure Coast.
I could smell the delicious food before I even stepped foot in the restaurant, and was greeted with smiles from the staff.
"We love our customers," said Cindy Webster, owner of the busy restaurant. "We try hard to keep them happy while meeting new customers every day."
The restaurant recently celebrated a milestone: 50 years in business here in Fort Pierce, and the cooking styles that made it popular in 1962 are still being used today.
"We are a real, true, open-pit barbecue," Ms. Webster said. "Every day, we use real wood on real racks to cook with."
Another attention to detail is that the staff makes all the sauces, coleslaw and baked beans from scratch every day. Even the green beans are simmered in a special spice pack that's put together daily.
"We use an original recipe for the sauces," she said.
The meat is first dipped into the sauce, and then cooked hours over an open fire. The result is a delicious flavor that melts in your mouth.
When I went for lunch I had a portion of baby back ribs, some sliced pork and beef, along with coleslaw, green beans and baked beans.
Even though the restaurant was busy for lunch, my food arrived quickly. As I waited, I watched the waitresses greet fellow diners, many by name.
The sliced pork and beef were juicy, and I had fun trying the various sauces on the table with the meat. I decided I liked the sweet sauce with the sliced pork, while I preferred a mix of the mild and hot sauces with the sliced beef.
While the meat was hot from the kitchen, my coleslaw was a cool break. Its creaminess held the shredded blend of cabbage very well, and the carrots and poppy seeds gave it an added punch of both color and flavor.
The baked beans were wonderful, as well. I enjoyed the hint of barbecue flavor the beans had from simmering all day.
Also enjoyable was the slight spiciness of the green beans. They were very flavorful, and I made quick work of my vegetables.
I also enjoyed some ribs, both regular and baby back, and I couldn't decide which ones I liked more. The meat on the spare ribs fell off the bone, while the baby back ribs came coated in a tangy glaze that made this a finger-licking favorite.
Looking over the menu, I quickly realized there is so much more to the restaurant than the barbecue food it's famous for. They also offer barbecue chicken, fried chicken tenders, fried fish, smoked turkey, hamburgers, steaks and shrimp. There's even a separate menu for kids.
As for sides, I realized I only scratched the surface of what they have to offer. Dale's also has onion rings, French fries, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, tossed salads, garlic bread and applesauce. I can quickly tell I can come back many times and not eat the same meal twice.
I look forward to returning with my family and enjoying both the food and the atmosphere at this family establishment.
Dale's Bar-B-Q is located at 3362 S. U.S.1 in Fort Pierce. A second location is also open on Okeechobee Road.
The hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed on Sunday. Catering and holiday gift cards are available.
For more information, call (772) 461-0052.