Jason went to 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park, FL this week and sat down with one of the managers to discuss the 4 Rivers food, brand, and what is in store! 4 Rivers started in Winter Park two blocks from the current location in a auto shop! The shop was converted with a smoker, and the 4 Rivers brand started! This restaurant has come along way from where it was then, to the huge company that it is now. 4 Rivers can be found in Central Florida, Gainesville, and also Jacksonville. John Rivers, who is the founder and CEO, has really made a name for himself here in the Central Florida area. John left a very stable job at a billion dollar corporation at a cancer company to chase a dream to start a Texas style BBQ place here in Florida. Since 2008, John and his team have been making amazing food for the people here in the Orlando area.
I need to say off the bat, that I have a special place in my heart for BBQ, especially Brisket. I have been eating BBQ all up and down the Eastern US, so when I had the opportunity to review 4 Rivers, I jumped on it! The first thing I noticed entering the restaurant was the number of cars in the lot! I have learned, as most have, that the more cars the better the food! This is true at 4 Rivers Smokehouse! The line to order is something along the line to Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom. Not sure how long it will take you to get to the front, however you know it will be well worth it! Once we got in and sat down, the manager brought out a small sampling of what they have to offer!
Brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, burnt ends, and ribs lined the first tray of meat! The second tray was all the sides including green beans, BBQ baked beans, smokehouse corn, sweet potato casserole, smoked jalapeños, baked cheese grits, and Krispy Kreme bread pudding! After just one bite of the food, I knew that John Rivers knew what he was doing! Again, I have had a ton of BBQ in my life, and this stuff was killer! Amazing flavor, quality sides, and passion about what you do all shows in the food here at 4 Rivers Smokehouse! The meat was moist, full of flavor, and seasoned to perfection. The sauces were also great, and came in regular as well as a hot!
After eating the amazing food, I took a tour of the kitchen and saw where the magic happens! I got a peak inside the massive smokers where the brisket and the butts were cooking for the next day (They smoke their brisket for over 18 hours!) I also learned that the rubs, spices, and sauces were made from one person centrally and sent to the individual restaurants to ensure quality and taste no matter what 4 Rivers you go to! I also got a chance to see (and taste the amazing Sweet Shop cupcakes, cookies, and more! They also make all these in house, so you are in for a treat! They have some traditional flavors such as red velvet cake, carrot cake, and chocolate to the not so traditional flavors such as Mountain Dew and potato chips! The items in the Sweet Shop were all delicious and hit the spot! Come on now, who doesnt love some brisket, Cheerwine to drink, and a cupcake for dessert?
What did I think of 4 Rivers Smokehouse? Are you kidding me? I love this place! Everything I put in my mouth was wonderful! I loved the food, the atmosphere, the brisket, the service, the people, the brisket, the desserts, the brisket, oh and yes, I LOVED THE BRISKET!!! I know that I will be back to 4 Rivers very soon! I also want to try The Coop, which is the newest restaurant in Winter Park, that is also owned by John Rivers! The southern style restaurant is a hit as there is always a line out the door, just like 4 Rivers Smokehouse!
4 Rivers has taken the title as best BBQ in Orlando! What do you think about that? Have you had 4 Rivers? If so what do you think? If not, who do you think takes the title? If you want Jason to come do a food review on your BBQ and try to take the title away from 4 Rivers, email him at Jason@OrlandoFunandFood.com!