So interestingly when I was a kid I was never a big fan of BBQ sauce. My brother loved ribs drenched in BBQ sauce, but when I had ribs (which was rarely) I liked them more dry rubbed and seasoned. But even then I rarely had ribs, pulled pork, BBQ brisket, etc. (loved regular brisket at Passover time though!). I just didn’t enjoy the very sweet taste of BBQ sauce and I just preferred getting a burger when I was at an American restaurant or family barbecue. Partially in BBQ’s defense, I pretty much always ordered a burger (with no bun) when I went out to eat though. I do however have some distinct memories of my mom making BBQ chicken for dinner and me just looking at it in disgust (sorry mom!). I could like smell the sweetness coming from the dish and I had no idea why that was appealing…
Over the years that aversion to BBQ sauce began to change (I’d say college was the time of the most dramatic change) and by the time I moved to Miami I was more of a fan, although I prefer more of the vinegary, less sweet BBQ sauces (the BBQ sauce my mom would use on the chicken is still a little too sweet for me). At various times I’ve done searches to determine some of the best BBQ in Miami. One that came up on my list, but I didn’t try for years, was Sparky’s Roadside BBQ in downtown. I think the right mood needs to strike me for me to seek out BBQ and it never came together for me to visit Sparky’s. However now that I live just two blocks away, it’s kind of pathetic I hadn’t been until a few weeks ago. Partially that might have been a laziness factor. I’m sometimes hesitant about BBQ places and what’s in their sauces, unless I can find out they are gluten-free online (either from their menu or maybe a Yelp review). Since I hadn’t stopped being lazy and just called, I wasn’t sure if it was worth stopping by. Yeah very lazy…
A best friend was back home in Miami for a long weekend from New York and we hung out and grabbed a couple dinners. On one of his last trips our group of guys went out to Sparky’s, but I couldn’t join that particular trip. This trip when he suggested Sparky’s I was for sure going to make it.
Sparky’s is right in the middle of downtown, two blocks in from Bayfront Park. It’s a smaller space, but still has maybe 8-10 tables, plus a bar. The down-to-earth, casual feel of the space fits the food. No pretension, just good BBQ.
My friends had been there for a few minutes by the time I got there and so I tried to quickly decide what I wanted. I was choosing between my two BBQ go-tos (now that I have it a lot more)- pulled pork or ribs. When Sparky himself came over to take our order I asked him what sauces are gluten-free. All but one were. I forget exactly which one that is (make sure you ask), but I’m pretty sure it was one with soy sauce in it. It also was one I probably wouldn’t have cared for anyways. All the main BBQ sauces flavors and the ones I wanted were gluten-free.
He listed off the special and made mention of housemade Andouille sausage ground up into a patty for a sandwich. This sounded pretty incredible. I knew the pulled pork and ribs would always be there on a return trip, but this might not be. I asked to order it without the bun and Sparky said he’d throw in extra sausage to replace the bun (which was pretty awesome). I got a side of fries and mashed potatoes on the side.
The Andouille sausage came out in two large patties and with a pile of onions on top. It was really delicious and exactly what I had hoped for. The sausage patty was moist and had some delicious flavors from the spices and onions. Haven’t had tons of Andouille sausage, but feel confident saying this was really good quality. I enjoyed the spicy mustard on the side for dipping purposes. The fries were good, but the mashed potatoes were excellent! Very creamy. My aunt’s mashed potatoes and the mashed potatoes at Blue Collar stand at the pinnacle of mashed potato-dom for me, but Sparky’s would be right below that. I used the fries to dip into the different sauces, which I enjoyed. My friends were already big Sparky’s fans, so they were of course happy with their pulled pork sandwiches.
I feel a little guilty that I didn’t try more “BBQ”-BBQ on my first visit to Sparky’s (only compounds my guilt of not visiting until now), but the Andouille sausage sandwich was an excellent choice. I certainly will be back for BBQ along the lines of the pulled pork and ribs. I’ve seen Sparky’s mentioned towards the top of the list of BBQ joints in Miami and think it has to be up there. I need to try their ribs and pulled pork before comparing it to other BBQ places in Miami, but it’s a great option (food and vibe-wise) in downtown Miami if you’re in the area. Hope to have another update soon on where it lands in terms of “BBQ”-BBQ related to other places, but I did enjoy my sampling of the BBQ sauces on French fries!
Sparky’s Roadside BBQ- 204 NE 1st Street, Miami, FL 33132