Less than a year ago I wrote a story highlighting The Brisket Shoppe as Tampa’s “best kept restaurant secret.” Nestled in the back of Armenia Ave’s barbecue pro-shop Grill and Provisions, the Thursday-through-Saturday limited lunch spot blew me away with its tender meats and top-notch ingredients. Danny Hernandez and Michael Parrish’s humble passion project, in my opinion, was a masterclass of a restaurant.
Today, I returned to my favorite hush-hush, pop-up shop for a bite. By the end of my visit, my opinion of the spot had changed; The Brisket Shoppe is not only Tampa’s “best kept restaurant secret,” but just may be Tampa’s best restaurant in general. Every dish is hand-crafted and intelligent, every ingredient is well-sourced, and every bite bursts with so many rich, complex flavors that it’s hard to keep track of where they’re all coming from. I’ve never seen—at this price point, in this type of setting—food at this level.
Top-notch dishes in unexpected digs
And about that aforementioned setting? Expect to feel right at home. Despite the quality of the food and expertise of the chefs, the spot is in no way pretentious. It’s a hole-in-the-wall chaser’s dream; a real Anthony Bourdain-style culinary find.
So, in short, if you haven’t been to The Brisket Shoppe yet, it’s time to go. And if you have, Danny and Michael’s menu is constantly changing, so it’s time to go again.
Though I can’t guarantee what the duo will be whipping up when you visit, I can give you a glimpse at some of the best things they’ve made in the past. From “Brisket Tacos” to “Pitmaster’s Empanadas” with pimento, here are some of the standouts the team served this year.
Brisket (and a bunch of other meats, too)
Brisket is obviously The Brisket Shoppe’s specialty, so the brisket plate is an absolute must-order for first time visitors. It’s also one of the only items that is always available, despite the changing nature of the menu.
Outside of brisket, however, the Shoppe serves a bunch of other great meats. From jalapeño cheese-infused sausage to sweet and smoky pork ribs, every protein the pitmasters pull from the flames is worth trying.
“Rocking B” Nachos
The “Rocking B” nachos (when they’re on the menu) are one of The Brisket Shoppe’s best shareables.
With handmade tortilla chips smothered in brisket queso and cilantro crema, however, you can also pretty easily demolish a whole order by yourself.
Carolina Pork Sandwich
Every week, The Brisket Shoppe has at least one artisan crafted sandwich on its menu. Back in September, one of those rotating offerings was the “Carolina Pork.”
Featuring marinated, slow-cooked pork with “a vinegar twang” on a brioche bun, this coleslaw-topped sandwich provides a stellar example of what the spot can do between the bread.
Of everything I tasted on my recent Brisket Shoppe visit, the BBQ empanadas were hands down my favorite. Stuffed to the brim with “smokehouse” pimento cheese and prime brisket, these flash-fried masterpieces ooze with hot, gooey goodness every time they’re touched.
“Dino” Beef Rib
The most recent meat to be added to the Shoppe’s smoked repertoire, the “Dino Beef Ribs” are a carnivore’s dream come true. Weighing about a pound and a half each, these juicy monstrosities (which are currently available to order) are perfect for meat lovers—and their Instagrams.
The Brisket Shoppe opens its doors Thursdays-Saturdays at 11 a.m., so it’s not uncommon to catch a brunch item or two on the spot’s daily menu. In 2022, one of the most popular of these was the restaurant’s take on “Avocado Toast.”
Featuring house-smashed guacamole, a sunny-side-up egg, and a thick slab of Danny’s brisket, however, this hearty morning dish was certainly not your average millennial breakfast.
Offered in May as part of the restaurant’s Cinco de Mayo menu, the Brisket Tacos were one of the top selling—and best tasting—items the team served this year.
When I tried them, the tortillas were firm and fresh, the cheese was rich and creamy, and the caramelized onions added a sophisticated touch of sweetness to an otherwise simple dish. If you ever see these bad boys return to the Shoppe’s menu (because they occasionally do), order a bunch. They’re outrageous.
Tampa’s juiciest secret
A year and a half ago, The Brisket Shoppe was known only to Food Network stars, top grillmasters and those in the food industry. Today, however, the cat has been let out of the bag—twice—about Grill and Provisions’ once-secret pop-up shop.
So, if you’re a foodie, it’s seriously time to head to North Armenia Ave and jump in on the action. Tampa’s best barbecue is waiting.
The Brisket Shoppe is open Thursdays through Saturdays at 3501 N Armenia Ave in Tampa. To keep up to date with the restaurant’s current menu, foodies can follow the spot on Instagram or Facebook, or visit its official website (here) during days of operation.
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