The Brisket Shoppe at Grill and Provisions, on N Armenia Ave, is quietly serving the finest barbecue to Tampa’s biggest foodies. Here’s how to get in on the action.
Two weeks ago, I packed my bags and headed to Lakeland to watch some Food Network stars face off in a national barbecue competition. From smoky pulled pork to crispy burnt ends, I probably ate my weight in meat that day—and it was all great, of course.
Between rounds, I was gnawing on a chicken bone alongside Ray Lampe (AKA, Dr. BBQ), when he introduced me to Danny Hernandez and Michael Parrish. Danny, he explained, was the owner of Tampa’s barbecue pro shop, Grill and Provisions. Michael was Danny’s “culinary sensei” assistant. The pair’s shop, I learned, had sourced many of the top-notch meats and supplies being used by the event’s fiercest competitors.
Now, when Dr. BBQ tells you that a barbecue shop is good, you believe him. But when you figure out that the same barbecue shop is the go-to meat source for celebrity chefs facing off against each other in a national culinary competition?
Well, you go to the shop.
Smoke, brisket and sliding glass windows
A few days later I found myself pulling off Armenia Ave into Grill and Provisions’ smoke-filled lot. As I stepped into the store, Danny greeted me as any pitmaster would—with a juicy slab of brisket.
Walking through rows of Green Egg grills, he explained to me that he and Michael were in the back cooking up lunch orders. At that point, I assumed he meant for catering.
When we reached the back of the store, Michael was waiting for us by a sliding glass window that led into a kitchen. Above the glass hung a chalkboard menu and mission statement. It was then that I realized we were no longer in a culinary appliance shop.
We were in a hidden restaurant.
Tampa’s ultimate hidden barbecue joint
As Danny ran into the kitchen to turn some meats, Michael officially welcomed me to The Brisket Shoppe. Nestled in the back of Grill and Provisions, the shop was launched by the team less than a year ago to bring high quality barbecue to Tampa. It’s definitely a hole-in-the-wall spot, though, because it’s only open for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays with a pop-up menu. During the rest of the week, the dark window simply blends back into the walls.
Despite its quiet operation, though, The Brisket Shoppe has gained a cult following of those in-the-know. When I visited, it was packed with dedicated foodies enjoying hotlink sandwiches and blue collar workers munching on ribs. It’s not uncommon, Michael told me, for the kitchen to sell out before closing.
Salivating, I watched as a steaming cup of mac and cheese passed through the sliding service window. When a silver tray of the shop’s signature brisket came out behind it, I envied whatever lucky customer was getting that plate. Danny called my name from the counter. It was for me.
Meats, buns, mac and more
When the tray was placed in my hands, I realized it held far more than just brisket and mac and cheese. With Memphis-style ribs, rich tallow fries, three types of sausages, a burger and more, the 5 pound (at least) platter featured all of The Brisket Shoppe’s delicious meals of the day.
I spared no time tearing into the mountain of culinary excellence that was given to me. Nose deep in tender beef, I quickly learned why all the barbecue giants rely on Danny to get them competition ready: the man is simply a meat genius. If I were a Food Network star, I’d trust him too.
Eventually, with a clean plate and house-made spicy ketchup dripping from my chin, I declared myself finished. Before leaving my seat, though, I made sure to snap a picture of the day’s menu so I could make all of my friends jealous of the sheer perfection I got to enjoy.
Curious what I was served? Here’s a peak at that menu:
- Prime Beef Brisket (must order)
- Ace High Mac & Cheese
- Beef Tallow French Fries
- “Valiente” Brisket Burger
- “Bull No Sh*t” Sandwich (hot link, brisket, pickled onion and garlic aioli)
- Brisket & Beans
- Memphis Ribs
- Texas Sausage in 3 Varieties
- Mascarpone Strawberry Shortcake (dessert changes on the daily)
And if that looks good on paper, just wait until you try it.
“All bull and no sh*t”
So, this is usually the part where I come up with some creative, eloquent way to convince you guys to go visit a restaurant. I’ll generally sum up my claims, highlight the atmosphere of the place, or find a poetic way to tell you that the spot is full of love, heart and family.
The Brisket Shoppe doesn’t need any of that.
It’s as plain as their motto, “all bull and no sh*t”: just go.
The Brisket Shoppe is located inside Grill and Provisions at 3501 North Armenia Ave in Tampa. Food is served from 10am through sell out on Fridays and Saturdays.