Most people, at least the ones I'd want to associate with on
a regular basis, have a fondness for what's commonly known as
barbecue (or barbeque, bar-b-q, bar-b-que). We'll define that
as beef, pork or chicken, slow-grilled (preferably over hard
wood or other aromatic kindling), though numerous variants,
such as barbecued shrimp are allowed.
Bar-B-Que and Soul Food
Overtown restaurant, a Miami institution, serves slow-grilled
pork, chicken and beef, as well as fish, turkey, souse and
all the requisite sides.
in The Miami Herald
But what passes for barbecue locally is a mixed bag. Far too
many joints in this town take a perfectly good slab of pork
ribs, give 'em a quick dunk in some hot liquid, slather the
parboiled pig parts in a sweet, bottled sauce, then bake or
throw them on a hot grill. Some may even truly barbecue the
meat with oak or hickory, which is a long, slow process, then
heat it up when the server presents your order to the kitchen.
It's easy to understand their compulsion toward precooking.
But that doesn't make it right -- or actual barbecue.
Fortunately, there are a few places that keep the fires burning
-- slowly -- and serve the genuine article on a regular basis.
People's Bar-B-Que and Soul Food is a Miami institution, a
landmark. The barbecue is real: pork, chicken and beef, as
well as well-prepared fish, turkey, souse and all the requisite
Joined by Lee Zimmerman, WFOR-CBS
4 communications director, and Ed
producer and host of South
Florida Arts Beat, I recently feasted on a luncheon rib
platter at People's.
In addition to the meaty ''short end ribs,'' which were cooked
over hardwood (the air in and around People's is redolent
with its smoky scent, which I swear I can smell as I drive
along nearby I-95) and dappled with its signature mustard-based
sauce, the platter included two side dishes. I chose collard
greens and pigeon peas and rice. The authentically presweetened
ice tea is a bit too intense for my refined taste, so I opted
for a 7 Up.
My guests chose a beef platter with a side salad and French
fries, and chicken with black-eyed peas and corn, respectively,
and Pepsis (no Cokes served here).
Alas! Our friendly server told us that they were all out of
beef, so Lee, eschewing ribs out of fear of a sauced white
shirt, opted for a sliced pork platter instead.
As we sat at our table (with salt, pepper, hot sauce and pickled
peppers in vinegar on hand), a steady procession of hungry
folks queued by the counter to pick up their lunch orders
and go back to work (or wherever). Clearly, the hearty food,
fair portions and reasonable prices attract a dedicated clientele
to People's, a place that lives up to its name without pretense.
The restaurant is clean, Spartan and welcoming. A television
set mounted high in a corner offered Jerry Springer's daily
fun fest, for those so inclined. The walls are plain, but
signed photos of sports personages attesting to People's mastery
of its chosen cuisine provide simple but effective decorative
The staff is always friendly and efficient, but during the
lunchtime rush, the multitasking sometimes gets the better
of the service. Also, those favoring piping hot entrees may
demur at the sometimes-tepid presentation of the dishes.
Though their ribs are my favorites, People's does a fine job
with smothered pork chops, and also offers meatloaf, baked
ham, T-bone steak and other delights depending on the day,
date, time and availability. Nice conch salad, too, and a
friend of mine swears by their macaroni and cheese. They also
feature a variety of desserts, but I've always been too full
People's Overtown location is close to downtown, Brickell,
Bayside, AmericanAirlines Arena and the moribund Miami Arena,
so it's an ultra-convenient location for lunch. But is barbecue
an appropriate cuisine for a midday business meal?
Sure, but discretion is advised. If you're entertaining a
stranger, a stuffy CEO or an uptight underling, maybe not.
Seeking to score points with a slick, superficial, social
climbing Gordon Gekko-type? Ditto. But if you're looking for
genuine barbecue and soul food at a fair price, with friendly
service, the power is People's!
(The highest rating is four stars.)
lot in rear of building. Near Miami Arena. Not the swankiest
neighborhood, but no guts, no glory.
NW Eighth St., Miami. 305-373-8080.
Type of Food: Soul
food (food for the soul).
$10 per person for main course, two side dishes, soft
drink and tip.
though sometimes harried.
Best for: Relaxing
lunch with fellow barbecue devotees.
Linger Factor: As
- Saturday. Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Dinner: 4:15 p.m.-
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Credit cards: all
large parties, not a bad idea.