THE BROKEN BARREL TAVERN
ADDRESS: 4700 Babcock Street NE, Palm Bay, FL 32905
On one of the occasions that I needed to go down to Palm Bay for some work-related training, my co-workers were excited for the chance to hit up Broken Barrel during our lunch break. Amidst a lot of chain restaurant offerings in the area immediately near the office, Broken Barrel was a favorite because of its tasty barbecue offerings and relaxed atmosphere. Ever since that first visit, I’ve gone back numerous times when my barbecue cravings begin to kick in.
The restaurant doesn’t have any windows, so once that entrance door closes behind you, you’re totally immersed into the environment. With dark colors adorning the walls and ceiling, and black tabletops making up your dining room furniture, it definitely almost feels like it’s nighttime, even though I’ve only been there for lunch. In a front area of the restaurant, they even have some billiards tables and dart boards set up if you wanted to chill out and play before or after getting a bite to eat.
I think that it was only during one of my recent visits that I discovered the “smoke-fried” chicken wings the restaurant offers. During past visits, I had been pre-occupied with their ribs or the pulled pork platters, but I have to say, the smoke-fried chicken wings are truly a must-order when you go. There’s a light, crispy texture on the outside of these bone-in wings, with those black pepper and smoky flavors nicely infused into every bite of chicken.
Unfortunately, you can’t substitute the wings into the platter options they offer. Luckily, during my visits, I’ve usually been able to split an additional order of wings with one of my friends while still getting a barbecue platter. During this most recent visit, I convinced my friend Rich to go in on a BBQ Sampler platter with me, which included some smoke-fried wings in it. I only had to remind him of the last time he tried to take on the sampler platter by himself (which I think ended with him rolling out the door) for him to agree to split it this time around.
In addition to the smoke-fried wings that I mentioned above, the BBQ Sampler platter also comes with pulled pork, smoked turkey breast, and their St. Louis style ribs. If that wasn’t enough food already, we also got to choose three sides to accompany the meats. Chip-cut fries, jalapeño cornbread, and ale-battered onion petals helped to round out the mountainous portion of food we were about to take down.
The smoke-fried chicken wings definitely take my #1 spot in favorites on the platter. Coming in second were the ribs, dry rubbed and then smoked to get that light caramelization on the outside, but still retaining a lot of moisture on the inside and being able to pull off the bone. As for the pulled pork and the smoked turkey, while both of them were also pretty tasty, I thought those items needed more assistance from the sauces to bring out a complete flavor.
Certainly no complaints on the sides, either. Jalapeño cornbread had a savory flavor from the initial bite, but then finished off with some sweetness from a honey drizzle and that slight spicy kick from the jalapeño. Both the chip-cut fries and ale-battered onion petals were fried nice and crispy, pairing well with some of the sauces we ended up getting.
Out of the four that we got, my favorite was probably the traditional medium hot sauce with added garlic. It had just enough kick to it to give you that flavor punch, but also didn’t leave you hastily reaching for that glass of water. For my palate, the sauce was able to strike that spiciness balance just right. With 14 different sauces that the restaurant offers, it’ll take a few visits to get a good sampling of all of them.
Although I’ve only been here for lunch, there are certainly other events to help draw you back for another visit. Trivia nights, watching sports games, or maybe even just a relaxed dinner after a day at work. Broken Barrel stocks up with some great barbecue options, along with a nice selection of appetizers and side items as well. I’ve already been back here multiple times, and that isn’t stopping any time soon.
Let’s now take a look at The Broken Barrel Tavern Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for The Broken Barrel Tavern:
Food: 4.75 / 5
The barbecue options are diverse, along with the mix-and-match platters to also choose sides and signature sauces to accompany them. Great flavors come through with a lot of the items, with the smoke-fried wings being my favorite. Even with varying levels of hunger, I’m sure that you can find something on the menu to help keep you satisfied.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
The ambiance is very laid back in the dining area, with quite a few TVs mounted on the walls and around the bar area if you wanted to watch some sports here. The billiards and darts area is also another option if you’re looking to change it up a bit.
Service: 4 / 5
My experience with the waitstaff here has usually been pretty good. They come back around to the table to check in throughout the course of the meal. The kitchen is also pretty good about firing up the food in a timely manner as well.
Price: 4.5 / 5
For the amount of food that you get on the platters, I think that they are pretty fairly priced. Although since a lot of the menu usually sounds pretty good, ordering quite a few things to sample can stack the price real quick.