There are very few people that still smoke the old fashioned way” says Craig Gross, owner of Frankie's Patriotic BBQ.  Thankfully, he’s one of them. The Takeout Button team had the pleasure to try some of that old fashioned smoked BBQ food and dive into everything from how rib tips are made to how you can get some for yourself.

During our visit, Craig  gave us the grand tour showing us how a lot of the food is prepped, cooked and served. It’s different from a lot of chain restaurant’s which Craig lumps generally under “consistently mediocre”. He and his team have always tried to do better than that. For the last 4 years they have been serving fresh, delicious and amazing food each and every day. Without a freezer in sight, I’d say it’s a mission accomplished.

The first stop during our visit was to the outdoor smoker, custom built to reduce airflow and on that day, stocked full of rib tips and Texas style hot sausage. One of the many things we learned that afternoon was that rib tips come from the spare ribs with that part of the rib cut off then it turns into a St. Louis rib and they are pork. Brisket is beef.

 With Brisket and pork tips as two of the restaurant's biggest sellers, a lot goes into their preparation, a process we got to witness first hand. Craig's preparation style is one of a kind and a part of his method includes a wet rub of spices and nothing but mid-western grain fed beef, Angus choice or higher. With the addition of his secret sauce and 100% oak wood for the smoker, a deliciously juicy result can be expected in just over 12 hours. 

Craig says the restaurant smokes a case of the 13lb briscuits everyday and during the whole process, he doesn’t take any measurements. I suppose after 40 years of smoking, that’s to be expected. 

As a gold star father, Craig dedicated the restaurant to his son Frank Gross, who died in action in 2011. The restaurant, adorned with patches, medals, American flags, and challenge coins like the one he gave to his own son when he left for the war, is just part of the way the Frankie’s crew pay tribute to soldiers and their families.

After we watched his work in the kitchen, we headed out to taste the product for ourselves and the food was superb. The soft cornbread melting in my mouth, creamy potato salad leaving its trail on my chin and the tender brisket, ribs and rib tips mixing so well with the specially made BBQ sauce. 

With their friendly staff, homey atmosphere and delicious food, our visit to the BBQ’s new location in Clearwater was a lot like coming home and one week later, I’m already aching to go back.“It’s hard work”, said Craig, but that’s what it takes to do it right. If you’d like to taste some of that BBQ done right, don’t hesitate to drive over to Frankies' Patriot BBQ. Lunch time is busy, so go ahead and order ahead online with the help of Takeout Button. Be sure to look out for part two of this blog on Frankie’s Patriot BBQ and when you get to the restaurant go ahead and eat an extra piece of cornbread just for me.