I first wrote about Cecil’s Texas-Style Barbecue in 1992, the year that it opened on South Orange Avenue. It was in my weekly Chow Hound column in the Orlando Sentinel and I included it in a roundup of new barbecue joints that had recently opened.
I also mentioned Ream & Co. in Bayhill Plaza; Buz-moz Barbeque & Grill in Apopka; and Lazy Pig BBQ and Tavern just a few blocks south of Cecil’s. I also noted in the same column that there was a new College Park location for Carolina BBQ, a popular Eastern North Carolina barbecue restaurant on Curry Ford Road, and a second location on Primrose Drive for B’s Bar-B-Que Diner, which was near the corner of Mills Avenue and Nebraska Street.
You may have noticed that all of those restaurants have closed – B’s original spot has been a vacant lot for years, though the last time I looked its sign was still there. Heck, even the Chow Hound is gone. (Cecil’s also opened a second location in the Casselberry area that closed in late ’99.)
But the original Cecil’s remains. And 28 years in operation qualifies it for our list of Orlando Classics.
The Cecil of Cecil’s is Cecil Reaves, though he has retired and the restaurant is now owned by his son Michael.
I stopped in recently to pick up some ‘cue and realized that it was the first time I’d stepped foot inside since June of 1992.
I was drawn directly to the two-meat dinner but was dismayed that ribs was not one of the selections. I opted for pulled pork and brisket, the latter being one of the hallmarks of Texas style barbecue (which generally refers to Central Texas).
But I’m a ribs man, so I also ordered a half-slab with sides.
The two-meater was loaded with smoky goodness, the pork in schnibbles and the brisket sliced. They were accompanied by three containers of sauce, all marked with an M, which either meant medium or mild, not sure. But I liked drizzling the sauce over the meats. And dipping the thick-cut fries into it as well. Besides fries, I also chose the baked beans as one of my two sides, and both were good.
But I liked the hot beans I got with my ribs, hot referring to the jalapenos and chili spice added. The potato salad was good, too, once it was hit with a little salt and pepper.
The ribs themselves had a wonderful blackened crust, and the meat needed only the gentlest coaxing to leave the bone. The texture had a nice balance of fat and flesh. Both dinner came with toast. Texas toast, of course.
Cecil’s has a good online ordering form on the Chownow platform. It allows you to make your selections, choose your sides and leave any notes you want the staff to know. You can add a tip but you’ll need to do a little clicking to make payment with something other than Google Pay. But it can be done.
When I arrived at the restaurant, my order was waiting all bagged up at the designated time. In and out in a flash.