“It felt like a good day for BBQ” and that’s how Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ was born. Jim Rabe (aka Smokin’ Jim) started his restaurant after years of perfecting his technique and special sauces for friends and relatives. He also won a variety of awards in BBQ competitions and gained valuable knowledge from pros across the country before settling on the perfect roadside location at 3615 Havendale Blvd., in Auburndale. Nestled between the dividing line of Winter Haven and Auburndale, Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ reflects not only his easy going philosophy, but also his outgoing personality.
Right down to the menu, Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ is a hot spot filled with personal messages, photographs, and even penciled-in children’s height measurements on the dining room columns to give you the feeling of home. When the dining room was upgraded a few years ago, Jim would not let anyone paint the columns because he wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing the kids enjoy leaving the marks of their height every time they came into the restaurant.
At the end of February, Smokin’ Jim will begin his 8th year in business. Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ holds the title of the “only 4 star barbecue restaurant in Polk County” bestowed upon it by the food critics at the Lakeland Ledger.
With the “best butt in town”, pork butt that is, Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ starts each day at 6:00am with his cousins, Chris and Nash filling the custom smoker grill with premium quality ribs, pork, chicken, brisket and turkey, all rubbed with Jim’s special combination of dry spices. The meat cooks “slow and low” over a 200 degree oak fire as “the love is rubbed into it” just in time to serve the lunch crowd. The menu offers a full variety of BBQ specialties including three sauces (Sweet, Mild, and Hot) and fresh cakes , pies, and banana pudding created daily by Jim’s kitchen manager, Monica. Dine in or take out, Smokin’ Jim’s offers an affordable alternative to fast food in a family friendly environment. And Jim’s motto is “no one will leave Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ hungry”. Many customers cannot finish their plates.
With the addition of manager, Sam Wagner, Smokin’ Jim’s is increasing its catering business and can now provide any size gathering with mouth-watering BBQ anywhere, anytime . Let Smokin’ Jim’s cater your next company function, wedding or high school reunion. No catering is too small or too large for us. Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ will even grill steaks and chicken breast on site for your guests to enjoy. Not in the mood for BBQ, tell Sam what you would like, and he will make it happen. Sam has also been instrumental in locating an express catering trailer which will be bringing Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ to Lakeland. Watch for it soon.
Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00am to 9:00pm and features mouth-watering steaks on the grill Saturday nights from 5pm – 9pm. In addition, the dining room is available for private parties on Sundays and Mondays. Call 863-965-0230 for take-out or to speak with Sam about catering. Our website is www.smokinjimsbbq.ws.
Jim Rabe would like to thank all his loyal customers, friends, and family who have supported the restaurant over the past 7 years and looks forward to bigger things to come with Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ Restaurant.