Nothing is quite as satisfying as some mid-summer BBQ. If you’re headed out on the boat or simply want a no-fuss meal, a sandwich is always the answer. No one in Jacksonville does BBQ sandwiches better than the pit crew at Valley Smoke. If you read this post while you’re hungry, we have no doubt you’ll head up to our smoke shack on Roscoe in no time. Without further ado, here are three of the best sandwiches on this side of the Mississippi. 

Farm House Mini Sandwiches

Sure, these are an appetizer. But we couldn’t tell you how many times guests order these petite sandwiches as their main entree. If you’re one of those people who turns leftover Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner into sandwiches the next day, then this is the choice for you.

Every bite of these sliders is the perfect blend of sweet and salty. Buttermilk biscuits, house-cured country ham and irresistible pepper jelly are matches made in sandwich heaven. Make it a meal by adding a mixed green salad on the side. 

PV Yacht Club Sandwich

Kick it up a notch with this hearty Valley Smoke favorite. The PV Yacht Club sandwich is the Rolls Royce of sandwiches (if we do say so ourselves). Indulge in six whopping ounces of beef tenderloin, a warm toasted brioche bun, jack cheese, grilled red onions, arugula and house-made steak sauce. Seriously, does it get better than that?

This sandwich is a year-round dinner favorite for obvious reasons. While it’s a bit on the heavier side, many couples often share it and add some sides. We love pairing it with coleslaw and french fries. 

The Grilled Cheese

That’s right. It’s not just a grilled cheese, it’s the grilled cheese. While BBQ and meat might be our thing, we certainly know a thing or two about a dang good grilled cheese sandwich. It all starts with our house-made buttermilk white bread. We top it with a secret three cheese blend and a side of simple tomato soup.

Low key? Yes. Low flavor? Absolutely not. This is a great lunch or dinner options for kiddos, vegetarians and cheese lovers everywhere. Start your meal with a garden salad to add some healthy vegetables.

Find Your New Favorite Sandwich at Valley Smoke

It’s hard not to order a platter of BBQ meat or a big steak when you dine at Valley Smoke. Venture outside your comfort zone on your next visit and give one of our irresistible sandwiches a try. We have seven different sandwiches for you to try and have no doubt you’ll love every single one. 

Make a reservation today! We can’t wait to see you. 

If you like to sip something strong during your main course, you’re in good company at Valley Smoke. Whiskey isn’t just a spirit reserved for dark speakeasies or stately libraries. Nope. Modern whiskey drinkers like you enjoy a chilled glass of the good stuff just about anywhere. If you’re craving a top-shelf cocktail (or something a little cheaper, we’re not judging) with your meal, here are our favorite entree pairings to round out your drinking experience.
Ribs from the Pit are the Perfect Whiskey Partner
Heritage St Louis Style Ribs go great with just about anything, but especially a strong whiskey cocktail. The Valley Smoke whiskey wall boasts countless different varieties of everyone’s favorite dark liquor. While you can’t go wrong with any of them, some of our signature cocktails pair especially well with our BBQ meat.

Aahhh, the Old Fashioned. We mix Eagle Rare 10 year bourbon with Luxardo cherries, Bittermilk Old Fashioned mix and a fresh orange slice. It’s classic, it’s honest and it just tastes right. This simple libation is the perfect complement to a good ‘ole rack of ribs.
Whiskey in One Hand and a Valley Smoke Reuben in the Other
When you think of a great dinner to accompany your equally-as-good glass of liquor, you likely don’t think of a sandwich. Well, hear us out on this one. Whiskey is a complex, rich drink that pairs perfectly with fresh rye bread and mild slices of deli meat. That’s where the Reuben comes in.

Our Valley Smoke Reuben is a favorite amongst team members and customers alike. We thinly slice our house pastrami onto marble rye. Then, we top it off with sauerkraut, baby swiss and Russian dressing. It’s dang good — and even better with a Roscoe Sunset. This cocktail combines Elijah Craig small batch bourbon, Pama pomegranate liqueur and fresh lemonade.
The Gentleman’s Favorite: Steak and a Strong Beverage
At risk of becoming a cliche, it’s important we mention just how good the Valley Smoke steak really is. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t even bother putting this classic pairing on the list.

Indulge in a perfectly cooked 14-ounce ribeye that’s finished with southwestern chile butter, arugula salad and fries. Sound outstanding? Oh yeah, we know. Top it all off with a Manhattan. Well, not just any Manhattan. Prepare yourself for Col E.H. Taylor small batch bourbon, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters and a Luxardo cherry. It all sounds similar to meals of your past, but it’s just so, so much better.
Reserve Your Table for the Perfect Whiskey Dinner this Summer
Whether you want a spot indoors with views of the whiskey wall or a table outside overlooking the Intracoastal, we’ve got ‘ya covered over at Valley Smoke. Make your reservation here. We can’t wait to see you!

A well-rounded meal begins with the first sip of your whiskey cocktail and the last bite of that sweet dessert. The Valley Smoke pit crew looks at BBQ as a science and eating as an art. Swap paint brushes for a fork and knife and we’re in business! In a society where dining is often rushed and true flavor pairings are no longer savored, we’re here to bring back the beauty of the perfect meal.

Tried-and-True Tips for a Well Balanced Dinner

1. Savor cream-based foods during just one course. A heavy appetizer like a cream-based soup may be too much if followed by creamy side dishes during the main course. The one exception to the rule is dessert, of course. If you’re in the mood for a scoop of ice cream, we say go for it.

2. Avoid ordering different menu items that have duplicating flavors. If you opt for a burrata appetizer, you likely wouldn’t order a burrata pasta dish. (You’re in luck! We focus on meats for our mains here at Valley Smoke.)

3. The sauce is such an important part of the flavor profile that we recommend you enjoy each sauce only once. If chimichurri plays a major role in one of your side dishes, it may not be complementary to order a main course with the same flavor profiles.

4. It’s rare to see sweet fruits as the focal point of an appetizer. Why, exactly? Sugary foods dull the appetite, which is why chefs typically save them for the last course. Grapefruit and watermelon are the only exceptions!

Complementary Elements are Key to a Great Meal

The perfect meal blends contrasting flavors and taste elements into an excellent combination of courses. Here’s what we’re talking about:

1. Complementing Textures: There’s just something so refreshing about a perfectly moist piece of meat contrasted by crunchy grilled veggies or a crisp salad. Soft and crunchy textures blend together so well, which is why soup and salad is the perfect combo.

2. Complementing Flavors: We’re talking about fresh herbs, marinades and seasonings. Certain foods lack bold flavors, like romaine lettuce. Subtle foods are the perfect complement to flavor-forward dishes.

3. Complementing Colors: A colorful plate of fresh food is a true sight for the eyes. Focus on a combination of colors when creating your main dish. Bright shades of green, yellow and red (we’re talking about veggies, here!) alongside meats are a sign of a healthy, balanced meal.

Experience the Perfect Meal at Valley Smoke BBQ

We’ve traveled far and wide to create dishes juuuust right for our friends all over Jacksonville. When you walk into Valley Smoke this season, you’ll find seasonal ingredients, top-quality meats and outstanding cocktails.

Make a reservation here and come on by this summer. We can’t wait to see you!

Walking down the condiments aisle in the grocery store is absolutely exhausting. If you’re not careful, you could get lost in a sea of BBQ sauces for hours! From the housemade stuff you find at Valley Smoke to the jarred options at your local supermarket, we’re here with the top choices to flavor your meat this summer.

Kansas City Classics

Sweet and smoky KC sauces are the perfect complement to a hot summer meal. The Valley Smoke BBQ pros draw flavor inspiration from our whiskey wall, local cuisines and adventurous palates.

We might be biased, but our favorite version of Kansas City BBQ sauce is what we make in-house. It’s the perfect thickness and mixture of sweet molasses, vinegar and a couple of other secret components. Hey, I guess you’ll just have to stop by and try it!

If you’re in a pinch and need to pick something up from Publix, you can’t go wrong with Sweet Baby Ray’s. This bottled option has served the masses for decades. The sweet, tangy profile and extra thickness is great for any backyard BBQ.

Can’t-Miss Mustard Options

South Carolina brought mustard-based sauces to the world of BBQ, and boy are we thankful. This popular option graces your dinner table in the form of a thin sauce with a distinct zing. Valley Smoke regulars love our take on this Carolina classic. Drizzle some of our mustard sauce on some meat from the pit for a serious flavor experience.

It’s hard to find a good grocery store option of a Carolina Gold, but Trader Joe’s does a solid rendition of this cult favorite. Their name brand BBQ is made with pure cane sugar, which is a rarity in the world of mass-produced corn syrup sauces.

Vinegar-Based Varieties Dominate the Scene

An absolute staple in any serious BBQ joint is a ho’made vinegar sauce. Yep, we’ve got it going on at Valley Smoke with our vinegar version. We worked tirelessly to develop two sauces (that’s right, we have TWO vinegar options) that strike the perfect combo of vinegar and spices. One is more traditional while the other kicks it up a notch with red peppers. Whether you want some heat or like to keep your cool, we’ve got what ‘ya need.

Stubb’s Original is a good store-bought option that’s been around for ages. It even used to be served in a whiskey bottle! No wonder we like this option. Give it a try if you don’t have time to pop into Valley Smoke for a bottle of our version.

Find Your Favorite at the Valley Smoke BBQ Pit

We serve BBQ lovers from the First Coast and beyond seven days a week. From our twist on Sunday brunch classics to slow-roasted meats, every one of our BBQ sauces is the perfect complement to your order.

Make your reservation to snag a table with an Intracoastal view. We can’t wait to serve you!

Your first thought for summer sipping probably isn’t a dark bourbon or a single malt scotch. Mix it the right way and your mind will change forever. From a kick of ginger to a squeeze of citrus, we have a few tricks up our sleeve to give whiskey its time in the spotlight this summer.

Whiskey doesn’t have to be sipped around a fire as a seasonal indulgence. Toss your coat in the closet and slip into something a little lighter, because these cocktail recipes are beach ready for your hot summer. Our team at Valley Smoke knows a thing or two about great whiskey and how to serve it. Here are a few of our favorites:

Block Party Bourbon Fishbowl

Nothing says summer like a strong cocktail with heavy notes of citrus and sweet fruit. Grab a group of friends and give this gallon-size cocktail a try on a sizzling day this season.

Ingredients:

5 Shots of Black Tea Bourbon

3 Oz Fresh Strawberry Simple Syrup

1 Oz Clover Honey Simple Syrup

3 Oz Key Lime Juice

5 Dashes of Bitters

Combine all of the ingredients in a fishbowl then stir in plenty of ice and the sliced citrus, strawberries and cherries. Garnish with halved strawberries, lemon slices and a few cherries. This serves four-to-six people, so proceed with caution!

Backwoods Bourbon Punch

This one’s courtesy of the pros behind the bar at Valley Smoke. Have a hankering for something fruity that still packs a punch? We’ve got ‘ya covered.

You need to find a good bourbon for this one — we use Old Forester 1897. Now, the proportions are top-secret but we can break down the components:

Ingredients:

1-2 Shots of Bourbon

Grapefruit Juice

Sweet Vermouth

Aperol

Mix ingredients together and garnish with a slice of orange and a booze-soaked cherry. Voila! You’ve got yourself a top-shelf cocktail recipe. Grab a seat around the Whiskey Bar at Valley Smoke for a taste of the real deal.

Jacksonville Julep

Skip the races and head to the St. Johns River instead. We love sipping this version of the classic Mint Julep on a boat in the middle of the water.

Ingredients:

2 Shots of Bourbon

.5 Oz Coconut Lime Simple Syrup

Sprigs of Mint

Crushed Ice

Muddle five mint leaves and simple syrup in a julep cup (an old fashioned glass will work just fine in a pinch). Fill the glass to the brim with ice and pour in the bourbon. Stir. Garnish with mint and a slice of lime.

Swing into Valley Smoke for Waterfront Sunset Cocktails

The team behind the bar at Valley Smoke really knows their stuff. From the perfect pour of Prosecco to the unrivaled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (another Valley Smoke bourbon staple), you can’t go wrong with summer sipping on the Intracoastal.

Want to grab dinner while you’re here? Make a reservation to ensure a table with a view. We can’t wait to see you!

The BBQ pit crew over here on Roscoe knows allll about the perfect grilled meats and veggies to try out each season. What you’d eat when it’s cold and rainy outside is often very different than what you’re in the mood for on a sizzling hot day in Florida. We’re here to talk about the best foods to throw on your grill this summer and a few Valley Smoke favorites you’ll have to stop by and try. (more…)

There’s no right or wrong way to eat BBQ around these parts. Everyone has their preferences and the team at Valley Smoke embraces different likes and dislikes. Whether you prefer KC ‘que or something a little more southern, make 2019 your year to experiment with fresh flavors.

 

Barbecue is all about combining tender meat, great sauces and good company. Grab a few of your friends to sample some different approaches to everyone’s favorite type of food. Valley Smoke offers a selection of freshly prepared sauces to every table we serve. Give our Alabama White a try for something out of the ordinary! (more…)

If you have the lucky job of writing, blogging or posting about the food you eat or restaurants you visit, it’s worth putting in the effort to get A+ pics of your plate. Even though there may be a bit of a learning curve to master the lighting, you certainly don’t want to spend more time staring at your food through your phone than actually enjoying it. You know what they say, phone eats first. Here are a few tips for the perfect food photo opportunity:

Natural Lighting is Key

One of the most critical pieces of advice we can give you is to use natural light when taking a picture of your meal. Let’s be real; bright yellow lighting doesn’t do any favors for perfectly cooked fish and sauteed collards. Whatever you do, don’t use the flash! You’ll end up with a washed out picture that entirely doesn’t capture the meal how you want it to look on Instagram or your blog.

Close-up Frame

That beautiful piece of fish on your plate is just dying to be featured on your Facebook, and Valley Smoke would love a shout-out, too! In today’s day and age, it’s pretty standard to see our guests try to get the perfect shot of their delicious broiled oysters before taking that first bite. If you’re trying to show off the size of the meal instead of snapping a close-up, take a step back and maybe even fit in some of the pretty scenery!

Food Focus

We know it can be hard when you’ve got a great meal in front of you, but don’t lose focus. By this, we mean that your camera shot should focus solely on your food and none of the surrounding distractions. If you have a nice camera, try to get everything out of focus in the background, so the viewer’s eye draws right to the meal in the foreground of your snap. This will make your primary object, that delicious meal, really stand out.

Experience Exposure

Don’t just snap a photo and leave it at that. When you share your image on your social networks, tell your followers why! Was it the best meal you’ve ever had, was that salmon something special or was the soup just like your mom used to make? Tell everyone why the meal deserved a post, and don’t forget to tell your followers where you had that excellent meal!

Taking a picture of your food for social media can be a tough task, especially when your stomach is rumbling. If you spend this much time focusing on how to take the perfect picture, imagine how much time we spend perfecting the taste and quality of our food. Come to Valley Smoke, take some pictures, have a great meal and share your experience with your friends. We can’t wait to see you!

 

In a time where there’s a brewery on every corner and everyone is an IPA-expert, there are still two traditional varieties that are sipped the most: ales and lagers. Whether you keep it simple and only pay attention to flavor or you get fancy with the fermentation techniques, we’ve got the low-down on these two variations of beer and how they’ll play into your Super Bowl Party. With Jacksonville’s ever-evolving craft beer scene, it’s important stay in the loop about what’s brewin’ in the Bold City. Here are some important similarities and differences between ale and lager:

Ales

If you didn’t know already, the brewing process is the main difference between ale and lager. That means the first step to understanding these two beers is learning about the brewing process! Ales originated in England in the 1700s, where they created the idea of brewing at warmer temperatures (between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). This distinct process results in a beer with very unique taste, smell and texture.

Ales are a craft brewery favorite, typically focusing on IPAs (India Pale Ales) and APA (American Pale Ales). Another common ale variety is a stout, which is typically an acquired taste reserved for seasoned beer drinkers. They’re dark, robust, heavy and certainly not for everyone.

When someone talks about an ale, “citrusy, robust and bold” are common buzzwords that find their way into the conversation. We have no doubt an IPA will make its way into your Super Bowl beer selection. At Valley Smoke, we’ll be serving up some of our favorite ales to keep the party going. From small-batch craft options to our rotating draft, there’s something for everyone to sip on during the big game.

Our Favorite Menu Items to Pair With Your Ale:

– Farm House Mini Sandwiches: Buttermilk Biscuits, House Cured Country Ham, Pepper Jelly

– Carolina Style Chopped Pork

– Smoked Chicken Wings: Alabama White BBQ Sauce or House Buttermilk Blue Cheese

Lagers

The cooler temperatures used to brew lagers causes the yeast to settle at the bottom during the fermentation process. The result of this German process is a crisp, clean beer. Compared to ales, lagers are far lighter in color; often transparent. The most common crowd-pleasers are lagers. Lagers are a go-to choice for novices and experienced beer drinkers alike.

While ales may have more complex layers of flavor, “crisp and smooth” are good descriptors for a lager. Lighter beers typically fall into the lager category and are usually high in carbonation. Many casual beer drinkers prefer lagers because of their mellow flavors.

One of our favorite things about a lager is how well it pairs with pretty much all food, especially BBQ. The menu at Valley Smoke is right up any beer drinker’s alley. Here are our favorite menu items to pair with your cold lager:

– Crispy Chicken Livers with Red Pepper Jelly, Whipped Lemon Cream and Fried Shallots

– Valley Smoke Beef Brisket

– Local Shrimp & Chorizo Pasta

 

Thanks to the brewing and fermentation processes created by some old guys a couple hundred years ago, we now have the beers we love and enjoy today.While both of these beers are distinctly different, we have a great variety of both. Whether you’re sipping a cold beer watching the game or enjoying a private party at Valley Smoke, we recommend trying one of each to see what you prefer. We can’t wait to see you! Cheers.

Now that Halloween’s over, it’s finally time to think about Thanksgiving, everyone’s favorite holiday! Whether you celebrate with family or friends, begin your day with a marathon, parade or snuggled in bed, it’s important to focus on what’s really important and leave the stress of meal planning to us. These side dishes are the perfect accompaniment to grandma’s traditional turkey, will impress the in-laws and are super easy to bring to your best friend’s potluck.

 

Creamy Baked Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Mac ‘n’ cheese never lasts that long, but this recipe is going to blow your mind! In a food processor or blender, combine one cup cottage cheese, two cups milk, one tsp dry mustard, a pinch or two of cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it), grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine cheese mixture with 1/2 pound uncooked macaroni and close to a pound of grated cheddar cheese (save 1/4 cup of the pound for topping) and add to a buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 min at 375° then top with butter and the 1/4 cup of leftover cheese. Bake for another 30 minutes.

 

Not in the mood to prepare mac and cheese for your big group? No problem. We make the best dang mac ‘n’ cheese this side of the Mississippi…but we may be biased. Order a pint or two for your Thanksgiving dinner and find out for yourself.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

The best part of Thanksgiving is that calories don’t count (just go with it), so we know you’ll come back for seconds of this sweet potato casserole. In a large bowl mix four cups of mashed sweet potatoes,1/2 cup white sugar, two eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, four tbsp butter, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Once smooth, move to a 9×13 baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, three tbsp butter and 1/2 cup chopped pecans and sprinkle on top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Cranberry Sauce

We fully believe this slow cooker cranberry sauce will beat all others and have you drizzling it all over the turkey, potatoes and everything else on your plate. Nobody has to know you made it in a slow cooker, either! Serve it in a beautiful crystal bowl and your guests will think you’ve been working on it all day. In your slow cooker, combine 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries. Cook on low for three hours, then bump the temperature up to high for another 45 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the mixture once every hour.

 

Green Bean Casserole

This classic recipe is nearly impossible to mess up, can be made ahead of time and travels great in a casserole dish. All you need is a can of cream of mushroom Soup, 3/4 cup of milk, a pinch of black pepper, two cans of drained green beans and one 1/3 cups of crispy fried onions. Mix the soup, milk and pepper in a 1.5-quart baking dish and then stir in the beans and 2/3 cup of the crispy fried onions. Bake at 350° for 30 min, top with the remaining onions and bake five more minutes, or until onions are golden.

 

No matter how you celebrate this year, these dishes are sure to knock it out of the park. Hey, you might even get off the hook for cleaning duties! One of the best things about celebrating Thanksgiving in the south is the variety of dishes and the ability to stray away from the traditional. Happy Thanksgiving from the Valley Smoke family!