Miami has never been much of a barbecue town, but someone forgot to tell Hans Seitz and Kevin Kehoe, two New York transplants who opened Sparky’s Roadside Barbecue last year. With its painted green tables, concrete floor and coffeehouse vibe, Sparky’s feels more like a spot you’d stumble upon in Austin, Texas, than downtown Miami. But there it is amid the electronics stores and Cuban lunch counters, pumping out live music at night and offering tasty craft beers and a superb smoked beef brisket sandwich.
Kehoe and Seitz have been involved in Miami’s food scene since the 1980s, when they worked together in the kitchen at Who’s in the Grove inside the Mayfair. Michael Moran, now a Florida International University chef-instructor, was the executive chef, and “Sparky” was the nickname they all used for each other. Kehoe caught the barbecue bug 10 years ago after helping grill guru Steven Raichlen with a party at his Coconut Grove home. He and Seitz began experimenting, and their barbecue adventure led them to Kansas City, where they purchased their Hummer-sized commercial smoker. The two aren’t just broadening downtown Miami’s palate; they’re livening up the nightlife with live jazz, rock and rockabilly three to four nights a week.
Ambience: The gritty exterior opens into a super-casual, 50-seat space with beer ads and art from six-pack cartons stapled to the walls. Two picnic tables line one side, and big chalkboards at each end tout rotating American craft beer specials, among them Left Hand Milk Stout from Colorado and silky Maduro Brown Ale from Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. Laid-back waitresses are quick to fill sweet-tea glasses and awkward silences.
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