By Michelle Caceres

When FishHawk residents Stephen and Ronnie Allen crave delicious barbeque they know exactly where to go to satisfy it. The couple hop in their car for the short drive to Firewood Bar B.Q., located at 7013 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., across from the Lithia Fire Station. After a short wait, they feast upon ribs, French fries, coleslaw and collard greens.

“This is real country cooking, the ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender,” said Stephen, a native of Plant City. “This is good food.”

Ronnie likes the portion sizes. “There’s always plenty to take home so we can have leftovers the next day,” she said.

Open since July, Firewood Bar B.Q. Owner Max Simrakh is no novice in the art of barbeque. In the barbeque business since 1986, Simrakh prides himself on the large commercial smokers that sit behind the restaurant. He uses a wood-only method of cooking meat, one of the most difficult ways to control heat and flavor, used by only a few expert pitmasters.

“My second job is as a wood collector,” joked Simrakh.

No joking aside, the smell of smoking meat wafts to the front of the restaurant, making customers’ mouths water for a cooked to perfection meal.

Simrakh said the art of barbeque is timing, first determining when you want the meat ready and working backward.

“I cook in small batches so the meat is ready to sell right away,” said Simrakh, who manages the restaurant with his two sons and a small team of employees.

A variety of meats are on the menu to satisfy any carnivore, including ribs, pork, beef brisket, sausage, chicken and salmon. Homemade sauces available include a vinegar based spicy sauce, a sweet sauce and a hot sauce. Side dishes of baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and collard greens are made from scratch in the restaurant.

Firewood Bar B.Q. offers take out and also full-service catering for parties small or large. Smoked meat can be purchased by the pound, an excellent alternative to processed deli meat.

“I have customers that buy brisket and then make sandwiches for their family at home,” said Simrakh.

Firewood Bar B.Q. has no operating hours. Rather, they say they serve all day.

“If customers show up at 10 a.m. we’ll serve them,” he said.

For more information about Firewood Bar B.Q. call 438-8710.