4 Rivers Smokehouse is a small chain that started in Orlando Florida and has begun expanding to nearby cities. Jacksonville’s location opened in the last year and has been drawing huge crowds ever since. They operate in the fast casual style. You walk through an ordering line and your food is dished up onto a tray and off you go to community seating where you’re likely to dine next to or across from someone you don’t know. Maybe you’ll make a new friend. They offer all the barbeque staples as well as some items of their own design. They have a few little touches of their own that set them apart from other BBQ restaurants like a wall of bottled sodas for you to choose from and Cheerwine soda straight from the soda machine.
Food: My suggestion if it’s your first time coming to 4 Rivers is to order the smokehouse trio ($7.99) so you get to try 3 different meats. You choose between pulled pork, pulled chicken, burnt ends, and brisket. That’s what I went with this time choosing the pulled chicken, burnt ends and the pulled pork. To me most good BBQ places are pretty similar when it comes to meat. I would say all of the meats at 4 rivers are pretty solid. It’s not really a barbeque staple but their pulled chicken really stands out to me. It’s moist with good flavor. It tastes like they took chicken and made it better with a slightly smoky BBQ flavor. A lot of places offer pulled chicken where the flavor is more BBQ than chicken. The burnt ends were a bit dry but not bad and pulled pork was decent. The meat that stands out the most to me at 4 rivers is actually the Texas Sausage. The platter will run you $12.49 including 3 sides and a biscuit. It’s HUGE! The sausage itself is about double the size you’d expect and more than most people can eat in one sitting with the sides. It’s a little pricey compared to Bono’s at $9.99 (w/ 2 sides) but it’s definitely worth the extra money. I’m probably in the minority but for me the sides make the BBQ places. That’s what 4 Rivers does really well. You can add two sides to your meal for $1.98. The corn is good. The green beans are solid with good flavor. The macaroni and cheese is very creamy and cheesy. It’s really good. The sweet potato casserole is solid with bits of nuts throughout. The jalapeno corn bread is moist and well prepared although also pretty spicy. My absolute favorite side though is their Krispy Kreme bread pudding. They actually use Krispy Kreme glazed donuts to make their bread pudding. It is to die for!!! I have driven across town just to get this bread pudding. Who knew you could make the sugary goodness that is Krispy Kreme donuts this much better. The only side I’m not a huge fan of are the fried pickles. They’re a bit too “bready”. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a minute to appreciate the awesomeness that is Cheerwine soda. Cheerwine is a cherry flavored soda that is hard to find outside of the Carolina’s. It has a huge cult following of which I myself am a subscriber. I’d venture to say 4 Rivers might be the only place in Florida you can get it out of a soda fountain. If you’re a fan or if you haven’t yet tried it and like cherry flavors definitely stop in to enjoy.
I’ve been to 4 Rivers a few times. The first three times I went there was probably a 20 minute line. However, all those trips were within the first couple months after they opened. This time we were there around 7pm on a weeknight and there was no wait. I’m guessing wait times have come down a lot since it’s not the newest restaurant on the block any more. The service is generally fast once you get to the counter and the building is pretty large for a restaurant so even when they’re busy I’ve never had trouble finding a seat.
- The Krispy Kreme bread pudding is “To die for!”
- Huge tasty Texas sausage
- Cheerwine in the soda fountain
- Great sides
- Burnt ends were kind of dry
- Not a fan of the fried pickles
- Might have a long wait at peak times
9220 Baymeadows Road
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Mon-Thurs: 11am to 8pm
Fri-Sat: 11am to 9pm
Phone: 1-855-Four-Rivers (1-855-368-7748)