If we’d stuck our heads inside Apocalypse BBQ’s huge metal smokers on the recent late morning we arrived, it’s possible it would have actually been cooler than the air outside. And yet, there we were, standing in line in the relentless sun, minutes before the place opened. The fact that so many others were willing to brave sunburns and sweaty returns to the office just for barbecue seemed like a good sign.
Like a lot of good things these days, Apocalypse got its start in the pandemic. Back then, Jeffrey Budnechky would show up to breweries to hawk racks of ribs from his 22-inch grill, figuring he had nothing to lose with an apparent apocalypse looming. Now, the concept has found a permanent home in a renovated caddy shack smack in the middle of Kendall’s Killian Greens Golf Club.
It’s an undeniably odd spot to find some of Miami’s best barbecue. Apocalypse BBQ’s tiny parking lot out front doesn’t come close to handling the crowds. On our visit, we wove our way through the hungry tangle past two smokers by the front door that looked like beat-up submarines. At the strike of 11, we filed into the tiny restaurant.
There’s no phone here and no takeout, so you’ve really only got one path to trying it.
Despite new floors and lighting, the former caddy hangout still feels a bit like the fleeting home of a pop-up, piled with pony kegs and cardboard boxes. There’s no phone here and no takeout, so you’ve really only got one path to trying it. Our advice? Get there early. When we went, every table filled up within minutes of opening. Stragglers faced a harsh wait out there in the sun and the possibility of items selling out.
There’s a level of excitement that comes when you’ve scored a table at a place in such demand, and we got even more pumped up watching items arrive at other tables. (Based on the reactions we saw, the empanadas and the smoked-then-fried wings are not to be missed.) Then came our order, two glorious sandwiches: pulled pork and brisket, arriving on buttery Texas toast, the meats shredded and covered in slaw.
The burger is also terrific, a bit smoky and very meaty, not much more than a bun, patty, pickles and cheese. The half rack of ribs is big enough to take up half of the table on its own, slathered in layers of a sticky sauce made from colada with espumita.
Sides here, too, are well conceived—the gooey mac and cheese, McD’s-style fries and a skull-shaped cornbread (sticking with the apocalypse theme) oozing with honey—as are the cocktails, headlined by an old fashioned with a skull hat that holds in a cloud of smoke.
Being barbecue, it starts and ends with the meats, and here they’re expertly cooked. There’s that near-crimson ring that gives away hours in the smoker, and yet everything we had was tender and juicy, just the way it should be. Apocalypse nails flavors, including a cafecito spice rub that imparts a rich umami flavor. It all feels very much like the city where this place was born.
Look, it’s not going to be easy to score a meal from Apocalypse BBQ. But the burger, the pork, the brisket, the ribs—it really is all worth the scorching wait outside a former caddy shack.