By: Greyceli Marin

They say the best things in life happen by accident (like you, probably). The 4Rivers Smokehouse concept we have today was once a heartfelt neighborhood fundraiser, never imagined to become a restaurant.

When John Rivers retired from the healthcare industry he set out to do all the things he couldn’t do in the last 20 years, like traveling and perfecting his brisket recipe. In 2004 he launched the “Barbecue Ministry” to support a young girl battling cancer. John’s confidence in his brisket smoking abilities were confirmed once his garage just couldn’t handle the thousands of pounds of meat he was producing.

4Rivers now has 13 locations in Florida with another on the way in Georgia. We recently visited the closest outpost to us in Coral Springs, just far enough to digest all the food on the drive home.

The menu features a wide-ranging variety of barbeque including brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, burnt ends, tri-tip, sausage and prime rib. There’s also quarter, half and full smoked chicken as well as St. Louis ribs.

Choosing the sides can be heartbreaking because they’re all so good. There’s baked cheese grits, smokehouse corn, southern coleslaw, sweet potato casserole and Texas cornbread. Vegetarian entrees include a smoked portobello sandwich, vegetarian quesadilla, a veggie plate, vegetarian sideboard and smokehouse salad as well as a variety of homemade dressings.

If you somehow leave room for dessert, it better be a lot because the 4Rivers Sweet Shop isn’t modest with its portions. Dozens of options include slices of their famous cakes, individual cupcakes and bars, cookies and other confections. We highly recommend trying the Bayou, a bar with pecan shortbread crust and cream cheese filling.

P.S. We’re happy to report that the little girl who inspired it all is doing wonderfully.