Why 4 Rivers Smokehouse is the Best Barbeque Restaurant in Gainesville

4rivers barbeque gainesville

If you find yourself craving some good ol’ southern style barbeque, 4 Rivers Smokehouse is definitely the place to be. The meat is of quality and is cooked to perfection using methods developed by the barbeque expert himself, John Rivers.

The Grub team was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample almost everything on the menu including sides, meats and desserts. The friendly staff was exceptionally knowledgeable about the restaurant’s history and about the food itself.

Read more about the Grub team’s favorite dishes.

4rivers barbeque gainesville

​A side that really stood out was the corn. This may seem like a typical, ordinary side that most restaurants would have, but the corn at 4 Rivers is something else. The corn itself is sweet and warm, but some pepper adds the right amount of spice. There are bits of tomato in it too. This side is seasonal, so get it while you can!

​Something unique about 4 Rivers is that it has its own dessert bakery called the Sweet Shop. This is a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth. They can truly do it all, from wedding cakes to brownies. Their Reese’s Cookie is definitely a favorite. It is a peanut butter cookie with chunks of Reese’s peanut butter candy spread throughout. The cookie looks like a large and puffy chocolate chip cookie, but it tastes like pure peanut butter. This baked good is a 4 Rivers staple.


4rivers barbeque gainesville

In one word, 4 rivers smokehouse is wholesome. Wholesome people. Wholesome service. Wholesome food. From start to finish, the Grub team was welcomed with open arms and served like queens. A beautiful display of sauces, menus, reserved seating and specially assigned staff to guide our experience, all greeted us at the door. Soon after we were taken through a vivid presentation complete with samples of sides and meat preparation, dessert and catering, and special menu items.

Sampling the sides opened my eyes to not only the amount of variety that 4 Rivers offers, but the time spent making sure each side is fresh and full of flavor. I was blown away by the fact that I actually enjoyed the Collard Greens! Who would’ve thought those “natural-looking” vegetables that turned my nose upwards for so long could ever be something I finished completely.  Stewed with bacon, 4 Rivers Collards are perfectly seasoned to mask that icky bitterness without overpowering the natural flavor. Stuffed jalapeños are also a must. The cream cheese neutralizes the spice and the bacon heightens the smoky flavor.

Pulled Pork that falls apart on your plate, is what you’ll find when you head into 4 Rivers. Smoked to perfection, 4 Rivers has found the balance between pork that is drenched in sauce or dry and flavorless. It’s juicy, meaty flesh will melt in your mouth. Smoked Sausage is another favorite. Deep smoky flavor and spices galore make this delicious Texan sausage a superb way to mix up your order.

The Sweet Shop at 4 Rivers is more than just a beautiful storefront, it’s popping out southern treats that will take you back to your childhood. Classic Buckeyes are served in mini sizes or large balls of goodness. Thicker than most, these Buckeyes give you plenty of bang for your buck! Creamy, melt-in-your mouth peanut butter and chocolate – need I say more?

All in all, 4 Rivers is the type of quality joint that isn’t often found these days. Excellent service, delectable, fresh food at affordable prices are what makes 4 Rivers a place to put on the map!


4rivers barbeque gainesville

Just a barbecue restaurant? Surely not! A meal at 4 Rivers is almost a religious experience. The restaurant graciously treated the Grub team to an extravagant tasting of their carefully crafted side dishes, flavor-intensive meats and decadent desserts. Plus, 4 Rivers’ customer service was absolutely excellent and took the time to walk through each item we sampled with detailed information on about how and why it’s made.

The two side dishes that stood out to me the most are their fresh Cornbread and their house-made Sweet Potato Mash. 4 Rivers’ Cornbread is hands-down the best cornbread I’ve had from any restaurant. It’s perfectly moist and there are no flaws in its sweetness. What’s special about 4 Rivers’ Cornbread is that they include small pieces of jalapeño pepper to give this side a little kick. Like the Cornbread, 4 Rivers home-makes their Sweet Potato Mash every single day. They bake the potatoes for an extended amount of time before scooping it out of the skin and adding all sorts of yummy ingredients like brown sugar. They even top off this side with some chopped pecans to add a little crunch.

It’s no secret that 4 Rivers Smokehouse is known for its meat. There are so many amazing options, but their Tri-Tip steak is one for the books! It’s the most tender, juiciest steak I’ve ever eaten. Plus, it’s served with a fresh, tangy chimichurri sauce. They also serve a flavorful Turkey Sausage that’s unlike any other. All the spices perfectly come together to create a wonderful combination of flavors. Both are great options for those who aren’t huge fans of barbecue or pork.

Finally, to round it all up, 4 Rivers treated us to a selection of desserts from the Sweet Shop. Although there seems to be an unlimited selection of sweets to enjoy, the Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake was a winner. It’s a smooth chocolate cake topped with rich, fudgey icing. This cake was so moist and light, I felt like I could eat ten slices.

– Lizzie

4rivers barbeque gainesvilleThis high-quality, charitable smokehouse is nestled into the corner of a plaza on Archer. When you walk in, though, instead of feeling crowded, you’re greeted by large windows, wooden furniture and lots of light.

4 Rivers serves up delicious meals and gives back to the communities it’s located in.

Whether you’re at 4 Rivers for a quick lunch or filling dinner, its menu can accommodate. With plenty of hearty sides, meat options and its famous Beef Brisket, you’ll be able to find something worth drooling over.

If you’re like me and aren’t a huge fan of pork and beef, the turkey is worth checking out. It has a delicious smokiness (thanks to being brined for 4 hours) while still retaining moistness and flavor. The mustard sauce adds a great tang to the turkey.

The Baked Beans are made with some of 4 Rivers signatures sauces and rubs. The sweet flavor is the perfect complement to any of the main entrees.

If you’re looking for some warm, sweet comfort food, don’t miss out on the Banana Foster. It’s served in heaping portions and has the perfect texture.

If you and your significant other or best friend are looking to veg out, the Pitmaster Combo is the meal for y’all. With 4 meats clocking in at a pound total, 2 sides and 1 biscuit for $19.99, this is a steal waiting to be taken advantage of.

If you still haven’t gotten your fill of noms, 4 Rivers has it’s own Sweet Shop in the restaurant. You can order anything from a pop-tart to a custom wedding cake.

4 Rivers is a restaurant in Gainesville that is worth checking out. Take your comfort meals to the next level and enjoy the awesome customer service and atmosphere at 4 Rivers.

– Ana

4rivers barbeque gainesville

Hidden in the depths of Archer lies arguably the best barbeque joint in town. The extensive sides menu is enough to make a gal swoon, but to top it with a variety of smoked, seasoned and slow-cooked meats has made me question if I should put a ring on this place (or, at the least, visit weekly).

I have to say, the Cheese Grits stole my heart out of all the sides. Old-fashioned grits cooked with a blend of cheeses, milk and butter, then perfectly baked into a cornbread-like consistency, the side pairs great with any of the smoked meats. The lightly crisp edges and chewy yet creamy inside creates a mouth feel unlike any grits I’ve had before. Growing up in the south, I’ve had my fair share of grits (I eat them every Sunday when home at my favorite restaurant in St. Pete). I would consider myself a bit of a grits aficionado, knowing slow-cooked from instant. These cheesy grits take the cake for the best in Gainesville, trust me.

As for the meat entrees, you really can’t go wrong. I strongly believe though that the Burnt Ends, a mix of beef brisket and pork crispy bits from the ends of the meats, is the best thing on the menu. I mean c’mon, tender, flavorful, fatty meat bits with an outer layer of crunch is what dreams are made of. I can’t stress enough how delicious these are. I’m not the biggest barbeque person, but I would go every week to get this entree alone. It’s seriously that good.

Now, the dessert. 4 Rivers Lemon Bayou bars have stolen my heart. A shortbread-like crust makes the bottom –  chewy, moist, yet thick enough to handle the lemon curd filling. The filling is not too sweet and not too sour. It’s smooth and creamy right down to the last bite. I was in awe of the flavor profile. It tasted like my childhood summers; I could literally remember this taste from beach and pool days. If you want to be transported to easier times, order this.


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