My wife is one of those creatures of habit when it comes to eating food. I learned long ago that she needs three square meals a day. It doesn't matter how much she had at breakfast, she needs lunch and dinner - even if it's just a little something. As we were driving through Alabama to get to Florida for our vacation, I kept asking her if she was hungry. After the breakfast we had early in the morning at the Loveless Cafe outside of Nashville (click here to see the entry on the Loveless Cafe), I certainly wasn't hungry and she really wasn't either. Well, that is until we got into the deep southeastern part of Alabama around 2 p.m. The only problem is that we didn't find anything worth stopping at. We passed into Florida and we were going through the town of Defuniak Springs. By this time my wife was crawling up the windows because she was so hungry. It was around 2:30 and I happened to look over at a strip mall along the road and saw a sign that simply said "BBQ". I turned around and went back to get something to eat at a place called 4C BBQ.
4C BBQ calls themselves an authentic Texas barbecue joint. The owners - Robin and Teresa Ford - are from Texas and got into the barbecue business when Robin, who was a deputy sheriff in Williamson County in Texas (just north of Austin), bought a smoker and would cook barbecue for co-workers, friends and family for these sort of "stress relief" parties. Ford was a deputy for 10 years before packing his wife and two kids up and heading up north to Pennsylvania to help out some family members there. The Ford's bought a convenience store in the small town of Claysville and set up his smoker one day for a local celebration. He ended up selling just short of a couple hundred pounds of brisket that day and he was hooked as a barbecue entrepreneur.
In 2006, the Ford's moved to the Florida panhandle opening a small place in Ponce de Leon. The "4C" name comes from their devout Christian faith - 4C stands for "4 Christians for Christ". In the heavily religious bible belt of the Southeast United States, they'd found a home. Business got so good that the Ford's decided to move to nearby Defuniak Springs (a town I'd NEVER heard of until I drove through the place) in 2013 opening in a strip mall toward the south side of the town, not far off Interstate 10. (see map)
The inside of 4C BBQ is a rather large and well lit place with a series of tables and booths throughout. There's a stage on one end for bands and live events.
The bar is located in the back of the space with the kitchen behind it. Video games, dart boards and other games are back in this area, as well.
We took a seat at a booth along the wall and a girl came over to drop off some menus. In addition to barbecue, 4C also had a number of burgers, pork or beef steaks, grilled or blackened fresh seafood, and slew of appetizers.
For barbecue, they had ribs, brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken breast. I found that they had a sampler platter consisting of 2 ribs and a 1/4 lb of both brisket and pulled pork with two sides. I still wasn't overly hungry from breakfast, but I thought I could eat something. When I proposed getting the sampler, Cindy asked, "To share?" Absolutely! She said that would be perfect. We also got a choice of two sides that included a baked potato, seasoned fries, fried okra and something called corn nuggets. Cindy decided on baked beans and cole slaw for the sides. That was fine with me.
I also decided to order up a beer for the meal. After I found out that the owners were deep Christians I was sort of surprised that they sold beer in the place. And on top of it, it was two for one "Happy Hour". We only had about another 30 minutes of driving until we got to my cousin's place in Santa Rosa Beach, so a couple beers wouldn't be bad.
The young waitress brought out the barbecue sampler and it featured two meaty ribs, a couple slabs of brisket and a small portion of pulled pork. Two half slices of Texas toast accompanied the barbecue and the sides.
The ribs were meaty, but I also found them to be a little fatty. They had a nice smoky flavor and the thick housemade tomato-based with a nice sweet flavor was a nice complement to the ribs. Not the best I've ever had, but certainly not bad.
I tried some of the pulled pork and it was moist and tender, easy to consume. With the barbecue sauce, it, too, was very good.
But I liked the brisket the best. It had a nice smoke ring on the outer edges with a spice-rubbed bark on the outer shell. The beef was tender and had a wonderful texture, easily pulling apart with little effort. The brisket was the highlight.
The baked beans were all right on their own, but were helped with a little bit of the barbecue sauce added. The cole slaw was "Meh!" It was pretty bland.
For a quick find on the side of the road, 4C BBQ was a good choice. It was reasonably priced and you can't beat two for one beer specials. There didn't seem to be a lot of barbecue joints in the area, but I thought 4C BBQ more than held their own against other barbecue places I've been to.