You can tell from the back and forth between Mr. Bones BBQ and its customers on Facebook, that this small Anna Maria Island restaurant is a cornerstone in the community.
A small, family-run, vegan-friendly barbecue joint on the north end near many Anna Maria Island vacation rentals, Mr. Bones BBQ hardly looks like the meat-lovers paradise that it is.
The white cottage-like restaurant with benches outside is small and inviting, with an atmosphere best described as funky and eclectic.
The name and skeletal logo, however, very accurately reflect how you’ll leave your plate at the end of the meal: with nothing left but bones.
Last month, a curious thing happened at Mr. Bones BBQ: a chain of pay-it-forwards started when out of the blue two diners paid the tab of the only other table in the restaurant, a party of six. That party then paid the tab of the two tables that had since come in.
This the testament to the atmosphere at Mr. Bones BBQ and generosity of its patrons, locals and visitors alike. Mr. Bones opened its doors in 1992 as a family owned and operated business, and remains so today. Geared toward meat eaters, this spot is famous for its barbecue sauce, made in house from scratch.
While people tend to come for the barbecued meats, Mr. Bones recognizes that our eating habits have changed. That’s why they have added a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options to their roster. Their goal is to cater to all the dietary needs and preferences of everyone who walks through the door. Mission accomplished.
Their other mission is to create “no improvement needed” dishes – spelled out on a sign on the wall, in case any venture to ask for salt, pepper, or – dare we say it – ketchup.
They’re great with letting customers know about closures (they happen occasionally in a family-run business!). This year they upped their social media game by adding an Instagram account to provide updates and, of course, post tantalizing food pictures. As well as their restaurant, Mr. Bones offers catering services for parties and weddings, but be sure to book well in advance.
At Mr. Bones, the meat goes with the sauce, not the other way around. Mr. Bones prides itself on incredible homemade barbecue sauces in five delicious flavors, from spicy to sweet: classic BBQ; Hot BBQ, the good stuff “with a touch of turbo”; Honey Glaze; Mongolian, a Peking Duck-style sauce; Mandarin, a tangy orange-ginger.
The menu is short and sweet – no rifling through chapters of mediocre food here. With quality over quantity in mind, the options are few. For ribs, spare ribs ($16) and baby back ($20) – with your choice of sauce, of course – are your options. The BBQ ½ chicken ($15) or the pulled pork ($15) are other great dishes for the carnivorous types. Wings ($10) are baked and come in baskets and come with your choice of barbecue sauce.
And meat is just the half of it. The menu also features an around the world tour, from a “Southern Fare” section with Jambalaya ($14/$20), crawfish gumbo ($8/$15), and shrimp and grits ($13/$18), which come in “light” and “hearty” plate sizes, as well as curries ($9-11), subs ($9-10), an array of Tex-Mex ($9-11), and the ½ pound Bones Burger ($10). As many dishes as possible include one of the five barbecue sauces.
Surprisingly, this menu is ideal for non-meat eaters: it has a whole vegetarian and vegan section to the menu conveniently highlighted in green, with distinct indicators for vegetarian, vegan, and GF options. The desserts menu offers shortcake (in season only), homemade bread pudding, and the Florida classic, Key lime pie. To quench your thirst, they have a long list of beer, domestic and imported including a number of craft brews and a few cider options.
Location & Hours
Mr. Bones BBQ is located at 3007 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, on Anna Maria Island.
Hours of operation:
Wednesday to Saturday 11 am.-9 p.m.
Sunday noon-9 p.m.
For now, Mr. Bones is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Mr. Bones doesn’t take reservations, but you can call ahead and put your name on the list. Give this Anna Maria Island restaurant a call (about 30 minutes in advance, preferably) to let them know you’re on your way. Make sure your whole crew is there, though, because they won’t sit partial parties.
Though Mr. Bones BBQ has been selling their sauces in-store for awhile, this summer they launched an online store stocked with their Voodoo Kitchen BBQ sauce, Hot BBQ sauce, and “Magic Dust” dry rub (all $7).
They also sell coffee mugs, pint glasses, baseball caps, and T-shirts with their skeleton logo. Bring a few souvenirs back to your Anna Maria Island vacation rental for yourself or to share with friends and family back home.