Moe's Original Bar B Que has Soul

June 1, 2015 by Audrey Johnson

What do you need after a day of swimming and drinking and sunning and playing on the beach? Meat. You need meat. And like manna from heaven, Moe’s Original Bar B Que spreads the love with Alabama home cooking right in the middle of the strip in Panama City Beach.

I was on my second cup of sweet tea when Ryan Helsley brought out my fried catfish platter. Ryan, along with Will Casanova and Trace Armstrong opened Moe’s a little over a year ago. “We were running the Tuscaloosa and Auburn locations and decided to open our own,” said Ryan.

My lunch soundtrack, courtesy of Pink Floyd, served as a reminder that “All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.” Right for reminiscing about my Alabama roots as I ended my search for the best soul food at the beach. Which in a land of seafood restaurant tourist traps and insert-fast-food-chain-here, has been a near impossible task.  

Moe’s serves fried catfish the proper way, skinned, fileted and fried, but the barbeque is the restaurant’s namesake for a good reason. Meat is smoked twice daily and ribs are slathered in a red tomato-based sauce. The pulled pork gets the Alabama treatment with a vinegar-based sauce, because if shrimp is the fruit of the sea, then vinegar is the agent of
Alabama, used for everything from cleaning to pickling to, well, barbecuing. 

Moe’s Southern sides are made from scratch using recipes that have been passed down for generations. Melty baby lima beans with the perfect dash of black pepper and pork fat for flavor. Homemade mac and cheese with veins of sharp cheddar holding clumps of elbow noodles together. And banana pudding with Nilla Wafers and a hint of pumpkin spice to set it apart.

Every Alabamian who’s ever made banana pudding uses a secret ingredient. Church ladies have been known to have loyal followers. 



Moe’s specials change daily and are written on the chalkboard behind the counter. Think squash casserole, turnip greens and smoked turkey-Thanksgiving in June. Or if you’ve been swimming and sunning all day, take the beach food route with a fried shrimp po’boy.

During football season, order wings by the dozen and watch the game at Moe’s. Take a breather on the front patio with a cold beer, a glass of wine, a Bloody Moe or a Bushwhacker. (Seriously, stop screaming at the TV.) 

Whether you’re grabbing a meal to-go for a picnic or you need full-service, delivery and set up, Moe’s provides a range of catering options for special events. “We’ve done weddings, rehearsal dinners and worked with drug reps to cater to hospitals and doctor’s offices,” Ryan explained.

Good Southern food is about having everything you need in one place. It’s about gratitude for the abundance around you. I wonder if Moses Day felt the same way when he showed three young Bama boys his barbecue secrets. And you can bet they recreated it because they missed the taste of home.

Moe’s Original Bar B Que is located at 14896 Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach. The restaurant is open daily from 11 am-10 pm. Learn how it all started, drool over the menu, and request catering at Place orders over the phone at 850-708-1633. And stay in the loop at


Audrey Johnson's picture

Upon realizing that life is too short not to follow her dreams, Audrey moved to the beach and became a writer. SoWal’s pristine beaches inspire her to explore further, look deeper, and do better.

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