Since discovering that some of Florida’s African American landscape artists known as the Highwaymen are still painting in Fort Pierce I’ve been returning to the southeast Florida city with photographer Gary Monroe for a book about the artists’ original home turf.
Recently, Monroe and I had lunch at Granny’s on Avenue D with artist Al Black whose prison murals can be seen for the first time outside the jail in Al Black’s Concrete Dreams, The Highwaymen Murals (Gary Monroe, University Press of Florida).
The oxtail stew was good as before, but now Hassie and Charles Russ’s restaurant and other Avenue D businesses are getting a face lift thanks to Fort Pierce’s Redevelopment Agency headed by Jon Ward. Besides an interpretive Highwaymen trail planned for the Lincoln Park neighborhood -- among possible landmarks is a spot outside the former juke joint Eddie’s Place where Highwaymen Alfred Hair was shot -- we found more great food on Avenue D:
Hot Stop Food Market opens at 5 a.m. for the citrus picking crowd. The fried grouper and-eggs breakfast with grits is excellent and one portion fed both of us ($6). 1702 Avenue D, 772- 465-8040.
A smoker was going full tilt at Tillman’s Backyard BBQ, newly opened next to 1523 at 16th Street and Ave. D. A group led by neighborhood redevelopment mover-and-shaker Elise Rollins was headed there for lunch. They raved about the ribs. 772-828-6261.
At Scott’s Deli and Grocery, owner Randall Scott’s wife Debbie makes a butter cream cake that equals Granny’s peach cobbler. (1507 Avenue D, open 11:30 am to 8 pm).
“This recipe came from the Arawak Indians,” said Vincent Barnett who was stirring a pot of brown stew at C-N-C restaurant. “In Jamaica, we make it with fresh pimento leaves, scallions, garlic, ginger and thyme.” The restaurant with its mural, "Ode to a Buffalo Soldier,'' by local artist Ade Rossman is unmistakable, and so is the stew. (#1143 Avenue D.)
Before leaving town we poked our heads in at D.G. Grocery and stayed for the barbecued pork ribs – smoked with oak in a brick oven at the back of the store – with collard greens done just right and sweet tea. $12/pp. (2311 Avenue D, 772-462-5172.)
Posted by Patricia Borns, Globe correspondent
Owner and chef Hassie Russ serves oxtails at Granny's Restaurant on Avenue D.
Photo by Patricia Borns for the Boston Globe