Tuesday, July 6, 2010

BBQ Tuesdays: Hillbilly Bar-B-Q

Welcome to Blackened Out's newest weekly series where we start out with great anticipation, only to get bored after a few weeks and fizzle out in disappointment. With last weekend's celebration of July 4th, we have been overcome with an insatiable craving for meats slowly cooked over an open flame. We're talking barbecue, people, so unfurl that American flag and break out your favorite Springsteen album. Leave the cooking to someone else.

For some unknown reason, finding high quality barbecue requires a journey. In college we used to set aside an entire afternoon just to make the 30 minute drive from West Campus out to the Salt Lick in Driftwood. If we had an entire to day to spare, we would drive (or fly) to Cooper's in Llano. The same could be said in New Orleans, though the trek out to Harahan or New Orleans East is not what most people would classify as a "journey." For others, the metaphorical voyage is akin to a pilgrimage to the backwoods and rural roots of American barbecue. Rene probably put it best when he called me on his drive down Jefferson Highway to Hillbilly:

"Hey, I must have somehow missed it because I've been driving for so long that I've already passed East Jesusville and am fast approaching West Bumf*ck."

Hillbilly was started by Larry Wyatt, a self proclaimed hillbilly from Paducah, Kentucky, who boasts of trucking in hickory wood from his hometown to use in the smoker out back. This BBQ shack offers modified table service. Menus are already on the seat-yourself tables, and a waiter will come by to take your order. Drinks are self-service from a fountain machine in the dining room. The waiter brings your order to the table, and you pay at the counter when you leave.

Pork ribs are covered with a light dry rub and have a thick ring of smoke penetrating down to the bone. Brisket has a nice bark on the outside but the flesh was a wee bit dry. Same goes for the pork shoulder, which pulls apart into strands. Hillbilly offers two sauces (regular and sweet) both tomato based with a nice shot of vinegar.

The side dishes are truly what sets Hillbilly apart from the pack. Potato salad is German style with a little bit of mustard and a nice kick of heat. Corn salad is a cold, Yankee version of macquechoux - sweet corn, roma tomatoes and green onions held together with a bit of mayo. The chili has an exotic flavor attributed to the Native American relative who comes into the restaurant once a week to make it; you will taste cinnamon and maybe a little chocolate. BBQ beans are thick and sweet, while the cole slaw has a nice runch and tartness from its red wine vinegar dressing. Alligator sausage is phenomenal; in fact, it's so juicy and flavorful that we are almost certain that pork fat plays a large role in that link. The house specialty Hobo Taters are chunks of baked potato mixed with BBQ sauce and melted cheese and topped with sour cream.

Prices are a certified bargain. Platters – Combo pork/brisket for $10 and Ribs for $9 – come with our choice of 2 sides. You can even get a baked potato loaded with bacon, cheese, chives, sour cream and your choice of meat for $8. The Tuesday burger special ($7) is legendary among those who work in the area.

Is the food worth the journey? You tell us.


jshushan said...

I agree with you. My parents live in River Ridge and eat there a lot. The burger really is that good.


NOJuju said...

I've never been, but I feel like a trek is in order. I haven't had a good pulled pork yet this summer. Must be remedied.

alli said...

That potato looks incredible, but their brisket is a joke. A dry, cruel joke.