My sister has been a bit under the weather the last couple of days—and I’ve been traveling a LOT recently myself—so we finally pried ourselves out from under her four dogs … and left the house at the crack of 3pm. These couple of days in Chattanooga were my last opportunity for down time before the big push up north, so—even though she and I talked about doing several different touristy things on my way back through—I wasn’t heartbroken when we choose to relax instead of running all over town.
We tossed several ideas back and forth, and finally decided that BBQ would be tasty, so my sister pointed us toward Hillbilly Willy’s BBQ & Catering Co.
If you need the address, it’s:
115A Browns Ferry Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37419
Phone: (423) 821-2272
I loved the décor instantly. Even though they’re in a strip mall, they kept it rustic … including their logo painted right down on the concrete floor of the restaurant.
The boring old institutional tile ceilings were disguised/decorated with branches, hung with Spanish moss.
And the smell was pretty doggone good the moment we walked in the door
My sis opted for a rib and sliced beef combo.
I decided that the half rack of ribs was more my speed.
We settled down with our excellent food, and I rapidly experienced why Hillbilly Willy’s is award-winning in the Chattanooga area. My sides were basic, yet excellent … but my ribs were awesome! Succulent, yet not so soft they were mushy. Served naked—just like I like them—with a side of BBQ sauce that—for once—wasn’t swimming in fake smoke flavor. That’s the number one thing I hate about most people’s BBQ sauce … the heavy-handed application of liquid smoke. To me, most of it tastes like creosote, and that’s not a taste I enjoy in my BBQ.
Hillbilly Willy’s definitely didn’t over do the liquid smoke, so I enjoyed their sauce tremendously … when I leave at least 90% of the BBQ sauce I’m served behind on my plate, barely tasted. They definitely knew how to cook their ribs low and slow as well, resulting in flavorful meat with an obvious smoke ring. I know of quite a few BBQ restaurants who could benefit from a lesson on how to run a pit from the folks at Hillbilly Willy’s …
… but if I had to point to one thing I would have changed on my ribs … it was that my meat could have used some salt. Don’t get me wrong, the smoke flavor was wonderful, and it made the outside of the thick and meaty ribs delicious … but—without a little salt on the outside to carry inside with each bite … the meat inside was kinda bland in comparison to the outside. I’d remedy that! Pork doesn’t need huge amounts of salt—especially when it’s flavored with smoke—but it still needs a bit of salt.
Final score: I’ve got to give Hillbilly Willy’s a B+ … but if they start to put a bit more salt on their meat … they could easily earn an A from me next time.