Muddy’s Robesonia location closed on June 25, 2016. Read the full story here. The restaurant still operates its Oley location and is actively seeking a second place to operate.
In 2011, Muddy’s Smokehouse BBQ ushered in a barbecue revolution in Berks County.
The tiny trailer parked along Route 12 was unlike anything else around. It was as if someone had taken a piece of the deep south and transplanted it into Alsace Township.
And while Muddy’s looked different, what truly made it stand out was the food. Sure, we have always had hamburger bar-b-que and bar-b-que chicken, but the slow-cooked ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket from Muddy’s was something else altogether.
My first review of Muddy’s came nearly three years ago, and a lot has changed since then.
Drive along Route 12 today and you will see an empty lot where the Muddy’s trailer was parked, the result of a year-long legal battle with the township over land usage and zoning.
The result has been a bigger, better Muddy’s.
Instead of a single trailer, Muddy’s now operates two permanent locations: one along Oley Road, not far from the original, and a second about 20 miles away in Robesonia.
The Robesonia location came first, opening in the summer of 2014. The location along Penn Avenue has been a revolving door of sandwich shops for more than a decade, most recently serving as the home of a catering company before Muddy’s arrived on the scene.
On my first visit to the new location, I couldn’t help but think how weird it was to be walking into Muddy’s after having walked up to the trailer window on so many previous occasions.
One thing that has largely remained the same since the move has been the menu, though it has been expanded. The barbecue basics are still there, along with the loaded French fries and most of the sides (sadly, the Yukon gold mashed potatoes are gone).
Many of the daily specials from the original location, like white chicken chili and smoked wings, are now permanent menu items. Salads and specialty sandwiches help give the menu even more variety.
After going through Muddy’s withdrawals for nearly a year, I had my heart set on one of the classics: beef brisket.
The brisket has a beautiful pink smoke ring around the outside edge, a subtle reminder that this is real barbecue. For those dining in, the meat and sides are served sans plates, and instead are placed directly on a tray liner. For takeout (as we opted for), the eight slabs of brisket are neatly stacked on one side with my baked beans and fries on the other.
All three items are carry-overs from the original menu, and all are as good as ever. Only a hint of fat remains on the brisket, a byproduct of the slow-cooking. I poured about one-quarter cup of Muddy’s apple fig barbecue sauce on top, drowning the meat in sweetness. The brisket absorbs all of the smokiness from the cooking process and all of the sweetness from the sauce to create a perfect barbecue experience.
The baked beans were as hearty and delicious as I remembered, with chunks of whatever meat was leftover from the day before (in this case, pulled pork) added in for extra flavor. The fries also haven’t changed—fresh-cut, lightly seasoned, and perfect for dipping in sauce.
Among the new specialty sandwiches are a selection of cheese steaks (I believe cheese steaks are mandatory for all Pennsylvania restaurants). Julie decided to try the Yardbird cheese steak, smoked chicken with onions, peppers, steak sauce and cheese.
It was a wise choice, one of the best steak sandwiches of any kind that I have found in Berks County. The smoked chicken carries so much flavor on its own, but it’s the sauce that really helps bring everything together, complementing both the chicken and cheese.
For a normal person, the beef brisket would be two meals (or shared between two people), but I managed to find room for the whole thing. Julie paced herself a little better, saving half of her sandwich for the next day so our $25 stretched across three meals.
It’s been a long road for Muddy’s over the past year, but it is great that they finally have a permanent home—two permanent homes, I should say. Now I just have to make it to the Oley location.