Berks County Eats crosses the county line to bring you some of the best dining both near and far. This edition takes us 45 minutes east of Reading to Collegeville, PA.
I have talked often in this blog about my love of barbecue, especially the great options we have here in Berks County.
But the barbecue boom is alive and well outside our borders, too. In neighboring Montgomery County, Phamous Phil’s BBQ is doing southern-style barbecue a little differently, but as well as anyone else.
The restaurant gained some notoriety in 2013 when it appeared on the short-lived Food Network series Restaurant Divided.
On the show, co-owners Phil and Robin Schmidt had competing visions for the restaurant. Phil wanted a barbecue joint. His wife wanted a chophouse.
In case you were wondering who won, the sign above the door now says “Phamous Phil’s BBQ.”
The address says Collegeville, but Phil’s flagship restaurant is actually located in the village of Evansburg, just west of the state park of the same name.
Driving from Berks County, it’s best to keep your eyes peeled. If not for the large parking lot next to the building and the small sign out front, there’s not much to distinguish Phamous Phil’s from the houses along the road. The two-story building, complete with vinyl siding and blue shutters, blends in with the residences on Germantown Pike.
Inside, Phil’s looks like — if there is a such a thing — a typical barbecue restaurant. The walls are adorned with things like old license plates, antlers and antique machinery. There’s also a push-pin map asking “How far did you come for great BBQ?” with at least one tick in most of the 48 states plus some in Canada and Alaska.
Feeling very much in the barbecue spirit, I decided to order a glass of the fresh-brewed iced tea (for those who prefer something a little harder with your BBQ, Phamous Phil’s is a BYOB).
It came served in a mason jar with a second glass of simple syrup to sweeten it to your taste. As someone who has ripped through sugar packets to sweeten iced tea in the past, I gladly took advantage of this easy alternative (and probably used a little too much, if that’s even possible).
Like all great barbecue restaurants, Phamous Phil’s serves all of your favorite smoked meats like ribs, brisket and chicken, but the menu also includes some originals, like the Sloppy Phil, a sloppy Joe made with rib ends, and my choice, the smoked meatloaf.
The meatloaf is crafted in-house with Phil’s own barbecue seasoning then smoked to give it the beautiful pink smoke rings around the outside.
Phamous Phil has three unique sauces available to pair with your meal. The Inphamous sauce is the original sweet, mild barbecue. The Jacked Up barbecue is a hotter version of the original. And the Phired Up hot sauce is exactly as it sounds.
I poured some Jacked Up sauce on my meatloaf sandwich and dug in. The sweet-hot flavor of the sauce was perfect with the smoky meatloaf. The meat was very tender, almost melting in my mouth with every bite.
While sandwiches are all served with a side of chips, I decided that I needed just a little more and ordered some potato casserole. The blend of chunky potatoes and just the right amount of cheese was a great addition to the meal.
Another one of the unique menu items at Phamous Phil’s is the chicken salad sandwich. While you can find this at a lot of delis around the area, Phil’s puts a unique spin on it by using smoked chicken as the base.
The smoked chicken is mixed with mayo, celery and a spice blend to create a chicken salad sandwich unlike any other. Having the smoked chicken gave it an added flavor depth that Julie really enjoyed on her sandwich.
After having our fill of barbecue, we made the drive back to Berks County full, satisfied and only a little lighter in the wallet — our total bill came in under $25.
I always love good barbecue, no matter where I find it. And I found it at Phamous Phil’s.