Downtown Hamburg has never been a real culinary destination.
It’s a quaint downtown, but for dining, options have always been slim. You’ve got a bar, a diner, a Chinese restaurant, two ice cream shops and pizza.
Good food for sure, but nothing truly unique.
Then in January, a very different restaurant came to town: Backwoods Brothers Authentic Texas Cuisine.
Texas-style barbecue in Hamburg? I’m in.
There’s nothing fancy about Backwoods Brothers. The dining room is pretty plain with counter seating leftover from the diner that once occupied the spot.
The maroon walls are mostly unadorned. One wall just has the restaurant’s logo. A trio of Reading Royals hockey sticks sit above a window. And behind the counter, a collection of folk art crosses from the American southwest.
Backwoods Brothers’ menu isn’t fancy either. Written on a chalkboard, it’s easy to follow: pick a meat, make it a combo or enjoy it on a sandwich (just don’t ask for ribs on your sandwich).
At the tables, paper towel rolls sit in for napkins, and dinner is served on paper plates with a pack of disposable utensils.
For my dinner, I wanted to try as much as possible so I ordered a two meat combo with pork, sausage and fried okra.
At the table were three squeeze bottles of barbecue sauce: original, honey BBQ and hot. The original is a tangy, vinegar-based sauce. It was good, but the honey BBQ was more my speed. It was a little tangy, but had that sweet flavor that I love with for a good sweet and savory barbecue dinner.
I was warned about the hot sauce, made with real hot peppers. I had just a taste with my pulled pork. I actually loved it, but I could feel the heat from just a few drops and didn’t dare try any more.
My favorite thing on the plate was the sausage. It was spiced just right and smoked to perfection. It didn’t need any sauce, but I thought it was even better with a few squirts of honey BBQ.
The pork was good. Real smoky with only a little bit of fat. It wasn’t “pulled” to the point of being stringy slivers of meat, and was instead served in meaty chunks. I enjoyed it.
Finally there was the fried okra. If you’ve never had okra before, it’s hard to describe the vegetable’s taste. But I love it. And I could have eaten the slightly salty fried okra bites all day.
Julie wasn’t quite as hungry as me so she only went with one meat — beef brisket — and a side of mac and cheese.
The brisket was sliced thin and piled high. It was tender but still required a knife to cut. You could see and taste the rub along the outer edges of every piece.
Her mac and cheese was creamy, and to her delight, seasoned well with pepper. It was just the way she likes her macaroni.
Portions were not overwhelming, but we definitely got plenty of food for our $26, and we left plenty full.
Backwoods Brothers holds true to its Texas-style roots, delivering a unique style of barbecue and sauce that you won’t find at other Berks County joints.
And they are certainly delivering something that Hamburg has never seen before.