Driving along Route 422 east toward Douglassville, the smoke rises from HillBilly BBQ. The trailer sits in a small parking lot in front of D&S Elite Construction.
There have been many roadside barbecue joints in and around Berks County over the years – Muddy’s Smokehouse BBQ, Stampede Smokin’ BBQ and Templin’s Soggie Bottom Grille come to mind. And while others have either moved into permanent locations, closed or both, HillBilly still remains as a true roadside eatery.
I visited HillBilly BBQ for the first time in 2015. I only had a pulled pork sandwich, but I was impressed. I couldn’t wait to take Julie for a meal and a Berks County Eats review.
Three years later, that visit finally happened.
We stopped in on a cool Saturday afternoon – too cold to sit outside but too warm to sit inside our car to eat. The only real option was to order our lunch and take it back home to Wyomissing. Thankfully, there’s a driveway connecting the restaurant to Monacacy Creek Road and the traffic light that leads to westbound 422.
Less than 20 minutes after getting our meals, we were unboxing them at our kitchen table. I couldn’t wait to dig into my half rack of ribs.
The ribs looked beautiful, dark in color from hours in the smoker and a heavy dry rub that I immediately fell in love with. It was simple sweet, salty and mildly spicy rub that was laid on thick.
At the counter, I was given the choice of adding “sweet sauce” to the ribs. There wasn’t much to the sauce – it was a little runny and pooled at the bottom of the box – but it really did add to the dish. If nothing else, it softened the texture and helped the meat soak in even more of the delicious rub.
The half rack was sliced in half with three-to-four bones in each. Each piece was unique. The top was fall-off-the-bone good. The second rack was the end piece and was more well done. It was no less flavorful, but the tips were crispy, bordering on burnt.
On the side, my coleslaw balanced out the meal. The creamy slaw was very good and did much to counterbalance the spice of the ribs.
When it comes to barbecue, Julie loves beef brisket. It’s her go-to whenever we go out. Her brisket sandwich from HillBilly BBQ featured a Kaiser roll overflowing with meat.
The brisket featured the same rub and was topped with the same sauce as the ribs. It was a melt-in-your-mouth kind of sandwich, smooth and flavorful. The Kaiser roll helped to soak up some of the juice and sauce – a traditional hamburger roll would have probably fallen apart by the time we got home. It also differentiated itself from similar offerings at other restaurants, and that’s never a bad thing.
For her side, Julie chose the mac and cheese. It was made with small shells in a gooey yellow cheese sauce. When we first got in the car, the shells were still smoking. They hadn’t cooled off much by the time we arrived at home. They were good, but not anything special.
One thing I love about barbecue is that it’s almost always priced right. At $25 for our two entrees and two sides (we didn’t order drinks because we were taking it home. That would have brought it closer to $30), HillBilly BBQ definitely priced its food right.
A note to those concerned about the divided highway: don’t be. Unlike some restaurants along that stretch of Route 422, HillBilly BBQ is actually easily accessible from both directions thanks to the Monacacy Road entrance.
That’s a big advantage, but the location isn’t without drawbacks. It’s still an unpaved parking lot with limited seating – and Route 422 isn’t exactly the most desirable backdrop for dining alfresco.
But the barbecue is hard to beat. And for a little roadside stand, that’s all that really matters.
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
908 Benjamin Franklin Hwy
Douglassville, PA 19518