Venue Review: Hillbilly's BBQ & Steaks
The Charlotte Observer
838 Tyvola Road
One whiff of the hickory smoke permeating the parking lot told me Hillbilly's was working hard on its barbecue and steaks.
The Tyvola store - which opened last year - is the third location of Hillbilly's. The first store opened in 1989 in Lowell, and two years later store No. 2 opened in Gastonia.
The dining room is populated by tables set for four. A quirk of note: The tables aren't that close together, but the acoustics are such that you can hear the conversations of the guests sitting at the tables around you. But this wasn't a deal-breaker for me as the room still had a relaxed vibe - probably due to the servers. They had a way of making you feel at home - popping by to check on us and asking how we liked the food. The sincerity was nice to see.
Our server was a real peach when it came to recommending menu items. The Brunswick stew he suggested (look for chopped beef and plenty of corn and potatoes) turned out to be a good choice.
Hillbilly's combo plates were a carnivore's dream. You can choose two, three or four meats. We got the chopped pork, chopped beef and rib plate, which also came with coleslaw, sweet hush puppies, a side and a potato.
Needless to say we carted half of it home. The pork (smoked upward of six hours) was a shade dry and the barbecue sauce that came with it could have used something to counter its sweetness. I had no complaints with the meaty ribs. Fried okra (kudos to the kitchen for showing restraint on the breading) and a brown sugar-packed baked sweet potato filled out the plate.
The Brunswick stew was a part of my 8-ounce rib-eye dinner. Temperatures were taken on the steaks, and the kitchen was spot on in honoring our request for a medium doneness. I expected a bit of fat on the rib eye, but a little additional trimming of flab would have been nice. The side of thick-cut onion rings which came with the steak made up for that.
We waddled out of Hillbilly's having eaten more than we should, but we didn't pay a lot for it.