Purchases in hand, the members of the dine-around bunch were just finishing a quick shopping trip at The Mall, when the Dieter said, “Why don’t we have supper over at Hokie Smokie? I could do with some good Southern cooking.”
Though none of us had ever eaten there, we decided that it was as good a time as any to give Hokie Smokie a try.
The restaurant, located on Mountcastle Drive in Johnson City, is named after two famous university sports mascots. As we entered, we were greeted by our server Lauren who, after taking our drink orders explained the finer points of the Hokie Smokie menu, updating us on each dish’s availability and “palate-worthiness.”
The Dieter, having heard good things about the Philly Cheese Brisket sandwich ($7.99) got one with a side order of sweet potato fries. The Retiree, wanting something more substantial than a sandwich, ordered the Pulled Pork Dinner ($9.99) sided with coleslaw and the Tri-Potato Salad.
The Carnivore pointed at what was being served to another patron, saying “I’ll have one of those with fried potatoes and onions and some Cowboy beans on the side.” “One of those” turned out to be the Beef Brisket platter ($11.99). My dining partner ordered Aunt Margaret’s Pulled Country Ham dinner ($10.99) with macaroni and cheese and coleslaw. A question about the country ham’s saltiness was allayed by Lauren, who said that their country ham was boiled before being pulled, (“the way Aunt Margaret did it”) making it more palatable.
Wanting to see if Hokie Smokie’s cuisine deserved its “Southern” moniker, I tried the Chicken and Dumplings dinner ($9.99) with mashed potatoes and collard greens. By and by, Lauren returned bearing entrees and sides. The Dieter’s Philly Cheese Brisket sandwich arrived first: lean beef, slow-cooked until tender, then grilled with onions, peppers and Swiss cheese and served on a crispy-fresh baguette-sized Hoagie roll. The sweet potato fries made a nice counterpoint to the blend of flavors in the sandwich.
The Carnivore’s entrée was a truly heroic slab of the same slow-cooked beef brisket, well-seasoned with Hokie Smokie’s blend of spices, and served with a bowl of savory Cowboy beans and a substantial serving of fried potatoes and sliced onions. The rest of us were pleasantly surprised when the Carnivore offered each of us a taste of the brisket. “Try this,” said the Carnivore, “It’s the best I’ve ever had. Even the beans and ’taters are great.”
For our Retiree, Hokie Smokie’s take on the Southern classic pulled pork barbecue platter was carried off in fine style. A slow-cooked pork butt was properly smoked and served with their sweet and tangy version of Tennessee sauce. The coleslaw and Tri-Potato Salad accompaniments were just right.
As for my Chicken and Dumplings dinner, Hokie Smokie’s version was measured against the gold standard; my mother-in-law’s. Mamaw makes the best chicken and dumplings south of the North Pole. My side orders of collard greens and mashed potatoes were good. As for the entrée, Mamaw has nothing to worry about.
My dining partner’s country ham was a treat. Lauren was right; Aunt Margaret knew a thing or two about preparing country ham the right way. Served up with Mac and Cheese and coleslaw sides, Aunt Margaret put just the right amount of “yum” in every bite.
Capping our visit was a sizable bowl of Hokie Smokie’s pecan cobbler ($5.99). If any dish is worthy of being called “Southern-style cooking,” this one is. A warm homemade crust with loads of pecans in a molasses and brown sugar filling and topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream; what more could you want?
Hokie Smokie also serves its meat by the pound, and does catering. So if you’re out looking for some Southern-style food and hospitality and drive past Hokie Smokie, well, just turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.
Hokie Smokie Restaurant
2104 W. Mountcastle Drive
Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
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