Joe Bill’s Kitchen: Smoky, saucy and sensational

Mystery Diner • Updated Oct 1, 2018 at 6:55 PM

I spotted Joe Bill Seagroves the other day, just as he was getting ready for another stint in the Joe Bill’s Kitchen food truck. This time, Joe Bill had parked the Big Black Truck out front of JRH Brewing Co. between Ashe Street and West Walnut, and just a block or two from downtown Johnson City.

My spotting the Big Black Truck and hollering at my dining partner to pull over were almost simultaneous. This caused my dining partner to call up her hill-folk back-road moonshiner driving skills, quickly slamming on the brakes and throwing our car into a NASCAR-quality reverse swerve that just avoided JRH Brewing Co.’s fence before neatly parking us across from Joe Bill’s setup site. Walking up to Joe Bill’s Kitchen, your first impression is how neat and tidy the Big Black Truck looks both inside and outside. Then your nose gets into the act, collecting wafts of pungent wood smoke, the sour/sweet tang of barbecue sauce bubbling on the stove, and the clean scent of sliced apples; ripe, tart and faintly laced with cinnamon.

Barbecue pork Q-rolls: Joe Bill’s Kitchen does sandwiches along with various side orders that go well with whatever main course you decide upon. Joe Bill’s Kitchen can start things with a sizable, scratch-made barbecue pork Q-roll at just $3 each. Since I was looking for something light for my supper, I purchased two of them for a mere five bucks, and also got a side order of Joe Bill’s special brand of apple coleslaw for two dollars more.

Apple-achian sandwich: My dining partner was having a hard time making up her mind, and asked Seagroves for his advice. Seagroves recommended that my dining partner try the Apple-achian burger ($9), which she did, along with a side order of Joe Bill’s Gouda macaroni & cheese ($2). Having started out as a creator of fine barbecue sauces, Seagroves had scaled back the available choices to just two. The first, appropriately named Joe Bill’s “Signature” sauce, is a pungent-sweet blend of molasses, brown sugar, tomato, onion, garlic, black pepper and something else that includes a gentle dose of cayenne pepper giving this signature a good, savory finishing heat. The other choice of sauce is “Sweet,” pretty much the same ingredients as “Signature” but with a bit more molasses and no cayenne pepper finish. My dining partner wanted to try both, so Seagroves obligingly included a good sample of both when he packed our meals into their cardboard containers, each with its own locking lid to prevent spillage. Since Joe Bill’s Kitchen takes credit cards, paying for supper was easy.

Once home, we headed out to the patio for a sunset supper, sharing our entrees and side orders between us. My order of barbecue pork Q-rolls served as our appetizer course. Here, Joe Bill had taken a four-inch wide slice of smoked ham and rolled it up with a smear of his signature sauce. He then wrapped an egg roll wrapper around it, then crimped it shut before deep-frying in very hot oil. The result was pleasant, if a bit messy; some of the pork fat in the slice had melted and mixed with the sauce inside the wrapper, which found its way to my shirt front with my first bite. The order of Gouda macaroni & cheese was good, though it would have tasted even better if it had stayed in the oven a bit longer. As for the apple coleslaw, it would be a welcome addition in there with the smoked pork and sauce instead of piled up on my plate.

My dining partner and I were both pleased with her choice of the Apple-achian pork sandwich. This is a thick stack of thinly sliced smoked ham and creamy-smooth smoked Gouda cheese, topped with a mixture of sliced tart Granny Smith apples sautéed with cinnamon and Joe Bill’s Signature sauce. As a classy touch, Seagroves serves this stack of yumminess on a toasted brioche bun. The resulting sandwich is just short of a half foot in diameter, requiring two hands or a knife & fork to consume with. However you manage this, your taste buds will be having a field day with the flavor bouquet of your Appal-achian sandwich; the sweetness of the apple slices complementing the smoky flavor of both the ham and the Gouda cheese, the cinnamon and cayenne providing both a notable counterpoint to the tangy sweetness and a lingering final heat. The excellent apple coleslaw is your salad course. You will need its acidic astringency as a palate cleanser between sandwich bites for maximum enjoyment.

Other choices: Along with the Apple-achian sandwich, Joe Bill’s Kitchen makes a sliced pork sandwich served on a brioche bun ($6). Then there is the SB2, a smoked bologna and spicy bacon stacked number ($6), and a Cuban sandwich featuring sliced smoked pork, cured ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on Cuban bread ($9). In addition to the apple coleslaw and the mac & cheese, Joe Bill’s side orders include home-cut potato fries, sweet bacon green beans, and barbecue baked beans. When available, there’s a cranberry apple pecan salad that is market-priced, as are the smoked chicken wings. For dessert there’s fried apple wraps ($1.50 each) or you can try the banana pudding at $2 a serving.

As you can see, Joe Bill Seagrove has a lot to offer the hungry public through the window of the Big Black Truck. You can find where the Joe Bill’s Kitchen food truck will be on a daily basis by consulting his Facebook page as well as social media. Believe me, you will be glad you did.

Joe Bill’s Kitchen (food truck)


[email protected]

Hours and location of service varies

Consult Facebook & social media

Credit cards accepted

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