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Hokie Smokie: New folks, new menu and a bumpy start

Mystery Diner • Updated Jan 23, 2019 at 6:13 PM

Since last October, there are new hands working behind the counter at Johnson City’s Hokie Smokie Brisket & BBQ and a few wan but still smiling faces greeting the public in front of the counter. Hokie Smokie’s menu has received a makeover as well. Though the dine-around bunch and I usually give a new restaurant’s management some time to resolve the usual business start-up issues, we were curious about how the current menu and restaurant operation changes were proceeding.

We arrived on-site about five fifteen of a mid-week evening. Outside, Hokie Smokie’s parking lot and the patio are clean and well-tended-to. Inside, there are new tables and seats. The University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech memorabilia are still there to comfort the heart of any Vol fan or Hokie devotee. The bar is still there, though during our visit there was a lot of computer electronics in evidence that monopolized the attention of half the wait staff, our server Marty. Rest rooms are to the left rear of the dining area.

Chicken wings and Brunswick stew:  As per the new menu, Hokie Smokie’s kitchen staff are concentrating on burgers, sandwiches and barbecue. Former “Southern comfort-style” dinner offerings like chicken & dumplings are gone. Undaunted, my dining partner decided to order Hokie Smokie’s Tri-Fecta chicken wings, (regularly $10.99 for ten but on special this evening at sixty cents apiece, $6 for the boneless variety). My partner made it a point to our server Marty that she wanted the wings boneless, adding a bowl of the Hokie Smokie Brunswick stew ($4.99) to her order. Having the consistency of soup rather than stew, Hokie Smokie’s Brunswick stew was a savory broth to which was added crushed tomato, diced potato, carrot, onion, corn kernels, beans and a nice helping of pulled pork and shredded chicken from the smoker. Very good, definitely a tummy warmer and not needing any additional seasoning other than a quick twist on the black pepper grinder. The wing order arrived just as my partner was finishing her stew. Though good, her order of chicken wings came bone-in, not boneless.

Cuban sandwich: My choice for supper was Hokie Smokie’s take on the Cuban sandwich, ($8.99). A generous slab of Hokie Smokie smoked pork was laid onto a hoagie bun, together with slices of “city” ham, Swiss cheese and dill pickle chips, a squirt of Carolina mustard barbecue sauce subbing for the usual yellow mustard. The hoagie and its contents were then grilled until the cheese melted and all the meat juices had time to run together with the pickle juice and mustard barbecue sauce. Sided with some fried okra, my Hokie Smokie Cuban sandwich and the okra were delicious to the last bite.

Philly Cheese Brisket: The Dieter had been counting calories all day. Unsuccessful in finding a menu item that was gluten-free, our friend splurged by ordering Hokie Smokie’s take on the classic Philly Cheese Steak sandwich, a Philly Cheese Brisket on a hoagie bun ($9.99) with a side order of sweet potato fries. Our friend really enjoyed how Hokie Smokie had first marinated and then smoked each quarter-inch thick slice of lean beef brisket on her sandwich, layering in smooth and nutty-flavored Swiss cheese and then sautéed mushrooms, onions and green peppers before nestling the contents into a toasted hoagie bun.

Hokie Smokie’s Big Pig: Our friend the Carnivore was smiling broadly while giving his order to our server Marty: a Big Pig special ($9.99) of Hokie Smokie’s pulled pork barbecue and smoked sausage and some sweet potato fries. The puled pork was smoked just right and did not need any additional daubing of barbecue sauce to interfere with the meat’s savory, mildly smoky flavor. My friend said that the smoked sausage, while good, was definitely playing second fiddle to the excellent pork here. After each of us had diagnostic bites from the Carnivore’s plate, we all agreed with him.

Bottom line: On our drive home, the dine-around bunch and I talked about our evening’s supper. The discussion was lively. We liked the attention paid to cleanliness (inside as well as out) the décor and the new dining area furniture. Our meals were good, but in one case could have been better. Hokie Smokie needs to hire additional wait staff and see about putting some gluten-free offerings on the menu, please. This version of Hokie Smokie is off to a good, if bumpy start. Time and attention to detail will make smooth the way for them in north Johnson City.

Hokie Smokie Brisket & BBQ

2104 Mountcastle Drive

Johnson City

232-0801

Mon-Thu 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fri-Sat 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Sun 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Available on Facebook, social media & at

www.hokiesmokie.com

Credit cards accepted

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