Listening carefully helps me learn about some really unique eateries. While pumping gas, I overheard the guy at the next pump regaling somebody about the great time and delicious food he had at a place called Highlander BBQ in Roan Mountain. This had me reaching for my own smartphone. The dine-around bunch and I had a road trip to plan.
Highlander BBQ can be found on Highway U.S. 19-E. The restaurant is in a log-framed building with plenty of parking. Once through the front door, (restrooms are down the hall to your right) you are in front of the cashier’s counter, where one of the owners, Heather or Darrell Turbyfill, will 1) hand you a menu 2) let you know what the daily specials are, and 3) ask you for your order.
Next, find yourself a seat at the Highlander BBQ dining area’s long trestle tables. While waiting for your food to arrive, get your drinks from the serve-yourself soda fountain, check out the hand-dipped ice cream selections in their display case, see how steady your hand/eye coordination is at the claw game machine or try an old-timey Ms. Pac-Man video game.
Barbecue pork platter: After a cursory glance at the menu posted above the checkout counter, the Retiree told Heather Turbyfill that a platter of Highlander pulled pork barbecue ($5.99) would suit her just fine, especially with some Highlander barbecue beans, homemade coleslaw and a couple of Parker House dinner rolls.
Our friend tested the sauce bottles found on the table, liking how the edgy tang of the Highlander sauce complemented the slow-smoked pulled pork shoulder meat and the mouth-filling smoky sweetness of Highlander’s barbecue beans. The Retiree put her dinner rolls to good use as pork barbecue sliders, each with its own dab of coleslaw. Perfection.
Fresh cut ribeye steak sandwich: Once my eyes rested on the Highlander fresh cut ribeye steak sandwich (6.99) I knew what I wanted, especially when sided with a plateful of crispy-sweet Vidalia onion rings ($2.99).
What Darrell set in front of me was an eight-ounce ribeye steak, not too fat, not too lean, nestled in some fresh leaf lettuce, sliced onion, a dill pickle or two, a smear of yellow mustard and a pile of shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese piled on top. The golden-fried onion rings were crunchy, sweet and perfect in every respect. Put them both together and you’ve got Highlander’s version (and my vision) of a happy meal.
Chicken wrap: Turned out the Dieter must have picked up on my something chicken vibe, because her order was for a Highlander chicken wrap ($4.99) with a basket of sweet potato fries ($2.19) to keep it company.
Highlander takes a 12-inch flour tortilla and fills it with a mixture of nicely seasoned and chopped white meat chicken, chopped onion and diced red tomato, all wrapped up and baked until steamy hot and tasty. Oh, and the sweet potato fries made a nice counterpoint to the pungent and spicy qualities of the chicken wrap.
Highlander Burger: My dining partner knew there had to be a Highlander Burger ($8.99) with Highlander fries ($3.99) in her future. The Highlander Burger stands a good eight to 10 inches tall on the plate. It contains not one but two quarter-pound beef patties, topped with a pile of Highlander’s pork barbecue and a haystack of the Colby-Jack shredded cheese.
There’s room for sliced onion and other veggies in there somewhere if you are so inclined, and I would use a knife and fork; you’ll want to eat up every morsel. The Highlander fries are their take on curly fries and, though good, take up room in your tummy that rightfully belongs to the Highlander Burger.
Pig Wings: The Carnivore had his tummy all set for the daily special: a plate of Highlander BBQ pig wings ($10.99) sided with beans, slaw and rolls. A pig wing is not a “wing,” but the muscle around the pork tibia or lower leg.
It is the piggy version of your calf muscle, and is lean, tender and very tasty when properly smoked, as the Carnivore discovered when he took the first big bite of one. The broad grin on his face told all of us that our friend had found yet another of his self-proclaimed perfect foods.
Dessert: As we were finishing up, Heather remarked to my dining partner that the pies and cakes on the dessert bar up front were home made from scratch by a friend of hers. That was good enough for me; I picked up a quartered slice of pecan pie ($2.29) with two spare forks, one for me and one for my dining partner. Smooth chess pie filling in a homemade pie crust and topped with toasted pecan halves: the word “delicious” doesn’t do it justice.
Bottom line: Highlander BBQ is very much the creation of Darrell and Heather Turbyfill. Theirs is a unique vision of a barbecue joint that is both customer-friendly and family-friendly. The trestle table dining setup means that you may start out dining with strangers, but you will be friends by dessert time. The service is friendly and accommodating, and the food is truly in a class by itself. Wouldn’t you enjoy a road trip to Roan Mountain to check out where pigs get wings at Highlander BBQ? Recommended by the dine-around bunch and the Mystery Diner.
8315 US Hwy. 19E
Wed-Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Available on Facebook & social media
Credit cards accepted