Choo Choo Bar-B-Que is a popular barbecue joint located on Hixson Pike in Hixson, Tennessee…less than five minutes from Publix.
May the 4th did not exactly turn out how I had hoped. I have had a craving for some sort of fish or shrimp dish all week long and had hoped to find a restaurant with a decent seafood menu and spend a little time perusing antiques at the Knitting Mill. Two problems with that, though: (1) UTC’s graduation happened yesterday morning, which meant that everything downtown was bound to be ridiculously crowded; and (b) it has been raining since early Saturday morning. Raining a lot. This weekend weather is really starting to get on my nerves, truth be told. It’s been in the 70s and 80s and generally sunny or at least dry most weekdays for the past several weeks, but it has been chilly every weekend and rainy for the past two…and rain (though not chill) is in the forecast for next weekend as well. Ugh.
So, like I said, May 4th did not turn out exactly how I had hoped. If I’m being honest, I would have preferred to not leave the house at all….but I needed a blog post and I needed a birthday present for my nephew Elias, who turned six on Friday and whose birthday party is today. We headed to Toys-R-Us to pick up some karaoke supplies and made a stop-off at Books-a-Mill because I wanted to take a look at a couple of cookbooks I’m considering (surprise, surprise), then we headed back toward home while trying to think of somewhere to eat.
We’ve eaten at just about every locally-owned restaurant in this area that has been recommended. There are a couple that I won’t go to, but one of the few remaining is Choo Choo Bar-B-Que in Hixson. There actually used to be two Hixson locations-one across from Wal-Mart on 153 and the one on Hixson Pike-but the 153 location closed; the building is now located behind the Hixson Krystal and it’s named something else. I have a funny Choo Choo Bar-B-Que story, actually. What I assume was the original location used to be located on Amnicola Highway, next to the emergency animal hospital. Philip and I used to always find that hilarious-a barbecue place next door to an emergency animal hospital? Seemed a little suspect to me, and we always joked that we should take a picture and send it to Jay Leno. Also, Philip used to work in the banquets department at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo….but my sister somehow thought that he worked at Choo Choo Bar-B-Que. Funny stuff. Or maybe just to me.
Anyway, we had two $15 credits to Choo Choo Bar-B-Que that we had purchased from Double-Take Deals so it just made sense to stop there. There was only one other table occupied in the restaurant so we had our choice of tables. The menus were on the table and the server quickly took our drink order. You know I couldn’t resist the fried pickles, though the killer potato skins, with cheese and pulled pork, sounded pretty tasty. The fried pickles came out quickly, very hot (the only, only problem I have with fried pickle spears is that I always burn my mouth on them). They had a cornmeal coating that looked like it had a lot of dill in it, though there wasn’t a strong dill flavor. They were served with ranch dressing, though you can order blue cheese if you’d prefer it. I’m pretty sure it was just Sysco ranch dressing, so pretty “meh”, but the pickles were good.
There were specials listed on the wall-fried catfish and chicken & dumplings (the specials change daily and the specials for each day are actually listed on the menu) but I wanted to try the smoked meat so I didn’t really give much consideration to them. I considered a pulled pork sandwich but I have decided that if a barbecue stuffed potato (aka a killer potato) is available I am basically unable to order anything else. I ordered a potato with pulled pork. The potato was, of course, large, cut into chunks and topped with melted cheddar cheese, sour cream, and pile of pulled pork. The sauce was on the table to be applied by the diner (regular and hot, which Philip said had a little spice but wasn’t really “hot”, though I don’t always trust his opinion on that….we have very different definitions of hot). I really liked the fact that the cheese was so melty….it added a lot to the texture of the whole meal. It wasn’t overly covered with sour cream and I liked that the sour cream was drizzled rather than scooped for maximum coverage. The meat didn’t have quite as strong of a smoky flavor as I would have liked but it was pretty good, and the sauce was nice, sweet but not too sweet.
Philip also ordered his usual barbecue joint order, a pulled pork plate without Texas toast (he hates Texas toast!) with sides of okra and coleslaw, though he did consider the baked beans. Like me, he liked the pulled pork he did say that it didn’t have the “chew” he was expecting-it was a little more moist (as in wet) than the smoked pork you generally find at a barbecue place but it was still good….it wasn’t soggy, not to worry. He thought the coleslaw was just okay….he really loves the slaw at Rib & Loin and honestly I don’t know if anyone else’s mayonnaise-based slaw will ever measure up. The okra was pretty good though I am guessing because of the thick “jacket” of coating it was probably frozen, which seems to be par for the course (and since this is the South that’s a little disappointing-what does everyone have against tossing some fresh okra in cornmeal, flour, and seasonings and giving it a quick fry like my Mama does?????). Pretty good but not eye-rolling good.
While the desserts (chocolate or coconut cake, banana pudding, and strawberry shortcake) sounded tempting, we were stuffed and decided to skip it this time. Our total before tip was $18 and some change. We only used one of our credits so we’ll be going back to use the other one. I’m interested in trying their special chicken salad sandwich-made with smoked chicken-or maybe one of their burgers or barbecue quesadillas. Scrolling through their Facebook page, some of their specials looked pretty tasty too-homemade soups, homemade chicken & dressing, and the chicken and dumplings all jumped out at me. I wouldn’t say that Choo Choo Bar-B-Que is my favorite barbecue place but it’s definitely one of the closest to my house and it was definitely good barbecue. I left smelling like smoked meat and in my opinion that’s never a bad thing.
Choo Choo Bar-B-Que is located at 6410 Hixson Pike, Hixson, TN 37343. You can call them at 423-843-9554. They do not have a website but you can find them on Facebook.