December 16, 2012: Hillbilly’s is closed. They’ve actually been closed for a few months now, and I thought I had either updated this post to reflect that or deleted it….but apparently I was wrong. The former location is now “Hixson Pike Diner”, which opened last month. If it lasts I’ll give it a try one of these days!
Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that when a restaurant named “Hillbilly’s” opened at the former location of Backyard Burgers in Hixson, I had myself a good laugh. Not too sure about that name, and the location just didn’t seem great to me. Not too much action in that area, you know? Anyway, a few months back a friend posted on Facebook that he was at Hillbilly’s, so I asked him what he thought about it. By this time, it had been around for some time-and had even changed locations-so I was beginning to wonder if maybe it wasn’t so bad. My friend, whose opinion I trust when it comes to food, told me, “It’s not Southern Star, but it’s good.” Fair enough. No offense, Hillbilly’s, but it really is tough to beat the Star. So, at that point it was decided that we needed to give Hillbilly’s a try.
The time came last Thursday when we couldn’t make a decision about where to eat lunch. Hillbilly’s was there, it wasn’t crowded, it just made sense. When we walked in, we were immediately greeted by a very friendly server who told us to have a seat and immediately took our drink orders (water) which he quickly brought out in gigantic Mason jars. He told us about the day’s specials-chicken and dumplings and chicken and dressing-which come with two sides and tea. There were other specials on the menu-each day has three or four specials. There’s a massive sandwich menu, including a burger called a quadruple heart attack-three burger patties sandwiched between four grilled cheese sandwiches for $14.75 (or was it $14.95?). Anyway, there was a (rather small) guy there when we got there who actually finished one. What???? Wow.
I pondered ordering a burger for no other reason but that Hillbilly’s sign boasts that they have the best burgers in town…but unless a burger is a restaurant’s specialty, I usually don’t order them on the first try. I like to feel out a restaurant before jumping into the burger world. I decided instead to order one of the specials: a fried chicken breast with green beans, mashed potatoes, and a biscuit. Philip decided on Grandma’s meatloaf with fried okra, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. I went ahead and decided to get the tea that came with the special (Philip passed on it) and thought that their sweet tea was fantastic. These days, I don’t order anything other than water very often, but sweet tea is so easy to mess up. The worst is when a restaurant serves Nestea. This was definitely brewed tea with just the right amount of sweetness. Score!
When our food came, the portion sizes were large but not outrageous. The gravy was brown gravy, which I was just a tiny bit disappointed with-I was hoping for cream gravy. Oh well. I had heard that the mashed potatoes were instant here, but they had lumps and skins in them, and I have yet to encounter a mashed potato with lumps and skins. They were not the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had, but they were fine. The green beans were very tasty, slow cooked and seasoned just right. The chicken was great! It was hot, fresh, and had a nice crispy crust on it. By the way, it was a boneless breast. I know there’s a lot of debate about whether it’s okay to serve fried chicken boneless, but it definitely cuts down on the work you have to do to eat it! My only disappointments were that the biscuit was not homemade, and it was served with “whipped spread”, not butter. You know how I feel about margarine!
Philip was very happy with his meatloaf, which was not chunky (big score!) and had a ketchup sauce (but it wasn’t as good as my meatloaf, which is really tough to beat!). I tasted it and it was really good. He also had the mashed potatoes, and his assessment of it was about the same as mine-good, not the best he’d ever had. He did really like the fried okra, which didn’t have a super-thick breading “jacket” on it and was crispy but not greasy. He also really liked the cornbread, which has been the subject of much debate. The cornbread is more like a cornbread pancake-a Johnnycake if you will-as opposed to the traditional squares of cornbread we’re used to in the South. It was sweet, but not overly so.
Okay, so as my friend said, Hillbilly’s is not Southern Star, but it’s good southern food from a friendly staff for a decent price. There’s definitely a decent amount of food and a good variety offered. Definitely give it a try if you are looking for southern food in an unassuming atmosphere!
Hillbilly’s is located at 4047 Hixson Pike, Hixson, TN 37343 (in the old Huddle House building in the Lupton City area). You can reach them at 423-877-4457. Unfortunately, they don’t have a website or Facebook page, and I was unable to find their hours online (and forgot to look while I was there!). I am pretty sure they are open seven days a week, though.