Jan 2, 2017

A commoner dines at Bill’s BBQ, Metropolis, Ill.

I thought about coming up with a clever introduction to this blog post based on the town of Metropolis, Ill., how it’s adopted Superman as its hometown hero and how super the barbecue is here, but let’s cut to the chase …

Even as out of focus as this picture is, when the barbecue at Bill’s BBQ tastes as good as this looks, that’s really all that matters. 

I probably would not have heard of Bill’s BBQ without the recommendation of a good friend who’s familiar with the area of Southern Illinois called Little Egypt (where the Ohio meets the Mississippi).  But once I shared with her my excellent dining experience at Starnes in nearby Paducah, Ky., she insisted I needed to find Bill’s on a future trip.  One Friday afternoon, as I made my way back from Nashville after working for a week on the road, I followed her advice … and my nose ... to an unassuming brick building with a blue roof just off U.S. Highway 45 approaching downtown Metropolis. 

The exterior of Bill’s looks like someone bought the site of an old fast food joint (I’m guessing Hardee’s) to either go into business for themselves or, I’m guessing in the case of Bill’s, to expand from their original location.  Nonetheless, the drive-thru was bustling when I arrived.  It seemed like a very good sign since I figured I was a little late for the lunch crowd.

Inside, a decent crowd had gathered or remained, either for lunch or to stay and chat away the afternoon.  It was immediately obvious that Bill’s BBQ was not only popular for its food, but it served as a regular gathering place for a lot of locals.  Even though I was a stranger deserving of a few unsure glances, I felt like it wouldn’t take long to fit right in.     

I walked up the counter and stood for a couple of minutes trying to figure out what to order. I must have taken too long because the sweet and sassy waitress running the register eventually asked me how hungry I was.  I gave my answer, and she said, “You’re having the third slab of ribs dinner then. What sides do you want?”  Still a little taken aback that she read my mind, I requested the slaw and hash brown casserole.  She approved of my choices and handed me a large Styrofoam cup for my sweet tea. My order was ready before I had finished pouring my drink. 

I sat at a booth near the center of the restaurant, just behind a group of regulars talking about the day’s events.  They, too, approved of my choice, especially since ribs were only served on Fridays and Saturdays.  One of my new friends highly recommended coming back for a pulled pork sandwich or breakfast sometime.  I had to agree that their breakfast menu looked tempting, especially with names like “Heart Attack” and Triple Bypass” for specialties. 

I eventually dug into my lunch.  As expected, the meat of the ribs was pull-apart soft, not too chewy, but pink from smoke all the way through.  They came glazed with Bill’s sweet sauce which gave them an almost candy-like coating.  I figured I’d leave here with some glaze underneath my fingernails, and I was perfectly fine with that. And just in case, the waitress brought out an extra bottle of sauce to add on if I chose to. 

The sides were obviously homemade.  The slaw was simple and creamy ... what I like to refer to as KFC style, but much better than the Colonel’s.  I actually thought it compared very similarly to Starne’s slaw I had just a couple of weeks earlier.  It must be a regional preference.  The hash brown casserole was full of melty goodness.  By comparison, the taste and texture of Bill’s version put Cracker Barrel’s version to shame. 

It was a completely delicious and memorable lunch, all for a very reasonable $10.75 (tax included).  It was also every bit as good as my friend said it would be. 

If you consider yourself a barbecue aficionado like me, or if you somehow find yourself one day searching for Superman in Metropolis, Ill., don’t pass up a chance to eat at Bill’s BBQ.   

No comments:

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...