Great write up and review in the Asheville Citizen-Times.
If you’re driving through Flat Rock without the windows down, you may drive right by Hubba Hubba Smokehouse. Nestled below what the locals call “little rainbow row,” which houses the Wrinkled Egg and Flat Rock Bakery, Hubba Hubba is a blink-and-you-miss-it spot.
Hubba Hubba is in a quaint wooden building with a tin roof, set across the courtyard that backs up to little rainbow row. That courtyard is full of picnic tables waiting to be filled with smoked meats. You’ll also spot a few neat stacks of local hardwood on your way up to the order window on the outside of the cottage. After you’ve made your way to the window, you’ll see a couple of chalkboards listing the menu and any specials.
It’s not just the chalkboards and tin roof that make the restaurant quaint. The brick courtyard houses plenty of eye candy, including numerous folk-art pieces, ranging from paintings to metal pigs, settled under the magnolia shade trees. If you are a fan of alfresco dining, Hubba Hubba does it right. When the weather is uncooperative, there are two covered rooms, one open, overlooking the courtyard, and another fully covered and heated for cooler days. Both rooms are clad in wood and corrugated metal, mirroring the aesthetic of the cottage.
As charming as the landscaping and dining areas are, if the ’cue ain’t good, then all the folk art in the world won’t make a difference. It’s not uncommon to see people lining up to eat at a hole in the wall if the barbecue inside is good. I was hesitant to try Hubba Hubba because we have great barbecue here in Asheville, and I wondered if the 30-minute drive was going to be a waste of gas.
One thing that justified my trip is the fact that out of only 30 wood-fired pit barbecue restaurants in the whole state, Hubba Hubba is one of them. Frankly, this makes ordering difficult, because smelling that wood pit makes one want to order one of everything. After much deliberation, I opted for a half rack of competition ribs.
Smoked and glazed with a rich and slightly sweet sauce, these ribs had a perfect bark going on. The meat is not fall-off-the-bone, but in a competition rib, that isn’t necessarily the goal. That’s not to say that the rib wasn’t tender, because it was, but it had enough firmness to stand up when sliced. And boy, does it look beautiful sliced. The meat is perfectly pink, not gray from being held or overcooked, and while flavors of smoke and the sauce prevail, they don’t overpower the natural flavor of the pork; a sure sign you have a good pitmaster at the helm.
I chose the ribs with sides, of which there are several to choose from. My picks were the collard greens and the baked beans. While the baked beans proved to be a little bit on the acidic and tangy side for my tastes, the collard greens aimed to please. Well-seasoned and cooked with pork, what’s not to like in this collard? Possibly my favorite thing on the plate, and that is saying something after those ribs, was the cornbread. They told me when ordering that I was in for a real treat, as they were getting ready to pull a pan from the oven. Those words proved true. The cornbread had a nice crust and was moist without being wet; cakelike without being dry, with just a hint of sweetness. You get one piece with the ribs, but I was tempted to order a whole pan.
My wife chose the “bowl” for her meal. Bowls can be ordered with either pulled pork or, on Fridays and Saturdays, smokehouse shrimp or salmon (some of the accompaniments vary, too). The bowl starts with a serving of cheese grits that are topped with collard greens, pulled pork and fried onions. My wife said there was just something comforting about eating all the flavors together in one big mash-up. The pork had a great smoke flavor and was spot on texturally, having a nice crust but still tender and not at all mushy. The fried red onions were sliced thin and fried crisp, adding a nice crunch to the bowl. The only thing we really noticed was that the grits could have been seasoned more, as eaten alone they were a little bland. Mixed together, though, it was delicious.
The baby gourmand, barbecue being one of her favorite meals, ordered the kids’ pork slider. Served on a homemade bun, it came loaded with the same great pulled pork found in my wife’s dish. I swiped a little bit of this pork to sample some of the great sauces Hubba Hubba offers, everything from mustard and tomato based sauces, a vinegar based sauce, a tomatillo sauce, and a cherry chipotle sauce that packs a little sweetness to balance the spiciness from the chipotle.
If you have not been to Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, put it on your summer to-do list now.
Roll down those windows, stick your head out, and when you smell the wood smoke, get those taste buds ready.
Order some of their mouthwatering barbecue, crack open a cold can of Oskar Blues Old Chub as I did and take in the surroundings. You won’t regret the trip.
The restaurant: Hubba Hubba Smokehouse. 2724 Greenville Highway in Flat Rock. 694-3551.
Atmosphere: It’s literally an outdoor diner’s paradise. Good barbecue is one thing, but an enjoyable setting makes it taste that much better.
Dish to try: The ribs are great, but I was partial to the pulled pork because of the fact that it lets you get saucy. There are several homemade sauces to choose from, one better than the next.
Beverage notes: What would barbecue be without sweet tea? You can order a glass or a whole jug. Aside from that Southern special, they have sodas and beers from Oskar Blues beer and Sierra Nevada.
Prices: Entrees $4-$22.95 (cash or check only).
The bottom line: Old-school smokehouse that’s worth a summer day trip.