Hillbilly Days Ya’ll. Hillbilly Days.
I woke up Thursday morning full of anticipation for the fried food bonanza that was to come.
My day at Hillbilly Days always starts with a lap around the vendor areas to get the lay of the land. It is my favorite time at the festival. In the early hours, while the vendors are still setting up, you can really read the menus and signs without having to crane over crowds and you can actually talk to people. I love times of preparation and anticipation. I’m always struck by the way the ordinary and extraordinary collide in those moments. I just want to live in them and remember every part of it. Anyway, we were talking about food right?
Back to that. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes, shall we? heh heh 😉
2017 Favorite Vendor: Lincoln Road Cold Brew Coffee
What? Sarah is choosing a coffee vendor? But she doesn’t even like coffee.
I know, right?
Well here’s the story. Friday morning, I’m doing my customary morning lap just in case I missed something the day before. As it so happens, the Lincoln Road trailer caught my eye. At first, I walked past but something drew me back. (That’s how it always goes with my yearly favorite.) I walked up and said, “I’m not a coffee person.” I was just considering getting some to take back to my office for a co-worker.
While I was waiting to hear a thumbs up or thumbs down from the friend, Ryan told me about the cold brew process and how it results in a less bitter tasting coffee. Then the Virginia state outline caught my eye. Well folks, you know it was all over right then and there. And that was before I saw the “Made in Virginia with Love” logo on the back of their bottle. As a proud Virginia native, my heart swelled 3 sizes and it was a done deal. I was getting a cup of coffee.
So I asked what he would recommend for a non-coffee person and ended up with a Mocha, which he described as “Cream, sugar, and chocolate” (yes, please!) And you know, it was really good. The distinct coffee taste without the intense bitterness of normal coffee. (Plus you know, cream, sugar, chocolate :))
Two thumbs up from this non-coffee drinker. You may win me over after all.
Where to find them: They are set up in front of the old Courthouse on Main St. Make sure to say hi when you stop in, I had a great time talking to these guys.
What I Ate: The Good, The Great, and the Incredible
Hands down the best meal of the day at Hillbilly Days is breakfast. And that’s because the best food at the whole fair, by far, are the doughnuts (or donuts, you take your pick).
Great: Got Donuts
Thursday morning my very first Hillbilly food of the festival was a basket of mini donuts. They are bite-sized warm tasty cinnamon sugar and vanilla frosted addiction.
Where I got mine: I frequent Got Donuts at the corner of Hambley and Huffman.
Incredible: Auntie Ruth’s
Friday morning again started off with doughnuts, this time the warm fluffy perfect glazed goodness from Auntie Ruth’s. It paired perfectly with my Mocha from Lincoln Road. They are the only vendor to make an appearance on this review 3 years in a row and for good reason. These doughnuts are so good, Andy considered driving 7 hours one-way this weekend to get one. Seriously good.
Where you can find them: On Hambley, in front of the Pikeville Economic Development Office. But if you are reading this review and don’t know where they are, what are you doing with your life? Be prepared for a wait, but totally worth it.
Great: Sirloin Tip Dinners
Thursday’s main meal of the day came from Andy’s favorite in last year’s review, Sirloin Tip Dinners. And I have to say, that is a great steak sandwich. One of my favorite parts was the way that the seasoning soaked into the bread and basically turned the bun into garlic bread. Solid meal choice.
Where you can find them: Sirloin Tip Dinners has 2 locations on Huffman; one near the parking garage and one on the end by the Expo. Head towards the Expo for a shorter line.
Good: “Awe”-ful Waffles
My Friday morning walk finally resulted in the hidden gems I’d been hoping for. I heard of a chicken and waffles vendor from a friend and decided to check them out at lunch. You have several chicken and waffle options from “Awe”-ful Waffles, but I decided to go with the sandwich. Good waffle and tasty chicken. They also have chicken and waffle bites, which are chicken bites fried in waffle batter and were recommended to me by the vendor. Those are on my list to try next time.
Where to find them: On Huffman, down by the Expo, near the big strawberry.
Good: Mac & Cheese
On Thursday, I searched all day for something, anything mac & cheese to no avail. I had pretty much given up hope when this sign caught my eye on the Friday morning walk through. (Seriously, the morning walk through, it is where you find the good stuff.) I paired it with my chicken and waffles for my midday meal on Friday. I got mine topped with bacon and extra shredded cheese. If mac & cheese is the need, this is your place.
Where to find them: On Huffman, down by the Expo. Just look left and slightly up while you’re waiting for your waffle. You’ll see it. 🙂
If You’re Looking for the True Hillbilly Stomach Explosion
You’re one of those people, aren’t you? Looking for the truly epic, unique Hillbilly food experience. I respect that and salute you, so if I were you, these are the places I would check out:
Note: I have not sampled these personally, but have received good reports from others.
The Big Bud at Day’s Concessions
After a 1 year hiatus, the Big Bud has returned to Hillbilly Days at Day’s Concessions. Pork tenderloin, bacon, cheese, and fried egg all in one sandwich. I have a friend who lives and dies by these sandwiches. Andy enjoyed one the last time they were here in 2015.
Where to find them: On Main Street, in front of the new courthouse.
The Lumberjack at Hacksaw’s Lumberjack Grill
I have not personally laid eyes on this sandwich, but I have heard good reports. This Hillbilly delicacy was the first thing to catch my eye when I did my first scouting lap on Thursday. Pulled Pork + Chili + Hamburger + Slaw, the question is can you live without it?
Where to find them: On Hambley Blvd, in front of the Coal building, just past the EKB tents.
Hillbilly Nachos at The Plateful Spread
If you can dream it, I’m pretty sure The Plateful Spread can put it on a pile of fries. From pizza nachos to the Hillbilly Supreme, these guys are worth checking out. A friend described them with 3 fire emojis, so I’m going to say they do not disappoint.
Where to find them: On Main Street, in front of the new courthouse, right before you get to Day’s Concessions.
Unfortunately Missing This Year
Well, I’m going to be transparent for a moment and just admit that my Thursday morning lap left me initially heartbroken. If you remember last year’s food review, Andy and I each picked a favorite Hillbilly meal that featured a drink, main dish, and dessert. So in my morning lap, I was scanning for my last year’s favorites, mouth watering in anticipation of my beloved cinnamon roll, only to find no cinnamon roll, no mac & cheese grilled cheese, no old fashioned soda. I must be cursed! My heart will have a cinnamon roll shaped hole all year. (Perhaps I’ve gotten too attached?) Luckily I found some mac & cheese to help fill the void left by the melt bar, but we both know it wasn’t quite the same.
Additionally, no Ridge View BBQ – our favorite BBQ place from last year, and no cheese curds from the 2015 guide either. I have to say, as a diehard lover of cheese I was coming up empty in my search this year. You can get nacho cheese at most vendors but when you have your heart set on real cheese battered and fried or in between two buttery perfectly grilled pieces of bread, it isn’t quite the same. Come back soon, friends from previous years! Pretty please? 😉
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you have a great time out there. Share your favorites with us on our Facebook page!
Hillbilly on, my friends.