Friday, September 21, 2007

Virginia Barbecue, in Florida?

While riding my motorcycle near Ellenton, FL this afternoon I drove by Hickory Hollow BBQ on Highway 301 and couldn't help but notice the description on the sign proclaiming something about serving authentic Virgina barbecue. I'm not familar with exactly what makes bbq in Virginia different than bbq in other states, but I couldn't wait to get home and "google it" to see if I could figure it out.

A search for Virginia BBQ returned information about a Virginia bbq restaurant franchise opportunity. For a $20,000 franchise fee they will sell you a franchise for their bbq concept. The Washington Post wrote an article about one of the first franchisees recently.

I found web sites about authentic Virginia hams from the Edwards family and a link to Alicia's Recipes, which has a recipe specifically for West Virginia barbeque. I've got to tell you that if Virginia bbq is like the western variety talked about at Alicia's, I'm not sure I want any because Alicia likes to cover her bbq meat with water, bring it to a boil, and simmer it until tender. Par boiling isn't my idea of authentic anything.

I also discovered the online home for the Silver Pig Barbeque, which has an interesting logo on their web page that reminds me of life on the family pig farm dating back about 25 years.

I tried and tried, but apparently Google hasn't discovered authentic Virginia barbecue yet, because after 30 minutes of searching, I did not find the essence of what makes Virginia so much different than Florida bar-be-que.

I think the folks at Hickory Hollow Barbecue need to review their marketing techniques. I wonder how many others like me don't really know Virginia bbq from any other 'ole bbq sold on the side of the road. Other than the owner being from Virginia, I haven't the slightest idea what it really means.

Can you help a BBQ guy out, and help me understand?


Chris said...

Perhaps the cook is named Virginia? LOL

I think the Wood Chicks BBQ are in Virigina but they don't call it "Virigina BBQ". I just remember on the American Royal coverage that people made a big deal that they weren't from traditional BBQ hot beds.

Hogwild said...

BBQ Guy,

I grew up in North Carolina and I can't say that I've ever heard of "Virginia" BBQ. Virginia hams, yes...BBQ, no. "North Carolina" BBQ is pork (whole hogs or shoulder) with a vinegar sauce (at least in Eastern NC). "South Carolina" BBQ is the same with a mustard/vinegar sauce. I think I would have heard of it if there was such a thing as Virgina BBQ.


Ed said...

BBQ Guy,

Virginia BBQ is tomato based, with some vinegar to it as well, slow cooked in Hickory for 8-10 hours. It is very good. I think you will be hearing Virginia BBQ in the future as it is one of the fastest growing franchise in the country today.

Like many in our history, barbequeing can be traced to parts of Virginia. However, it was more popularized in the deeper south consumed primarily by poor people.

John D C said...

Were can I find out more about BBQ cook-offs. My Civic club is thinking about holding an BBQ Cook-off in my small town in VA for the first time. We are thinking about holding it in Sept. Can anyone help me with getting it started? Thank you in advance.

The BBQ Guy said...


You can get more information about sanctioning at

The Kansas City Barbeque Society is the largest sanctioning body for bbq contests in the nation.

Chuck said...

I am from the West Coast of Florida but currently live Chicago. Your mistake was to just drive by Hickory Hollow and then Google the name. My family eats there whenever we are in the area. The food is the BOMB!!!! Always 15 to 20 fresh garden veggies to order from and when they run out it comes off the menu. Don't save room for dessert but order some and eat it anyway.... you will be glad you did. They have been there for decades and have nothing to do with the recent Virginia BBQ franchise company that is popping up around the states. There is always a waiting line at dinner and they take cash only.... ATM is in the lobby. A small place that is not fancy at all. Manatee River is behind the property and you may see goats, chickens and a rooster running around the parking lot. Was a family run business and not sure if the big guy is still running it but I remember he had a temper. Once saw him drop the gloves in the parking lot with a cook he had just fired while we were in line for dinner.... I guess he wanted that BBQ to be cooked just right. Last time we ate there was 12/09 and we will be back in 4/10.

The BBQ Guy said...


Since I originally wrote this post about Hickory Hollow I have been there to eat once. It was busy (or they were understaffed), but the food was o.k. I haven't been back to eat there again, but my wife's office gets takeout from there sometimes. She now works down the street. The bbq did not leave a lasting impression for me, but it's certainly popular with the local community.