Their T-shirts proclaim, “Our Butts Are Smokin’,” but as far as we’re concerned, what they’re smokin’ is their competition! If there even is any. This place is everything you could want in a post-hike chow spot. After two days and 24 miles on the Appalachian Trail, we wanted quantity, not quality, so when we pulled up to a decidedly plain storefront in a tiny strip mall in rural Lexington, VA, we were unconcerned. We were sure we would get perfectly acceptable barbecue, but never expected to find such a gem. Foothill Momma’s BBQ Juke Joint delivered in every category.
First, ambiance. We were greeted by friendly staff and inviting decor: café style tables with red and white checkered table cloths. The place was colorful and bright with music-related decorations. T-shirts hung behind their small bar. A satellite radio station played jukebox hits, and the track info appeared on a small TV in the corner. Oh, and their meats are smoked on the back of a 1964 Dodge flatbed truck in the parking lot. Perfect.
Second, service. We were seated immediately and our drinks were on the way moments later. Our server was pleasant and helpful. This is a big plus because Lisa likes to grill (all puns are intended) wait staff on the best thing to eat. We like to get real advice not just the “everything’s great” response so common at chain restaurants. We got straight talk here, and the advice was bang-on.
Third, local beer. It’s usually my first question. I want something that reflects the local scene and does not include the word “lite”. Foothill Momma’s had me covered with a Vienna lager from Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, about five miles away. Can’t get much more local than that … unless you’re brewing on the premises. I’m pretty sure if they were brewing anything on the premises it was moonshine. The beer was clean and crisp and had plenty of taste for a lager. Not quite as flavorful as Samuel Adams (also a Vienna lager) but still an excellent brew.
Lastly, but definitely not leastly, was the food. Pork is Lisa’s favorite meat, and our server helped her hone in on the pulled pork sandwich, served on a deli bun with slaw. The large version was a paltry $7.45 and, even after eating only a Pop-Tart for breakfast, she took home more than she ate. In fact, she barely ate more than the pork that had fallen off the sandwich onto the plate. Three sauces (Sweet & Spicy, Honey BBQ, and Cackalacky) graced the table. Lisa favored the Honey BBQ. I liked the seriously tangy Cackalacky.
I couldn’t decide between the pulled pork and the classic after-hike repast: the cheeseburger. At Foothill Momma’s I didn’t have to. I was directed the Beale Street Burger (named for the iconic strip in Memphis). My burger was topped with bacon, cheese, and pulled pork. Fantastic! I ate half of it. Both sandwiches came with a mound of “Chippers”, the Juke Joint’s own hand-cut kettle chips. I ordered mine as a platter so we could have some sides. We chose mac-n-cheese and collard greens. Both were good and were large enough that, even sharing, we took some away with us. My meat extravaganza, platter style, set me back $12.45 but I could have easily stuffed myself for less than ten bucks. No platter is more than $15.
We gave Foothill Momma’s BBQ Juke Joint four stars for food – a damn fine rating. The only reason it didn’t get five is because the sides were a little lackluster. A little. This was a great, local place serving excellent, inexpensive meals. The downside? There really wasn’t one. There are a lot of great trails in the area, and the AT passes less than 10 miles east of Lexington. We found Foothill Momma’s by desperately searching Yelp as we were approaching Lexington on I-81 returning from Roanoke. You don’t have to desperately search though … all you need to do is pop the coordinates into your smart phone and hit the road. We tirelessly search out great hiker chow so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. ♦
Date: March 17, 2015
Location: 37.773814, -79.431005
Price Range: $
Everything Else: ★★★★★