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Apr 10, 2011 12:15 PM

BIG BBQ SATURDAY Doylestown, Lansdale

I am going to end up commenting on 3 barbecue places in this. All on the same day!
We were intending to go back to Smoke Daddy's yesterday, but rather than take the PA TPK, go up to Lambertville, then on 202 to Doylestown to visit the Antiques In Doylestown shop of a friend there, and then onward on 202S to Welch Rd, and then to Cannon.

We were saying goodbye when our friend recommended we walk up the street to Hickory Kitchen for lunch. It was around 2:30pm. She said it used to be Smoking Lil’s (not sure of the spelling.) Address is 9 West Court St, Doylestown, phone 215 348 5170. It’s next to a restaurant called Lilly’s, and is/was not related to it.

How could we not do this? We walked in (please be careful crossing at the incredible 5 road intersection, each two-way) and were greeted by Al Franken. Not really, but in profile could be a brother. They’ve been open a week under the new name, but Mike, the proprietor, has owned it for about a year. We ordered a plate which was half a rack of St Louis ribs, 2 sides, and a biscuit. $16.00 and we ended up with 7 ribs. They were meaty, highly smoky, (OH the restaurant smells like it ought to!!! Smokin’!) moist, and with an interesting rub. He’d put a dribble of sauce on. There are a few other sauces at the tables, although shaking them is not possible sanitarily (hint, Mike), because their pointy tops are open, no caps. My husband actually took part of a paper towel off the supplied roll and folded it up to shake the Maple/Chipotle. We also ordered the “Beans With Meat” and “Sweet Potato Casserole” because Lynn had insisted. He gave us 2 biscuits, very fresh. Everything was very good. The ribs were probably the smokiest we’ve had anywhere locally except Smoky Bones in Reading. His smoker is a J&R from Texas. They use a mix of hickory, oak, and cherry. Mike removes the membrane, and knows why. Not 100%; that’s difficult, but they do work at it. This is the only place I have ever seen which does this.
When I mentioned the manager at Ol’ West in Clinton NJ saying that 20 minutes of smoke is plenty, he was shocked. (This is why Ol’ West no longer really has smoked bbq, to our way of thinking.)

Mike has solved the puzzle of not smoking every single day, but keeping the food fresh-tasting and smoky. The beans are pinto, not smushy; they keep their shape; they’re cooked in a dark rich sauce. The sweet potato casserole was fine; it’s sweet and has some nuts in it. We saw the Cole slaw, because they put it on the sandwiches unless you say not to. This is printed on the menu but it is not completely clear on the take-out menu that it’s actually ON the meat, under the roll. Anyway, it looked like good Cole slaw if you like Cole slaw. They serve a LOT of other stuff too, besides the smoked stuff (which includes smoked wings, pulled pork & chicken, and brisket) and are open basically 9am –8pm. There are indoor and outdoor tables. The web site is

I should add that my husband thought the beans and the ribs were the best, not just the smokiest, we’ve had, including Lansdale. I like SD’s sauce/rub better, so I would not concur, but they were smokier which if you’ve read other reviews of mine, you know is critical to me. And I certainly had no complaints!
OK. So we left around 3:30, and had a problem finding Welch Rd. There is construction and we missed the sign for Welch. When we got to Cannon, finally, we went looking for the other place, Uncle Greg, found it on Cannon, and purchased a brisket sandwich and a half rack of ribs to take home. Then we went to Smoke Daddy.

Big news. Smoke Daddy is NOW OPEN AT 4 on Friday & Saturday, and they are also now OPEN WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY 5 – 7:30. They’ve put up a COUNTER! The menu for summer apparently is revised, and excludes the non-bbq food. We grabbed baby back ribs, rib tips, and two burnt endz sandwiches, and some beans.

Then we went home to eat.

Since this was beyond two meals worth of food for two people, we decided to go with the Uncle Greg stuff first. This had been our first visit there. We were very disappointed. Here’s why.
The brisket was basically fat. Not fat on the edges of meat slices, but gristle and fat all the way thru, about 50% of each slice. The sauce tasted like vinegary catsup. In fact, when I washed my hands, it completely disappeared in plain water. The ribs had perhaps a quarter of the meat on either Hickory Kitchen or SD’s ribs (we’d had St Louis at SD our first time there.) The rub had no taste. They were not smoky. We decided to put them back and use my own sauce on them the following night. Which is tonight. My husband and I agreed completely on these points.

So we got out the SD stuff and had a half sandwich each, a couple rib tips and a couple BB ribs each. I like their sauce very much; it’s seemingly not tomato-based. The beans were much less dried out than the other time. Rick explained his methodology to us, involving cooking everything in stages on different days. Since smoke only gets in until the meat is getting cooked (at low temp or not), this did not make a lot of sense to me. It seemed a great way to negate the smoke taste by cooking it twice. We had discovered with our first trip’s leftovers that on day 2 (which could have been day 3 or 4 or 7 from stage 1 or 2, then, before expanded days open started) the stuff was smokier than when we purchased it, which also made no sense. Ah, mystery. This isn’t really meant to be a SD review; but it is interesting, to me, at least.

Anyway, what a day. And there’s still TONIGHT! If anyone is interested in my own Royal Rib sauce, post a reply and I'll put it up here somewhere.

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  1. Thanks for a fun read elfelfbaby! I hit Daddy's on wednesday for a pound of pulled chicken. I made little bbq chicken sandwiches the first night, sliders I guess, mixing in some of dat good sauce. Mmmmm. Second night was chicken tacos, I left the sauce off for those, and finally used the rest of the pulled chicken on my favorite pizza concoction. Pizza my way has smoked mozzarella cheese from Bova foods, the smoky chicken, and after the pizza cools a bit, fresh avocado slices. Good thing I still have one slice in the fridge cuz I just made myself hungry.
    My weekly email from Daddy says that on good friday he is having a fish fry along with his usual fare. I can't wait because I'm still thinking about those shrimp po' boys he had in feb. I want to see your royal rib sauce please and I want to try the place in d-town now that it is under new management, but my heart belongs to Daddy!

    18 Replies
    1. re: givemecarbs

      Hi - 2nd night report (last night)- UG ribs better when heated up in my sauce (see recipe below) but I would not return there. I think I overheated the SD BB and they were less smoky, (but see below); ribtips were super. DAY 3, tonight, remaining sandwich still perfect, and BB had regained their smokiness. I want to say here, in case Rick reads this, that I also adore his food, and if the Aerie would abolish smoking inside, I'd join the FOE and eat there every week. (It's 40-60 minutes 1way for us.) Some have, I discovered on their web site.

      Ok, Royal Rib Sauce. This started in a cookbook and was called RRS. I believe I've altered it enough that I should rename it but what the heck.

      Start with a bottle of a decent bbq sauce, 12 or 18oz. You'll want to vary the quantity of spices not just according to your own taste, but also based on this. I do not measure. You can just use ketchup or catsup if you prefer.

      a teaspoon or more of new or used coffee grinds, and some water
      a couple teaspoons or more of red wine vinegar
      ditto Worcestershire sauce
      a couple teaspoons or more of onion powder
      some garlic powder
      a bit of celery seed
      some cinnamon
      a good deal of chili powder
      a couple teaspoons or more of mustard seed NOTE: I do not like mustard bbq sauces (like Rick's addon!!! :) :) )but this does not have the same effect
      ditto cumin seeds
      ditto paprika
      some black pepper
      some cayenne
      some fake or real sugar (to work the coffee off)
      some dried basil
      a bit of oregano (this can be overdone and then you have spaghetti sauce)

      Simmer it down, but it has a lot in it, so don't make it too solid. You can also add cranberry juice, and also Saucy Susan is interesting in it.

      1. re:

        Wow thanks elf! Sounds awesome. I am outta bbq and must somehow make it thru tuesday! Daddy is truly a bbq chef for all seasons. I missed the smoked turkeys he offered on Thanksgiving but was so glad I got his New Year's Day pork dinner. I even like his potato salad, and I'm a fairly tough critic since I like my own best. Daddy is trying for a rib eating contest the day after the Lansdale beer fest. If it happens I'll take on you and your army of elves too!! He he!

        1. re: givemecarbs

          GMC - how does one get on that SD mailing list? I signed in, so to speak, on our first trip, but no emails have arrived.... I can eat a lot of ribs, or a 2 pound steak, as long as there are no carbs, which I find are the filling part. So you might want to rethink that challenge. :)

          By the way, have you ever tried AYCE bb Mondays at JB Dawson in Langhorne, sortof off route 1 in the Genuardi's shopping center? I should review the place, I suppose; I haven't even looked it up. They let you start with a half rack or full, and upgrade if you're still hungry and, for that matter, liked them.
          In a nutshell:
          1. they are not smoked
          2. they have a super bark
          3. they don't remove the membrane
          4. they're 24.99 for AYCE vs 20.99 for a full rack (ribs are served every night; AYCE is Monday only)
          5. unlimited sides of any kind, as I recall (they have normal and premium, not a sizing designation)
          6. they swear they marinate them overnight and bake them at low temp for like 12 hours, and do not parboil them
          7. they do fall off the bone, not normally a good sign, but I've asked so many mgrs and waitstaff that I believe them about not parboiling
          8. they taste really good
          9. they don't mind if I bring in my own bottle of seltzer or whatever, since they don't have anything bottled diet and lead-free, and their Phila water even affects their lemonade mix to a really undrinkable degree imho
          10. they keep saying they're looking into getting onion rings but so far nada
          11. we have never eaten anything else there besides ribs.

          1. re:

            Emails are usually on thursdays from Daddy, might not want to let your husband get talkin' to Daddy about beer if you are in a hurry, I believe he's a real fan too. Guess I have to try that Langhorne place as I'm in training now!
            Sorry about the Schuylkill Punch dose you got. Ugh, that must have been some awful lemonade.I wonder if Daddy would do onion rings with his fish fry?

            1. re:

              carbs-there's also a jb dawson's in Plymouth Meeting (closer to your home base). I've only been to the Langhorne one (though a friend mentioned she is dining there tonight, so if I get a review, I'll let you know how she liked it.).

              I had a very interesting experience at the Langhorne location a few years ago. It was a summer holiday weekend (forget which one) and I was sitting at the bar. A customer came in for a to-go order and it was their ribs--uncooked. I remarked on it and he said they have the best quality ribs in the area so he orders them raw and takes them home and BBQs them in his own sauce. Wonder if that's still an option? (I think this was before they had expanded to their current 5 or 6 locations.)

              1. re: gaffk

                My understanding is that the Plymouth Meeting restaurant is no longer the same as the Langhorne one, now being called just Dawson's, and the food is not the same as it was when it was J.B. Dawson.

                1. re: gaffk

                  Thanks for the heads up gaffk and Jdbc. Now that Daddy is open wed-sat it's easy for me to get complacent and just head over to the Eagles Club. But I need to expand my horizons. Hopefully not my waist size. :)
                  I like the ribs from Costco and used to cook them up. I was thinking of making my own smoker, either the Alton Brown cheapie with a clay pot or taking a welding torch to an old wood burning stove I have in my basement. But that was before I got a menu in my mailbox just about a year ago from Smoke Daddy. Hardest part was finding that Eagles Club. :) Can't wait til 4 pm tomorrow.

                2. re:

                  I used to be a cook at J.B. Dawson's in Drexel Hill for 3-4 yrs, and all of the restaurants prepared all their foods the same. I can confirm that they definitely DO NOT parboil their ribs, and that it is cooked for approximately 8-9 hrs overnight at a low heat in an oven. They use imported Danish pork ribs, and use a dry rub on the ribs, with a little bit of liquid smoke in the pans while cooking. Membraines are still intact, as stated, as they only score the meat briefly. Overall, the ribs are very good, but not my preference. They are a "fork and knife" style of ribs, while I like to pick up and tear into my ribs.

                  The unlimited sides they give for AYCE are in hopes that you fill up on those before devouring more of the ribs. When I worked there, I absolutely hated Mondays, which was AYCE rib night.

                  1. re: paychecktoday

                    yum yum yum re. JB Dawson's ribs. DH and I used to live in Yardley and went to the Langhorne location every couple weeks, just for ribs... now we make the pilgrimage in from NJ every couple months, just for ribs...

                    1. re: truman

                      Apparently not all the related restaurants share a name, though. Our JBD waitress mentioned that in Reading is one of theirs, called Austin's. She, in fact, brought up Smokey Bones, as one of her favorites, esp. when it used to be local, in Langhorne.

                      I know this is the Phila board, but if you guys ever get to Texas and find a Luther's, EAT there. I don't know if they still exist.

                    2. re: paychecktoday

                      Thank you for the confirmation. This is interesting info.

                  2. re: givemecarbs

                    Also, gmc - when is the Landsdale Beer Fest. My husband is from Milwaukee and as such, would probably be interested in such an event. :) I know I can look on the web, but your comments would be helpful. As a Milwaukeean (?) he even contends that a good beer can be drunk warm. Me, I've never tasted beer and never will.

                    1. re:

                      Elf here is a quote from Daddy's email that I signed up for:
                      Finally, we are working on organizing the 2nd Not-So-Annual Monsters of Pork Rib
                      Eating Contest for Sunday, June 26, the day after the Lansdale Beer Fest. Beer
                      & Barbecue - what a weekend!
                      There you have it. Lots of stuff going on. And I'm busier than a one-legged
                      man in an arse-kicking contest. Oh, and did I mention that we're planning on
                      participating in two barbecue contests and working on organizing a third here in
                      Lansdale??? It could happen.....
                      Here is his email if you want to sign up:
                      I'll miss all the specials he had that kept me warm all winter long. Jambalaya, corned beef, fried mac and cheese balls. /cry. But I'll still have bbq. And the good friday fish fry too.

                      1. re: givemecarbs

                        I have a great Fried Mac and Cheese recipe, also fried Pickles!

                        1. re: givemecarbs

                          hey gmc - what do you mean 'participating' in two bbq contests?

                          Maybe 5 years ago on a day trip out to Amish etc country, we stopped at a bbq place, now lost to memory, (it was ok), and there was a placard about an event, and I jokingly commented to the host/cook that the way to be able to actually taste all the ribs was to judge. He immediately said that there were events where the contestants were young people (like 13 and under) and willing judges were rare, and was I interested? There was a maybe 3 day seminar in how to judge. He wrote me a year or so later giving me the details of the upcoming one, but I didn't follow thru. I had visions, frankly, of little kids picking their noses and making bbq, all at the same time. :) :)

                          1. re: givemecarbs

                            So I wonder how this works. x dollars per hour? x dollars per rib? Fixed price? I wrote him but am completely confused. I thought his name was Rick. The yellow flyer says Mike & Diana though. Who is Rick? The Doylestown guy is Mike too. Bewildered...

                            1. re:

                              elf, beats me who Rick is. Smoke Daddy is Michael Wister and you can call him tomorrow from 4-7:30 pm if u want. 267-625-3190
                              My friend and I are so lazy that sometimes we pull into the parking lot and then call in our order. But we had to call first during the cold weather anyway.
                              I've been following the rib eating contest plans on the distorter online. Not sure he has gotten approval yet. In the interview he said that it would probably be 35.00 to enter but that could change. Interesting story about little kids and ribs together and judging. Guess there is a reason judges for those age cooks are few. The seminar sounds fun though.

                            2. re: givemecarbs

                              Gmc-it occurs to me it was not YOU saying you were participating in 2 events, but it was part of MIKE'S email...