My mother-in-law lives in Sun City, Florida. And to tell you the truth, there are not a lot of restaurants in the area. So, on our bi-monthly visit, we decided to find something different around the area. The closest area to us with a good amount of restaurants is Ellenton. There's a big outlet mall there and a nice fish place where we have eaten many times.
A couple of days before we visited, I looked on the internet for somewhere different to eat. I'm not a huge barbecue fan but occasionally do enjoy it. Searching for any restaurants within the Ellenton area, I came upon a restaurant called Hickory Hollow. I was disappointed it did not have its own website but was able to read some reviews left by previous diners. All reviews were quite positive and raved about Hickory Hollow especially their vegetable choices. One reviewer went so far as to say it was the best barbecue on the west coast of Florida. Well, this certainly peeked my interest, so I googled the address and printed a map.
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we drove to Sun City, picked up the mother-in-law, and proceeded to Ellenton. My husband brought along his Garmen thingy to help us find the restaurant. We got off at the Ellenton exit and proceeded west passing our favorite fish restaurant. The Garmen guided us further down the road and suddenly said to make a right turn. Well, the right turn would have taken us into a subdivision. Wrong!! So, we kept going noting the address numbers were going in the wrong direction. So, we turned around. I told everyone that we may have to eat at the fish place after all.
As we turned around the addresses started to go in the correct direction. And then, all of sudden, there it was...a very tall sign said, "Hickory Hollow." We made it! Funny thing, it is almost directly across the street from the fish place. I don't know why I never noticed Hickory Hollow before but it is right off Interstate 75. The restaurant is very unassuming on the outside and kind of looks like a house. The inside decor was nice with lots of little lights. They still had up some of their Halloween decorations but were phasing into Thanksgiving.
We sat down at a booth and were immediately greeted by the waitress. She took our drink order and we began to pick out our meals. I decided on baby back ribs. My mother wanted country style spare ribs. My mother-in-law also got the baby back ribs. My husband ordered the pulled pork. The waitress also pointed out the selection of sauces on the table; a sweet hot sauce and a more traditional tangy barbecue sauce. By the way, this is North Carolina barbecue which I believe is a vinegar base.
Vegetables are listed on a separate menu. The menu is actually a piece of wood shaped like a pig. The selection of vegs was huge. Selections ranged from creamed spinach, fried corn, zipper peas, squash casserole, backed beans, etc. There were probably about 20 different offerings.
The meal came and we dug in. I had the zipper peas and they were outstanding. I also had macaroni and cheese which tasted homemade. My baby back ribs were excellent. I got a whole rack and could only eat half.
My mother-in-law let me taste her squash casserole. Now, I have to tell you, I hate squash with a passion. However, this was the best squash I have ever had in my life. It had cheese and onion in it and was very flavorful. She also let me taste her creamed spinach which was really good. My husband has the fried corn. He wasn't talking much except for the occasional "mmmmm." I tried his corn and I have never tasted anything like it. It was absolutely awesome! All the different meats were fall-off-the-bone perfect and the sauces were excellent. By the way, every meal comes with two gigantic corn fritters which are the best I have ever had...seriously. We were too full to eat dessert but heard that their strawberry shortcake is to die for. They only have it when it is in season around February/March. They had other selections that sounded great like cheesecake and some others I can't remember at the moment.
If I had to rate Hickory Hollow, I would give it a 10 out of 10. It was that good.
So, if you are ever in the Ellenton area of Florida and would like some North Carolina style barbecue, try Hickory Hollow . . . and order the fried corn. Oh, and very important, they don't take credit cards. BRING CASH!! Here's their info:
Hickory Hollow Barbeque
4705 US Hwy 301 N.
Ellenton, FL 34222-2871
Hours of Operation: ? to 8 p.m. (better call first)