Willie’s Locally Known, at the intersection of North Broadway and Loudon Avenue, is as much of an experience as it is a restaurant. Part BBQ smokehouse, part live music club, part watering hole – the establishment is a bona fide roadhouse.
From our table on a recent Tuesday evening, my guest and I listened to an old-timey fiddle and banjo duo playing on stage, watched a big ol’ boy get cut off from the bar and subsequently tossed out (he went peacefully), and joined the room in helping sing a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to an elderly lady who was thoroughly enjoying herself – all with napkins tucked into our shirts. Dinner theatre at its finest.
Many things separate Willie’s Locally Known from places of its ilk, most notably the restaurant’s attention to the cuisine. Make no mistake, this place does not serve your run-of-the-mill bar food; yes, you will find chicken wings and beer cheese, but not of your standard variety.
The menu is quick and to the point – a few appetizers, a couple of salads, and a handful of entrees and sides that diners can mix and match.
For starters, we ordered a dozen of these chicken wings I’ve been hearing about since Willie’s opened earlier in the year (we got the hot kind; $8), and fried pickle spears ($5). Anybody who has read my reviews before knows that I am a diligent connoisseur of all things dilled and fried, and these meaty pickles with a sweet, buttermilk batter are unique and delicious. The chicken wings were just as impressive – applewood smoked right out back and available with BBQ, medium, hot or “blackberry habanero” sauces. Other appetizers include fried green tomatoes and beer cheese (both $5).
For dinner, there were a number of dishes we were drawn to. The “Burnt Ends” (BBQ brisket bites) immediately caught my eye, but they were already out for the evening (the menu specifies that this items sells out quickly), so I went with a full rack of baby back ribs ($17) and my guest ordered a BBQ baked potato (a large, salt-crusted baked potato crammed with butter, cheese, sour cream and topped with, that’s right, BBQ pulled pork; $7), which turned out to be the surprise, and delight, of the evening. Other entrees offered include a few sandwiches (po’ boys and burgers), a catfish basket and soup beans – all priced under $10.
Our bill, prior to tip, came to $58.83, but if you didn’t pick up on this earlier in the review, we ordered enough food to feed ourselves and the band, and still had a bounty to carry off in doggy bags. In all, we had two appetizers, two salads, two entrees and a few beers on our tabletop, which is a lot of grub to order and still clock in under $60. Willie’s Locally Known has live music, of a variety of genres, every night they are open, visit their Facebook page to see a weekly lineup. Word on the street is Thursday nights’ weekly concert featuring honky-tonk outfit The Kentucky Hoss Cats is not to be missed.
Willie’s Locally Known
805 N. Broadway
11 a.m. - 12 a.m. Tues. – Thurs. (and Sun.)
11 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. Fri. – Sat.