Although the Southern Barbecue options in the Philadelphia region have improved in recent years, it’s still far from a hot-bed for that most carnivorous of food genres. By many accounts, the best barbecue joint in the area the past few years has been Mike’s in South Philly. After my experience today, I would have to cast some doubt on that judgement.
While driving to a Christmas party a few weeks ago – in Bucks County, close to an hour north of Philly – I spotted a place called Holy Que Smokehouse in Peddler’s Village, a delightful complex of shops and restaurants in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. I started going to the Village as a young child, when my grandparents would take the family to eat at a restaurant called the Cock ‘n Bull, which is still there.
I’m always on the make for good smoked meat, so I looked up Holy Que online and saw that they serve Texas-style barbecue and cook it the old-fashioned way; meaning with just wood. That sounded promising, so I determined that I would check them out as soon as possible; which turned out to be today.
Based on what I’ve experienced at Mike’s and other area barbecue establishments, I can’t say my expectations were extremely high, but I was hopeful.
While there are various ordering options, I opted for a two-meet platter of brisket and pork ribs with a side of creamed corn. Their only available dessert happens to be one of my favorites; banana pudding. So naturally, I ordered that too.
I was the only indoor customer they had when I arrived, so I had my choice of tables and picked one in a small dining room that faces Rt. 202 in front of the restaurant. The entrance is actually in the rear, facing the parking area and Peddler’s Village shops.
My tray arrived within a couple minutes. To say it looked impressive would be an understatement
But the proof is in the tasting – and it tasted every bit as good as it looked. My limited expectations were shattered. This was unquestionably the best barbecue meal I’ve had in the Philly metro area and possibly the best outside of Texas and Kansas City.
I was given a choice of lean, extra fatty or moderately fatty brisket and chose the latter. It was absolutely sensational; moist, soft and with just a hint of smoke. The flavor of the meat was front and center; which was also the case at the better barbecue joints I visited in Texas during a 2016 vacation that I’ve posted about here.
There was a small container of house sauce on the tray, but I used it sparingly. As is the case with good Texas-style barbecue, the brisket really didn’t need any sauce. It’s flavor – driven by the dry rub and smoke – was pretty close to perfect without it.
And the ribs were every bit as good as the brisket. Although the pit master appeared to have brushed on a thin glaze, which is common for ribs. It added just the slightest hint of sweetness to them.
The creamed corn was laced with small pieces of Jalapeno, which actually isn’t the way I normally prefer it. But that’s a matter of personal taste. There was nothing wrong with the very creamy corn. Perhaps I’ll try their beans next time.
The banana pudding came with what I felt was an excess of whipped cream on top and was sprinkled with cinnamon, which I also don’t believe is a good mix with this dessert. So I shoveled most of the top layer off and found that what was beneath it was the genuine article. There were an abundance of banana slices and softened vanilla wafers. I was in heaven.
I can’t recommend Holy Que Smokehouse highly enough. Make an afternoon out of it by browsing through the shops at Peddler’s Village. Any appetite you build up will be justly rewarded by what may be the best barbecue in the Philly metro area.