Grub Scout: Don't dawdle; hit Doodles in Hardin Valley for amazing BBQ

Doodles BBQ Bistro

Hardin Valley - Knoxville

2535 Willow Point Way

865-281-3905

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Some of the early online reviews I read about Doodles BBQ Bistro weren’t very kind. I read multiple accounts of slow or even neglectful service, but these were written right when the new Hardin Valley eatery opened about a month ago. So The Grub Spouse and I decided to give them a few weeks to get their groove on before we paid our first visit.

Doodles is one of just a couple of businesses occupying a brand-new development just off Hardin Valley Road, and it doesn’t draw a lot of attention to itself when you’re driving by. But their section of the vast parking lot was bustling, and we entered to find them doing a lively level of business on a weeknight. We were shown right to a table, where it didn’t take us long to sort through their two-page menu.

There’s a handful of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and even a barbecue pizza for those who want to eat outside the proverbial box. But The Spouse and I kept it real with their straight-ahead barbecue plate fare. The staples include pulled pork and chicken, a half smoked chicken, smoked wings and spare ribs.

They offer these in various solo and combo platters, but we put together a plan that allowed us to sample just about everything and with the most side options. I got the Doodles Sampler ($19), which includes a quarter pound of pulled pork, a quarter-rack of ribs and five wings, while The Spouse got the smoked chicken plate ($11).

Combined, this gave us four side options, so between us, we ordered baked beans, black beans, mac and cheese and Southern potato salad. They also offer a loaded potato salad, green beans, slaw and kettle chips.

Doodles' massive smoker was bellowing savory-smelling smoke throughout the parking lot when had arrived, and we knew it must have been working hard that day, because our orders were delivered within just a handful of minutes. The half chicken was generously sized and the sampler I ordered was served on an embarrassingly large platter.

I knew within moments of digging in that we had hit barbecue gold. The chicken was tender, juicy, dancing with smoked flavor and barely clinging to the bones. The same could be said for the quarter-rack of ribs, which alone was more than enough for one person. The ample meat fell right off the bones and was delish, with or without the house sauces.

The pulled pork was a succulent ’cue indulgence, and the wings are some of the meatiest, most tender little critters I’ve ever experienced. Again, the flavor was superb, and the meat practically dripped from the bones. The sides all had their merits as well, especially the mac and cheese. In the end, we saved room for dessert — the Chocolate Doodle Doo, featuring vanilla ice cream served over Ghirardelli brownies. Yummo!

My only mark against the food was that the fat-to-lean ratio of the rib meat was a little higher than some of my other favorite rib places, but not so much so that I wouldn’t order them again. Also, the prices are higher than average overall but worth it, in my opinion.

We boxed up enough food to stretch out into a whole ’nother meal for each of us, and we certainly had no complaints about the service while we were there. In fact, the staff seemed to handle the crowd admirably. Bottom line: I recommend adding Doodles to your dining-out queue.

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Doodles BBQ Bistro

Food: 4.5 stars (out of five)

Service: 4

Atmosphere: 4

Overall: 4.5

Address: 2535 Willow Point Way

Phone: 865-281-3905

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays

Beer service only

Kids’ menu

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Bottom Line: This new Hardin Valley ‘cue spot is already smokin’ thanks to an outstanding lineup of barbecue fare.

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