On their sign off Old Highway 52, Speedy’s boasts that it’s the “best BBQ anywhere.” But while it is homey and served with a smile, the quality of the food doesn’t quite live up to this claim.
On our recent weekday visit, I was surprised to see a full house. I know its summer, but people still have to work, and to see such a crowd on a weekday afternoon certainly seemed to bode well. We slipped into one of the cramped booths and quickly decided on our orders—a chopped platter with onion rings, and a sliced dark meat platter with hushpuppies.
The amount of food served was truly astonishing. The giant baskets of hushpuppies and onion rings were crazy, and there was a ton of meat too. But quantities aside, there was nothing that really stood out about the taste. The hushpuppies were very doughy, and the sliced meat didn’t have any smoky taste, or really any taste at all. When paired with the dip—peppery, with a nice, slightly hot kickback—the chopped meat was tasty, but on its own it was pretty bland. And according to my dining companion, the sweet tea was overwhelmingly sweet (here I must own up to the biggest sin a Southern transplant can commit—I don’t drink sweet tea. All my reviews of that beverage will therefore come from others’ impressions, but I promise to only rely on reliable sources!)
The most interesting part of the meal came from the onion rings, and I was very glad to have sampled them. They were hands down the weirdest onion rings I have ever seen in my life. Instead of having a slice of onion surrounded by batter and fried, it looked like a paste was made of minced onions, mixed with dough, and put through some kind of extruder. They were oddly uniform in appearance, but this method did solve one of my biggest problems with onion rings—getting a bite of onion without batter, or vice versa. It was a very subtle onion flavor, but I thought it was quite delicious. My dining companion did not enjoy them as much, but I could probably have eaten the whole giant basket of them. Faced with a choice between Speedy’s onion rings and hushpuppies, I would definitely choose the former, even if it isn’t quite the authentic barbecue experience.
The small restaurant is stuffed to the brim with booths very close together, and lots of classic movie décor and Pepsi memorabilia. I found it to be a little claustrophobic, and I’m not sure how the wait staff manages the small aisles, but they did a good job of it on our visit. I could definitely have used more open seating, though, or even seating outside (not that there was a place for it—the restaurant sits right on the shoulder of Old Highway 52). Others might find the close seating homey, but I found it a little distracting and slightly uncomfortable.
Speedy’s has a relatively small menu of barbecue basics. It’s always good to focus on what you do best, and I can definitely see why people are loyal to them. However, I don’t think it’s destined to become my go-to barbecue joint.