Not only does Uncle Abe’s Dixie Outpost serve up sensational barbecue, hot dogs and wings, customers can enjoy their food while dining on a modified school bus located in the parking lot along side the restaurant.
I ran across this Blountville eatery while visiting nearby Steele Creek Park in Bristol. I have stopped on a couple of occasions for take-out orders, including one incredibly tasty Hickory Smoked Chicken Sandwich, while on birding trips to Steele Creek. I have been so impressed with the Dixie Outpost that I gathered a couple of friends on a recent Saturday afternoon for my first dine-in trip to the eatery that has dubbed itself “the home of swine dining.”
The menu includes barbecue sandwiches and platters, Southern-style appetizers, smoked wings and a wide assortment of Dixie dogs.
The barbecue section includes pork, beef brisket and chicken, as well as St. Louis-style ribs and smoked wings with various flavors. It also includes more than a dozen deluxe hot dogs, including the whimsically named Hogzilla, which is described as the “granddaddy of them all” and features a juicy, smoked bratwurst topped with pulled pork and a choice of sauce.
The sauces are another marvelous feature of this eatery. More than a half-dozen sauces are available, including Dixie Red, which seems to be the trusted house sauce, as well as South Carolina Gold, Honey Chipotle, Peach Habanero, North Carolina Vinegar, Boom Boom and, last but not least, the Sauce from Hell, which is aptly described as quite volatile.
Although there is limited seating inside the main building, the interior of the eatery offers an interesting decor. There are only a couple of tables with benches and chairs providing seating, as well as a long lunch counter equipped with wooden stools, so dining on the bus does offer more space. The walls are painted forest green and yellow ochre. Providing some interesting trim along the walls are yard sticks and rulers collected over the years from various area businesses. A collection of license plates includes examples from almost every U.S. state. The decor is completed with some decorative pig figurines on display throughout the restaurant.
Dining on the bus offers seating at a lunch counter built along one wall and a row of booths and tables down the length of the bus on the other side. Each tabletop is hand-painted with several vibrant patterns, including one bearing a bright painting of a peacock. Dining on the bus certainly offers a unique, colorful experience.
Of course, the surroundings are secondary to the food. Everything I have tried has been top-notch fare offered at modest prices. Customers order at the front counter inside the eatery. We obtained some menus and found some seats to decide on what we wanted to try.
On previous visits, I have sampled some of the hot dogs, including the Preacher, which is a deep-fried dog on a bun that is smothered with a special deliciously tart and spicy sauerkraut. On this visit, I also considered several of the hot dogs, including the Ranger, inspired by Texas and featuring a deep-fried dog piled high with chili, jalapenos, bacon and chopped onions, as well as the Southerner, which is topped by chili and creamy slaw.
On this occasion, I decided to focus on the barbecue side of the menu, although it was a tough decision to make. Since I had already been pleased with the hickory-smoked pulled chicken, I narrowed my focus to the pork and beef brisket during this visit. I finally came down on the side of the mesquite-smoked brisket platter, which I paired with Stuffed Potato Salad and Macaroni and Cheese.
My dining companion always likes to try the ribs at barbecue establishments, so his decision was easy. He ordered the Ribs and Such, a platter of St. Louis-style, hand-rubbed, hickory-smoked pork ribs, and chose as his two sides the Dixie BBQ Beans and Taters and Onions. Another friend with us chose to order the Dixie Pig Plate, which offers a generous serving of pulled pork served with a choice of two sides, as well as Texas toast. She chose the Taters and Onions and the Fried Okra.
We also decided to sample the Smoked Wings, which come in sizes of 4 pieces, 8 pieces and 24 pieces. We ordered the smallest size, which gave each of us one of these delicious morsels to try with one spare, which didn’t go to waste. We ordered the wings spiced with a Cajun remoulade. The breaded, smoked wings were soaked in this tasty sauce, making for a finger-licking good way to start off the meal. Other wing sauces available include South Carolina Gold, Honey Chipotle, Buffalo, Thai Chili and Garlic Parmesan.
We didn’t have to wait terribly long for any of our orders. We were pleased with everything, especially the discovery that the folks at Dixie Outpost don’t treat their sides as an afterthought. We were pleased with all of our sides, including the hand-breaded fried okra and the macaroni and cheese made with real cheddar cheese. The really stand-out sides, however, were the Taters and Onions and the Smothered Potato Salad.
The Taters and Onions are cubed Irish potatoes that are fried together with onions in a skillet. The Smothered Potato Salad takes all the basics of a Smothered Baked Potato — cheddar cheese, smoked bacon and green onions — and combines them with some other ingredients for a smooth, creamy and delicious potato salad.
Still, it’s the barbecue that really shines. My friend shared a sampling of his ribs, which were slathered with the Dixie Red Sauce. These nicely smoked ribs were tender to the last bite and slid off the bone with hardly any effort.
I enjoyed the Beef Brisket, which was served with some of the Dixie Red Sauce, although from personal preference I added even more of this tasty sauce. The beef brisket was tender, flavorful and showed a nice smoke ring.
Everything tasted incredible, and there are still plenty of items on the menu I’d love to sample in future visits. For instance, Dixie Outpost also offers Brunswick Stew and Texas Chili from October to February. There are also a few entree salads for the less carnivorous among us. There’s also a kid’s menu, for the Lil Rebels, offering some pint-sized dinners. The prices are also very affordable.
If you visit during the holidays, when it’s easy to overdose on turkey, rest assured there’s no turkey in sight on this menu. On Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., Dixie Outpost also offers an all-you-can-eat fried catfish special. At other times, the menu also offers a Catfish Po’Boy. The restaurant also recently began offering Sunday lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
It’s been one of my more interesting dining discoveries, so if you go, let them know they were recommended.
AT A GLANCE: Uncle Abe’s Dixie Outpost, 3172 Highway 126, Blountville. 574-7447. Menu items range from $1.99 to $18.99. Credit cards accepted. Carryout available. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.