Restaurant Review: Willie’s Locally Known

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Biff Shanks

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).

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