It got them thinking. “We talked about doing a po’ boy truck for a while,” said Bryan Neel, co-owner of S&B’s. “The truck ended up being an S&B’s truck, but we kept playing with the idea.”
That tinkering eventually evolved into Hillbilly Po’ boys and Oysters, 1 N.W. Ninth, one of the metro’s newest restaurants.
When Pachinko Parlor closed early this year, Neel and his partner, Shannon Roper, decided to try a po’ boy concept in the busy food district off Broadway. They wanted to bring more than just po’ boys — what Neel calls “Southern Creole” cooking — to Oklahoma City.
“We avoid the term ‘Cajun’ because we’re not trying to lock ourselves into just making Cajun food,” said Neel.
“I have no background with the style.
I just like it, and I like doing my own version. We are doing this much like we do burgers at S&B: very nontraditional.”
The menu consists of po’ boys as well as other dishes added by Roper, who is the chef and food manager.
“We put alligator ribs on the menu, because everyone does blackened tail or fried tail,” he said. “We found a source for fresh alligator ribs, and we loved the idea.”
The ribs have a delicious texture much like pork ribs. The bones are small, which helps minimize the messiness that comes with eating ribs covered in Hillbilly’s bourbon molasses barbecue sauce.
To emphasize the menu’s diversity, Roper included skewers of grilled shrimp and shishito peppers served with a yellow curry sauce. Diners can also choose a Hopsing’s Fish Cake po’ boy, a Thai fish cake served with sweet chili sauce.
As for po’ boy options, there are plenty. Included on the po’ boy menu are blackened shrimp (grilled or fried), oysters, beef, crawfish, chicken and meatball. The not-so-carnivorous can choose between tofu, veggie and curried egg salad. The more health-conscious can also choose any po’ boy served over black jasmine rice or mixed greens.
For sides, Hillbilly makes potato chips fresh daily and serves them in a big metal bowl perfect for passing around and sharing.
The sweet pepper slaw is a culinary highlight (and goes well on a po’ boy). Grilled veggies, fruit and pickles and onions are also available.
Neel is in charge of Hillbilly’s bar, and his focus is on moonshine. The cocktails are all made with moonshine, which he concedes takes a great deal of care.
“This is corn whiskey, and it tastes like gasoline if you don’t mix it correctly,” Neel said. “We are trying to create balanced, delicious cocktails and our own infused moonshine.”
Hillbilly serves “aged cocktails.” A popular trend in bartending, the drinks are made several hours ahead of time and sealed in Mason jars. Ingredients are allowed to blend more fully, creating a smoother, more focused cocktail.
Neel chose to keep the beer list small, but it includes the whole line of Louisiana’s own Abita Brewing Company. Great Divide Brewing Company and Anderson Valley Brewing Company lines are also available, as are Pabst Blue Ribbon and Lone Star.
The restaurant’s Creole brunch includes bread pudding French toast, a crawfish omelet with Swiss fondue and debris gravy that, served with the fresh biscuits, simply has to be experienced.
It could easily be eaten as a stew or soup, and you’ll be tempted to ladle it on more than just the biscuits.