Hitz looks like any average feed-’em-fast eatery at the end of a highway exit ramp. Its location next to an especially sad-looking Motel 6 doesn’t do a lot to encourage eager salivation. Inside, decor is standard-issue BBQ miscellany: a tidy display of old license plates, vintage vinyl records, NASCAR and rock-and-roll ephemera, humorous likenesses of pigs.
If the mise en scène is common, Hitz’ food is something special. Pork is plush, sweet with a smoky halo, hardly wanting sauce — certainly not the sweet South Carolina sauce or even sweeter Old Kentucky sauce, but maybe just a sprinkle of Winchester Vinegar sauce, if you please. (Other available sauces include Alabama White, Ring of Fire, and Boilermaker.)
A platter of any meat is accompanied by a freshly made hoe cake (or, as spelled here, ho’cake) with earthy corn flavor, not at all sweet.
Side dishes are made in-house daily: pit beans that are thick and meaty, braised greens aglow with potent vegetable (and pork) flavor, creamy mac and cheese that goes so well with any and all BBQ.
Speaking of other BBQ, have you had pork candy? That’s Hitz’s name for cubes of pork belly that are smoke-cooked and glazed with sauce. They’re big, square hunks that look like the imitation burnt ends some restaurants create; and, like most burnt ends, they are at least 50% fat. I’ve got nothing against fat — it’s where the flavor is — but honestly, this pork candy is too rich for my tender taste buds.
A compelling product of the kitchen’s talent for smoke-cooking is meat loaf. It is dense, moist, tremendously satisfying. In a hearty sandwich along with melted cheese, crisp-fried onions, tangy dill pickles, and an intoxicating sweet onion glaze, it is a magnificent meal.
Considering the lengths Hitz goes to create authentic Kentucky BBQ meals, it is strange that there is no cobbler for dessert. Only Blue Bell ice cream. But that’s OK. A meal here is so fully satisfying that dessert really doesn’t matter.