Turns out five restaurants with an eye beyond the metro isn't enough of a challenge for Shannon Roper and Bryan Neel, the S and B behind S&B's Burger Joint.
The dynamic duo of Oklahoma City's diningscape recently opened HillBilly Po'Boys and Oysters, 1 NW 9 St., in the space previously occupied by Pachinko Parlor.
“Shannon spent four years researching recipes and techniques,” Neel said. “That's how he is when he gets a new idea.”
Roper, who is rarely wont to attract attention to himself, said he's happy with the direction of the new concept.
“Po'boys are great, and we didn't see where anyone was doing them right around here,” Roper said. “We pretty much saw a niche and went for it.”
And they've gone for it just as they did burgers back in 2009, creating a great foundation dish then putting a twist on it by borrowing flavors from assorted food cultures.
HillBilly's also has jumped on board with the ongoing rise of moonshine as the spirit du jour.
“All our cocktails are moonshine-based,” Neel said. “If you order a gin and tonic, you're going to get a moonshine and tonic.”
The spot adjacent to ShopGood was an easy retrofit to look like a shack where you wouldn't be surprised to see a banjo savant with questionable bloodlines looking for a duel, but it's the food Roper and Neel serve that'll go all “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on your palate.
The bread is made daily with a custom dough from La Baguette Bakery in Norman.
“We wanted a softer center, so we stretch the dough a little differently than their standard baguette,” Neel said.
Those baguettes come bearing fried or grilled shrimp; fried oysters; blackened crawfish; drip beef with warm leek and shallot relish; roast beef with debris gravy; chicken and mushrooms with gravy; fish cake with sweet chili sauce; meatballs with pancetta and marinara; grilled and roasted vegetables with hummus; curried egg salad; and a tricked-out muffuletta called the Mack-Daddy Muff.
They're delicious, but will require a fork and knife unless you're interested in wearing a little home. If you're looking for a more refined way into that goodness, you can order the filling over rice.
For appetizers, HillBilly's features alligator ribs, corned beef egg rolls and, my personal favorite, skewers of grilled shrimp and shishito peppers. Roper also has been putting the finishing touches on hillbilly nachos, which consist of fried mushrooms on a homemade potato chip topped with Parmesan cheese.
Fresh oysters will become an even stronger presence on the menu in the near future. Roper said they recently finalized arrangements to ensure the restaurant has quality oysters year-round.
S&B's has grown into five locations in short order with an eye toward destinations outside Oklahoma City, but don't expect a similar meteoric rise for HillBilly's.
“There's a little bit of education that needs to happen first,” Neel said. “Not everyone even knows what a po'boy is in Oklahoma.”
Po'boys, also known as oyster rolls, are simply sub sandwiches made popular in New Orleans, where seafood is king and flavors are bold. But Roper and Neel aren't trying to claim any Louisiana lineage.
“We aren't Cajun or Creole,” Neel said. “But we've got plenty of Oklahoma hillbilly in us.”
That said, HillBilly's dessert centers around another New Orleans classic, bread pudding. Roper's version is made with Apple Pie Moonshine and is rich enough to draw a crowd of tent-toting 99-percenters.
HillBilly's joins cool and kitschy Oklahoma City original concepts including The Mule, S&B's, Big Truck Tacos and Mutt's Amazing Hot Dogs along with brand-new entries The Drum Room and Back Door Barbecue to bolster the market's middle class.
If you go
HillBilly Po'Boys and Oysters opens at 11 a.m. daily. It closes at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, midnight Friday and Saturday and 8 p.m. Sundays. This Sunday, HillBilly's introduces brunch service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and, like S&B's, will offer bloody Marys — but with moonshine.
For more information, call 702-9805.