October 26, 2011

Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse

Recap: I'm getting married. We want to eat barbecue on our wedding day. We're looking for a caterer!  Review of the first option we tried can be found here.

Our second barbecue-based outing sent us to a restaurant that has been highly recommended by many people-- Sweet Lucy's.  The trip once again required a car, this time just a ways up I-95 to the northeast part of the city.  Sweet Lucy's (named after a cute black puppy) is located just off the highway, in a fairly quiet, industrial part of town.  The bright lights and country atmosphere seemed a little out of place, but it walking in was like entering a time/travel warp to the South.

Barn decor inside.
Monday nights find diners feasting on an all-you-can-eat buffet- and for only $19.95 it's absolutely the way to go, especially if you want to try all of the items.  The setup is fairly simple: enter, pay at the counter, get a camo wristband (amazing), find yourself a table, go to town on the food.  Everything is steaming hot and frequently replenished, leaving no qualms about freshness.  On my first go at the buffet, I tried to get a small sample (1-2 bites) of a variety of sides, as well as a few bites of some of our meat options.

Clockwise from cornbread: pulled pork, collards, cabbage, spare rib/brisket/rotisserie chicken,
sweet potatoes/cheesy spinach/coleslaw

Let's start with the meat.  Throughout the course of the night, I sampled pulled pork, pulled chicken, rotisserie chicken (thigh), beef brisket, baby back ribs, smoked salmon, and a bite of smoked turkey.  No wonder I was still full when I went to bed.  Regardless, the quality and flavor of every meat was more than I could have asked for.  The sweet, smoky hickory flavor was present but not overwhelming, instead letting the cuts of meat speak for themselves.  The brisket was my absolute favorite- with almost a pot roast falling apart texture, I had to go back for seconds (yes, on top of all that other meat!).

The smoked salmon was also a surprise hit- tender and moist.  The rotisserie chicken was perfectly done- skin smoked to a crackling crisp, with the underlying meat coated in its liquified fat.  A little greasy, but incredibly flavorful- which also describes the baby back ribs.  The meat easily fell off the bone on the first bite, and its smoky essence required no additional sauce.  While this meal might be a vegetarian's nightmare, it's pretty much a meat-lover's dream.

Ribs, brisket, salmon, and smoked turkey.
Moving onto the sides: Sweet Lucy's had at least ten for us to sample.  I'm a sucker for the classics: give me baked beans, coleslaw, collard greens and I'm a happy camper.  However, I'm all for experimenting with some other options, and none of the offerings did me wrong.  On my first go round, I grabbed a bit of baked beans, collard greens, braised cabbage, macaroni and cheese, caesar salad (with cornbread croutons!), coleslaw, mashed sweet potatoes, and cheesy spinach.

Sides on the buffet.  Complete with Halloween and more barn decor.
The baked beans make a good segway from meat to sides, since the little scoop I got actually was primarily meat- shredded pork drenched in the sweet, smoky sauce surrounding the beans.  The addition of generous pieces of meat is a sure-fire way to make good baked beans, but even without it, I'm positive these would still be good.  The collard greens (also made with a bit of meat for extra flavor) were slightly spicy, with the greens retaining a good bite- they went on my "must have" list immediately.

Beans, collards, cucumber salad, mac n' cheese.  Sweet potatoes on the left.
The mashed sweet potatoes were also put on my hypothetical wedding menu- smooth, creamy, with just that hint of natural sweetness that gives them their name.  The macaroni and cheese- while perhaps not my favorite rendition- was solid enough to round out our top choices (I mean, what's barbecue without macaroni and cheese?).  The garlic mashed potatoes were one of my fiance's favorites- whipped with bits of red skin keeping textural interest.  However, mashed potatoes aren't a classic Southern barbecue side- so as good as they were, they're simply not kosher.

Some of the other nontraditional options surprised me, though.  The caesar salad was a sleeper hit- I think the cool crunch of the lettuce really offset the warm saltiness of all that meat.  The cornbread croutons added in that spike of the South- I may never be able to enjoy regular Caesar salad again.  The cheesy spinach was another one I loved, although J disagreed- she thought the smooth mixture of dark greens and melted Cheddar cheese sauce was too salty.  Out of an evening of amazing food, I guess we can nitpick about something.

Chili station complete with amazing cornbread croutons.
You're probably tired of hearing how amazing everything was, but I'm not quite done.  Because I must focus on the homemade cornbread for just a moment.  The buffet held a basket of large, square pieces, stacked upon one another to retain some of the heat from the oven.  The bread was a bit crumbly, but the crumbs stuck together, making it easy to get every last one.  Just a little sweet, it was so good that seconds were necessary.

The buffet price also included a drink and dessert.  J took the correct route, mixing 2/3rds of a cup of unsweet iced tea with 1/3 sweetened tea.  The mixture was still quite sweet, meaning they did their job well.  A big glass of good sweet iced tea is the quickest way to get home, if just for a moment.

After that gut-busting meal, dessert seemed like a bad idea, but after taking a break to talk though our options with the head of catering, we hit up the dessert bar to look at the options.  Chocolate chip bread pudding looked intriguing but the cinnamon apple crisp called my name a little louder.  A little scoop (picking out extra crumb topping) paired with a side of vanilla ice cream was an unnecessary but completely appreciated end to the meal.  A large basket of assorted cookies and brownies was also available, but after a quick survey, I decided that most of them looked unappealing next to the steaming apple crisp.  A last minute pick of a small chocolate chip cookie managed to occur though, and I'm glad it did, as the cookie tasted like it came directly from my mom's oven.

As we rolled out of the restaurant, I reiterated a request to move to Northeast Philly- this is the kind of down-home Southern cooking I would like to eat on a regular basis (although frequent all-you-can-eat meals might not be the best idea for my health).  We're still waiting on more information from the catering side of things, but at this point I would be more than happy to have Sweet Lucy's on our special day.

Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse
7500 State Road


  1. Wow! This all looks so, so good. Can we fast forward to the wedding?

  2. Hahaha I have never been so proud of Northeast Philly! So glad you loved it!!! Hope the catering side works out.

  3. Glad you liked it!! Their food has always been fantastic at catered parties I've been to. and that cornbread is astonishing. So is the amount of food you girls can put back haha.

  4. All you can eat buffets are our specialty. Just kidding-- but we had to be DOUBLY sure of every item we want :)


  6. You are inspiring me! The pics and food look so delicious. I'm a huge fan of cabbage slaw. We're trying to choose caterers for our wedding now and eating our way through the list at Caterers, Catering.

  7. Did you end up going with Sweet Lucy's for your wedding? I'd love to hear about it as I'm considering this as an option for my wedding. Did you choose full service catering or just go with delivery? How was the food? How many did you serve? Would love to pick your brain. Thanks!

  8. So sorry I've missed this comment for so long! Please email us at twoeatphilly@gmail.com; I'd love to answer all of your questions! Overall though, I highly recommend Sweet Lucy's (so yes- we did use them!).