Mystery Diner in Hinckley: South Moon Barbeque finds unique twists to variety of meats

Barbecue, especially outside the few hot spots in this country, can become monotonous. Plate, meat, sauce, maybe toss it on a lackluster bun for a sandwich. But South Moon Barbeque’s menu is full of inventive ways to showcase the Hinckley restaurant’s meats.

And the meats at this spot are, for the most part, very good. Nice flavor, light smoke, excellent sauces.

If you’re looking for uniqueness, start with the BBQ Sundae. Listed as an appetizer but definitely enough for a meal, the sundae is made by layering baked beans, coleslaw and pulled pork in a bowl.

A lot of the dishes come lightly sauced, likely by design because the two main sauces are available on the tables to let you customize each item. A sweet St. Louis was definitely heavy on tomato taste, but the sweet heat sauce eliminated some of that - although not spicy.

We only got to taste one true appetizer, the fried pickles. Those can be hit or miss, but here they were a definite hit. The batter was extremely well seasoned. A trace of heat from cayenne pepper or something similar blended so well with the strong tang of the pickles. And the batter clung to the pickle with no real breakage, which is rare.

The restaurant also has a sandwich called The Chuck Norris that seems custom built for one of those challenge shows. It’s every meat in the shop stacked on two buns. It costs extra for burnt ends, which are definitely worth it. They were amazingly tender and flavorful, even more than the pork. The generous size accommodated two adults.

With the sandwich as structured, we found it impossible to take a bite that included more than one meat at a time, so we had to dissect it on the plate. It was great food – especially the chicken. The breasts were about as juicy as white meat can be, and the rub was outstanding. The brats were also ridiculously tasty. But it was hard to get the flavors to play together like they did in the sundae.

The PBLT - pork belly, lettuce and tomato - was very good and presented well. The fat, juicy pieces of pork belly were amazing, just as on the Norris.

The fried potato salad used hot sauce as a dressing. Instead of traditional simplicity, the mac and cheese added peppers and onion.

If you want a straightforward dish, South Moon hooks you up, as well. The pulled pork sandwich was served on what seemed like a bakery-fresh bun - as was the Norris - and has the option of coleslaw as a topping.

On the whole, South Moon Barbeque was an exceptional find in downtown Hinckley. Whether the dish is traditional or unique, it’s well done and worth the trip.

• The Mystery Diner is a Daily Chronicle employee who reports on their experience at local restaurants. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: South Moon Barbeque

WHERE: 100 E. Lincoln Ave., Hinckley

PHONE: 815-286-9227

INFORMATION: www.southmoonbbq.com