Go ‘The Whole Hog’Section 4A, Entertainment News, Eat This! Thursday, October 15th, 2015
WARNING: Frequent consumption of succulent smoked meats may lead to addiction and constant craving.
The Whole Hog is a small barbecue joint practically in the middle of a busy intersection. Step through the door of the innocuous barn-red building and you’ll see clean white walls and wainscoting. Dark wood accents and trim. Four tables and a half dozen seats at the brushed metal counter. The room was crowded with customers in the middle of a mid-weekday afternoon, because looks can be deceiving. The Whole Hog may be a tiny space, but it’s crammed full of flavor.
The idiom “go the whole hog” means to do something completely; to give an effort your all. Christopher McAfee and Graham Fleming, The Whole Hog team, understand and embrace the idiom. They also understand that “low and slow” is the secret to great barbecue. Lucky for hungry readers, they do. McAfee told me the meats tenderize for 12 hours in a seasoned brine before being rubbed with salt, sugar, pepper and spices, then smoked in-house over smoldering Hickory chips for another 12 hours. The result is juicy unforgettably delicious sandwiches, ribs and sides.
“The sandwiches take three days to prepare,” McAfee said.
One taste of the Cubano ($10) and you know he’s not exaggerating. Thin slices of smoky ham and slow-roasted pork shoulder are piled on a roll, blanketed by Swiss cheese, topped with Dijon mustard, garlic aioli and dill pickles, then pressed on a sizzling hot grill. The result is a steamy melty explosion of flavor in your mouth.
Then there’s the Smoked Turkey Sandwich ($10). Slices of holiday bird are heaped on a large bun, and then topped with tart cranberry sauce, velvety cream cheese, crisp bacon and nutty arugula greens dressed in red wine vinaigrette. Mm-mmm. There’s a little bit of Thanksgiving in every bite.
They also serve Smoked Pork Belly Tacos ($9). Yes, tacos. The soft corn flour shell is filled with a generous portion of diced pork belly (think really thick bacon with a tender chew), fresh pico de gallo, smoked chipotle salsa, a drizzle of smooth avocado crema and crumbles of cotija cheese. Trust me, you’ll never look at another fish taco again. Adios, Rubio.
That all sounds good, you say, but do they have ribs? What is a barbecue joint without ribs, I reply with a wink. Available Friday and Saturday only, the large thick meaty pork ribs are served with your choice of sauces: tomato based “Sweet Heat” made with green apples, raisins and a kiss of Habanero chile; the tangy mustard and vinegar based “Carolina”; or “XXX”, a tomato based version packing a mighty wallop of Habanero heat. You can order a quarter rack (three ribs for $7), half rack (six ribs for $13), or a full rack (twelve ribs for $25), but do yourself a favor and reserve them early – the ribs disappear quickly.
Sides include satiny mac n cheese ($4), crumbly light and buttery cornbread ($3), yummy sweet potatoes with bleu cheese, almonds and maple syrup ($3.50), and zesty collard greens ($3.50) prepared with – you guessed it, smoked pork. Quench your thirst with a variety of ice teas and lemonades.
The Whole Hog is open six days a week. They’re also available to cater your next event. There’s a reason The Whole Hog sometimes closes early with a “Sold Out” sign hanging on the door. Find out why. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
The Whole Hog
3749 Park Blvd.
Open Wed-Mon. 9a.m.-11 p.m.
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