Georgia Pig -- Ft. Lauderdale/Plantation border BBQ
With all the chitchat about the Ft. Lauderdale barbecue spots that sprang up in the last few years like Tom Jenkins and Jack's Smokehouse, the oldtimers have been neglected a bit on this board.
First among them is the Georgia Pig, on the west side of 441 just south of Davie Blvd. Now in its 50th year, and it looks it.. a wood-paneled shack from the small-town South, because that's what the area was like back when they opened, and as far as I can tell, all they've done is reupholster the booths and replace the tables and chairs once or twice since. The place is no secret. It was the perennial best of its kind in the area probably for decades before Tom Jenkins opened up shop in a hipper part of town. This place is in one of those run-down stretches lined with muffler shops, used-tire places, pawnshops and plexiglas-windowed chow-mein takeouts.
Coming from a different era and place culturally, the Georgia Pig is Old South, from the customers to the staff. They've got table service and a counter with stools, too, which is nice, and ample parking in back where I'd imagine they probably used to have picnic tables. I should ask. It doesn't look like it's really changed hands over the years.
And the food? The real thing. A real smoker out back making everything smell yummy for a couple of blocks in every direction, stacks of wood in the parking lot, and my new favorite chopped pork sandwich in town. The meat was a perfect mix of tender pink smoky morsels and crunchy bits from the outside. Unusual for around here, you can actually pick up the sandwich and eat it with your hands--stuff falls out, but it is designed to be picked up.
There's only one barbecue sauce, the light-colored mustardy kind, which is in a bottle on the side if you eat in, and squirted on for you if you get takeout. It's mild but extremely well-suited to the meat and if you want it hot, there's Crystal and squeeze bottles of what I guess is Red Devil on the tables. Worked well. Highly recommended. I haven't tried the ribs yet, but I will. It might take me a while to get to the beef, though.
The rest of the menu is a bit different from what dominates around here. This isn't a soul-food place. No collards or yams or black-eyed peas (at least not regularly); even baked beans are a once-a-week thing. The basic sides are a sweet, creamy slaw and disappointing everyday coffee-shop fries. Other sides rotate in and out.. today I could have gotten sliced tomatoes, or potato or macaroni salad. They also make Brunswick Stew (this being a place called the Goergia Pig and all) which I'll need to try. No sweet tea, alas. Sigh.
I didn't have room for dessert. Unfortunately for me, I said to the waitress, "You don't make the pies here, do you?"
The owner chimed in: "we sure DO! and the coconut, chocolate and pecan just came out fresh!"
So for the good of science, I had a slice of the chocolate cream pie. A total throwback to childhood, the filling was that kinda-lumpy chocolate pudding that'll take you back decades, and the whipped cream on top was real. And fresh. I don't dare imagine the pie crusts were also homemade, but it was kind of uneven around the edges and reet flaky, so maybe it was. Not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, the pie was home cooking from the early days of pudding mixes, when maybe it wasn't "real" anymore but it also wasn't the ultra-stabilized super-fudgy high-tech pudding of today. I'll bet the pecan pie and fruit pies are fine things indeed. Science will require return visits.
A few hours later I was in the gym doing penance.
First off, let me say that I am used to the real deal BBQ of various styles. Genuine slow smoked meat with a crust and pink smoke ring evident from the process. Georgia does not have it's own style and it's styles are taken from other parts of the south. Georgia Pig is my kind of place for bbq b/c it is a dive. Most dives serve up the best fare for some reason and the cooking method gets lost in the glamour of chained out fancier places.
The most expensive item is $11 for a rib or combo platter. For the prices, you really can't go wrong. I had a rib and pork (chopped by request) combo that came with cole slaw and fries. I also ordered a side of Brunswick stew which I was hoping would be what I was used to. This version is the pureed meat style that is almost like chili. I definitely do not like the pureed version of B-wick stew and this one was no different. Pureed beef in a thick sauce with only a few bits of corn. I like mine in a much thinner spicey tomato sauce with chunks of pork and pieces of potato, corn, lima beans, and tomato. The spice level was the only thing I liked about it.
Out came the ribs and chopped pork. The plate had plenty of meat, three and a half ribs or so and a lot of chopped pork. Ribs and pork had the good bits of char from the proper process. Ribs were a bit lower quality than what I am used to. The sauce is absolutely flavorless and too thin. I like mustard based sauces but not this one in particular. The meats had an average amount of smoke flavor and that was the most positive thing I encountered.
I stopped by heading to a Marlins game that got rained out (sigh). From what I am used to in Hotlanta, I think the best thing about the meal was the proper smoking process with char and the grilled bread that I used to make a sandwich with. Now don't get me wrong, I completely understand the lack of proper bbq in SoFla. As far as the process goes, this is above average BBQ for the area. I understand how most feel that this place is the best b/c there are way too many faux-Q restos around. I just didn't find it so good that I would definitley stop back in if I was in the area.
FYI - the kitchen closes at 5:45pm on Saturday nights. I got there at 5:40pm and did not know this until after I got there. I debated for an hour on whether to go here or Taqueria Dona Raquel. Next stop while in the area for my Marlins rain ticket game will be TDR. I speak very little Spanish though.
Are there any natives of Ft Lauderdale from the late late 60's to mid 70's who remember the Bar-B-Q Spot? My dad used to take us there when we were kids and this place kind of reminded me of it. The Bar-B-Q Spot would bring out buckets of pickels and cole slaw to munch on before your meal.