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Remember The Dixie Pig?

  • k

Does anyone remember or know the status of a Maryland bar B que shack called The Dixie Pig?

  1. About a mile south of the original Krispy Kreme. But the Dixie Pig, Willard Scott aside, was never very good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Joe

      Hybla Valley, I don't know that one-- where is that? Bar-b-que or pit beef?

      1. re: Kathy Siegel

        Richmond Highway about three or four miles south of Old Town near where the first McDonald's opened in the D. C. area in 1955. It's a version of eastern Carolina style bbq.

    2. The Pig lasted way past its prime, or even its nadir, until roughly last winter, after "West Wing" filmed a scene in the back room. (Kiss of death, no doubt.) Pig was off the first exit on the GW; right; west until the curve; left; 500 yards. Classic queue shack, way misplaced in a gentrifying 'hood betwixt and between Braddock Road metro and the Jeff Davis/Potomac Something-or-other mall on the way to Dee Cee. No tears for the Pig, at all for the food: heavy, sluggish pork butt, sickly sweet sauce (99% likely it was poured from the Kraft); limp fries; canned slaw; etc. But the sweet part: no finer and divier a jernt in (barely) Old Town. On the other hand, I won't miss it. Nor, I bet, will anyone else.

      7 Replies
      1. re: John

        Although I realize that John posted his comments relative to the Pig in 2001 (nine years ago), I just happened upon this site and felt an unrelenting urge to respond to his post. As a native Northern Virginian transplanted to Florida nearly 22 years ago, I was born and raised in Alexandria/Fairfax County area of Northern Virginia ( just south of Washington, DC). I grew up knowing The Pig both on Powhatan Street (a quaint and comfortable little restaurant) and its sister location on Richmond Hwy (Rte 1 and Beacon Hill Road) and subsequently the Dixie Pig carry-out situated between The Pig on Rte 1 and the 7-11 Store.

        I take issue with the comments relative to the quality of the renowned Dixie Pig Bar-b-que and its "siclkly sweet sauce (99% likely it was poured from the Kraft)" and "canned slaw".... Although I do enjoy a good quality Southern Bar-b-que sandwich, commonly referred to as pulled pork, which more often than not is steeped in bar-b-que sauce; The Pig did NOT serve this commonly known type of Bar-b-que whether it be a platter (dinner, with no bun) or its renowned 'Minced Pork" Bar-b-que sandwich.

        The Pig instead served what I later found to be considered North Carolina style Bar-b-que, that is to say, Dixie Pig served minced Pork minus the heavy smothering of Bar-b-que sauce be it Kraft, Bulls Eye or any other sweet or sweet/tart red Bar-b-que sauce. Simply put The Pig served a delicious, may I mention, non greasy minced pork sandwich on a warm soft bun with (if requested a very thin Hot Sauce) and finely minced cabbage, referred to as slaw, however the slaw was not truly slaw in the since of the word, there was no mayonnaise or Miracle Whip type of salad dressing, it was simply minced cabbage that when combined with the minced pork had a very subtle hint of sweet without being sickly sweet.

        I know not of what John is speaking since I remember eating at the Powhatan Pig as early age 3 (and I am unfortunately far removed from being a spring chicken) as well as eating Bar-b-que sandwiches from The Pig on Rte 1 both from the restaurant and the adjacent carry-out. Never have I had from The Pig (either location, both owned by the Griffin family) the stero-typical bar-b-que laden in red sweet or semi-sweet bar-b-que sauce).

        Although I enjoy a well prepared pulled pork bar-b-que sandwich (as it is commonly referred to here in Florida) the type of bar-b-que sandwich served for sooooooooo long by the Dixie Pig in Alexandria, VA is second to none, What I wouldn't give for a bottomless supply of their style of bar-b-que.

        For the record, the Dixie Pig owned by the Griffin family was not affiliated with other establishments through-out the nation (predominantly the south) by the same name.

        The following is an historical account of the Griffin Family Dixie Pig of Alexandria, Virginia:

        The original Dixie Pig was opened in Alexandria at the intersection of the GW Parkway and Powhatan Street by Emma (Griffin) Robinson (grandmother of Adelaide Arthur and Jim and Frank Griffin Jr). At that time (1924), land across the parkway did not have a Hot Shoppe but was the city dump for Alexandria. The Dixie Pig remained in operation until about 1940 when it was sold and became Kaus’s Barbecue.

        A Dixie Pig Barbecue was opened up on the GW Parkway at the site where the Belle Haven Marina is now located. It was owned by Alice (Griffin) Robinson aunt of Adelaide, Jim and Frank. It operated for a few years until the US Government claimed the land for the Parkway and necessitated closing the Pig and an adjacent trailer park.

        In 1946 the Dixie Pig reopened at the intersection of Route 1 and Beacon Hill Road in what at the time was the Starlight Grille. It was opened by Helen Griffin (mother of Jim and Frank Jr.) with partners Minnie and Harry Holt. The Holts later opened the Southern Barbecue located just south of the original location of the Penn-Daw firehouse on Route 1. Operation of the restaurant was taken over by Frank Griffin Sr. ( father of Jim & Frank Jr.) about 1949 and continued until his death in 1969. Jim and Frank Jr. took over operation of the restaurant at that time with invaluable managers Esther West(day) and Evelyn Jones(night). The restaurant was sold in 1981 to Maurice Byrd who later sold to Ron Elliott, who then sold to Rite-Aid Pharmacy who now owns and operates a pharmacy on the site.

        In 1949 a Dixie Pig was opened at the corner of Powhatan Street and Bashford Lane in Alexandria by Arthur “Pid” Griffin and his wife Anne (‘Sis”) Griffin . It was frequented by Willard Scott (a GWHS Grad and the NBC Weatherman for years). An interview of Scott by the National Enquirer was mostly about the barbecue at the Powhatan Dixie Pig. It was referred to prominently in the movie “ Remember the Titans “ as well as the current TV series West Wing. Upon death of “Pid” Griffin in 1972, operation of the restaurant was taken over by Adelaide (Griffin) Arthur and her husband Robert Sidney “Satch” Arthur GW ‘55 until the restaurant was sold in 1984. Paintings and photographs of both restaurants are still being sold at the Torpedo Factory. Both these restaurants were landmarks for many years and are remembered fondly by both owners and customers.

        1. re: ourdefenders

          Thanks for an enlightening history lesson.

          1. re: ourdefenders

            these days, i thought that the dixie pig on rte. 1 in alexandria is owned by a greek lady (at least according to the WETA-CREATE show on local eats i just saw), and the food served is greek. but the pig sign still stands proud -- apparently as a protected landmark, if i heard correctly.

            you say there's a rite-aid there? hmmm... maybe the WETA show is way out of date, then....

            ourdefenders, where are you at in florida? where is your best local Q?

            1. re: alkapal

              It's the Powhatan Street location that is the greek restaurant with the Pig sign on top.

              1. re: weezycom

                Yes, the Powhatan Street/Bashford Lane location is now Vaso's Kitchen. I have not been, but there menu looks to be primarily Greek. Either on this site or another local one, it has received good reviews.

                The Dixie Pig neon sign remains, as I understand, due to some Alexandria City designation that it is historical and is not to be taken down. A good move by Alexandria, as it does preserve a piece of history. The current proprietors may not be wholly on board with that, but the place always seems to be crowded, so they have seemingly overcome the obstacle by putting out a quality product/experience that draws customers. Good on them!

                Vaso's Kitchen
                1225 Powhatan St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                1. re: weezycom

                  wasn't there a pig on a sign on rte 1 (further south than bashford lane, toward hybla valley) at some point? maybe i'm mis-recollecting where i saw the pig sign. i'm thinking of this: http://scottsurovell.blogspot.com/200...

                  the WETA show did not identify location, just that it was the old "dixie pig."

                2. re: alkapal

                  Don't know what the WETA show was talking about, but the Pig on Powhatan at Bashford became Vaso's, which is a good Greek place in N Old Town Alexandria.

            2. There was a Dixie Pig off Dorsey Rd. near BWI Airport in Linthicum MD that was a shack and pit in a residential neighborhood. It stayed open in violation of health, zoning, air pollution and fire ordinances because Anne Arundel County politicians liked it and its demographics. It closed over ten years ago; Homer Hall, the proprietor, went on to try to open a short-lived pit in the Wharf Rat restaurant in Fells Point. I think there are dozens of Dixie Pigs throughout the South.

              5 Replies
              1. re: m. katz

                I am probably wrong about this but, somehow, I thought that after the restaurant closed near BWI he reopened it near Ft. Meade. I went to the original (where I believe he used old whiskey barrels for firewood-am I wrong?) and, while I loved the atmosphere (reminded of Tuscaloosa, Alabama's legendary Dreamland Drive In) I was disappointed in the ribs and que. At the time (mid 80's) O'Brien's in Rockville using Sonny Bryan's recipes was better. O'Brien's went downhill after a shooting.
                Dixie Pig is a very common name. But the VA ones were never very good. Allman's in Fredericksburg was the closest that D. C. had to great que for many years.

                1. re: Joe

                  A quick internet search (I favor "Google") turns up dozens of restaurants called The Dixie Pig. I even found a reference on the general Chowhounds message board regarding a Memphis area restaurant.

                  1. re: Joe

                    Joe - you are right. After the Linthicum, MD Dixie Pig was forced to close, he did reopen on the strip in Odenton across from Ft. Meade. The food was not quite the same though. We used to go to the original for lunch, and you never really knew what was going on in that pit (grin). We'd set the white bread, dipped in a bit of the sauce, at the end of our outdoor table to draw the bees away from us. First we'd go to Elsie's German Deli for some good beer to drink with our food. Ah - thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!

                    1. re: ivysmom

                      i like that trick for the bees.

                  2. re: m. katz
                    Mike Potter Fremont, Ca.

                    Back in 79' and 80', I was stationed (USAF) at the NSA, not far from there, and I used to LOVE that place!
                    I'd get the full rack of the extra hot ribs, and soak up
                    all that extra sauce with all those extra pieces of bread, that they gave you. I remember, a lot of the NSA folks ate there, at that time. The guy, Homer, seemed pretty old even then, as I recall. Great ribs,
                    something you don't get much, back on the Oregon coast, where I'm from...........And what a cozy setting. Wasn't it called, "Homer Halls Hog Heaven, or something, also? I miss it!

                  3. Yes, I have fond memories of Dixie Pig. There's still one around over in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, if you want to reminisce. The food is really, really good!

                    Link: http://www.thunderridgeemu.com

                    1. There was a Dixie Pig restaurant in Coral Hills MD on Marlboro Pike and Benning Rd. It is now an Eddie Leonard's (not the original) restaurant/carryout. I particularly enjoyed their barbeque beef sandwiches (Little Tavern sized).

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gregjstewart

                        Dixie Pig, Eddie Leonard's, Little Tavern...even a thread from nine years ago; all timeless. Actually a time when Chowhound, relatively speaking, had so few contributors that "John B." was merely "John" and "Joe H" was only "Joe."

                        1. re: Joe H

                          Years ago? I like Bob's "A quick internet search (I favor "Google") "
                          Sweet, a life where Google is an up and coming technology.

                      2. OK, accuracy. As much as the memory of that which happened a half century ago can be so described.

                        Homer ran the Dixie Pig in Dorsey, a small black community on the southern edge of BWI (originally "Friendship Airport") There was a small "cottage", holding three picnic tables and Homer's station in the wall behind which the ribs that were done were kept warm. (It had a concrete floor added around 1960, I was told, when the Health Department noted that it was really hard to wash a dirt floor.) If the weather was nice, though, one sat at one of the outdoor picnic tables, about 10' from the garbage pails into which patrons were expected to scrape their leaving off the "platters" -- old scarred plastic busboy trays -- and ate while the flies swarmed around. (I have no idea if the trays were washed between uses. Never asked, didn't want to hear the wrong answer.) The clientele was mixed -- all colors, executives and engineers from Westinghouse at the airport (where I worked), construction workers, ditch diggers, crab pickers, church-going black ladies in finery complete with hats, and pimps from the city driving up in classic pimpmobiles and wearing sharp three piece suits, matching hats, gold everywhere including teeth.. Never saw a real gang banger, mabe they didn't exist yet.

                        Only ribs. No pulled pork. No mince. No links or chicken or brisket. Just ribs.

                        The concrete fire pit had a date from the 20's or 30's, don't remember the exact value, marked in it, legend had it (falsely) that it had never gone out. Homer wasn't fussy, they'd burn anything -- apple crates, tree trimmings -- and shovel the embers into the smoke "house" -- a shed with two walls, about 8 x 12, bed of coals under a grill, a piece of corrugated iron hinged at the back and height controlled by a rope over a pulley to the smoke master who sat right there, raised and lowered it to maintain the proper effect. He also had a plastic squirt bottle of water, same point. He sat there, being smoked with the pork, from dawn. I'm sure he had to be replaced every two years when his lungs were totally blackened.

                        The only choice was which sauce: Mild, medium, or liquid fire hot. I was advised before my first visit to not ask for the mild, Homer would curl his lip slightly with a little smile that said, "White folk don't know shit about barbeque." Ended up with half medium, half hot, extra sauce, please, so I could sop it up with the four slices of white bread that came with. (Soppin': Something done only in the South. It's not dipping, it's not wetting, it's . . . soppin'.)

                        It burnt down mysteriously one night, in the late 60s or early 70s I believe, some think the neighbors finally got tired of being smoked. Never rebuilt. Another -- I was told it was his son, but cannot verify that -- opened a "Dixie Pig" storefront near Ft. Meade, ribs smoked elsewhere and brought in. Tried it. Once was plenty. Ribs were almost inedibly fatty, not slow smoked, just cooked, badly, etc., etc. If Homer's was 10/10, his was at most 2/10. Didn't last, nor should it.

                        I've had a lot of great barbeque elsewhere, including Clarksdale, MS, and famous joints in Memphis, Atlanta, the Everett&Jones' sisters' places in Oakland, Flynt's in Berkeley . . . but my memory of the Dixie Pig is now a matter of faith, it will never be equalled. Never.