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Oct 8, 2012 08:51 AM

Finally! Righteous Q in the South Bay [Smoking Pig, San Jose]

And to think it only took 30 years for me to find it.

If you are in the mood for smoked meats, forget any other place in the region and get thee to The Smoking Pig on 4th Street in San Jose. Totally kickass!

Having had so much totally crappy brisket in California as both a 2-time resident and a visitor, I asked my waitress for a taste, from the wet end, before ordering. I could tell by looking at the small slice she brought me that I had found the right place.

EVERYTHING is homemade and superb. I went with a brisket and hot links plate. The 2 links were huge and nicely spiced. Both the traditional sweet red and mustard sauces were spot on. Same for the cooked greens and cole slaw.

And I could not resist ordering Wolf Turds when I saw them on the menu. Whole jalapeƱos, stuffed with a ground sausage and cheese mixture, wrapped in a slice of bacon and smoked. Way yummy... only thing missing was a ranch-style sauce for dipping.

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  1. Most of the reports here are that Smoking Pig is average at best. My best Texas BBQ source tried it and answered "meh". In my try, I thought the fatty brisket was pretty danged good, but other items aren't worth the trip.

    Where in Texas do you like? What other south bay places do you compare against?

    How did you find Smoking Pig compared to Trail Dust in Morgan Hill?

    7 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow

      I thought it was above average for the Bay Area.

      Haven't tried Trail Dust.

      This was the only thread on Smoking Pig I could find. It has the report on my visit. Agree that the fatty brisket was the best meat I had there.

      1. re: drewskiSF

        Other, longer threads mentioning Smoking Pig:
        (epic 220-ish spanning 4 years


        A BBQ thread with a passing mention:

        Again, my personal opinion on Smoking Pig was the fatty brisket was good and everything else - like the sauce and links - was close to mediocre. There was one of the meats I didn't eat at all --- I think it was the chicken.

        I ate BBQ this past weekend at Salinas City, and find it's a sister to Trail Dust. Nice. I had oak roast tri-tip in the Santa Ynez valley, which was very swank - amazing smoke taste - but by a guy who used to own a restaurant, not at a restaurant itself, so it doesn't count as restaurant chow.

        I'm feeling back in the BBQ mood - any recent reports of the San Carlos places, Emergency or Mac's?

        1. re: bbulkow

          Actually, I remember now what I actively disliked at Smoking Pig. It was the pulled pork. Stringy and flavorless. Smothered in sauce it wasn't even edible. Go for the brisket.

          1. re: bbulkow

            Sounds like they've changed things up.

            Currently, nothing comes sauced at Smoking Pig and you have squeeze bottles of various sauces on your table.

            Or are you saying you had to smother it because it sucked so bad? The day I got it, the pulled pork was a little dry, but had good flavors from the smoke & rub.

            Pic is pulled pork & brisket. The pulled pork had a dusting of rub.

            1. re: drewskiSF

              I had to smother the pulled pork because it tasted bad.
              And that didn't help because the sauces sucked too.
              But the brisket was good.

              That is, I was curious about the sauces (from my oaktown flint's days, I like a good sauce), but the sauce was thin and tasteless.

              Still looking for reports on the San Carlos places.

      2. re: bbulkow

        Actually, I think you'll find that most reports here say that Smoking Pig is about as good as you can get in the Bay Area. It's no Black's or anything but it's better than anything else I've tried in Santa Clara County, with the exception of Trail Dust. I've only been to Trail Dust for lunch, though, and they don't do brisket.


        1. re: mdg

          Amen on Black's! My favorite brisket by a longshot, with Louie Mueller coming in second.

          I enjoyed everything I ate... sides were generous and tasty (especially the cole slaw) and the hot links were nice and firm and spicy.

          Interestingly, the Smoking Pig manager told me about Trail Dust. Says his wife will only eat Q there.

      3. Had dinner here last week. I have to agree with both sides in this thread: it is definitely above average for the Bay Area, but it's all down to the brisket.

        Friends had brisket, ribs and pulled pork, I had a fatty brisket and links combo. While everything was fine -- I didn't try the pork, but I had a bite of everything else -- it's the brisket that will make me go back. The end pieces...they're delicious!

        Food aside, it's very homey, and blues band Bleu from Santa Cruz were kicking up a storm. Owner Paul, who is just the nicest guy ever, even sat in for a song with his gold top. Service was incredibly friendly.

        I'll be back for brisket.

        1. I admire Smoking Pig, because we've watched them evolve from paper plates, and very-little interior-wise, to a packed parking lot and hundreds of reviews on Yelp. Congrats to them. The location wasn't the best, and sometimes heeded as "jinxed," (past business was a taqueria that wasn't doing so well) but Smoking Pig has really become a flagship for bbq downtown in the past year.

          While I don't prefer the brisket, if you're craving pulled pork sandwiches this is the best, homemade version you can get around here. The chicken is also smoked and treated more like a meat, it's not delicate but has a more robust bouquet.

          If you're here you have to try the macaroni and cheese (which has chunks of pulled pork) and the collard greens...which is one of the most addicting dishes I've ever tried. Spicy and smoky...pairs great with the meat.

          I'm happy to see Smoking Pig doing well and thriving.

          1. The Tribune reports that Smoking Pig is expanding to a former Hooters in Fremont, hoping to open in the fall.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Pius Avocado III

              Passed by the new joint on Friday afternoon and it looked like it's either open or about to open. Unfortunately I wasn't the one driving, so I couldn't stop to check.

              1. re: stravaigint

                I'm following them on FB and it'll be sometime in March before they open.

                1. re: hhc

                  Opening tomorrow according to their twitter account:

                  "Big news! Wednesday at 11:00am Smoking Pig BBQ Company Fremont will FINALLY OPEN. Soft opening, but OPEN!"

                  3340 Mowry Ave, Fremont, California 94538

            2. William brought me ribs and fatty brisket tonight. The fatty brisket's quite good, open-textured marbling, tender, good balance of smoke and rub, and most importantly, not dry. The bite of two different spareribs were too mushy/overcooked for me, also an out of place sweetness. Sauce is on the side and I didn't try any of them.

              Favorite of the sides turned out to be the collard greens, in big leafy pieces and studded with smoked meat. Mac and cheese is pretty good, flecked with fatty pork. Not crazy about the slaw, again too sweet and not enough acidic lift. And finally, I like the moist yet gritty and slightly sweet corn muffins a lot.