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Porky's Pride

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There are a number of things that are distinctly Southern.  Carrying a good pocket knife, using “sir” and “ma’am”, and understanding that 20,000 people is not a small town.  On the food front there’s seriously sweet tea, collard greens, and fried vegetables.  Down here, barbecue is a food, not an event.  You don’t “have” a barbecue, you “eat” barbecue.  And you eat Southern barbecue with good Southern sides.  One dish that’s more and more finding its way onto barbecue menus is grits.  Nothing screams the South more than smoked pork and a side of creamy, cheesy grits.

When Porky’s Pride is the name of your barbecue restaurant, you’re immediately setting expectations.  I grew up with Porky Pig and all his wild capers with his Looney Tune buds.  My barbecue fetish succeeded my cartoon days, but by then the name Porky was already associated with pigs.  Naming a barbecue restaurant after a character associated with a barbecue ingredient is bold, but the name game pays off here.  Not only was the pulled pork excellent, but I found a gem that I wasn’t even looking for.

The cheese grits at Porky’s are a must-try item.  I’ve had magnificent grits in my time and these surpassed them all.  They’re a course ground version, very similar to, if not actual, McEwen & Sons grits that are stone ground in Wilsonville, AL.  I love the hearty texture that gives and makes them more fun to eat, yet they have a wonderful smoothness.  They’re thick, rich, and loaded with cheese that carries a salty, sweet balance.  I think they use cream cheese with is culinary brilliance.  I would not pass these up if you’re any kind of grits fan, and if you’re not, these may change your mind.

The shoestring fries are also some of the best I’ve had.  I believe they’re hand cut and oil fried in a way that delivers a powerful aroma.  The smell of those fries hitting the table makes them the first target.  The first couple of bites are a hot, salty preparation for easing into the rest of the meal.

The pulled pork glistens on the plate.  Run your fork through it and you’ll see all that delicious juice trapped in the meat.  It’s very tender and has little to no smoky flavor.  The dominant flavor is pork, which is natural.  It’s especially perfect for those that don’t like heavily smoked meat but do enjoy a great barbecue.  Go ahead and use the sauce, which is a tomato base, thin and mildly spiced. It’s gentle on the palate and has a sharp finish.  It complements the pork rather than overpowering it, so use all you want.

There’s a very good spirit at Porky’s Pride.  Everyone that enters is greeted and the servers were very attentive.  The dining room is spacious, and the furniture is comfortable.  I sat near the register and listened as people came in and ordered all sorts of different items off the menu.  Apparently barbecue isn’t the only dish to be excited about.  If you dine in, take some time to browse the alternative band and festival posters that live on the walls.  If you were a child of the ‘90s, or grooved on alternative music, it’ll bring back some good memories.

My stop at Porky’s Pride was the back-half of a double-header.  The afternoon delivered some of the best Texas barbecue I’d ever had.  This place landed an item on the You Gotta Try list and reinforced that there’s nothing better than Alabama style pork barbecue.  A delicious ending to an adventure filled day!

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