As a North Carolina native, I am a sucker for all things pig – bacon, belly, cracklin's and chops. I'm pretty sure BBQ is in my DNA, which is why I find myself regularly drawn to the restaurant in Chapel Hill simply called The Pig.
Owned by former Lantern/Neal's Deli employee and UNC alum Sam Suchoff, The Pig is dedicated to local sourcing and whole hog barbecue. This isn't your average bbq joint. In addition to their many artisanal meat offerings, The Pig has a wide selection of vegetarian options and innovative side dishes. I think their website says it best:
"Working with the NC Natural Hog Grower's Association and their antibiotic and hormone-free, pasture-raised piggies to bring regional flavors and local ingredients to the party in your tummy."
The Location: Next to Bagels on the Hill on Weaver Dairy Road, there is a fun metal pig sculpture in front of The Pig. The interior is bare bones with bright yellow laminate tables and not much else. It's counter service with an ever-changing chalkboard menu. There is a cooler with a decent selection of bottle beers.
For this review, I went with a classic bbq sandwich which came with housemade slaw and sweet pickles. The classic shredded pork was richly smoked, studded with bits of that beloved and much-coveted crispy edge and perfect when topped off with a splash of the Pig's housemade vinegar sauce.
I also ordered a side of okra. I consider myself to be somewhat of an okra devotee with pretty high standards. When it comes to the Southern staple, The Pig's okra wowed me. It is a large sharable bowl filled with perfectly fried okra that has been tossed with (I'm guessing) the same spicy sweet rub Suchoff uses on his meats.
I was also able to sample The Pig's collards (rich with a deep potlicker juice and shards of shredded pork), the sprouts and shrooms (caramelized, crispy brussel sprouts and button mushrooms) and the mashed potatoes (skin-on, creamy potatoes topped with a spicy cream gravy). All were excellent.
A popular choice on The Pig's menu is the Carolina Po-Boy, which is a genius combination of bbq pork, pimento cheese and collards on a hoagie roll. It's huge and on my list of must-eats in Chapel Hill.
The Pig's dessert menu has Southern classics like banana pudding, red velvet cake, coconut cake and an intriguing fried moon pie.
The Service: Casual, friendly counter service that matches the laid back décor of The Pig.
The Bill: A pork sandwich with an added okra side and tea was just over $10.
The Verdict: The Pig is a refreshing take on the traditional NC BBQ joint with innovative twists on classic offerings and a dedication to local, sustainable sourcing and the craft of smoked meat.
Chris Rhyne Reid is a North Carolina native with a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A copywriter by day, she pursues her love of all things edible in her spare time. She writes for Durham-based food blog Carpe Durham.