1201 First Street, Coronado
Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q location at Coronado Ferry Landing means it’s teeming with tourists at times. Because the place is in a prime real estate spot, it suffers from a reverse snobbery among barbecue buffs. There is a myth among the smoker set that the best barbecue spots are located in lousy locations.
But Lil’ Piggy’s does good ‘cue and its location on a nice little beach is a plus.
LIl’ Piggy’s prides itself on being one of the few barbecue joints in the area with its own smoker. The brisket, ribs and pork are usually smoked between seven and eight hours, while the chicken is smoked between two and three hours. The smoked sausage is placed on a grill.
I checked out Lil’ Piggy’s with my family on Memorial Day weekend. My son loved his ribs. He’s eight, and the small order we purchased contained four bones and a side. It cost $11.99, which was a little steep considering the amount of food. The ribs looked good, but he sucked them down to the bones in less than five minutes — before I could try them.
My daughter got a pulled pork sandwich. She loved it, but the parts that I tasted seemed a little dry without the sauce. She liked the cole slaw on it, which added a creamy but acidic taste. The potato salad also got her thumbs-up.
The sauce is tangy Memphis-style and complements the food in the proper way. There is a hotter version made with mango-habanero that I liked better.
I ordered the Pig Out Platter, which has three meats and two sides for $23.99. I ordered the brisket, which l melted in my mouth as I ate it, and enjoyed the mop that is served especially with it. It’s a thinner, more vinegary version of the house sauce.
For my other two meats, I tried the chicken and sausage on the recommendation of my waitress.
Those were the best items I had. The chicken was smoky, tender, and matched up with the sauce nicely. The sausage was alternately sweet and spicy, and went well with the beans.
A few words about the beans: a lot of barbecue places will drown their beans in the house sauce. Lil’ Piggy’s doesn’t do that, but the beans are flavored with many of the spices in the sauce. The beans were hearty and meaty but not excessively sweet.
Beer lovers can find something to enjoy at Lil’ Piggy’s as long as they like bottles. There are 100 beers for sale, all of them in bottle form. Since I was in Coronado, I had the Coronado Brewing Company’s Orange Wit beer, which is a good beer with food.
My wife is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy and she was a good sport.
Barbecue spots weren’t made for vegans. She did like the fried pickles, which come with a tangy mustard dipping sauce. She also liked the house salad, especially the addition of corn and jicama.
The corn fritters also got high marks from my family, and the kids enjoyed the cinnamon honey butter that comes with it. They took some of it home and used it on pancakes the next day.
Barbecue, which started out as peasant food, isn’t cheap anymore, but Lil’ Piggy’s does a good job in a beautiful setting. We take out-of-towners to Ferry Landing so they can take photos of the San Diego skyline.
It’s definitely worth eating if you’re on Coronado, but it’s a better deal to buy the bigger orders and split them rather than everyone getting single meals. My Pig Out Platter lasted a few meals even though I ate half of it at the restaurant.