Where there's smoke there's hog.
  • Where there's smoke there's hog.
  • Image by Andy Boyd
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I visited The Smok'd Hog a couple of years ago when it soft-opened as The Whole Hog. Back then I had a mixed experience at the little BBQ spot at the three-way intersection of Park and Robinson (and Indiana). I praised its smoked pork preparation and flavorful sauces, but complained about the quantity of each. I also hoped the new restaurant would step up its sides game.

The Smok'd Hog

3749 Park Boulevard, Hillcrest

The Smok'd Hog, formerly The Whole Hog.

The Smok'd Hog, formerly The Whole Hog.

As Smok'd Hog, I consider its game raised. The already solid coleslaw gets an optional upgrade to a blue cheese and bacon Coleslaw Royale. Instead of the thin, dried out mac served to me before, they dish up a warm, cheesy cardboard tub of comfort. And the collard greens, stewed with chunks of pork, are the best I've had in San Diego, the bitterness of the greens subsumed by the savory juices. It's a perfect vegetable dish for carnivores.

Clockwise from bottom: ribs, coleslaw, pork belly Reuben, mac'n'cheese, and collard greens.

Clockwise from bottom: ribs, coleslaw, pork belly Reuben, mac'n'cheese, and collard greens.

My favorite addition has been the pork belly Rueben: Braised hunks of belly with sauerkraut and swiss on marble rye. A Portland shop called Bunk Sandwiches offered something similar on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2009, and the idea carries well here for $11.

Hog sauce: tangy, spicy, and sweet.

Hog sauce: tangy, spicy, and sweet.

The Hog only serves ribs on the weekends, and that's where I ran into trouble. When I thought to get some at 1 p.m. on a Saturday, the $13 half rack of St. Louis-cut ribs were tough to chew off the bone. The house "Hog sauce" showed a wonderful balance between tangy, spicy, and sweet, but the meat wanted more time than it got in the smoker.

Sandwich options (when not out) include a Smok'd salmon BLT, pork belly Reuben, chicken torta, and a meatloaf sandwich.

Sandwich options (when not out) include a Smok'd salmon BLT, pork belly Reuben, chicken torta, and a meatloaf sandwich.

Smok'd sandwiches run from $9.50-$12.50.

Smok'd sandwiches run from $9.50-$12.50.

If ribs are your thing, these would be pretty dang good if/when they dial in the fall-off-the-bone tenderness that make ribs worth the effort. Maybe wait until evening hours and hope everything is cooked slow and low all day. Failing that, I'm confident in getting a good meal by loading up on $3-4 sides and hedging my bets with the more reliable sandwich options.

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Comments

ChrisMcAfee Feb. 21, 2017 @ 3:37 p.m.

Hi I am the owner at The Smok'd Hog. I want to to say thank you for your kind words on the food that you enjoyed, and as for the constructive criticism I also want to let you know it is much appreciated. I have been wrestling with the decision of only serving the ribs at dinner time on Saturday and Sunday for quite a while now. Taking your feed back into consideration, I have confidence that only doing ribs at night is the right decision. Once agin thank you for visiting The Smok'd Hog and providing us with honest feed back, I hope next time you're in you will see even more growth in our product.

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Ian Pike Feb. 23, 2017 @ 10:07 a.m.

Good for you, being a gentleman about anything less than categorically glowing praise. Restaurateurs these days are spoiled by the super soft touch of overly friendly press, and they tend to get completely butthurt if anybody says anything other than "OMG so superlative five stars i love it!" A little humility goes a long way, and you'll probably run a better shop for it, too. Warms my heart.

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