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.
3749 Park Boulevard, Hillcrest
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.
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.
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.
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.