Saturday, June 30, 2012

Smok' n Pig, Macon, GA

The Smok' n Pig, Macon, GA. "Peace, Love, and the Smok' n Pig! OK, this blog may well "shuck a few things down to the cob". Being a Macon native, I guess I feel a bit like I can just say it like I see it. I grew up in Macon through some of the most tumultuous times in its history. We had the Allman Brothers Band, Machine Gun Ronnie Thompson as Mayor, the smell of the paper mill, educational desegregation, local governmental corruption, and the completion of the Macon Mall in the mid 1970's. As I see it, it was the survival of the fittest. Macon was not really a great place to live based on my experience and though my mother and sister continue to live there, I have never felt inclined to return to this beautiful and historical city. Honestly, Macon and Bibb County has never emerged to be the true jewel that it could be in my opinion. I continue to believe that the best thing that Warner Robins and Houston County have going for them is that they are right beside Macon. One thing that Macon has, though, that sets them apart from pretty much the rest of the state is some of the dang best barbecue joints you can find anywhere. The Q joints in Macon run gamut too! You've got the historic and phenomenal Finchers, Satterfields, JL's, Fresh Air, Georgia Bob's, and now.... OMG, The Smok' n Pig!!! Oh my! The Smok' n Pig's first location was in Valdosta. When our daughter Laura was a student at VSU I had my first taste of the Pig. The owners, as I understand it, had been in the food business for a number of years with their "Ole Times Country Buffet" business in south Georgia. I was blown away with the Valdosta location when we first ate there perhaps four years ago. The Valdosta location of the Pig had me saying that it was the best bbq joint in true south Georgia. I still feel that way. In fact, Smok'n Pig has been voted in the the top 10 bbq joints in the country, and you won't get any disagreement from me! When I got word that they had recently opened a location in Macon, I was like major thrilled!!! I began the machinations of "how can I get by there as quickly as I can and not make it appear that the only reason that I am going to Macon from north Georgia is to eat bbq?" Of course, I agreed to drive Debbie down to Macon to visit with our great friend Evelyn Ann Turner, and then I would go get my mother and take her out to eat bbq of course. It worked like a charm!!! So, daughter Laura and I dropped Debbie off to visit with the girls, and we drove over to pick up my mother. We wasted no time helping her into the car and drove over to the old Macon Mall where the Pig is located. I really didn't know what to expect as I didn't know if it was in the mall or a stand alone or what. The old Macon Mall has seen its better days, and a number of the stores have shut down. Believe me, though, the Pig is going to help reverse that trend. They've taken what must have been at least 7 of the smaller store areas and opened them up into what is honestly the largest bbq joint I've ever been in. I"m guessing you could seat 300 folks in this place easily. The good thing is they've done it up nicely on both the outside and and inside. The outside, as you can tell by the picture, is done up in faux log decor with some bbq markings. The inside is even done better. The place is clean, and I mean really clean. I was really surprised and impressed. The owners of this place know the food business and they know customer service. We were seated quickly, we had a nice friendly waitress named Morgan who attended to our ever need except for wiping our faces with the roll of paper towels on the table. We ordered our food and it was, just like Morgan told us it would be, out in just a few minutes. All of us pigged out on the pork sandwich. Laura got hers with slaw on it along with fried (knock your socks off) okra and baked beans. Gigy got the sandwich, slaw, and sweet potato stuff! (I still can't spell souffle!) I had to get the sandwich along with an order of Brunswick stew and okra. Oh my....what a moment. The portion sizes, except for the stew, were above average. The appearance of the food (I think they call that "presentation") was excellent right there on that red and white checkered piece of paper lining the basket! I am serious, this was good all the way around!!! Let me start with the okra. Now I like doing fried okra just about as much as I do eating bbq. I've had good and I've had bad. The okra was pretty awesome. I don't quite give it a 5 on the 5 point scale, but it isn't far from it. The stew, though the portion size was a bit small, is a really good stew with a nice mix of pork, whole kernel corn, English peas, tomatoes, onions and whatever else they have in it. As with the okra, I can't say it was the absolute best I've ever had, but it would suffice for my last meal on earth if it came down to it. Now, the bbq was divine. If you've read a few of my blogs you know I usually try to be generous but if it is bad, I'll shoot straight with you. If it is good, I'll ring the bell!!! Folks, Smok'n Pig is a bell ringer for sure. Portion sized was awesome. The bbq was clean. The meat was pulled compared to being chopped to smitherines like a few places do it, and the sauce was on the side. Thank you Pig!!! OK, on the 5 point scale.....5. All the way around, this is good bbq. No pun intended, but me, mom, and Laura pigged out. It was truly "pig-a-licious"!!! We finished our meals and I paid up and got out of there without feeling like I'd been held up or robbed despite the fact that I was at the Macon Mall!!!! For those who don't know, the Macon Mall is not necessarily a low crime area, but it sure beats "the Peach Orchard" part of town! My Macon friends recognize that the old mall is really a suburb of "bird city", but I'll leave that to you to figure out. I was so thrilled with our experience, as I left I purchased 6 bottles of their sauce including some of their Southern Mustard, Hot'n Spicy, as well as Original flavors. Their sauces are among the best I've ever had. Chances are if you are one of bbq buddies you'll probably end up with one of these bottles as a gift in the near future! I was even in such a happy mood that I shelled out 12 bucks for a tie died t shirt that proclaimed "Peace, Love, and The Smok'n Pig" and gave it to Laura. I loved the shirt but figured the tie died format probably didn't do much for my masculinity! I've got to wrap this blog up, the Smok'n Pig is for real. This joint, though it really doesn't qualify as a joint, is going to put someone in the food business out of business. There were way too many old folks and people in uniform that were at this place on this day, and Pig folks have a really proven business model. The bottom line is the Smok'n Pig gets a 5 out of 5. The worst thing about it is if you are not in the Macon Mall area you've just got to face the task of getting to that part of town. Otherwise, you are fully blessed being in Macon because you can get good barbecue whatever side of Macon you are on with what I will proclaim as "Macon, the BBQ Capitol of Georgia!!!"