Georgia Pig's more than 58 years in its location along State Road 7 and Davie Boulevard have made it the grand ol' dame of Broward County barbecue. The restaurant, founded by Georgia natives Frances and Linton Anderson and now owned by their son Wayne, recently garnered a nod in Southern Living's May issue for being one of the 20 best barbecue spots in the South – the only place in Florida mentioned. Like other renowned but lowbrow spots such as Hollywood's Le Tub and Fort Lauderdale's Floridian, Georgia Pig often appears in magazine roundups and travel guides, yet generates a hearty debate among locals.
The pork sandwich on which the restaurant's reputation is built is indeed a delicious, noteworthy concoction. However, when sampling the rest of the menu, we found the heady accolades about the restaurant to be hyperbole. We did have an enjoyable visit, despite Georgia Pig's no-frills approach – especially at the price. If you're not a vegetarian, not bothered by paying cash only and think air-conditioned bathrooms are overrated, then read on.
Driving along State Road 7, we nearly shot past the plain, white-and-brown cinder-block building located amid the auto-repair shops and fast-food restaurants. When you enter "the Pig," you feel as if you've taken a time machine to the 1950s. The walls have dark-wood paneling, a neon-red sign with a cartoon pig, plaid curtains and decades of appreciative plaques from youth sports teams. Near the front door is a vintage wood and glass case with anthropomorphic porcelain pigs. A brick meat pit is along the southern wall and just behind the countertop. An enormous jukebox is loaded with '80s and '90s country music, two gumball machines and an old scale that accepts pennies.
We started with a couple of solid bowls of chili and Brunswick stew ($4 each). The thick stew is heavy on ground-up meat, with plenty of spice and a pronounced green-bean flavor. The chili has a similar consistency, with a meatier flavor than the stew while going easy on the beans and tomato.
From there, the daily list of sides is limited, forgoing many barbecue-joint staples. You won't be getting any baked beans, cornbread, mac and cheese, corn on the cob or collared greens, unless it's that day's vegetable special. However, you can always get sliced tomatoes ($2), French fries, potato salad, macaroni salad or coleslaw ($1.50 each). You'll do well to try the cold sides, such as the sweet, light-tasting coleslaw, which left everyone at our table scraping the bowl. The macaroni salad, served creamy with a sweet finish, also drew praise.
The Pig's signature, powerful mustard sauce is similar to the South Carolina style of barbecue sauce. It's poured atop most of the barbecue dishes here, so consider yourself warned if mustard is not your thing. The only other option is hot sauce. We would have liked at least one more conventional choice.
Spare ribs ($13 with two sides) were generously portioned and tender, a rarity at inexpensive barbecue eateries. Once we blotted off some of the distracting sauce, we were sucking the bones for every bit of meat. A generous helping of quarter chicken ($11), meanwhile, was dry and oversmoked.
We ordered a combination platter of sliced barbecue pork and beef ($13). The beef was a hit -- sliced nearly deli thin and loaded with juiciness. The pork was decent, but didn't hold a candle to Georgia Pig's beloved pork sandwich ($5.50). While it's served on a conventional bun, this is one of the better pork sandwiches we've experienced. The mustard sauce that tasted awkward with the chicken and spare ribs balanced perfectly when blended with the strong taste of the tender, juicy pork. This is indeed the sandwich that puts Georgia Pig on the map.
As stalwart restaurant reviewers, we are usually obliged to try dessert, even when we suspect it will be uninteresting.
Boy, were we wrong.
Georgia Pig offers a dynamite set of homemade pies ($3.50 a slice), including pecan pie, chocolate cream pie and Key lime pie. It also sells store-bought pies, including apple and blueberry. Like a good Southern place, the Pig offers a wad of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream for 75 cents.
The succulent pecan pie is has just the right amount of pecans and gooiness. Chocolate cream pie was fluffy and pleasant, though still upstaged by its fellow pies. While I confess to generally loathing coconut desserts, the coconut cream pie charmed me. It has a highly whipped, airy texture and a rich filling that had us rolling our eyes with happiness.
Waddling out with our bellies full of pork and pie, we realized that even though we hadn't reached barbecue nirvana, we weren't that far away from it, either.
1285 S. State Rd 7, Fort Lauderdale
Credit cards: Not accepted
Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday
Sound level: Moderate
Outside smoking: No
For kids: Highchairs, kids' menu
Wheelchair accessible: Yes