En garde! Our dueling diners love each other when they’re not reviewing restaurants, but when the meal comes, their flaws are totally game
When I knew we were heading to Piggly’s Smokehouse to get barbeque for this review, I knew Andrew would be in hog heaven.
Well, when you think about it, Piggly’s is more like hog hell. The delicious smell of smoked meats taunts any animal within a mile of the area and prohibits vegans from coming within 100 yards of the building. (The risk of accidentally inhaling impossible-to-resist wafts of juicy animal is too high!)
And considering owner Janine used to roast full pigs on the spit in the center of the Mesa restaurant, I’m pretty sure that’s the literal vision of hog hell. (P.S., they don’t do that anymore, but they do roast slabs of beef! No faces, you see.)
But Andrew is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and at Piggly’s, that’s about 95 percent of the entire menu. A child at heart and at palate, he was thrilled to see there were paper-lined tables and accompanying crayons. After I drew a weeping pig with a speech bubble that said “I’m delicious…,” we got down to brass tacks. (RIP, piggies.)
To start, we ordered four of the cilantro garlic wings. (Only four, because we’re watching our figures, of course.) Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, these flavorful little nuggets were a good start to the meal. Plus, they weren’t drenched in sauce, which means I didn’t get any sauce in my hair. Score one for ‘ol Chrissy.
Our server told us about the Wednesday special—an all-you-can-eat meal of chicken fried steak, potatoes and a salad bar for $9.99. Andrew’s eyes lit up for a second until his little peepers met mine. “No,” I told him firmly, using only eye contact. “You’re not an animal.”
So instead he opted for the moist beef brisket. Super smoky, the brisket was like cutting through soft butter. Paired with mac and cheese and some super flavorful red smashed potatoes, Andrew’s selection was probably the win of the night. Again. And I’m sad to admit it.
I ordered up the mushroom Swiss burger with a side of cole slaw that puts the colonel to shame. Fully decadent with creamy, melted Swiss and robust mushrooms, the burger was seriously juicy. However, watching Andrew wolf down half a smoked cow made me wish I could cut my burger with just a fork. (This sucker is big!)
We really shouldn’t have ordered dessert, according to all basic social norms. After all, we were already full, had a high calorie meal and didn’t really need anything else, but deep fried Oreos were on the menu. Deep fried Oreos, people! It’s a throwback to Piggly’s State Fair roots, and we weren’t about to pass up this opportunity. Cardiac arrest, be damned!
Piggly’s dunks their Oreos in batter and fries them up, then tops them with powdered sugar and syrup. It’s basically guilt on a plate (or 45 minutes of time on the treadmill—not that I’m counting). The Oreos fry up cakey, reducing the crunch but adding an extra element of chocolaty goodness. My heart palpitated with joy—or cholesterol, which is basically the same thing.
This is a simple food review, so we like to keep it light and fun. So let’s talk about the dawn of humanity—A time when we hunted animals to exhaustion, carved them up in our caves and roasted them on a fire. Huddled around the magic hot light, one human named Ogg turns to the next, “Yo, bro. Wouldn’t this wildebeest be killer with a sweet rub and a low-and-slow cook in a smoker?” And then Ogg would be clubbed to death because language had not yet been developed and time travel was highly frowned upon in caveman culture. Poor, sweet Ogg was right though. It would have been way more killer.
Barbeque makes me as happy as a pig in… well, you know. Linen napkins, wine pairings and cheese plates are fine and good, but sometimes you want to sit down at a table with a big piece of parchment paper on it with crayons for the kids and be served copious amounts of comfort food. That in mind, a tear nearly came to my eye when our server dropped off some complimentary cornbread shortly after we sat down. A good sign that you are going to leave satisfied from a barbeque joint is when you’re already eating what is essentially cake as you peruse the rest of the menu.
We started with the garlic cilantro wings. Crispy and sweet, the chicken is fried and then grilled. I am a wing fanatic (so much so that I am legally not allowed to own pet birds), so I was very pleasantly surprised by the subtle cilantro mixed with the bold flavor of a good grilling.
While we waited for our main courses, Christina attempted to draw a sad pig, lamenting its imminent and delicious demise. Unfortunately, Christina is about as good of an artist as she is a food critic, and our server did his best to pretend he was impressed by her crude, pink cat-like creature.
A wave of relief passed over me as our dinner plates were laid in front of us. I could not bear to stare at that abomination of a pig drawing for a second longer. I opted for something a bit more primal—smoked brisket with creamy macaroni and cheese, decadent mashed potatoes and a duo of dinner rolls. And yes, for those of you counting, there have only been two Dueling Diners reviews so far and I have managed to eat some form of macaroni and cheese at both of them.
No knives needed. This brisket was moist, tender and deliciously smoky and the spicy house BBQ sauce made a perfect marriage with the meat. The meal was so good I nearly forgot about the atrocity that Christina had committed on the parchment paper minutes earlier.
The server came by to tempt us with dessert like the serpent in Eden. We turned downed offering after offering until he hissed the words, “deep fried Oreos.” We both perked up. “That. We will eat that.” And it was good.
If you’re not in the mood for gorging and just want to stop by for a drink, Piggly’s offers all day happy hour on Saturday and Sunday. Although really, you should try the brisket. Do it for Ogg.
Piggly’s Smokehouse Restaurant, 1633 S. Stapley Drive, Mesa, 480.707.9009, pigglys.com