The Dirty Pig, Key West, Florida

”What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

How can one resist a barbecue place named the Dirty Pig?  The name fairly dances off the tongue, evokes visions of succulent pork, and puts a song in your heart.  The name became even more enchanting when I learned that Michael had gone by the day before and saw stacks of hardwood, slightly obscured by the smoke from the large cooker.  So off we all went — Nancy and I, Sue and David (our co-grandparents), Michael and Liza, and Ella and Lily.

As we approached, I saw two chimney-style starters, a good indication that the smoker was all wood, and not gas-assisted.

dirty pig smoker

As we entered, we saw that the Dirty Pig is a music as well as a barbecue venue.

dirty pg stage

There are lots of posters and autographed album covers, and the ceiling is hung with old LPs, something that is known to keep beautiful girls in a good mood.

dirty pig lily

It’s a pleasant, roomy place, and looks like a good music venue.

I started with an appetizer of Fried Mac and Cheese Bites for the table.  They came with ranch dressing.

dirty pig fried

I hadn’t had fried macaroni and cheese since the Rocket Drive-In in Jacksonville, Alabama, in 2013.  I enjoyed them at the Rocket, but you don’t see them that often, which is probably  just as well.  They’re one of those things like Crown Burgers and corn dog bites that are what I call “occasional foods.”

The Dirty Pig’s version of fried macaroni and cheese was pretty good.  They have a very good macaroni and cheese there, but they add a very light amount of Italian seasoning that doesn’t really help.  Ella enjoyed them with the ranch dressing, but I think she was actually doing a lot of double-dipping, as is the wont of 2 1/2 years olds, and skipping the actual macaroni and cheese.

I ordered an “N.C. Pulled Pork Sandwich” with the first hints of trepidation
(North Carolina pork is chopped, not pulled), but the promise of homemade Eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce reassured me.  I asked for the slaw on the side, and ordered a local IPA.

dirty pig me

The IPA was pretty good, but the pork was … tired.   As you can see, it was a mix of very small and large chunks.  The East North Carolina vinegar sauce apparently was busy elsewhere.  There was a light smoke flavor, but, as I say, it was tired.  The song in my heart shifted to Born to Lose.

Michael, who had the regular pulled pork, thought it might have been cooked the day before.  Indeed.   And I can’t say that the meat was cooked with the attention that good barbecue demands.  David had the brisket sandwich, and gave it a hearty Meh.

The collards were tasty, although the Dirty Pig seems to have seasoned them with barbecue scraps rather than side meat.  Lily liked the bun from my sandwich.  Nancy had a salad with turkey, which came with roasted rather than smoked turkey.

The Dirty Pig may well be a great place to go to hear some music.  For eating, there are a lot of very good seafood places, and you can get a pretty good Cuban sandwich at Kim’s Kuban Cafe  (not Kafe, thank God) or the Havana Cabana’s grill, and, according to no less a source than Al Hudson, a great one at Sandy’s, where I really am going to go on my next trip to Key West.

***

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