Little Pigs BBQ – Asheville, NC

Name: Little Pigs BBQ
Date: 7/5/19
Address: 384 McDowell Street, Asheville, N.C. 28803
Order: Regular BBQ plate with slaw and beans, broasted chicken thigh (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: Back in the 1960’s, the Memphis-based Little Pigs Barbecue of America chain of restaurants had nearly 100 franchises throughout the southeast. The corporation went bankrupt by 1967, but you can still find independently run locations still open here and there; in NC there are locations in Newton and Statesville and I know Columbia, SC still has one open that Marie, Let’s Eat! loved

And of course there’s this Asheville one. It wasn’t my original plan to try a new Asheville barbecue restaurant on this trip, but Buxton Hall was unexpectedly closed for lunch that day due to some hood system issues so I quickly changed our coordinates towards Little Pigs.

This Asheville location opened in 1963 (the only year that Little Pigs of America apparently turned a profit before shuttering) in an old gas station just north of the Biltmore Estate. It was owned by a husband and wife duo Joe and Peggy Swicegood (from my understanding, not related to Jess Swicegood who helped create the Lexington style of barbecue) until Joe’s death in 2014 at the age of 91. For more of a profile of them, I can’t recommend this Our State article from Jeremy Markovich enough.

With all that history at Little Pigs BBQ, it’s unfortunate that I found my barbecue to be fairly average. Behind the registers at the front counters sit old brick ovens that used to cook the meat but Little Pigs currently uses a gas-assisted wood smoker. You can still get some good product out of gassers, but I didn’t get a lot of smoke in the barbecue, or much flavor to honest. Until I mixed in some slaw and Texas Pete, I found my chopped pork to be quite bland. 

The broasted chicken thigh, on the other hand, was fantastic. If there is a next time, I’ll focus on more of that as opposed to the barbecue. For those curious (and because I just bothered to look it up), broasted chicken is essentially fried chicken that’s cooked in a pressured fryer.

The sides of mayo-based coleslaw, baked beans, and three hush puppies were all standard and not noteworthy in the least.

Little Pigs BBQ is by far the oldest barbecue restaurant in Asheville and for that, its worth a visit but only once you’ve eaten at Buxton Hall or 12 Bones or Luella’s. Try the barbecue but be prepared to get some broasted chicken.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Broasted Chicken – 4.5 hogs 
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs

Little Pigs BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 10/17/18

– A piece on Sam Jones helping out in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence

“Everybody can do some good, not just for hurricane relief but in general. You don’t have to be a cook. You ain’t got to be a millionaire or an orator. … Everybody possesses some type of talent or skill. There is something you can do.”

– The Smoking Ho has some photos from the Woodlands BBQ Festival, where some of Houston’s best barbecue restaurants showed out

– Dallas News staff writer Ben Baby provides an uninformed answer about Texas vs Carolina barbecue in this mailbag column

A: As much as I like the Carolinas and the people it produces (like KAGS-TV’s Matt Trent), this isn’t even up for debate.

Carolina barbecue is essentially all about pulled pork and the sauces. Both are enjoyable. But both of those items exist in Texas.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m a barbecue expert, but I know very few places do brisket as well as us. And there’s nothing like ripping apart marbled, fatty brisket and enjoying it with your meal (if you have some homemade tortillas for the brisket like at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio, it’s a game-changer).

I like Bojangles a lot. I’m sure Cook Out is fine. But when it comes to food from the Carolinas, I draw the line at barbecue.

– Midwood Smokehouse has the best crinkle cut fries in Charlotte, according to Charlotte Agenda

– From last week’s photo, here’s the story behind what Bill Murray actually ate and drank from Midwood Smokehouse

– Hoodline’s list of five best barbecue restaurants in Charlotte is based on Yelp data and contains a korean BBQ restaurant (Let’s Meat) and the just average McKoy’s Smokehouse

– Jim Shahin’s latest is on New Orleans barbecue

– The Eastern Carolina BBQ Throwdown took place this past weekend in Rocky Mount

– This viral marquee sign at Little Pigs in Asheville is fake news

– Here’s what to expect at The Barbecue Festival later this month

– Say what now?

Linkdown: 3/28/18

– Southern Living’s best barbecue joint of 2018 is…a tie between Lexington Barbecue and Southern Soul BBQ.

– I’m sorry, what? A recipe for “NC vegan barbecue”

– Happy Birthday on Monday to Grady’s pitmaster Steve Grady

– Speaking of eastern NC barbecue, Scotty McCreery will definitely be serving some at his wedding in the mountains of NC this summer

“I can tell you barbecue is definitely going to be part of the wedding,” he said. “One of my loves about North Carolina is Eastern North Carolina barbecue, so that will be in the wedding.”

– RIP Joe Swicegood, owner of Little Pigs BBQ in Asheville

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visits the legendary Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous in Memphis and finds that he prefers “Rendezvous style” (dry ribs and mustard slaw) to “Memphis style” (wet ribs and may slaw)

– Thanks to Nobly for including us in their list of 121 Ultimate Food Blogs for 2018!
The Noblys 121 ultimate food blogs for 2018

Linkdown: 9/23/15

– Rodney Scott has influenced Sean Brock. Here’s how:

– The history of smoking with mesquite wood

– Marie, Let’s Eat! makes a quick sojourn to SC and visits Hite’s and Little Pigs in the Columbia area, as well as Dennis’ Bar-B-Q on the way back home

– Washington Post’s glossary of NC barbecue terms and where to eat in NC

– Washington Post’s Jim Shahin: Why North Carolina’s Barbecue Scene is Still Smoldering

North Carolina barbecue is certainly at a crossroads, one that gets to the heart of questions about identity and authenticity, and the survival of pit-smoked pork establishments that eschew the everything-for-everybody approach once seemed unlikely. But Skylight Inn and Lexington Barbecue are on track to maybe prove that prediction wrong. And new places such as Picnic and Buxton Hall are helping spark a resurgence in creativity and respect for heritage that may help revive the scene. North Carolina barbecue might someday be removed from the endangered-species list, after all. I’ll hold off on that autopsy for now.