Rarely do good things exist in strip malls, even in the south. Whole Hog Cafe & Catering Co. proves that there are exceptions to every rule.
Nestled in a strip mall in Little Rock, Arkansas, Whole Hog is the brainchild of three award-winning BBQ chefs. It's an old-school style BBQ restaurant, where hungry Arkansans (Arkansas-ites?) line up at a counter, place their order, and await their tray full of heavenly BBQ. The restaurant is apparently so popular that it now takes up three storefronts in the local mall. And they go through so much Iced Tea that there are two barrels of both sweet and unsweet sitting on the beverage counter at any given time.
We went for the simple choice -- the Whole "Hawg" Platter, a plate with pulled pork, beef brisket, 3 baby back ribs, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, and a dinner roll. With that combination, we couldn't possibly go wrong. The pulled pork was, by far, the best I've ever tasted. The pork itself was extremely smooth, very flavorful (but not overpowering) and cooked so perfectly that it literally melted when it hit your mouth. The beef brisket, too, was exceptional - finely sliced and well spiced, it complemented the pork and went very well with the sweeter BBQ sauce. The ribs were good but not exceptional. In fact, we decided that they didn't beat the ribs from Lefty's. Which just means that the perfect bbq meal found to date would be a combinaton of pulled pork from Whole Hog and a plate of ribs (and sides) from Lefty's. If only they were in the same geographic region...
Whole Hog offered six different barbecue sauces - several standard sauces, mustard-based sauce, and vinegar-based sauce. I've never been a fan of the mustard sauce, but the sweeter sauce and the vinegar-based sauce were both excellent. In fact, the only less-than-perfect part of the meal were the sides, which were, well, underpowering. But, with meat that good, who wants to waste precious calories eating potatoes or slaw, anyway?
Whole Hog Cafe | 2516 Cantrell Road | Little Rock, Arkansas | 501-664-6596 |