I've been seeing advance notice of this new restaurant for a couple of months; it opened quietly last week. The word 'smokehouse' starts me salivating; the name 'Porky's' and the location on the Richmond strip (6300 block, across from Chuy's) made me wonder. I understand the restaurant is owned by the Serranos group.
The artwork on the menu, and presumably on the signage when they get something permanent up, is a cartoon pig surrounded by the words Fat Ribs Fat Beers Fat Butts.
I've seen user reviews on usenet and another restaurant review site that mentioned servers who didn't know what they were doing and the wrong food being served. I went with high hopes but modest expectations; I was disappointed on both counts.
I noted a whiff of smoke in the air as I pulled into the parking lot but never saw any smoke rising from any part of the building; your order is plated up at a serving station in the front of the building which is all gleaming stainless steel; it's a fancy steam table set up. I have no idea where the 'pit' is.
You are seated and a waiter takes your order - unusual for a bbq restaurant. It took me 10 mins to get someone to take an order tho the place was not at all busy. Apparently no one realized they were supposed to be my wait person. My order came exactly as I placed it.
The extensive menu - 4 pages in a binder - is a little confusing. It starts with appetizers - also unusual for a bbq restaurant. There are AYCE specials - $16.95 per person if the whole table orders, $20.95 per person individually. The whole back page is devoted to some interesting sounding desserts ranging from $3.95 to $5.50.
I went with the Pig Pen Platter, a two meat, two sides order, $9.95 on the lunch menu, $10.95 otherwise. Your only choices for meats on this platter are beef brisket, sausage, ham, or turkey breast. I didn't realize until studying the take out menu at home I could have ordered 1 'incredible fat beef rib,' 2-3 pork ribs or 1/4 chicken for $1.95 each. In addition to these meats, a center cut, bone-in pork chop is available for $12.95 and on weekend evenings they will offer smoked prime rib ($14.50 or $18.95) and smoked leg of lamb ($13.95).
The meats on my platter were luke warm, a huge disappointment. The sausage is described as 'Austin Style Custom Sausage;' it tasted for all the world like Hillshire Farms to me. The brisket was both fat and lean cut and very thinly sliced. I noted a deep red 1/4" smoke ring on some pieces of brisket, none at all on others, and there wasn't much smoke flavor.
The sides I chose, 3 seed cole slaw and cucumber-onion salad were well chilled and I liked them.
The sauce, in quart bottles on the table, is a mustard and vinegar based concoction and I liked it; it had more oomph than the similar sauce at Luling City Market and compared favorably to the Oklahoma Joe's sauce you can buy at Academy.
A gentleman sitting in a booth across from my table was having a sandwich - very, very thick - on bread even thicker than Texas toast; I guessed it was a chopped beef sandwich and it look pretty good. Sandwiches are $6.50.
I won't pass final judgment based on one visit; I intend to return to sample the pork chop and blow my low carb diet on one of those desserts and may even brave the partyers on the Strip on a weekend night to try the prime rib. But my first impression is that Porky's is not a very important addition to the local bbq scene for a Q-hound like me, more in competition with Luther's and the other party hang-outs on the Strip than the better quality Q places in town.