Boone’s version of the Pedalin’ Pig (there is another one in nearby Newland, North Carolina) appears to be a converted storefront that sports the aura and atmosphere of the classic barbecue joint. There is plenty of parking out front, next to the large patio area under a big mural just off the west side of the building.
Inside the Pedalin’ Pig’s front door is a substantial bar facing a cement-floored dining area that runs the length of the building. There are a number of four- and six-seated tables together with six to eight booths of similar capacity lining the inside perimeter of the restaurant. Bathrooms are at the rear of the dining area, and are clean if somewhat rudimentary in design.
Walls are wood-paneled and have the usual barbecue joint bric-a-brac adorning them at various intervals around the room. There are also a number of flat-screen televisions in evidence, two of which feature NASCAR and the rest, well, sports of some kind. Despite the crowd, we were able to get a table within five minutes wait, the location of which afforded us a good view of the restaurant’s interior.
Pulled Pork Tacos
As you might have surmised from the restaurant’s moniker, Pedalin’ Pig serves pit-smoked barbecue. Their emphasis is on pork, beef and chicken. The wood smoke used is hickory and nothing else. While the meat is rubbed with their proprietary spice blend prior to the smoking process, Pedalin’ Pig considers barbecue sauce a table condiment.
Two sauces can be found tableside. One being the Eastern Carolina variety: vinegar-based with just some salt, some pepper and a dusting of the house spice blend added. Their second sauce, labeled Piedmont, is tomato and vinegar based, resembling the familiar ketchup and molasses-based Tennessee sauce found on this side of the Appalachians. Pedalin’ Pig also has five other barbecue sauces available on request, including a tangy Alabama White sauce that I’d heard good things about.
After a quick zip through Pedalin’ Pig’s menu, I placed my order for a plate of their pulled pork tacos ($9.95) adding some pickled cucumbers and onions as my one side order. My order was in front of me in about 15 minutes, looking and smelling delicious. Pedalin’ Pig takes two regular flour tortillas, fills them with a substantial quantity of their smoked pulled pork shoulder, and then tops it with an excellent mix of fresh coleslaw that has crispy pork rinds mixed in. Adding to the crunch of the slaw’s cabbage, the pork rinds made a nice, crispy crackle enhancing both the flavor and texture, while my side order of pickled cucumbers and onions added their own delicious note to my taco entrée.
Jerk Chicken Sandwich
The Dieter opted for the Pedalin’ Pig’s chicken sandwich ($9.95) done Caribbean style with jerk spices, a fine pineapple slaw and a good-sized roasted ear of corn as her side dish. Their having the chicken breast marinate for a time in the jerk spices before grilling sets the stage for Pedalin’ Pig’s version of the venerable grilled chicken sandwich.
The real surprise is their pineapple-laced salsa that is used for topping. The pineapple’s mildly acidic tang coupled with its sweetness provides an excellent counterpoint to the spiciness and heat of the jerk spices, the shredded purple cabbage adding a delightful crunch to the mix. Though generous in proportion, the side order of the roasted ear of corn could have been fresher and less starchy in texture. Some extra butter wouldn’t have gone amiss, either.
Pulled Pork Plate
Feeling hungry, the Retiree’s choice was Pedalin’ Pig’s pulled pork plate ($11.95). This tummy topper of a meal is centered around a half-pound pile of Pedalin’ Pig’s pulled pork barbecue that is served up hot and smoky with two side orders and a thick, buttered slice of Texas toast. The Retiree’s side orders were some of Pedalin’ Pig’s excellent coleslaw and a baked sweet potato big as your fist and served with a big dollop of melted butter. Her choice for the barbecue sauce was one from the sauce menu, that being the Honey Chipotle, a sauce of equal parts sweet and spicy, derived from a mixture of honey, roasted chipotle peppers and a proprietary adobo spice blending to heat things up.
Beef Brisket Sandwich
My dining partner’s pick was her usual, the Pedalin’ Pig’s brisket burger ($9.95) served with a side order of the Pig’s fresh-cut French fries and a good-sized kosher dill pickle.
With most restaurants, the competence of the cooks and the kitchen can be determined by the quality of its soups and stocks. With barbecue joints, the determining factor is how well they do beef brisket. The brisket cut is lean, with very little fatty and connective tissue to provide the moisture necessary for proper smoking. The trick therefore is to maintain a proper level of moisture in the meat to allow the smoking process to work its magic. The result you are looking for with beef brisket is meat that is so fork-tender it is falling apart. That is what Pedalin’ Pig stacks on their brisket sandwich, together with sliced tomato, onion and lettuce, the kosher dill pickle adding a sour crunchiness to the whole. The French fries were freshly made and deep-fried in very hot oil so as to be crispy outside, moist and steam on the inside. A very good meal indeed.
The Half Rack of Ribs plate
The Carnivore chose a half-rack of Pedalin’ Pig’s baby back ribs ($14.95)
Together with a bowl of their baked beans, a baseball-sized russet baked potato and a thick slice of Texas toast. It takes a great deal of knowledge and patience to properly smoke a rack of ribs, Baby back ribs from Pedalin’ Pig take a minimum of four to six hours in the smoker, including the intermittent addition of whatever sauce is mopped on during the last two hours. In the Carnivore’s order, the sauce was the tomato-based Piedmont sauce, which he boosted with a squirt or two of their honey-chipotle sauce, adding some additional heat and zing. Our server was kind enough to include a good supply of napkins and a couple of handi-wipes with the Carnivore’s ribs order, my recommending a drop cloth and a hose falling on deaf ears. While the Carnivore’s russet potato was able to deliver several forkfuls of starchy goodness, his side order of baked beans was a disappointment, being too sweet for the Carnivore’s palate.
Evaluation and Recommendation
Pedalin’ Pig is one of the premier barbecue joints serving the Boone high country. Though their smoke source is hickory, their pit masters moderate its use. This in turn gives a delightful smoky flavor that is both light and delectable no matter which cut of meat you choose. The use of their proprietary spicing in moderation means that you will taste both meat and the smoke on your plate, neither being overwhelmed by the spice blend. The kitchen’s attention to detail means that Pedalin’ Pig side orders, while there to support the main course, can stand on their own merits if need be. The Pig’s wait staff is knowledgeable about the restaurant’s smoking and cooking processes, is attentive to their customer’s needs and above all, friendly. Pedalin’ Pig has earned “Recommended” status from the Mystery Diner and the dine-around bunch.
The Pedalin’ Pig BBQ
2968-A Highway 105
Boone, North Carolina
Sun-Wed 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thu-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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Credit cards accepted.