Friday, August 7, 2015

Black-Eyed Pig BBQ Review (Naples, FL) 

Black-Eyed Pig's Website & Facebook & Yelp

For today's lunch, I stopped by the Black-Eyed Pig, a small BBQ place tucked away in a warehouse area. Looking about the size of mobile home, it's comes off as a mix of an Austin BBQ trailer and a local diner - complete with lots of piggy's that decorate the place. (Mildly amused by the hog's head mounted on one end, especially.) The strong smell of wood smoke is present in the whole place and their box smoker is visible out back.

The staff here was very friendly here, and were helpful in answering questions. Unlike other places I have tried so far, they use hickory for their cooking.* Hickory, I'm told, is strong and ideal for smoking pork, and the Black-Eyed Pig takes pride in their pulled pork and secondly the pork ribs (large and baby-back) . They also serve turkey, sausage, beef brisket, smoked chicken wings, and sandwiches (the smoked bacon sandwich looks particularly good).  I went with the black-eyed sampler to try the pulled pork, large pork ribs, sausage, and beef brisket. 
Sausage: The casing looked like it was over done and there was no snap; it was hard. Despite this, the meat crumbles well and there's a spicy, smoky taste, but the problem is it was too dry and sauce didn't help much.
(When I mentioned this to my waitress , she did apologize and mentioned that they had trouble with cooking it that day. It was a slow day, so my guess is they thought it wouldn't get much demand.) In any case, it just wasn't that great. 3.0/10.

Beef Brisket: The brisket comes out a little tough and dry, but it is helped by having a good smoke flavor once it is in your mouth. Black-Eyed Pig also makes it own home-made sauce (it and all their recipes are from an Oklahoma tradition), and the brisket is definitely helped by it, as it mixes well with the smoke to be more peppery.  Without sauce: 5.0/10; with sauce: 6.5 out of 10. 
Pork Ribs: The ribs can be served either dry or wet-rubbed, so I try some of both. The pork ribs have a nice, crisp bark and that hickory flavor is strongest here. There's a mixture of smoke and charcoal flavors that comes off a little bitter; the wet works better here - it gives it a more tangy flavor. Beyond the bark, the meat remains tender and melts well; the smoke flavor  carries well from outside  to the inside despite the how strong it is. 7.0/10.
Pulled Pork: It's easy to see why the folks at Black-Eyed Pig take pride in it; it is their best! The meat is light and moist; it almost melts as you chew and the smoke comes as a strong aftertaste that doesn't overwhelm. I tried some of it with their sauce and found it to be slightly sweeter. I can't say it was better or worse; just a different taste that I liked: With or without sauce,  I would give it  a 9.5/10.

*(Tom's comment: A mistake many make is thinking that more is better. Too much smoke (especially a strong smoke) can leave a bitter aftertaste. It's easy to overdo the smoke with hickory.)*
Is it worth a visit? Yes. It's a cozy place to sit at the counter for some good BBQ  or a sandwich. I didn't even get into the sides, which were good too. 
Is it worth a trip? Probably not. If you really like pulled pork, you might find it great. That's about it.

Overall, pork is their strong point and there's a certain charm to the place (as the picture above says:  "It's all about the pork, baby!") . Stick to that meat and be aware that there's a strong flavor in the smoke you may find aggressive and bitter.   


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