Whole Hog Cafe — great barbecue, ho-hum sides
Whole Hog Cafe, located at 5309 Hwy. 5 North in Bryant, features great barbecue, fair-to-middling side items and a few items you might not expect.
Let’s start with the basics. Whole How features a fairly typical array of hickory smoked meats — chicken, pulled pork, pork loin, beef brisket, sausage and dry-rub ribs — that are far better than average. Some barbecue restaurants serve dried out meats that are almost crispy or jerky like in texture, but Whole Hog has barbecue down to a fine art. The meat is juicy, has just enough smoke and is served up in an impressive number of ways (more on that later).
It’s fantastic that Whole Hog has the “meat” part of the equation down because, well, that’s what people focus on when they go to a barbecue restaurant. Yes, the emphasis here is on the meat and that becomes very obvious when looking at the selection of side items available. I’ll go ahead and list the sides even though you probably know exactly what they are — baked beans, chips, coleslaw, French fries, potato salad and a side salad. The only real surprise in that bunch is the side salad as the rest of the items are pretty well standard issue. They’re made well enough, but this restaurant isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of side items, is it? There may one day be a revolution in terms of sides offered at barbecue restaurants, but rest assured that Whole Hog probably won’t be leading it.
But, again, that’s OK because how many restaurants are known for great sides, anyway? The emphasis here is on barbecue and Whole Hog serves that up with style. Want a traditional barbecue sandwich? No problem and you can get a jumbo one if you’re really hungry. Want coleslaw on that? Sure, you can have that, too. And, let’s not forget about the sauces. While most places might offer two or three sauces, Whole Hog offers seven that ought to cover every taste out there. The available sauces as described on the Whole Hog menu are:
* Sauce No. 1 — classic barbecue sauce; sweet & mild
* Sauce No. 2 — tangy tomato; smooth, sweet, and slightly spicy
* Sauce No. 3 — same as #2, but spicier
* Sauce No. 4 –traditional Southern vinegar & spice
* Sauce No. 5 — sweet, dark, & bold molasses flavor
* Sauce No. 6 — rich mustard & vinegar; an Old South favorite
* Volcano — the name says it all. Eat at your own risk!
By the way, the Volcano sauce is hidden away behind the counter at Whole Hog, so be sure to ask for it if you want it.
If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, you’re in luck as Whole Hog has plenty to offer. Why not pick up a plate featuring meat, two ho-hum sides and a roll? Or, if you want something really different, there’s the barbecue nachos — enough chips, nacho cheese and your choice of meat to beat your hunger into submission. Other choices include a barbecue salad and a stuffed baked potato — your choice of meat is available on both, of course.
As you might expect, there’s a decent selection of domestic and imported beers available as well as soft drinks (all Coca-Cola brands). As you might not expect, there are some wines available, too.
Oh, and if you’re in a hurry, pick up some bulk meat or a “buddy pack” that serves up to 32 people.
If you’re in the mood for barbecue, it’s really hard to go wrong with Whole Hog here in Saline County. You’ve got some great barbecue and reasonable prices — you can get a full meal for $10 per person or Click here to see the menu.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.