Piggy's BBQ - Oink if You Like Pork!

Since my go-to BBQ spot, Shane's Rib Shack, has closed down, I thought I should probably try somewhere new to get my pulled pork fix. Piggy's BBQ has been on my list of places to try for a while, and so I thought I'd grab a few friends and stop on by for lunch.

At first glance, Piggy's is everything you'd want a down-home BBQ place to be. Booths lined with brick walls, paintings of pigs, an assortment of old license plates, a chalkboard menu and that smokey smell coating the air. I couldn't wait to place my order! But upon seeing the cafeteria style way in which the food was served, I had my doubts. There's a reason why cafeteria food gets a bad name - normally because nothing ends up cooked exactly right. Some food is cold, some food is burnt and some food is stale. It's just not an ideal situation.

But I stepped right up and ordered a pulled pork sandwich anyway. The friendly lady behind the counter eagerly scooped up a large portion of pulled pork and slapped it onto a white bun, with much of it falling over the edge and onto the plate. I slid down the line and was asked what side item I would like with my meal. After perusing vats of mac 'n cheese, green beans and potato salad, I went with the safe choice - french fries. I then slid to the end of the line where I was informed that a fountain drink was included in my meal (a nice little surprise) and promptly forked over the plastic payment.

As I grabbed a seat at a booth, I noticed my friends had pretty much followed in my footsteps with their orders. Three of us got the pulled pork, and one decided to spring for the sausage plate. I have to note that the pulled pork is also available on Texas Toast, but unlike the honkin' slices you'd get at Shane's, their Texas Toast is like the size of a small piece of garlic bread that comes with a spaghetti plate. One of my friends got the Texas Toast option, but most of his pulled pork ended up on the plate vs. the toast. For more substantial sandwich bookends, I'd highly recommend the bun.

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due - Piggy's pulled pork is DE-LISH! All of us that got the pulled pork basically scarfed it down. And with 5 sauces to choose from to douse your pork, there seemed to be an option for everybody. I chose the Ss-weet sauce for my sandwich, as I liked the tangy, savory kick that it provided. Honestly, I went back and doused my sandwich about 3 times it was that good! My friends also enjoyed the Ooo'ey Hot sauce (which they said wasn't too hot) and the Spice'ay Musta' was perfect on the Sausage, I was told. Now, back to the pork itself. It was hot and melty and even included those wonderful crusty pieces of "bark" that let you know that the pork was smoked RIGHT (aka: not in a slow cooker). The bark is that crispy outer layer of pork that contains all of the incredible spices from the rub. These pieces are arguably the most flavorful part of the pulled pork, and they were plentiful at Piggy's.

Now, if Piggy's had an area where it could improve - it would be the side items. As mentioned in the beginning, they really suffered from the "cafeteria" effect. Two of my friends got the green beans, but said they were overcooked. Another got the mac 'n cheese and said (and I quote) "It's not the best I've ever had. It was pretty cold, actually." And another thought the potato salad was "too mayonnaise-y." I wasn't thrilled with my fries either. They looked like nothing more than Ore-Ida crinkle cut frozen fries that you can pick up at any supermarket. With a pulled pork this good, I'd rather see a nice seasoned fry - something like Five Guy's Cajun Fries or Black Bean's Island Fries - served as a perfect compliment to the smokiness of the pork. A french fry with a nice spicy kick would really punch that plate up a notch.

And my friend who got the sausage was pleased as well. He added onions and peppers on top and seemed perfectly happy to eat the entire thing. I'm not a big sausage person, so I'll just have to take his word for it!

Don't get me wrong, I left utterly satisfied and in need of a nap, even if my french fries were subpar. Piggy's definitely has something goin' on with their pork. But when you go in, instead of a side dish - maybe you should just ask for extra pork!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmospere - B
Taste - B+ (can't give an A because of the sides)
Presentation - C (but BBQ is always sloppy)
Service - A (there's no table service, but they get you through the line rather quick)
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Piggy's BBQ
1887 Capital Circle NE
Tallahassee FL 32308
Website Link

Piggy's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Hopkins - Everything a Deli Should Be

In my opinion, there are just 3 components that make up a good deli:

  1. Fresh Ingredients
  2. Inventive Combinations
  3. A little bit of chaos
Hopkins Eatery happens to have all three. I don't know how they do it, because they have about a GAZILLION ingredients, but they are all fresh! And I'm talking straight off the vine, fresh from the oven, direct from the farm FRESH. From sweet peppers to toasted walnuts and artichoke hearts to crispy bacon - even alfalfa sprouts and sun dried tomatoes, their ingredients are bananas (oh yeah, and they have those too)! If you're looking for wilted lettuce, sour tomatoes or slimy lunch meat - first of all, who the heck are you?? You need your noggin checked!!! And second of all, you won't find any of that no-good nonsense at Hopkins.

Plus, I absolutely love the creativity that they use to come up with their menu items! Their sandwiches boast names like The Picnic, The Guac, Zorba, Black Bird, The Spin and The Hummer (it's hummus, turkey, feta, black olives, tomato, onion and lettuce served on rye-pumpernickel with mayo and house dressing - so get your minds out of the gutter people!). And their salads include interesting offerings like the Chicken Tetrazzini, Tuna and Tabouli and Walnut Gorgonzola Salads. Heck - even the breads that they serve their sandwiches on are out of the ordinary - things like Poppy Seed Rolls, Onion Rolls and Pumpernickel Rolls are sure to spice up any sandwich! Cause there's nothing worse than a boring ham and cheese on white bread is there, people? No. That's right. No.

Now, I'm sticking to my guns on #3. I've never been to a spectacular deli that wasn't it's own breed of crazy. Stand in this line! Order at the counter! Wait till we call your number! NO substitutions! Fight to grab a seat! Get your own drink! Order up! I love the hectic energy that comes with a packed place hungry for delicious food. Put a different way - if you walk into a deli and no one is screaming - RUN! There's an old truth that there is beauty in chaos, and it's never more apparent than at a superb deli.

At Hopkins, the chaos is as follows: you stand in line, place your order, grab your cup, get your drink, snag a seat, wait for your name to be called, pick up your order and dig in. The slew of names being shouted from behind the counter let you know that you're eating at a place that's in high demand. JAMIE! BOB! DIANE! RYAN! KATIE! CHELSEA! SAM! MARY! BUSTER! (Seriously, whose name is Buster??)

On this day, a friend and I traded the hubub of the office for the hubub of the deli. We both ordered salads - she picked a Mini Chef's Salad with the house Parmesan Italian Dressing and I chose the Hopkins Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing. My friend had the right idea ordering the mini, because their portion sizes are off the charts!!! But I absolutely love the cobb salad, and it only comes in a regular size, so I had to do battle with the enormity of it. I'm not ashamed to admit that it always defeats me, but I always put up a good fight!

Her Chef's Salad included lettuce, tomato, carrots, bell pepper, ham, turkey, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, onion and alfalfa sprouts. I'm sure I don't have to tell you again - but all the ingredients were delightfully crisp and fresh and the homemade Parmesan Italian dressing provided a nice tart and tangy kick. My Cobb Salad was made with lettuce, grilled chicken, crumbled bacon, boiled egg, artichoke hearts, tomato, gorgonzola cheese and croutons (I had them hold the onions). I know most people like to do a Cobb with ranch or blue cheese dressing, but honey mustard is my drug of choice. I think the sweetness of the dressing evens out all the saltiness of the various ingredients in the salad. The crispy bacon and seasoned croutons are my favorite parts of this salad - they provide a bit of flavorful, crunchy texture to the dish. Oh - and the artichoke hearts! You don't see them too often on a Cobb, and I like the little zippiness that they bring.

Please, for your own health, check out Hopkins today! If only to hear your name shouted across the restaurant and feel that little flutter in your stomach from knowing that you're about to consume something ridiculously good. JOHN!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B
Taste - A
Presentation - B+
Service - N/A (there's no table service here)
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Hopkins Eatery
1415 Market Street
Tallahassee FL 32312
Website Link

Hopkins Eatery on Urbanspoon

San Miguel - Simply Authentic or Just Too Simple?

Hubby and I love us some good Mexican food. Tex-mex, Cali-mex, Ameri-mex or just good old fashioned Mexican - we love it all! So, when a neighbor told us that their favorite Mexican restaurant in Tallahassee was San Miguel - a place we had never heard of before, we decided to track it down and give it a try!

Located on Tharpe St, just off of Monroe, it's not necessarily off the beaten path, but it's never really caught my eye. And that's surprising, seeing as how San Miguel makes its home within a bright yellow building across from the Lake Ella CVS. The entrance to the restaurant does not face the street however, which could contribute to it's un-eye-catching-ness. One rule of thumb that hubby and I have is that if the parking lot is empty, or you never see people going in there - it's likely not very good.

But, we had made it this far, and weren't about to back out now. We entered and were seated promptly in a wooden booth, surrounded by wall murals and paintings of the pueblos and scenery of Mexico. As you would expect, we were brought out some chips and salsa and ordered up a couple of margaritas. Let me tell you - their salsa is NO JOKE. This stuff is fire-extinguisher worthy! I was licking the salt off the chips just to ease the burn until our margaritas arrived. And those puppies were nothing to fool around with either! They were truly a tall drink of tequila! After 2 each, hubby and I were feeling significantly fuzzy brained. But hey - that's how I like it.

We also ordered up a side of queso for the chips, because well...we just can't help ourselves. Although the cheese had a nice flavor, it was a bit runny and could have used a bit more thickness in order to really coat the chips. We felt a little bit like we were playing slip and slide with the queso as we tried to keep it on our chips. Let's just say - it's no Morelia's queso.

For our entrees, hubby and I decided to shake things up a bit from our usual fajitas order. He went for the Shrimp Quesadilla and I ordered a Beef Enchilada and Chicken Taco. Each of our meals also came with a side of mexican rice and refried beans. Honestly, we weren't very impressed with any of our entrees. While all of our meats were perfectly cooked, we found it really hard to find flavor among any of the dishes. Again, I found the enchilada sauce to be a bit runny, which just made the tortilla soggy. My chicken taco was made with pulled chicken that, while moist, was not marinated in anything or coated with any spices. The taco simply included chicken, cheese and lettuce and could have benefitted from a sauce with a nice zesty kick. And while hubby's shrimp quesadilla was exactly what you'd expect from a dish with that name - it too, was a bit underwhelming. The shrimp were red, which probably means they were coated in some type of spices - but they didn't really taste like it. I don't know about you - but when I eat mexican, I expect spicy food with flavors that burst in my mouth. Here, the food was so bland, I was bored.

Now, sometimes simple means authentic. Sometimes we, as Americans, decide to add crazy sauces, spices, marinades and toppings that aren't exactly traditionally Mexican. I get that. But simple should still be savory. It should still make you want to groan with its goodness. San Miguel didn't. So if you're looking for flavor, you might want to look elsewhere.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B- (it was clean, but seats were hard)
Taste - C
Presentation - B
Service - B+
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
San Miguel
200 W Tharpe St
Tallahassee FL 32303

San Miguel Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Stinky's Fish Camp - Food that Smells of Success

The initial story of Stinky's Fish Camp in Tallahassee really stunk. After opening a location off Mahan Dr. near the I-10 intersection in mid-Nov 2009, it burned to the ground 18 days later from an electrical fire. I was really excited to try the place out after hearing a lot of great chatter from people who enjoyed the Santa Rosa Beach location. But with the fire happening on December 2nd, and the holidays just around the corner, I had no delusions that I would get to try it anytime soon.

But lo and behold...Stinky's fought back against their fiery fate and re-opened in a temporary location, also on Mahan, across from Costco and Walmart, which, to me, is a much more convenient location. So, I met a friend there for dinner one night recently to check it out. I have to give anybody who takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin' huge props. And with Tallahassee's restaurant scene suffering from frequent closures - the fact that Stinky's has perservered speaks volumes.

Now, because it's a temporary location - I won't be too harsh on the interior, but there isn't much pizazz to speak of. There's a fairly large bar area with a few high-tops and bar stools and a separate dining area with tables and chairs of regular height and a few booths. The tables are covered in brown craft paper, which made me think either things were about to get messy, or they didn't want to invest in nicer tablecloths for the "in-between." All in all it makes you feel as though you're in a high school cafeteria/small town dive. But again, I'm letting them slide because I'm assuming they are spending all the money they have on the rebuild/refurb of their original location.

But I have to be honest, seeing an interior like this, usually has me running in the other direction. The only things keeping me firmly planted in my chair, were the rave reviews I had heard, and some liquid courage from a Pinot Grigio. We perused the menu, and after asking me if it was a "cop out" my friend ordered the Fried Shrimp Basket. I confessed to her that I was actually thinking about doing the same thing - because really, who can screw up fried shrimp? But, in an effort to give you guys more variety in my review, I ordered the Shrimp and Fettuccine Pasta with a Louisiana Hot Cream Sauce. They claimed to use only the freshest ingredients and local seafood, so we clinked our glasses and hoped for the best.

Honestly, we were pleasantly surprised. Everything we had heard about Stinky's was true. The food really does deliver! My pasta was spectacular. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the sauce was a delectable blend of what tasted like a creamy vodka sauce with a slight spicy kick. It was smooth and rich and buttery and oh so savory. And although it was a pasta dish, attention was still paid to the presentation - with the shrimp tails fanned out at the edges of the bowl and a garnish of green onions and parmesan cheese on top. My friend's fried shrimp basket - while a fairly common offering - was also quite tasty. The breading on the shrimp was light and airy with a nice kick of spices included. And the tartar sauce provided a complimentary tang with a special recipe that we couldn't quite put our fingers on. The tartar is a bit more yellow than usual, so I wondered if they put some sort of dijon into the mix. But I can't be sure. The cole slaw was also very nice - creamy and sweet and also looked like it benefitted from some sort of honey mustard because we could see the mustard seeds. It just goes to show that sometimes you can't judge a book by it's (temporary) cover.

I can't wait for the permanent Stinky's Tallahassee location to re-open! I can only imagine what the place would be like in all of it's Fish Camp, quirky, seaside-esque glory. Hopefully an upgraded interior/exterior will give the place the boost it needs to head straight to the heights of the Tallahassee restaurant list!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - C (but again, it is temporary)
Taste - A
Presentation - B+
Service - A
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Stinky's Fish Camp
3550 Mahan Drive
Tallahassee FL 32308

Stinky's Fish Camp on Urbanspoon

Tally Foodie is Leaving Tallahassee

My dear readers - I write this post with a twinge of sadness, for Tally Foodie is leaving Tallahassee. No, you didn't read that wrong - I will be moving out of Tallahassee at the end of July 2010. I have accepted a new job that I am very excited about down in Sarasota. So while I'll still be in sunny FL, I'll no longer be residing in Tallahassee.

So...what does that mean for the blog? I'm not really sure yet. What I DO know is that I'm going to do as many posts as possible in this next month to give you guys as much insight on the Tallahassee dining scene as possible - and simply to go out with a bang!

What I DON'T know is what exactly will become of the Tally Foodie blog. I've talked to some friends and family and I've heard everything from letting someone else continue to write the blog to turning it into a Sarasota food blog. I have mixed feelings about all of these options. Tally Foodie is sort of like my baby - my experiment in blogging and I feel like I'm leaving it at a point when it's finally gaining some steam and some great viewership. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable letting someone else continue to keep my baby alive. But then again, I don't want to leave you guys stranded either.

So, let me know what you think - what should become of the Tally Foodie blog? What would you like to see happen to it? And in the meantime, I promise lots of new reviews in the coming weeks!

About this blog

This blog is dedicated to giving you honest reviews of local restaurants in Tallahassee and the surrounding area. I won't hold any punches, you'll hear about it all - the good, the bad and the (hopefully infrequent) inedible!

This blog was written from July 2009 - August 2010 and is now retired. I currently live in Sarasota, FL...stay tuned for more on my adventures there!