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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Columbia Eats: Little Pigs

As much as it pained me, I all but gave up on finding great Southern cooking in Columbia earlier this year. From stuck-to-the-pan mac-and-cheese to banana-less banana pudding, it seemed impossible to find good local southern cooking in the capital city. A disappointing pan of peach cobbler all but closed the door on my search. Two months later, I finally mustered up the courage to try again, this time at Little Pigs.

Located a long ways down Percival Road, this off-the-beaten path Southern buffet could easily be dismissed by those that pass by day-to-day.

Jumping right into the heavy-hitters, Little Pig's offered just about everything that could possibly be thrown out on a buffet line, including not one, but three, types of barbecue. The tomato-based bbq was easily the loser of the bunch with its weaker flavor compared to its sisters. The vinegar based was just that. If you like it you won't go wrong here, but for those looking for something more subtle, the mustard-based - my favorite of the bunch - will fit the bill. More flavorful then the tomato-based, and less overpowering then the vinegar-based, the mustard hits all the right notes. Outside of the barbecue were mixed results though: the fried chicken was just okay, and the heaving pork shoulder came out a bit too dry. Little Pigs also featured a host of other entrees, some of which looked great, some less so.

I've long heard about Southerner's love of collard greens and had tried it at many places since moving to Columbia, but after tasting Little Pig's I've come to the realization that I've never really had collards. Sweet, meaty, and so tantalizing that I literally filled up half of my second plate with them, the collards were everything that I could have asked for in a side dish. In fact, I'd go as far as saying they were the best thing that Little Pigs offered, and something that I would be more then happy to grab to-go. Often. So good!

Not to be outdone (well sorta, the collards are so good!), the sides at Little Pig's all turned out to be solid and substantial. The potato salad was nice and cold as every potato salad should be, and hearty enough to satisfy. Little Pigs also offered hash, a South Carolinian specialty that is quite hard to find in this neck of the woods. It was my first time trying it in fact, but - like the collards - it won't be the last. I was drinking cup-fulls of the hash like water after my first sip.

Desert was simple, a toss-up between banana pudding and a chocolate-marshmallow mish-mash. The banana pudding was okay, a little on the sweet side, but pretty average all-around. The chocolate um, thing, was cool and comforting, a light finish to the meal.

No Reservations, The Shakedown on Little Pig's
Atmosphere: Country kitchen. Picnic tables as
far as the eye can see filled with locals.
Cost: You won't regret it. $8 during day, $9 in the evening.
Try: Everything. A total southern experience at your doorstep.
Plan: To not be doing much of anything after. Even the mightiest
will want to crumble against the weight of this eatery.

The Final Verdict
It may be five years too late for me, but it was great finding some delicious, authentic Southern cooking in the Columbia area. The collards and hash are more then worth the visit, but the mustard barbecue is definitely another worthy reason. Is it the best in South Carolina? Probably not, but for the Columbia area I doubt you will find better. Eat in, take out, do what you gotta do, just make sure you try it out if you're in the Forest Acres/Sandhill area and are hungering for some great Southern cooking.

Little Pigs Barbecue on Urbanspoon