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He Said: Pig & Pickle was delightfully unexpected

Tucked away in the corner of a strip mall (isn’t this the way all stories start in Phoenix when talking about great new local restaurants?) just outside the Old Town area was a sign with a big pig on it.

I immediately thought, “Maybe this is going to be my favorite new BBQ place.” It turned out to be something completely unexpected and different.

The pig and, of course, pickled items were prominently on the menu but really the depth of options surprised me. I think you will be pleasantly surprised, as even those of you who are veggie-focused will find something of interest.

They do have a nice happy hour I’d happily enjoy again on our next visit and it starts at 4 p.m. You could consider it an early dinner or “linner” even.

They focus on local ingredients — as all good restaurants should — and even our selection of alcoholic beverages tended to be less of the national variety and more of a local or regional variety.

They have a nice side patio and an attractive bar setup. We were seated right away and sat at a high top near the bar, perfect for people watching and getting a good idea of how service is in this very family-friendly place. I would call the service comfortable and casual, almost as if you were eating at a friend’s house who had invited you to a nice meal they had prepared.

For our dinner, I chose the Apocalypse Sow burger and got the “tots.” I use quotes because, in a minute, you will agree with me these aren’t your normal tots. The burger was made of pork and had a spice to it that included garlic (as I would continue to smell it all evening). It was covered in a cheddar cheese, bacon, grilled onions and a garlic aioli. From the first bite to the last, I savored it all. So different, so distinct, so amazing!

I love burgers and have had many fantastic burgers in this city but this one stands out, hands down!

We know an amazing burger is worth a trip all on its own, but for an extra $1 you will experience what they call “tots.” Imagine golf ball-sized fried balls filled with gruyere cheese and spices. They came with a dipping sauce but I wanted them just as they were so I could remember the beautiful flavor of the tot all by itself.

I had already over done it, but of course our friendly server drops the dessert menu and runs away. He knew I wanted to yell at him for even attempting to suggest more food. But I immediately eyed the chocolate bourbon pecan pie. I ordered it, my dinner companions shared it and we starred at each other with pure gluttony in our eyes. It comes with a scoop of ice cream, but it’s the smooth center that will peak your taste buds. Unlike some other bourbon pies I have had, this isn’t overwhelming and, had it not been in the title, I might have overlooked it. So save room, if you like things like, bourbon, chocolate, pecans and perfectly-cooked crust.

Don’t get me wrong, this place isn’t about diet food or sensible meals. If you need to control yourself and eat 500 calories for dinner, don’t stop by this location. But if you want a flavorful, rich, and memorable meal then put it on your list.

Your stomach won’t regret it.