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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dinner Report: Porky J's BBQ & Grill on Bandera...

First and foremost, I need to thank the several readers (including another one today) who alerted us to Porky J's, hidden in a small shopping center on Bandera Road between Huebner and Sawyer. When someone says Porky J's is a hole in the wall, they ain't kiddin'! There is no store front at all; just a sign leading you to awesome goodness in the form of Memphis style vittles.
I had mentioned that we made an effort to try Porky J's on Sunday but surprisingly, found the place closed. I learned the story behind that little mystery this evening when I talked with one of the owners during our dinner. Turns out Porky J's does catering and had such an overwhelmingly unexpected crowd at an event, that they simply ran out of food. Don't take that as a sign of poor planning. They expected to serve a few hundred plates and ended up serving over a thousand. So, I think we can give them a pass, don't you?

We have learned from recent experiences at other small businesses that one of the real joys of the dining experience is a positive atmosphere and positive people. A friend of ours told us about attempting to give this place a try during a busy Friday evening but having to wait so long to have their order taken, they simply left. I can only guess that was a total freak accident. Porky J's is small - I'm guessing they can only seat about 30 people at max capacity - so who knows how they could have messed that one up. I can only suggest giving them another shot.
In addition to the smallish indoor seating area (by the way, no smaller than the indoor seating area at either Augie's Barbed Wire or The Rib House - two of our favorites), they have an interesting outdoor patio formed by the surrounding walls of the buildings to the side and behind the place. Inside, the theme is Memphis and the music reflects that.
First up, I had to try the onion rings. Most of you know that I am less a fan of the crispity-crunchy type rings and much prefer the beer battered version. But when onion rings have a unique seasoning to them, I take note. These are not dropped in the fryer out of a frozen bag from a local supplier; like everything else, they are home made and very good. Try them.
My wife had a hankering for a brisket sammy. What she got was a really messy (in a very good way) Memphis style treat with Cole-slaw mashed in with the brisket between the bread. We had talked about the fact that when we flew through Memphis last time, we saw that you could order your sandwich with or without Cole-slaw. Now we know the correct answer; you must have it with the slaw. The brisket does have a slight bite to it, so if you are a lightweight in the spicy department, keep your iced tea handy.
I had to try the pork ribs and was glad I did. Again, I had the spicy version of things, but you can order a milder version if you need. Don't get me wrong, for most San Antonian's you'll want to go with the spicy, I'm just letting you know of the option in case your brittle aunt visits or something. I also asked for some brisket just so I could try it without the benefit of sandwich and slaw, and I will tell you that it is wonderful. You can try it with the home made BBQ sauce, but it isn't needed.
To really make me fat, I also asked for small portions of potato salad and green beans. Both are top notch. The potato salad was smooth with no aftertaste which can sometimes be an issue. The green beans are the flat type, nicely seasoned and cooked enough to make me happy. Good stuff!

As we chatted with the owner, I asked him if he had tried Augie's. This lead to quite a discussion on the topic and I mentioned the wonderful pulled-pork sammy I had last time I went to Augie's. A few minutes later, out comes a serving of pulled-pork for me to give a little taste to. My wife and I both LOVED it, but I was not willing to go on record as saying his was better than Augie's. I'd need to do one of those blindfolded taste tests to be sure. I can just tell you this: Porky J's is a lot closer to my house than Augie's is.

This all brings me back to the issue of enjoying the atmosphere and friendly folks. I can tell you right now that if I walked into Porky J's and it was jammed packed, I'd get my order to go. I just don't like crowds in small places. But we must have hit at the right time because we beat the dinner crowd.
We had a great conversation about all the places we love to eat and to make it that much better, we enjoyed some really great food, and that makes our visit to Porky J's a Tasty Treat.


M2 said...

I'll still take Augies over Porky J's, but I've only been to the latter once so maybe I need a re-attack! Being closer is an advantage; but I eat enough BBQ as it is...

Cheers! M2

Maureen said...

Well, we'll have to go back this weekend. I was so bummed...it smelled like heaven in there but seriously, it was 7PM on Friday, 3 tables were enjoying their food, and we got completely ignored. You start to take it personally, so we simply got up and walked out. No one followed us. :( After all the good reviews, though, I really want to go again. Who knows what happened?? Glad ya'll liked it, though!

Deep Forest said...

What took you so long Dave ??? The owner is pretty cool and they do alot of catering to churches. BTW when they cater to churches they give them 10% of the sales back...that's the way they roll..

Anonymous said...

Eva says:)
all I can say is that it takes a something great to make my eyes roll in the back of my head and when I bit into my "sammy" it was hard to focus afterwards.I did later have the peach cobbler and I must say that it needed a bit of Cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar on top . It tasted like a plain biscuit. The rest of it was great. That just the way I roll...

Dave said...

the owner is pretty cool and they do alot of catering to churches. BTW when they cater to churches they give them 10% of the sales back.

Yep - and that is why they weren't open on the Sunday we went. All the church-folk ate the vittles!

Deep Forest said...

Went by there this evening to eat and as soon as I walked in the door I was told "Silvercreek was here". Said "yep..I know. He gave you a favorable write-up on his blog" They were thrilled. The owner said that faux-pas with running out of meat won't happen again. He said he served almost 2,000 people instead of 300 that day and was wiped completely out of meat. I had a little of everything and some tea. The bill for the two of us came to about $17.25. You can't do that at Rudy's or Augie's (even though I work with Augie's mama). Give them a shot..they won't do you wrong.

frankvw said...

Went there tonight with the family. Food was very good and reasonably priced. Ribs were better than the brisket. Sad to see so little customers for a Friday night at 6pm (only one other person in the place).

Dave said...

Sad to see so little customers for a Friday night at 6pm (only one other person in the place).

I think it has to do with the hidden location. It isn't a place you would just happen to drive by and notice and decide to pull in. So the only way people find it is through word of mouth.

But I was told they plan to open a smokehouse in Helotes. That will get noticed!

Maureen said...

OK, we went back in for lunch today and I am sure glad. It was really good....I think their pulled pork gives Augie's a run for the money. I ordered mine "without the paste" since that's what he called the slaw. Hubby had the pork ribs and demolished them. My son had the sliced pork poorboy and said it was good. Love the hush puppies! Also, he apologized for the other night when we were in there and said that there was a mixup between him and the "reverend" waitress--she misunderstood which table he DIDN'T get and so there we were, ignored. He never came back out of the kitchen again, and ended up making the other table's order twice, thinking it was ours. Reasonable enough. Anyway, great food and we'll go back for sure.

Dave said...

OK, we went back in for lunch today and I am sure glad.

I'm glad it all worked out and the mix-up your first time around got resolved. I could tell from the friendly personality of Ray, the guy we chatted with, that there had to be an explanation.

I think their pulled pork gives Augie's a run for the money. I ordered mine "without the paste" since that's what he called the slaw.

It is good. I got an e-mail from another reader today who reports that she had the pulled pork with the slaw. She said "That peppery pork against the sweetness of the coleslaw was just great." I know exactly what I'm getting next time!

Deep Forest said...

I had the poorboy with the "paste". I thought I died and went to heaven. First time I ever had something like that. Very good sammich...gonna do it again....(Caution: do not ask for "paste" on your poorboy at Bill Miller's...it's disgusting...lol")

Anonymous said...

I dont understand the hype over Porky Js BBQ. The food may be ok but thats saying alot. The food aint fresh and tha place aint sanitary. I know this because my boy told me horror stories bout this place. He and his girl worked there when they needed some extra cash. Turns out they worked for free, not by choice. That "good guy" owner scammed him and his lady out of their pay. He a smooth talker aint no good. Whoever is working there now better watch out... Id be supprised if who they got is even legal working there.

Porky Js will never get my business. My friend told me they reuse food and heat it again, drop food on the floor and pick it right back up & serve it, use their bare hands, have no regard for the safety of anyone they are serving. On many occasions you can hear the loud mouth woman and owner speaking inapropriately when children are around and she acts like serving is a big stress and the customer should do everything themself. My boy told me the owner and his family do the cleaning and cooking in order to pocket whatever cash they can instead of paying a professional to do things the right way. They dont have any training in cooking and dont have any training in cleaning...but its clear they have been trained to scam!

Eat at Porky Js if you want to, but you are risking ur own health and your fam too.

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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