Thursday, April 26, 2012

Checkered Pig BBQ

Last Saturday, we drove up to Danville, VA to go on a family bike ride of sorts along the city's River Walk Trail. (Among those I've ridden, it's my second favorite bicycling trail ever! Number one is in Alaska.)

While we were up there, we were hungry. Why not break out the smartphone and find some random, fun-sounding restaurant in the Danville area?

Welcome to "Checkered Pig BBQ". Yay!

The thing with barbecue is that you never really know what to expect when you walk into a random restaurant. Just because you're in Eastern North Carolina, for instance, doesn't mean that every barbecue joint around serves Eastern NC-style pork. (And thank goodness for that!) But I had no idea what to expect in Danville. Are we close enough to North Carolina such that the Carolina influence would spill over? Is there such a thing as "Virginia style barbecue"?

And the winner is...drum roll please...vinegar based sauce. Blast! We seem to have incredible luck (unfortunately) finding vinegar-based barbecue outside of North Carolina.

But the good news is, unlike at Radd Dew's in Conway, SC, they didn't pre-lather the pork in vinegary stuff before they served it. And, they gave you another barbecue sauce option: something called "grilling sauce" (pictured on the left - the stuff on the right is the vinegary sauce), which turned out to be similar to what most people think of as "regular barbecue sauce". And that stuff was pretty good. And look at all the sides you get! Fries, hush puppies, plus two sides in addition.'s the most interesting thing regarding the Checkered Pig as far as I'm concerned, and it has nothing to do with the food. I noticed on the house sauce label that the vinegar-based stuff was developed by someone named Tommy Houston. As in...former NASCAR driver Tommy Houston? That would explain the name of the restaurant, and it also makes sense considering that the Checkered Pig was founded in nearby Martinsville and was once the official caterer of Martinsville Speedway. Founding a barbecue restaurant seems like the perfect thing for a retired NASCAR driver to do, don't you think?

However, Tommy Houston Wikipedia page makes no mention him of founding and operating a barbecue restaurant. I'd think that would be more than worthy of inclusion in that particular article. And, the restaurant's About Us page says nothing about the restaurant founder once having a career in NASCAR, which - again - you'd think would be more than noteworthy. And the pictures on this page...well, I don't remember what the NASCAR driver looked like, but something doesn't look right here. Are we talking about two different Tommy Houstons here? After a little more research, I've concluded that Tommy Houston the retired NASCAR driver, and Tommy Houston the founder of Checkered Pig barbecue, are NOT the same person. That's crazy!

So, anyway...I'm not sure how well the Checkered Pig is catching on in Danville. The Danville location has only been open three years, and there was hardly anybody there when we walked in. Chalk that up to the time of day, perhaps? Or the fact that we're in Danville (population 43,000) rather than a big city? But the Google reviews are top notch, and we liked it, too. Don't go down the street to Applebee's or Olive Garden! Support your local entrepreneurs! You know, next time you end up in Danville, whenever that is.

1 comment:

Brandon Young said...

Hello, I'm actually an employee at the Danville VA location. The Tommy that you're thinking of isn't the same founder of the restaurant. I believe he actually used to be fire-fighter before starting a catering service and eventually opening up a restaurant; just clearing a few things up! Cheers!