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Porky Pine Pete's

Update 10/25/10: PPP's is closed.

In a word: Smoke without the mirrors.

The specs: #0577  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Madison Magazine, Ruppert Food Blog, AV Club, Laine's Recipe Box, Yelp, menuism, Eat Drink Madison, Isthmus, 77 Square, At First Taste, Irony or Mayo; TDPF; official web site; Facebook, Porky Pine Pete's Smokehouse BBQ on Urbanspoon

Brooke ate the Piggy Pile South sandwich.
JM ate the Porky Pine Press with mashed potatoes and a lemonade.
Jesse ate the Tres Banditos with beans, mashed sweet potatoes, and a beer.
Maddie ate the half rack with mashed smoked potatoes and a beer.
Nichole ate the Reuben with coleslaw, Mexican street corn, a devilished smoked egg, and a beer.
SteviL ate the Tres Banditos with smoked mashed sweet potatoes, cowboy beans and a Supper Club beer.
The bill was about $90, or $15/person, plus tip.
Jesse, Maddie, Nichole, and SteviL gave Porky Pine Pete's an A; JM gave Porky Pine Pete's an A-; Brooke gave Porky Pine Pete's a B (see our grading rubric).

Latest Porky Pine Pete's news and reviews

"To dine is human; to barbecue, divine." --Maddie.

Porky Pine Pete's is a family-run transplant from small town Wisconsin, leaping into the good-BBQ-hungry pond that is Madison, and so far have made it through a combination of being actually good and being unique. And not just because of the decor and owners' folksy demeanor.


PPP's serves up a plethora of smoked foods, from dry-rubbed ribs to pork to eggs, corn, and potatoes. We were six eaters this time, and got to sample a good chunk of the menu.

Please note: the two photos of the half rack and Tres Banditos platter below were taken by Jesse, who graciously granted us permission to use them when our camera died.


These ribs draw Maddie back regularly for their exquisite dry rub and the homemade BBQ sauce. The meat about fell off the bone. The Tres Bandidos platter is ample enough that Jesse has a routine down pat: eat the ribs and brisket (also succulent) and save the pulled pork for stir fry (or scrambled eggs - worked for us), and eat like royalty twice.

The sandwiches don't slouch either. The pulled pork comes plain or in a Pork Bar-B-Wis, Piggy Pile South, or Piggy Pile North variant. Brooke went for the coleslaw-topped South version, which proved delicious and on the dry side (all the better for adding sauce to taste).

Piggy Pile South

The Reuben was a loose take on the classic, with a mountain of fat-spiked pulled pork, a thick and pliable slice of Swiss cheese, and drained kraut on a toasted, buttered roll. The Porky Pine Press was a squished ham and cheese sandwich plus pulled pork (#48). Or a pulled pork sandwich plus ham. Either way it was a tasty if, again, a little dry, sandwich that brought into concert parts of the pig that hadn't been working together since they were connected by a central nervous system. It was delish and gone quickly.

Reuben, Porky Pine Press, Mexican street corn

For sides, we had a smoked deviled egg, which had a slightly rubbery (perhaps dehydrated) albumen, but not unpleasantly so. The yolk was coarsely mixed with just a little bit of mayo and spices that added to a slow building heat. Smoked eggs are also sold by the dozen - guess where we're thinking of picking up our next potluck treat.

The Mexican street corn was delightful: a huge ear of smoky sweet corn, bright yellow under a cloak of mayo and cotija cheese spiced with chili powder, like the ones you can get from the trucks at local soccer games. PPP seems to be using the world's cuisines as inspiration for perspiration. Not content to merely slap on a label, they try to connect with the fundamental idea of the food and massage it seamlessly into their menu.

The coleslaw with dressing on the side was brilliant and simple. Jesse would come here and order piles and piles of the mashed potatoes if he could, they're just that good, though JM noted that this time his were a little on the cold side. Note also that PPP is a great place to bring a giant crowd... as they have the entire former Frugal Muse space behind Barnes & Noble.

We found Porky Pine Pete's quirky and genuine. Thumbs up.

"Best. Madison. BBQ. Ever." --Jesse.


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The wife and I were just there on Friday, celebrating a mandated day off for me (thanks as always, Governor!). She had her usual pulled pork sandwich, which was grateful for the house-made sauces--new to us since our last visit there. I too had the Porky Pine Press (aka Cuban), and though it was missing both mustard and pickle, it was amazingly flavorful. The Swiss was really quite good. And I suppose I could always have amplified it with the excellent mustard-base BBQ sauce at the table.

The eggs were aiight. For starters, we'll take the fried green tamaters or street corn any day.

An oddball space, still with no exterior sign of consequence, this place is nonetheless wonderful. Love it x3.

Wow, this is an entirely different experience than we had! We went on a Wednesday at lunch time. We each ordered the basic pulled pork sandwich, with different sides. The woman working at the register barely grunted at us and repeatedly had to ask the 10 year old girl who was waiting tables for help with the register. After we were seated she came out four separate times to tell us that they were out of all of the sides we ordered, so we were all getting corn pudding. They did manage to find us one serving of dry, cold mashed potatoes. We waited a VERY long time for our sandwiches which were pretty good, but not worth the frustration of the visit. Your review makes me willing to give it one more shot because it's a great location to meet my husband for lunch on a work day.

First of all, the best barbecue in Madison is still Smoky Jon's, by a mile, as you'll discover on your next letter.

We had a mixed experience here -- the ribs were terrific (though no better than SJ) but I wouldn't get the pulled pork or the dry briscuit again. I liked the smoked devilled eggs, and the smoked cheesecake too, but the latter tasted more or less like cheesecake.

But the Mexican corn? Excellent. I'd go back just for this.

I've been there a bunch of times now and it's always been stellar, food-wise. The service has been hit-or-miss, mostly becasue I think their skeleton crew of family members just isn't quite enough to handle multiple meals every day.

I do consider it the finest BBQ in Madison, though, but then I'm also a dry-rub snob, and most of the BBQ around here leans more towards the sweeter, more heavily-sauced variety. But it's probably the best dry rub I've had outside of Texas (or Smoque in Chicago).

My top five places for ribs in Madison:

1. Porky pine Pete's
2. Smoky Jon's
3. Vintage Brewing Company
4. The Haze
5. Brickhouse BBQ

BTW, I call dibs on Vintage when you get to V in 2015.

Deal. We will see your 2015 and raise it to 2012.

Hope they have improved since we tried them in June. got there at 6 on a weeknight, they were out of brisket and one other thing (don't remember what). One guy was taking orders at the cash register (which he apparently did not know how to use as the owner had to come out to run the credit card). One guy was standing behind the bar folding napkins, and nothing else. We ordered our drinks (one beer, two root beers) and were told that the owner had to deliver the beer. We took our seats and proceeded to wait 20+ minutes--no food no drinks. When two other tables who came in 10+ minutes AFTER us got there food, my husband went up to ask if ours was coming up--and had they forgotten about the drinks? Shortly after that, the order taker delivered the root beers, then the owner came out, slammed the beer on the table and barked "your food is coming". it did come but more than 30 minutes after we ordered, and after the order taker came to tell us that he had forgotten to put our order back... The food was good--not better than other places and not good enough to make up for the rudeness and poor service. We were not rude, we just asked after 20 minutes when we might get it--nothing that should have prompted the behavior of the owner. As the mistake was clearly theirs, they should have apologized. AND, if they had served the beer on time, they might have been able to sell two!

Aaand...that's a wrap. Porky Pine Pete's closed last night. God, am I glad I got one last serving of ribs, and a few bites of my companions' pulled pork sandwiches, before the place shuttered.

oh no!! I'd been planning to go over there!

i miss having porky pine petes up in the northwoods they always had great food they were good freinds

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