“Summer 2020” are two words that can understandably make you gag. It’s hard to look back on that time fondly, especially from the perspective of Miami’s restaurants. But—while it was no doubt an excruciating time for restaurant workers—something else was happening too: ingenuity across the city in the form of the pop-up. Perhaps you remember Venmoing someone $28 for a loaf of sourdough outside their condominium. Good luck explaining that to your grandkids.
Many of those pop-up concepts, born out of necessity, are gone now. But a few have stuck around, including the barbecue pop-up Drinking Pig. It was the first weekend of August, 2020, when three local chefs set up a smoker at the end of a cul-de-sac in North Miami. And not only is that smoker still smoking, but Drinking Pig has evolved to become the best barbecue in South Florida.
At the time of this writing, Drinking Pig is operating on Saturdays and Sundays (noon till sold out) from their original location in North Miami (on that same meat-scented cul-de-sac). There, you can order online in advance for takeout, or walk-up and eat on one of the handful of shaded picnic benches they have set up outside (just arrive closer to noon, since they might sell out by sundown). But it’s worth noting that Drinking Pig is still very much a pop-up. They’ve had a brief residency at Veza Sur, collaborated with Jaguar Sun, and, most recently, signed on to be a part of Miami’s upcoming Smorgasburg, a weekly open-air food market slated to open in Wynwood in March, 2022.
All this is to say: it’s a smart move to check Drinking Pig’s Instagram for their latest location info, whenever you may be reading this.
Because it’s absolutely worth keeping tabs on this place with the intensity of an eight grader who has a hopeless crush. Drinking Pig’s selection of smoked meats—brisket, chicken, sausage, pork ribs, beef short ribs, and pulled pork—is just sublime (and the sides are outstanding too). Their proteins are the kind of low and slow barbecue where every bite you take requires a moment of quiet contemplation. It’s deeply flavorful, smoky, juicy, meltingly tender meat that makes you enter a sort of fugue state, where you black out two bites in and come to about seven minutes later, covered in barbecue sauce and grease. It is, to put it simply, so f*cking good. And it’s not only one of the few things we’ll fondly remember about the summer of 2020, but a great reason to be excited about the future of Miami barbecue.
The first few bites of the mac and cheese are the best, thanks to crispy breadcrumbs that cover the top. But every ensuing bite is also pure mac and cheese perfection. They use elbow macaroni, too—the G.O.A.T. of mac and cheese noodles.
Your eyes might dart to brisket and ribs on the menu first. We get it. They’re the cool kids of the barbecue world. But don’t sleep on the incredible sausage. It’s stuffed with beef and pork, but the best part about it might be the casing, which snaps like a snare drum.
The cornbread is soft, moist, and really sweet—with whole pieces of corn dispersed throughout. And the little bit of flaky salt they throw on top accentuates the flavors beautifully.
They pull this brisket off the smoker at the precise millisecond they need to, leaving us with the pleasure of a tender brisket that is soft and juicy, but won’t disintegrate into a soggy mess when you try to pick it up.
These are simply our favorite ribs in town, and we would not change a single granule of the spice rub that coats the top like a thick head of hair. The meat is perfectly smoky and tender too. Like a polite guest, it’ll stay firmly attached to its bone until you invite it into your mouth, at which point it’ll snap off with no resistance and become the life of the party.
We would not suggest trying to take down the massive, fatty beef rib on your own. That’s a level of indulgence akin to eating a bathtub full of ice cream, or a bean bag chair of caviar. But if you’ve got a few people to split it with, it’s a fun and delicious thing to have a few bites of.