Choose your heat this summer: spicy sauce smothered on slow cooked pork, smoked chicken or beef brisket. Will it be in a bowl crowned with mac and cheese? Or loaded on a bun cradled by cheese and bacon? Why decide. Take your friends and share.
This is the kind of heat we love.
In honor of heat and smoke and slow cooked meat, we stewed over some of our favorite places to gorge.
Spoiler alert: This will make you hungry.
The name, 3 Hogs BBQ, might be familiar to some Hanover Chili Cook Off fans. It's the same group that won the competition every September. Allen Kuhn and Matt Albright started the restaurant in August 2014. The eatery, 50 N. Forney Ave., Hanover, behind Winebrenner's, is a fancy shack of sorts next to Good Field — the sides open for customers to sit at a counter inside and outside. Sandwiches, each served with one side, range from the Pork Dip (its version of the French Dip, $7.50) to the Brisket Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese ($8). For some brave, non-dieting souls, there's also the Hog Dog — wrapped in bacon and fried, then topped with pulled pork, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce for $7.50. Always on the menu is the award-winning chili ($4). I couldn't resist the calling of the Hog Trough Bowl — layers of mac and cheese, choice of meat, baked beans, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, coleslaw and scallions ($8). Sauces vary wildly — smoked apple, Kansas City, hot barbecue, chili lime, pineapple blaze, honey chipotle and Carolina red -— and sides including sriracha jalapeno slaw, smoked Brussels sprouts and seasoned waffle fries. Desserts are always changing; this night, peanut butter swirl brownie, $1.25, and salted caramel cheesecake, $3.50. For specials, check out the Facebook page. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 11-8 p.m. Sunday. Alcohol: BYOB from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. No smoking. Takeout. Credit cards accepted. Kids menu. 717-965-0399.
- Jess Krout
Owner Jordan Pfautz said he was into "all types of barbecue" but decided to start a concession trailer in March 2013 focused on pork. The trailer led to a food truck in September 2013, and that led to the opening of the restaurant, 35 W. Market St., York, in 2014. Both the truck and restaurant keep a simple menu. "We decided to just do one meat and do it as well as we could," Pfautz said. I ordered two pork buns (modeled after a Chinese pork dumpling), both sweet, though you can choose your own combination of sweet or spicy. The semi-sweet bread is made in-house. The sweet pork — with a smoked apple flavor "served on a backdrop of Tennessee whiskey," according to the menu — is stuffed inside the bread. You can also get a more traditional pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw on a potato roll ($6.50) or opt for pork in a bowl ($4.50). An Everything Bowl comes with pork and all the sides (homemade mac and cheese, baked corn, coleslaw) piled high for $12. A best bet is the signature soda, made with fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs. On tap every day are two varieties — ginger lemongrass and vanilla bean honey ($3.50 each). Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday and Thursday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 5-10 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. No alcohol. Credit cards accepted. Takeout available. No kids menu. 717-848-6576.
- Jess Krout
Step into the tavern, 108 Hellam St., Wrightsville, and you'll find yourself walking into a bar that feels like home. This Wrightsville restaurant prides itself on offering a fresh take on honky-tonk style while serving up killer cocktails and fill-your-belly smoked meats. Meats including brisket, pulled pork, pit beef, smoked turkey and pulled chicken are slow smoked right on site. Burgers featuring a variety of toppings are hand-patted by the kitchen staff. Guests can order a classic burger with fries all day Tuesday for $5. The bar features local craft breweries and unique options like the Burning Bridge Red ($3.75 a pint), an amber ale created by the Lancaster Brewing Company just for Burning Bridge Tavern. For a cocktail, hand-squeezed orange juice is a favorite ingredient in the bar's orange crush ($6), featuring tangerine vodka, triple sec and Sprite. We ordered the Hellam Jalapenos ($6) as a highly recommended appetizer. Four large jalapenos are stuffed with cheddar cheese and wrapped in bacon for a perfectly greasy yet flavorful pre-dinner bite. Wings, salads and quesadillas with smoked meats add to the smoked meat entrees. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Thursdays; 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1-9 p.m. Sundays. Full bar. Credit cards accepted. Takeout available. Kids menu. 717-252-2468.
- Rebecca Hanlon
In the year that veteran Bill Kohler opened Never Forgotten BBQ in Springettsbury Township, the business has become a resource for former soldiers throughout York County. While the restaurant, 2582 Eastern Blvd., York, , specializes in smoked meats and comfort-style sides, the real heart of the business is helping veterans. To help people remember the veterans, he decorated the space with their images. Diners can choose from St. Louis ribs ($15.99 for a half slab; $22.95 for a full slab), pulled pork, chicken, turkey or house made cajun sausage ($12.99), or a half chicken ($11.99). Many of the meats also can be served as a sandwich. Southern fried catfish is also a popular option ($8.99). All of the sides are made from scratch, including the collard greens, dill potato salad, homemade chips and roasted sweet potato fries (ranging in price from $1.95 to $2.50 each). The restaurant also features the occasional chef-inspired creations, such as pork belly BLTs. Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. No alcohol. Credit cards accepted. Takeout available. 717-885-5388.
- Rebecca Hanlon
Joe and Lana Oaster started the barbecue business 30 years ago just catering, then they opened a carryout business in Hellam Township 17 years ago. Ten years later, they opened a Markets at Shrewsbury stand with a counter filled with goodies: fried and baked chicken, ham balls, hog wings, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, Kentucky bourbon beans, carrots, green beans – the list goes on. Redskin potato salad, fruit salad, shredded coleslaw and Amish macaroni salad are also available. But for those of you who are less worried about gaining a few pounds, one of the best sellers is the barbecued baked potato ($7.95), a 1-pound potato with your choice of meat (pork, chicken or beef), cheese sauce, barbecue sauce and sour cream. A ham ball platter is $7.25, and a hog wing platter is $8. But if you want finger food only, pulled pork, beef or chicken sandwiches are $6 each. Top the sandwich with one of the barbecue joint's eight sauces, ranging from Original BBQ to Mean Mr. Mustard, Apple "Nagging the Pig" Chipotle and my personal favorite – Lord of the Wings. If you're willing to share a Porky's dinner, buckets of chicken are available up to a 20-piece for $23.75. Large sides are $3.50. Locations: 12025 Susquehanna Trail, Shrewsbury (inside Markets at Shrewsbury); 4223 Lincoln Highway East, Hellam Township. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; additional hours at Hellam location. No alcohol. Cash only. 717-757-3101.
- Jess Krout