Pig out at 3 Hogs BBQ in Hanover
3 Hogs BBQ
Location: 50 N. Forney Ave., Hanover, behind Winebrenner's
Jess' pick: Hog Trough, $8
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Price range: $4, chili; $17, four meats and three sides
Alcohol: BYOB from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Accepts: Cash and credit
Kid's menu: Yes
Details: Call 717-965-0399 or find 3 Hogs BBQ on Facebook
Any minute I expected Guy Fieri to pull up in his bright red convertible. A place like 3 Hogs BBQ would have the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" host in smoked-meat glory.
The name, 3 Hogs, might be familiar to some Hanover Chili Cook Off fans. It's the same group who's won the competition held at Good Field, behind Winebrenner's, every September. Now, instead of getting a sample of 3 Hogs chili once a year, you can get a cup of it every weekend. Allen Kuhn and Matt Albright started the restaurant in August.
The eatery is a fancy shack of sorts next to Good Field – on a recent sunny Saturday, the sides were open so people could sit at a counter inside and outside. It almost reminds you of a poolside bar, but instead of tiki torches, wood-burning smokers are behind the building. And don't expect any pink or lime green color schemes here -- all is red, black and steel.
Inside is space to place your order at the counter and sit at a few tables. (There are a few picnic tables with umbrellas outside for additional seating.) Bottled drinks are available in coolers and flat-screen TVs are mounted on the walls.
Prior to the weekend, specials and side dishes are posted on the group's Facebook page, but you can always count on several menu selections.
Appetizers that took my eye included the Pulled Pork Eggrolls, served with a BBQ Sweet Thai Chili Sauce ($5) and Loaded Waffle Fries with the meat of your choice, cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapenos and scallions, served with Chipotle Bacon Ranch ($8). Of course there's also a selection of soups that rotate each weekend, but always on the menu is the award-winning chili ($4).
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.
A leaner option is the Island Chicken entree -- a pineapple and teriyaki marinated chicken breast served with pineapple salsa and two sides ($9).
I couldn't resist the calling of the Hog Trough Bowl – layers of mac and cheese, your choice of meat, baked beans, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, coleslaw and scallions ($8).
If you're the type of person who likes to keep foods separate on a plate, this is not for you. But if you're open to a messy conglomeration of flavors – eat up, my friend.
When I placed my order, behind the counter was a chalkboard listing available meats -- on this particular day, pulled pork, brisket, pit beef, pulled turkey and pit ham.
There's also a list of sauces -- smoked apple, Kansas City, hot barbecue, chili lime, pineapple blaze, honey chipotle and Carolina red -- and sides like sriracha jalapeno slaw, smoked Brussels sprouts and seasoned waffle fries.
If you missed the weekend specials on Facebook, they're also listed on another chalkboard, with soups and desserts, too (I do have some regrets over not trying the peanut butter swirl brownie, $1.25, or the salted caramel cheesecake, $3.50).
But I don't know how I could've stomached it after the Hog Trough. The mac and cheese formed a creamy base, while the baked beans added a hearty flavor. I picked the pulled turkey, which was not your momma's slow cooker poultry; this turkey's smoky flavor punctuated the dish. The cold, coarse coleslaw added crunch and sweetness. The chopped scallions on top made the heaping pile look a bit more refined.
As I ate, people continued to come and go – many placing and picking up takeout orders, some resting at the counter and another large party sitting at a table.
For opening fewer than two months ago in a road-less-traveled location, people seem to have followed their noses to find the smoky scent of 3 Hogs BBQ.
PHOTOS: Making Chili with 3 Hogs BBQ