It’s impossible to pick just one thing, but one of the (many) great aspects of the warm months is barbecue. Whether you’re firing up the grill yourself or enjoying some grub at a Metro Detroit restaurant, there’s something about a pulled pork sandwich that just screams “summer.” Maybe it’s the barbecue sauce?
Realistically, we all know about the best barbecue joints in town. Whether it’s because you’ve read my articles on the subject (hey, thanks!), or you’re just a major Metro Detroit foodie, you know that you’ll find a seriously good rack of ribs at Slow’s, Red Smoke Barbeque, Lazybones, Lockhart’s, Bad Brad’s BBQ, the list goes on.
While I love all barbecue items, there’s a special place in my heart for anything that falls into the pulled pork category. Metro Detroit is full of restaurants that take typical pork dishes (like pulled pork, bacon, pork tenderloin, etc.) and turn it into something a little different. While most of the following dishes are prepared on the grill, some of them are smoked or pan-fried. Any way you slice it, barbecue is a summer staple, and a delicious one at that.
Blackfinn, 530 S. Main St., Royal Oak, got to be my guinea pig for this experiment, where I sampled the BBQ Cheddar burger—a patty topped with cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and, yes, barbecue pulled pork. It’s the perfect hybrid for when you’re torn between the cheeseburger and pulled pork sandwich.
If you’re craving carbs, you might want to try the Iron Skillet Mac-N-Cheese topped with the very same barbecue pulled pork. The cheesy dish includes cavatappi pasta, bacon and tomatoes, and is topped with bread crumbs. As if mac and cheese could get any better, some genius decided to top it off with pulled pork!
Union Woodshop, 18 S. Main St., Clarkson, is known for its mac and cheese, but you might be surprised to learn that there are indeed other items on the menu. If you’re looking for a fun (and healthier) twist on the usual pulled pork sandwich, try the Cherry Pork Salad.
Topped with house-smoked pulled pork, dried Michigan cherries, and crispy fried onions, the salad is served over a bed of romaine lettuce and dressed with honey mustard. If you’re a traditionalist, they do have a pulled pork sandwich on the menu as well. You can also get it on a pizza!
R.U.B. BBQ Pub, with locations in Detroit and Ann Arbor, has a pulled pork sandwich at both locations worthy of a trophy. The Yzerman includes a stack of Tennessee pulled pork doused in R.U.B.’s own mac and cheese sauce. There may not be any noodles on it, but it’s the perfect hybrid between mac and cheese and pulled pork.
Vinsetta Garage, 27799 Woodward Ave., Berkley, is the place to go if you’re craving pork in the form of bacon. Tasty, tasty bacon. The restaurant’s Macon Bacon Burger is made with an Angus beef patty, Woodshop Michigan maple bacon, pancetta, grilled Canadian bacon, and house-made bacon jam. It’s also topped with smoked cheddar cheese. Is that enough bacon for you? I certainly hope so.
One-Eyed Betty’s, 175 W. Troy Ave., Ferndale, has an appetizer that will satisfy any palate craving bacon. As if applewood smoked bacon wasn’t good enough on its own, this platter comes with braised pork belly and a fried poached egg.
To continue the pork theme of this meal, there’s a Pork Belly Sandwich on the menu for dinner, which is served on a hoagie roll with pickled veggies and Asian mayo. Unfortunately, there are no pork items on the dessert menu, but alas, the world is an imperfect place.
Traffic Jam & Snug, 511 W. Canfield St., Detroit, has been serving up meals in Midtown for nearly 50 years, and the restaurant has a perfectly unique pork dish on its menu. While this isn’t exactly a barbecue item, what it lacks in grill marks it makes up for in flavor and originality.
The restaurant’s Pork Loin Kamatsu Salad contains a Panko-encrusted pan seared pork loin, berries and red onion with a bed of mixed greens and arugula. It’s served with an herb and citrus vinaigrette, and the plate is garnished with… hot sauce jelly beans? Yes, hot sauce flavored jelly beans.
Whether your favorite pork dish is a pulled pork sandwich, a piece of bacon, or a slice of pork roast, there are plenty of dishes for you in the D. If you’re seeking a traditional dish or something a little jazzier, check out the restaurants above!