It’s another dark day for classic Asheville restaurants…First Three Brothers closed last week, and now Barbecue Inn has turned out the lights and left the building. Or, as one of my co-workers said when she heard the news:
“What??? Blinky Pig closed, too??? I need to curl up under my desk and rock now…”
Because both of these restaurants are so dear to my heart (see yesterday’s post lamenting Three Brothers, it really strikes home how much Asheville has changed in the last 40 years–sometimes for better, sometimes worse.
I first blogged my thoughts on the venerable ‘Blinky Pig’ (a colloquialism for Barbecue Inn [pictured below, courtesy of Asheville Citizen-Times online], because of its iconic pig sign with blinking eyes and lights) in 2008, and here’s a portion of that post:
There are right many barbecue restaurants in this area. 12 Bones continues to grab the majority of attention: their food is good (methinks their PR is even better!), the location groovy, and the parking/length of time waiting in line for lunch after parking a hike away on the river bank (River District location), is terrible–must mean they’re doing something right.
But that’s not my topic–I’m thinking Blinky Pig today. It’s real name is Barbecue Inn, and it’s been a fixture in West Asheville my whole life (it was there long before I was). There used to be a covered wagon out front—sort of a compact Conestoga that was too small for the whole family, but perfect for a starter-wagon—to clue you in that this was a barbecue joint. Best of all, the Barbecue Inn sign featured a funky red pig face that used to be outlined in blinking bulbs–hence the nickname “Blinky Pig”, which is how we identify it in my office. “What’s for lunch?” “Hmm…I was thinking maybe Blinky Pig. You?”
The interior is just as pointedly porcine as the nickname suggests; every surface is covered with a pig collectable of some variety. There are plastic pigs, pine pigs, porcelain pigs, piggy banks–you name it, if it’s pig-related, it’s in there somewhere. My office mates and I usually end up sitting under a pig-themed something that looks like a wall-mounted paper towel holder…with a series of what might be pig-shaped napkin rings hanging from it. We’ve never asked the staff what it really is; we’re just happy to eat next to it.
Speaking of eating, we don’t usually order barbecue, even though it’s really good. It’s hard to get past the Brunswick stew, which is warm and comforting and served with slaw and hush puppies. The “Little Squeal” is another favorite: Blinky Pig pit-cooked barbecue on a hotdog bun (smaller than the standard whopping portion of chopped pork on a bun or plate; perfect for ladies who lunch).
I think I’ll save everything else I could write about Blinky Pig for another post–I haven’t even covered Piggy Petals and the teeny little golf pencils you use to mark your order form–but I’m too hungry to do it justice. Gotta’ get me some Blinky Pig (1341 Patton Avenue) soon!
Farewell, Barbecue Inn–and may the groovy-grub-getaway that will undoubtedly take your place remember that they will never fill your hooves/shoes in my memories!