14th Street in Northwest Washington, DC has a storied history. In the 1980s, during the now infamous reign of Mayor Marion Barry, it was known for two trades: prostitution and cocaine. Unless one was interested in either service or product, respectively, it was to be avoided at all cost. Following the jailing of Barry for use of banned substances, and prior to his subsequent reelection to Mayor and then his election to the DC City Council, the new DC government completed a successful campaign to gentrify the 14th Street Corridor. The transformation of a section of the city riddled with the crime to a clean, friendly, fun area of town filled with bars, restaurants, stores, and lofts is one of the greatest examples of urban renewal in the United States.
Fortunately for Washingtonians and residents of surrounding areas, that renewal led to a fantastic restaurant called The Pig. Why would a restaurant that specializes in Barbecue be called anything else? Located right on 14th street, in a well lit area with easy access to parking, this fine establishment serves an exceptional menu of delicious food and beverage items. Upon entering, I first noticed that it had the appearance of any beer and pig joint that I might find in more rural areas of the country, with lots of wooden tables, table cloths, and casually dressed staff and patrons. As I walked past the restaurant area and entered the bar section, which is much more typical of a DC pub establishment, I immediately noticed that on tap, The Pig maintains multiple local beers: Lost Rhino, Devils Backbone, Flying Dog, and my absolute favorite beer in the world, Port City Optimal Wit. I quickly ordered a glass of the Optimal Wit, settled down at the bar and feasted my eyes on an amazing food selection from the menu.
The bartender, a guy from Dublin who goes by Mac, informed me that it is generally accepted that I would need to order two main courses in order to consume the volume of one ordinary main course. The menu had a substantial selection of “pig” and “less pig” options. I ordered the Carolina Smoked Barbecue (which comes with Macaroni and Cheese) along with the Chickpea Hash. While I was on my third Port City, Mac brought out my tag team of main courses. I started into the hash, which I thought was a solid selection, served with Salsa Verde and mushrooms. I then ate the barbecued pork, which consisted of a nice blend of pig and seasoning. However, I often find that because I enjoy barbecue and Port City Optimal Wit generally, it would have been difficult for The Pig to disappoint with these selections.
The portion of the meal, however, that just absolutely blew me away was the Macaroni and Cheese side dish. Mac told me that The Pig had the best Macaroni and Cheese in DC, and no truer words have ever been spoken. Trust me on this, you should stop by just to try this one side item. The cheese was fried through to the bottom of the bowl, and filled with buttery flavor. Moreover, the dish actually came with four different cheeses. I asked Mac how the bar accomplished such a delectable combination of noodle and cheese, and he stated that the cook had a secret recipe that he apparently protects with more armor and firepower than 101st Airborne during the landing at Normandy. Regardless, I enjoyed it to the last drop, and will likely go back just to taste it again.
The menu is very reasonably priced by DC standards. Each course will run roughly $10-$12, and the beers cost about $5 a pop. If you find yourself in Northwest DC, and feel the urge for a great local draft brew, excellent pulled pork, and the most incredible Macaroni and Cheese you will ever taste, you could do a lot worse than stop by The Pig on 14th.