Hogzilla's Inspired Barbeque opened this past Sunday in the former digs of Bar-B-Q Beach on South Beach. Ron Garcia (Burger & Beer Joint) and Raul Rodriguez ("BBQ master") are the owners of this sprawling two-room, two-bar space, which is packed with TV screens and will feature live music (and a pool table). The sports bar portion can be separated from the bar/music portion of the restaurant by a retractable garage door. So on some evenings, Hogzilla's will be two-two-two joints in one!
We first reported he coming of the place in September. The theme here is "redneck chic," a bit of South Beach polish added to the typical country-style barbecue joint. The uniforms are biker chic: the staff wears black leather vests over black t-shirts and jeans (the gals wear jean short-shorts). A dozen tap beers will change seasonally; bottled brews are focused on labels from the Southern U.S. Lots of bourbons and whiskeys, too. But what makes Hogzilla's "Inspired" is the menu, which is more interesting than usual barbecue fare. They even have a chef de cuisine (Eli Jackson), which not every barbecue joint has.
Intriguing menu items: Crisp Everglades frog's legs; a trio of grilled alligator, buffalo, and wild boar sausages; crispy pork belly with mango-chili barbecue sauce; pig trotters flash-fried with cilantro-garlic ponzu sauce; smoked tomato soup; cinnamon cured smoked duck breast with corn bread pancakes; and house "spam" glazed with molasses and topped with melted cheddar and a sunny side-up egg. If you call in advance you can get a whole suckling pig.
Of course there are also the typical barbecue platters of baby back pork ribs; long beef ribs; and pulled pork. I sampled the pork in "Cuban-style" sandwich form. The meat is marinated for 48 hours and slow-smoked for 14 hours. It was fantastic, the juicy meat plunked in medianoche bread along with whole grain mustard, fried pickles, and apple fennel slaw ($9).
Beer-can chicken was good too; it gets roasted atop a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I tried some atop Texas toast, with guacamole and gravy. In this guise you can't really tell that it's been cooked with beer, but it's still a lip-smacking sandwich ($8.50). A side of burnt end black eyed peas didn't have any burned ends of brisket or bacon as promised, and was too watery in flavor ($6).
I started off with a plate of smoked dolphin, the locally caught fish flaked and served with crackers, horseradish cream, and lemon wedges (not "smoked" lemons as the menu promises -- but this was day #2 of operation, so gotta give Hogzilla's some slack). Plus the subtly smoked fish was fresh and delicious.
A chocolate-bacon cupcake was good, but the slab of bacon across the top isn't the best way to incorporate the pork. The menu says that the bacon is "mixed" with the cupcake and "candied bacon" would be on top (let out a bit more slack). In this manner it is more like a cupcake with a side of bacon, which isn't the same ($6).
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A menu this large can't be appraised with just a couple of dishes -- I really didn't get down and dirty into the barbecue itself. But for the time being, Hogzilla's looks like a fun place with an intriguing and promising menu. We'll be back to check out some more in due time.