At first, I was mildly disappointed that Bob’s Pig Shop, 829 N. Ash in Pauls Valley, was not a place to buy pigs and/or clothes for them; but, as I took a gander at my surroundings, that would soon turn to porcine elation as I saw a dining room full of locals chowing heartily on barbeque pig-meat, the lingering smell causing me to smack my well-worn lips in anticipation.
The menu—complete with a highly recommended tale about the origin of Bob’s on the back—proudly touts its meat, cooked in an nearly 90-year-old brick pit with a hand-drawn fire daily, with special consideration given to the controversial “original recipe” of their beloved large Pig Sandwich ($7.00).
As much grief as I receive for ordering sandwiches at barbeque joints, it was lunch and I said “damn the man” and put in for one anyway, as well as the original-sounding Washita Valley Lobster ($6.50), another sandwich comprised of their “fresh-caught” chicken fried steak; a large helping of seasoned fries ($3.50) was ordered for the table too.
Filled with framed newspapers featuring big moments in Oklahoma history, as well as faded pictures from the life of Bob’s, the amount of character this small house had was a bit rustically overwhelming but universally priceless, especially after the amount of generic Pinterest-approved eateries I have sauntered into lately. (Looking back on it now, I think I might have even saw a photo of Bruce Springsteen at Bob’s, from sometime in the mid-70s, but, to be fair, many people in rural Oklahoma resembled members of the E Street Band back then.)
I was on metaphorical fire, however, when I took that first bite of the remarkable Pig Sandwich; filled with far more than a handful of marinated shredded pork, what made it click for me was the impeccable mélange of spicy pickle relish mixed deep into the meat. Plenty of heat and meat served on a toasted bun, it’s easy to see why this sandwich is loved down here.
In addition, the bowl of pinto beans was so much more than a simple add-on; man, these frijoles could have easily been their own meal, with a hearty kick to the teeth that I wasn’t expecting but said thank you for anyway. I’m thinking the next time I go back, a large bowl of beans—maybe a bit of their chili too—might be the call I need to answer.
Dusted with a bit of what I’m pretty sure is catfish seasoning, the seasoned fries are also a top-notch selection. A big basket of these hand-cut potatoes came to our table and they went a little too fast for such a large helping, the coating going real good with the homemade barbeque sauce, smearing every last drop with each leftover fry; seriously: who needs ketchup?
The comically-monikered Washita Valley Lobster—actually a chicken fried steak sandwich, mind you—was quite the Pauls Valley lunch-time surprise, featuring the meat of a wily local cow, tenderized and seasoned with a crisp coating, thrown between two pieces of toast with a bit of lettuce, tomato and lightly smothered that old Okie fave, ranch dressing.
While I never did find a shop for hogs and assorted hog couture, I was still thoroughly delighted by this big oinking house of pig meat and so much more that’s ruled the Valley since, according to the menu, the Great Depression. Cómpralo ya!