Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’

On a quick weekend meet up in southern Michigan, we visited Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’ (such a great name!) in Benton Harbor, MI. This was our second visit to the restaurant; we tried them out back in November and were so enamored that we jumped at the chance to come back. Both times we ordered ribs and a pulled pork sandwich. We decided to forgo the sides the second time since we were not overly impressed during our first visit (I’m telling you, we’re really picky about our sides).

The atmosphere of Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’ threw me the first time. There are bare concrete floors. The seating is an eclectic mix of old wooden tables, metal chairs with vinyl-covered seats, and tables with aluminum legs and formica tops. You order at a counter from a handwritten, dry-erase board hung from the ceiling. I was underwhelmed when I first walked in. But after tasting the food, I was sold on the whole thing. Bring on the quirk—and the barbecue!

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The ribs were to die for on our first visit. Tasty, falling off the bone, succulent: everything you ever wanted in a rack of ribs. Unfortunately, when we went the second time, the ribs came with a side of disappointment. They seemed either undercooked or overcooked. We had to work to get the meat of the bone and the flavor just wasn’t there. They seemed to be lacking a coating of barbecue sauce all over. However, because their first impression was spot on, I’ll be willing to go back a third time to give them a chance to redeem themselves.

On the upside, the pulled pork sandwich was as marvelous the second time around. Tender, juicy meat. Excellent flavor. It is served sauce-free on a standard bun. The meat does not need to the assistance of sauce and is only improved by it. I quite enjoyed it and I think Sam agrees.

(our scores will be an aggregate of our two experiences at Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’)

  • Ribs: Samuel B  Emily B–
  • Pulled Pork: Samuel A  Emily A
  • Sides: Samuel C Emily B–
  • Dessert: n/a
  • Atmosphere: Samuel B+  Emily B+
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