In Palm Harbor there is a quaint, hidden area called Ozona. It has a road with an antique shop, a bar and grill, and several other cute little shops all decorated artistically on their exteriors. One of the buildings has wooden picnic tables and a large pig sign out front. That’s where our up tale for today starts: The Ozona Pig.
The Ozona Pig is a curious mash of slanted-humor décor and southern wood themed restaurant, but it somehow all works together. The food reflects this trend, being a blend of unique tongue-in-cheek recipes and typical southern BBQ that mingle into one, cohesive menu. Basically, I liked the place a lot! It reminded me of several places I visited as a kid while on summer road trips across the U.S. And just like the best of those places, these guys do their smoking and barbecuing in the back, so it’s all fresh, home made, and delectable! Just a quick word of advice if you’re ordering a lot at once: either eat your food fast or grab one of the tables outside. With the chefs doing all that cooking and Florida being as hot as it is, the air conditioner likes to huff and puff and cool the food down fairly quickly once it hits the front of the house. If you’re an A/C lover like myself and wish to dine inside, simply order in smaller batches to keep the food piping hot.
Laura fancied the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and mac n’ cheese. They did not skimp on the pulled pork; like a certain house made of bricks, Laura’s sandwich was overflowing with pig! It had light seasoning that mildly interacted with the delicious pork, just tweaking it a bit. The real flavor bump came from the sauces (you got to pick from several tableside.) Mild and sweet, hot, and vinegar-based, each worked its magic on the pulled pork, creating differing combos, each checking the boxes of varying geographic BBQ origins. That’s a fancy way of saying, if you’re from a section of the country that sports a particular style of BBQ (sweet, thick sauces, for example,) they’ve got you covered. Those sauces turned her sandwich from pulled pork to singing swine! The coleslaw was made with a thin, liquid base seasoned with pepper that pushed the cabbage to the forefront without making it taste like eating a raw salad. Laura loved it! The mac n’ cheese was a dreamy, creamy bowl that wasn’t on the table for long.
Laura and I also tried their garlic toast, deviled eggs, and BBQ baked beans. The garlic toast (which was kind of shaped like wolf ears) had been grilled, giving it a slightly crusty surface to prevent it from being soggy due to the butter, while also adding those lovely grill marks. It was decent garlic toast, but it was up against the deviled eggs and baked beans, so it wasn’t really a fair fight! Those deviled eggs contained only a little mustard in the mix with a light dusting of paprika, keeping the yolk flavor intact. The centers were fluffy, airy, and smooth. We could have easily eaten our way through a dozen. The BBQ baked beans, meanwhile, really let the beans’ flavor come through. There was brown sugar, there was maple syrup’s sweetness, there was BBQ sauce, but the beans were the major flavor. It was refreshing to actually taste beans in BBQ baked beans. Many times they’re lost in strong concoctions of sauce, maple syrup, and brown sugar and merely seem a filler component, one meant to fluff up the dish, to simply take up physical space. Happily, this was not the case here and we made short work of them.
Then we came to my meal: the quirky BBQ nachos. The sheer size of the plate was intimidating. Well, until I tried a bite, then I was determined to give it my best effort. A large bed of nacho chips had liberal amounts of hand pulled smoked chicken draped across them. Golden queso had been ladled over everything, much to my delight! The moist chicken had a light smokiness which meant it could have easily stood on its own. However, when combined with the chips and melted cheese, it became something far more than good chicken, it became a sort of uberchicken. But they weren’t done yet! There was a cup of salsa you could sprinkle on, adding some fresh tomato, corn, onion, herbs and more to the mix. Another small cup contained chopped jalapeños, should you desire to kick up the heat a little. So, after a half an hour of munching on nachos, was I victorious in my ambition to finish the plate? Not by the hair of my chinny, chin chin (I hadn’t shaved that day.) But it was sure fun trying!
And thus, our tale ends. If you’re looking for a BBQ place that doesn’t put on airs, just delivers good, solid dishes, I can safely recommend The Ozona Pig. There’s plenty of choices, some classically done and some with clever twists, so you’ll find more than a few that will call out to your tummy. After all, the food there was tasty enough to make this little piggy go waddle, waddle, waddle, all the way home!
The Ozona Pig
311 Orange St. N.
Palm Harbor, FL 34683