Curtis Hines, the chef at the city’s newest restaurant, may have a professional background in Italian fine dining, but now he’s cooking up one of the South’s favorite comfort food.
“I grew up in North Carolina – THE place for barbecue,” said Hines, who opened The Dixie Pig on Gold Hill Road with his business partners Feb. 1.
And then, throwing down the gauntlet, he adds: “Eastern North Carolina barbecue is the best in the whole world.”
Which Carolina has the best barbecue may be endlessly debated, but one thing is certain – the Dixie Pig has opened to a huge response from Fort Mill and Tega Cay.
“We fill the barbecue niche, but we’re eclectic,” Hines said of his food, inspired by recipes learned from his mother, Virginia.
“My family ate two or three meals together every day. My mother was not trained, but I call her a chef. That’s the way I grew up. My training is by osmosis.”
The Dixie Pig’s menu includes barbecue standards like pulled pork, hash, slaw (red and white), macaroni and cheese and baked beans. Hines also serves up St. Louis-style ribs and brisket is available on Wednesdays.
Diners looking for something a little out of the ordinary for a barbecue joint may try the French dip sandwich, thin-sliced prime rib with Swiss and provolone cheese, sauteed onions and garlic mayo, or “The Paulie,” a sandwich with pulled pork, bratwurst, fried pork belly, Swiss and provolone and Dixie Gold sauce, the restaurant’s mustard-based barbecue sauce.
Starters include jalapeno pimiento cheese served with fresh fried pork rinds and an instant classic, the smoked Cajun shrimp with remoulade.
“We’ve gone through two cases a shrimp in a day,” Hines said of the new menu item. “They’re just flying out the door.”
In addition to the Dixie Gold mustard sauce, barbecue lovers can try three other house-made condiments for their pork or chicken: the vinegar-based House, tomato-based Memphis Magic or the Alabama White, a mayo, buttermilk and apple cider vinegar sauce perfect on chicken or hush puppies.
Pretty much everything but the fries and ice cream are made from scratch, right down to the bacon bits on the restaurant’s salad offerings. Hines doesn’t use fat back in his recipes and makes his own stocks and broths.
The small but mighty dessert menu includes homemade banana pudding, peanut butter pie, pecan pie, a recipe Hines has been perfecting for 20 years, and the decadent Black Betty – a warm Krispy Creme donut topped with homemade cheesecake, then drizzled with tart raspberry and lemon butter cream sauces. Rice Krispies are sprinkled on top for added texture.
“It’s my personal favorite,” Hines said. “It’s almost like a palette cleanser.”
Tega Cay’s Dixie Pig is a second location, the first opening in Rock Hill in 2015.
“We found out that what we did works, and we have been trying to open a second location since then,” Hines said.
After a couple of years of searching and various locations falling through, Hines and business partners Paul Pflug and Paul Pagan found the perfect place, owned by John Sherwood, a member of the restaurant’s investment group. The property was recently annexed into Tega Cay, and a separate smoke room built. The restaurant was most recently the Patriot Taphouse and Grill.
“We’re so honored and pleased to be in Tega Cay,” Hines said. “It’s been huge.”
The Dixie Pig held a soft opening Feb. 1. At lunch, they served local police, fire, utility and government workers. Family and friends were invited to eat dinner that evening, and passers-by soon stopped in, seeing the cars outside the restaurant.
“Our soft opening became a sledgehammer,” Sherwood said.
He expects the family-friendly Dixie Pig to succeed in Tega Cay, “without question.” He’s looking forward to warmer weather, when families can sit out on the roughly 2,000-square-foot patio, which he says is the best in York County.
“You can’t beat good Carolina barbecue,” Sherwood said of the Pig’s potential. “The food is so good, the sauces are fabulous and there’s just so much customer loyalty.”
The Dixie Pig, 2150 Gold Hill Road, is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. For details, visit thedixiepigbbq.com or call 803-396-5600.