Checkered Pig (Danville, Va)

It's nearly midnight as I sit watching a late college football game. The final lingering moments of a wonderful Saturday are spent doing what I truly enjoy. As I reflect on the day, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to be able to fill my weekends with selfish pursuits. Most importantly, I'm blessed with a wife who indulges and supports my very narrow interests. How many wives would spend the early afternoon watching a football game and follow that up with a trip to another state just to try some BBQ....and still tell their husband at the end of the day how much she enjoys their time together? Did I mention she's 6 months pregnant? In summary, she's a saint.

I enjoy all my Saturdays, but this one was particularly special. Katie and I watched my beloved Wolverines move to 3-0 with a somewhat nerve racking 42-37 win over UMass. It was closer than it should have been, but I've learned over the last few years to simply be thankful for the win. The additional stress caused by a late Umass rally helped us both work up an appetite. 

We'd discussed a BBQ roadtrip for the weekend. After some online research, I chose Checkered Pig BBQ in Danville, Va. At about an hour and twenty minutes, the drive was manageable. I was in the mood for ribs and their website promised to deliver some of the best ribs around. 

Checkered Pig is the sister restaurant of Pigs R Us in Martinsville, Va. The ownership also has a nationally recognized competition team that has had very impressive showings at some of the country's top BBQ competitions. They are multiple time grand champions. They've also won many prizes for their ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket. 

Checkered Pig has the ultra casual feel of a sports bar / fast food chain hybrid. We ordered at the counter and the food was brought to our table promptly. Having recently become a brisket aficianado, Katie ordered the beef brisket dinner with green beans and potato salad. I ordered a full rack of ribs with baked beans and slaw. All dinners also included fries and hush puppies.

Katie was very happy with her brisket and I had to agree with her. Though she eventually decided that she preferred Bibs (Winston Salem, NC), I think it was the best brisket I'd ever tasted. In regard to both portion size and quality, all the side items were pretty average.

My rib plate looked promising upon delivery. The portion was substantial. When you order a full rack at Checkered Pig, you absolutely get a full rack of meaty spare ribs. It only took one bite to realize they were worth the drive. The ribs were incredibly tender, but not mushy. The flavor was excellent as well. Checkered pig uses apple wood (my preferred wood) for a sweet, subtle smoke flavor that doesn't over power the meat. The ribs were finished with just a bit of Checkered Pigs' signature grilling sauce. There were additional bottles of the sauce at our table. The sauce was pretty good, but the ribs were great on their own. I didn't feel the need to add any additional sauce.

Our BBQ field trip to Danville, VA turned out as good as we could have hoped. The BBQ was excellent. I hope to see the Checkered Pig group on the competition circuit next season. If your life's travels ever take you to Southern Virginia, I highly suggest a pit stop at the Checkered Pig. If I'm really nice to Katie, maybe  I'll get to make a return trip someday too.


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