Union Pig and Chicken

Union Pig and Chicken  on UrbanspoonOn Tuesday night, two friends and I visited Pittsburgh’s latest BBQ joint – Union Pig and Chicken in East Liberty. When I think of BBQ I think of pigs, chickens, picnic tables, lots of messy sauces, reasonably priced grub, and cheap beer. I think the Union got about half of the formula right.

Brisket and Greens

The place is fairly small, with two rows of long picnic tables and bench seating. If you’re not comfortable sitting really close to strangers, then this might not be the place for you.

The menu is fairly simple: various types of pig, chicken, a few side dish options, whiskey, and beer (soft drinks too if you are into that sort of thing with your bbq). The prices don’t seem overly high until you realize that none of the meal options come with a side dish. So if you buy the $14 brisket, you still have to pay an additional $4 for greens, $5 for mac and cheese, etc. Even a roll is a buck – are you kidding me?! It adds up quickly, as we spent just over $100 between the 3 of us.

Fried Chicken, Mac n Cheese, Ribs & Slaw

Our only other gripe was the beer selection. I love East End Brewing, and micro beers in general, but when I’m stuffing my face with meat, I’d like a light beer to go along with it. Where’s the PBR and Miller Lite? Not to mention that you can get the same East End beers just a few blocks down at Buffalo Blues for $2 cheaper.

As for the food, we went with the brisket, ribs, and fried chicken. We also tested out a few different sides: cole slaw, greens, and mac and cheese. All of the meat had a great smoked flavor. The ribs are not boiled, so they don’t fall off the bone, but they are very tender. The fried chicken was excellent and I think it was the most economical option. My tray was piled high with chicken parts.

We were most disappointed with the $14 brisket, which only amounted to 4 or 5 small slices. It tasted great, but the portion was too small. To quote one of my fellow eaters: “Tasty, but expensive for what you get. Slightly disappointed. They’ve got nothing on the Royal Oaks in Youngstown.”

Also, the 2 sauce choices were good, but I’d like a few more options. Maybe something more spicy? And a Carolina mustard sauce would be a great addition.

I really loved the mac and cheese. Really cheesy and really creamy. The greens and slaw were both also really good. We had no complaints with our side dishes. I’d go back just to eat a bowl of that mac and cheese.

Overall, I’d say check the place out if you are a fan of BBQ or southern cooking. If you are on a budget, you might want to steer clear. Given the neighborhood that the place is located, I can’t see it being able to maintain steady traffic unless they lower the prices a bit. The food was good, but for my money I’d rather hit up JT’s Rib Shack in Penn Hills.

UPDATE 5-25-12 – My buddy Will (who was with me the on my first visit) has since been back to Union and he says that he did a complete 180. According to him, the prices have dropped slightly and combos have been added to the menu. The place is up to a 61% on Urbanspoon – which is an improvement, but obviously I’m not the only person that had issues with the place.

To quote: “Ok, I’ve done a 180 on this place. The food is better, the menu is better, and we did a better job of choosing from the menu. I’m sold! The smoked pork belly lettuce wraps are mind-blowing!”

It’s nice to see that the place has some supporters in the comments area below.

To answer Scott’s statement: “… apparently unaware of what has been happening in that area for the past 10 years.” – I’ve only lived in Pittsburgh for just under 8 years, so you’re a bit off with that one. I’ve actually been to East Liberty and the surrounding areas quite a bit since I’ve lived here. I wasn’t knocking the neighborhood. I just didn’t think the place’s exact location could sustain such expensive BBQ prices. If they have actually lowered prices, then I guess that kind of proves my point. Either way, I wish them luck.

Post By Mike Martin (69 Posts)

Mike Martin is the creator of the Stuck in Pittsburgh blog. In his spare time he enjoys creating websites, playing baseball, and drinking beer.

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  1. elio says:

    miller lite? why don’t you piss in a bucket and drink it. seriously, why even bother with a beer if you don’t like the flavor.

    • mike says:

      who said I didnt like the flavor? i like a lot of beers including miller lite. when I want to drink large quantities of beer, miller lite is a good choice. same goes when I am stuffing my face full of i want a lite beer.

      thanks for stopping by.

  2. Shawn says:

    East end beers give the local feel. I’d say you are there for the overall experience Kevin is trying to create and he’s not going after the typical bbq joint with cheap beer. It’s a bbq joint worthy of the east end.

    To your point about the neighborhood not being able to support it, you must not go to the east end much as there are a range of places that each create their own experience and draw people from everywhere.

  3. Isn’t this place owned by the same dude who started Salt of the Earth? I gotta check it out then. And did you really ask where the PBR and Miller Lite was? Haha.

  4. Scott says:

    Where are you coming from with the comment about the neighborhood? East Liberty is, hands down, the most dynamic area for development in the city these days. The fact that you don’t know this implies you don’t get to the city much and are apparently unaware of what has been happening in that area for the past 10 years.

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