There’s a lot to like about Pig Floyd’s, the self described Urban Barbakoa, beginning with the whimsical name. I also like what they’ve done to the place. The tiny freestanding building at 1326 N. Mills Ave. has never looked better. It was essentially gutted and bears little resemblence to the restaurant that used to be home to Atilla’s Steak & Salad (simply Steak & Salad before that), Friends Restaurant, and Kim Long.
The decor befits the urban designation, with whitewashed brick walls, bare floor, metal chairs and whirligig light fixtures. An open kitchen and a bar to sit and eat at were nice touches, too. And although some of the previous tenants had tables outside, they didn’t have the built-out patio that Floyd’s owners installed, adding a wall to shield some of the unattractive traffic from Mills Avenue.
And I liked most of the food I sampled, though I have to tell you that I have no idea what the speciality is here. By that I mean, I can walk into 4 Rivers Smokehouse and know immediately that brisket is its specialty. Or that Bubbalou’s forte is ribs and you go to Wildside for pulled pork. You’ll find both of those barbecue staples here, but neither presents itself as the focus.
It wasn’t until my second visit, after I had paid for my lunch and taken a seat, that the owner, Thomas Ward, told me when I brought the issue up that Pig Floyd’s wants to be known for its sandwiches and tacos. Good, then, that a sandwich was what I had ordered, the one known on the menu as the Big Floyd.
It was indeed a large sandwich with, interestingly enough, brisket and pulled pork between the Hawaiian buns. It also had sausage and slaw and a bit of sweet barbecue sauce, which I countered with a spicier number. It was a good sandwich, though perhaps a bit pricey at $9.49. That did include a side dish, and the black beans and rice was a hearty portion if not particularly spiced enough. I also had a taste of the seasoned fries. I appreciate that they’re trying to offer something more than the usual boring fries, but I think they could pull back a bit on the nutmeg. The yuca fried were a much more enjoyable option.
On a previous visit I had sampled the pork belly taco, and I liked that very much, too. The fatty belly, smoked as most of the meats are over oakwood, had the same citrus peanut slaw that was on the Big Floyd sandwich.
It was only the ribs that truly disappointed. The half slab, served on a pig-shaped cutting board, I had on my first visit had a heavily charred crust, which is not necessarily a bad thing when we’re talking about barbecue. But beneath the char the meat had turned nearly to mush.
Service ranged from friendly to less so. The first time I visited and walked up to the counter to place my order, the young man there simply looked at me, without greeting, as though it were my place to make the first move. I know better, and I simply stared at him until he spoke, uttering a sort of what-can-I-get-you sound. On another visit, a young woman reached in front of me to grab a metal bucket from the counter, telling her colleague who was taking my order that she was going to count the tips. Bet there could have been more of them. Others were friendlier and had ready smiles, and I noticed staff members asking guests if they needed anything and fetching drink refills.
Ward, by the way, is the former owner of the Treehouse food truck. He sold that business and moved to Puerto Rico to open a restaurant before returning to open Pig Floyd’s. The Puerto Rican connection gives some clue to the barbakoa description — many Latin American countries used that Basque word to describe their barbecue. Yuca, black beans and rice, and fried plantains are the only obvious nods to that cuisine.
The “Pig-thagorean Theorem” on the menu goes with neither a Latin American or rock band theme. It’s supposed to be a wordplay on the Pythagorean Theorem that states the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. (I always thought that was the Scarecrow’s Theorem.) Sometimes you can go too far with clever. Best to stick to simple. And flaunt your specialty.
Pig Floyd Urban Barbakoa is at 1326 N. Mills Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, including late night (midnight) on Fridays and Saturdays. The website is not yet functional. The phone number is 407-203-0866.