Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pigging Out: Eli's Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwich

Most people reading this blog will already know that I’m now working weekends at Dojo Gelato. If you were coming here for my unbiased ice cream reviews, then you should probably go somewhere else. I am no longer unbiased. Dojo Gelato is the best thing you can put in your mouth.

Working at the Doj' has been challenging in ways I couldn’t have imagined, exciting, rewarding and I get to say I work at Cincinnati’s best and oldest public market. I also get to do a lot more eating and shopping there. I’m conveniently at the market before there’s a line at Blue Oven. I get a vendor discount at most places. As far as fringe benefits go, a job at Findlay Market is pretty sweet if you’re obsessed with food. And lately, I’ve been extra obsessed with the pulled pork sandwich at Eli’s Barbecue.

You can find him under a white tent, outside on the south side of the market building with a chalkboard sign. There’s one sandwich on the menu. You can get away with that if your one sandwich is phenomenal.

Michael isn’t one to dole out praise when it isn’t due. So when he returned from his lunch break and declared he’d had the best pulled pork sandwich of his life, I took him seriously. One of my coworkers ordered the sandwich on her break. Same results. After that whenever either of them talked about the sandwich they got a glassy, far-away look in their eyes.

It was a few weeks before I finally got around to trying it and my expectations were sky high. Eli’s operation is as small as it gets. With one sandwich on the menu, there’s one side offered – coleslaw, cut thick and generous with a creamy dressing.

When you order your sandwich, and I know you will, Eli throws down some pork shoulder on the flat top, sautéing it until it gets these crunchy caramelized bits, like a crust. He uses a pizza cutter to break it up and give it the right texture. The bun is buttered and toasted on the griddle, the pork meets the bun, gets a dose of tangy barbecue sauce and it’s served open-faced with coleslaw on top. Actually that’s optional, but only a fool would ask for the coleslaw on the side. Hand over your five dollars, take napkins and a fork. Bring your sandwich to the Biergarten on the Elm Street side and enjoy with a cold Hudy Amber.

Get this sandwich. GET IT. And stop by Dojo afterwards, I’ll more than likely be slingin' ice cream. Just don’t expect me to be unbiased about our gelato, or Findlay Market, it’s the best place you can be in Cincinnati on a Saturday.