The Yard is really a blessing to the baseball community, you guys. If you haven't been yet, it's a kick-ass pre-game (and post-game and anytime, really) spot in the corner of AT&T Park's Lot A, adjacent to McCovey Cove. It's become a go-to, pre-funk spot for me when hitting up a Giants game, with Anchor Brewing's wonderful beer garden that extends into the closed-off street. But on my last two visits, there was another star of the show and the subject of today's post: The Whole Hog Pulled Pork Sandwich from The Whole Beast.
[jump] But before we go any further, let's be honest with each other. San Francisco's BBQ scene has been lacking for the better part of the last decade. It wasn't until Smokestack in the Dogpatch and Chef John Fink's The Whole Beast popped up that there were any places I felt proud to recommend.
And now, as potential BBQ connoisseur Notorious B.I.G. famously said: “Things done changed.”
Walk into the beer garden at The Yard and The Whole Beast's counter is to your right. The pulled pork sando left such an impression on me before Sunday's game against the Angels that I ordered it again before Wednesday's showdown with the Padres. I put my order in at the counter, got a number, and sat down with some friends over Anchor IPA's. It felt like less than five minutes went by when I was presented with my $12 prize: smoked pulled pork that was juicy with crispy pressure points, carrot and apple slaw, thin-cut pickles, and just the right amount of a Carolina-style BBQ sauce inside of a buttery, firm brioche bun. My mouth watered with every bite, as I grasped this massive creation with two hands and elbows chicken-winged to my sides for style points. The smoke flavor was balanced and every ingredient in the sandwich complemented the other. Someone was really thinking when they came up with this recipe.
The Whole Beast prides itself in making “the centerpiece to any occasion, an entire animal raised and prepared in a holistic manner, paying special attention to animal husbandry. From pig, lamb, cow, to fowl, no waste is produced. We use and cook the whole beast.” It's this kind of attention to detail and respect to process that made The Whole Hog more than just another sandwich.
On both visits, there was abundant space in the beer garden and even more in the large pop-up parklet outside the fence. The Yard clearly feels like it still has a ways to go before it's consistently slammed on game days, so go take advantage of the pleasant atmosphere before the inevitable playoff rush crowd. (See what I did there?)
1. The Fried Kale is out of this world. Lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and a red pepper sauce. Felt kinda sinful. I like that.
2. Rosemary fries were definitely upper-echelon.
3. Did you know that BBQ and beer go well together? Anchor has 12 rotating taps within an arm's reach of your sandwich.
4. The Whole Beast kinda made their name on the lamb poutine: fries covered in lamb gravy with lamb chorizo, chopped lamb, and sheep's milk cheese curds. Yes, please.
The Whole Beast, at The Yard at Mission Rock , At&T Parking Lot A, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.