- Alex Springer
If you're bold enough to add a heap of pulled pork to a hot dog, it's not long before I show up at your door. Such is the case with Porky's Kauai (785 E. 200 South, Lehi, 801-803-3783, porkyskuai.com), a Hawaiian import that's been hanging loose in Utah County since March of this year. Their four-item menu is centered around Kalua pork, which gets added to different franks, sausages and grilled cheese sandwiches to spectacular effect.
The original Porky's is in Waimea, Hawaii, so I was naturally curious about how Utah got so lucky as to be the home of its second location; it's quite a departure from Hawaii's sun-soaked beaches and swaying palms. After getting national recognition as Hawaii's best hot dog in a 2018 roundup from Travel and Leisure, Porky's could have gone anywhere for its expansion. As it happens, Porky's owner Justin Hier is a Brigham Young University alum, which is why he set his sights on Lehi; with family and friends nearby for support, it seemed like a logical next step. I knew BYU had to be good for something...
Those of you familiar with Lehi's main drag know that it's a nice, quiet place to grab a bite to eat while you reminisce about the Lehi Roller Mills' appearance in Footloose—if you're my age, that is. Who knows what today's generation reminisces about in Downtown Lehi? Porky's occupies a cozy space inside the Macey's Shopping Center, and the smell of barbecued pork tickles your nostrils as soon as you get out of the car. I'm still in active carry-out mode, so I masked up and prepared for takeout.
There's something subconsciously relaxing about only having four items, all priced at $8, to choose from—in the era of COVID and conspiracy, I'll take all the subconscious relaxation I can get. If you're the indecisive type, it's not too pricey to order all four options, which is how I handled my inaugural visit. The Number One ($8) and the Number Two ($8) are the hot dog half of the menu, and it's important to note that the only difference is that the Number One is made with Porky's trademark pineapple sausage where the Number Two features an all-beef frank. Both dogs come piled high with tender pulled pork, grilled onions and fresh pineapple, and the bun has been coated in a thin layer of cheese and toasted to give it the structural reinforcement it needs to carry all that tasty luggage.
Shotgunning a gourmet hot dog stuffed with pulled pork and pineapple is always going to be a good idea, so the real decision you have to make before hitting Porky's is whether you want the pineapple sausage or the all-beef frank. Having tried both within minutes of one another, I have to say that the pineapple sausage is the way to go. It's bigger and meatier, leaving just a bit of citrus sweetness on the tongue. It bookends the pork flavors with tart pineapple flavor, with just the right amount of restraint. Of course, the all-beef frank is nothing to scoff at—it's also delicious. The Number One, in all of its Hawaiian-inspired glory, feels like Porky's signature move, however.
The latter half of the menu includes the Number Three ($8), a decadent grilled cheese and pulled pork sandwich, and the Number Four ($8), a more traditional pork rice bowl. The Number Three is made with muenster and Havarti cheeses, whose flavor brawn is enough to tangle with the gargantuan portion of pulled pork that makes up the sandwich's core. Much like adding pulled pork to a hot dog, there's nothing but unadulterated decadence happening here, but there are a few things to keep in mind when bellying up to this beast. All that meat and crispy bread can leave the sandwich a bit on the dry side. This is where Porky's famous sauces become your best friend. Whether you pick the sweet or the sweet & spicy, dunking a corner of the Number Three into these well-blended sauces elevates the whole thing into unexpected levels of greatness. Regardless of what you get at Porky's, make liberal use of this lovely condiment.
There's nothing to complain about with the Number Four either—though it's something a bit more orthodox. That same excellently prepared pulled pork and pineapple mix, served alongside two pillowy scoops of white rice drenched in sweet sauce, is enough to satisfy. I can't help but think you're selling yourself a bit short if this is the only thing you get at Porky's—if you have the choice between just pulled pork and pulled pork on a hot dog, why would you even consider the former? I suppose one reason would be to add a side of traditional Hawaiian mac salad ($2), which is slightly easier to eat with a pork bowl, but that's only because adding any more weight to the hot dogs would be cataclysmic.
Any place that shows hot dogs the respect they deserve by seeing how much additional food can be stuffed into a bun is doing the right thing. I for one am glad that Porky's made that fateful journey across the Pacific. CW