We are fortunate to have so many high quality barbecue joints in the Champaign-Urbana area. Even better, they are all different, providing us with diverse styles, and I love them all. With so much competition, you better be good to stick around. I love being able to choose what suits my mood on a given day. I enjoy making barbecue at home, but these joints all do barbecue way better than I do.
So, on a lazy chilly Sunday, our family treated ourselves to some Wood N’ Hog barbecue to go and enjoy in the comfort of home. We enjoyed some great food and some unique dishes — including something I never ordered at a barbecue joint before that surprisingly stole the show.
Let’s start with traditional. My son ordered the pulled pork sandwich ($8.99 fries included) with the signature mild sauce on the side. Other sauce options besides mild are mixed and hot. The pork was pull-apart tender, moist, and had the perfect amount of smoke. The bun held up well, and the fries were square cut (which I love) and fried well. Their signature sauce was excellent and unique. It’s like a Carolina gold (mustard and vinegar based) but has other ingredients that provided a better flavor and balance than most Carolina gold sauces I’ve had. The sauce complemented all their meats and didn’t overpower, so the smoked meat flavor comes through. And it was wonderful to dunk those fries in the sauce, or do like my son did and drizzle that gold all over the top of fries.
I ordered four chicken wings ($8.99 fries included) tossed in the mild signature sauce. I used to be a hot or extra hot sauce guy, but the older I get, the more my body exacts revenge, so I’ve adjusted (except for the occasional jalapeño popper). These are full-sized chicken wings, and four is plenty to fill you up, especially with the fries. There was an outstanding fry on these wings. The outside was crispy and crunchy, which is amazing considering they were sauced and sat in a to-go container until I got home. The wings were very meaty and wonderfully tender on the inside — some of the best I’ve had.
I also ordered small turkey tips ($11.55 fries included) with mild sauce on the side. I love trying new things, and I have never seen turkey tips on a menu, so I ordered out of curiosity. The turkey tips were prepared and smoked like rib tips but with turkey, of course. I love rib tips, but these turkey tips were boneless, so they were much easier to eat. Cut into cubes like burnt ends, they had a great smoked flavor. I had some nice pieces with good crust and bark and a great smoke ring was visible. These are a great alternative if you don’t like pork, and they’re also offered as a sandwich.
Onto the show stealer of our wonderful Sunday meal: the two-piece fish ($9.99 fries included). I have no earthly idea why I ordered this, but I’m glad I did. I happened to see it on the menu and thought, I have never had fish at a barbecue joint. Sometimes being adventurous pays off, and sometimes you think eating a Carolina reaper pepper sounds like fun, and it ruins your weekend.
This one paid off. The fish fillets were so large I thought they made a mistake and gave me a four-piece instead. The breading on the fish was the best I’ve tasted. You can see all the herbs and spices in the breading, but the reason it’s the best is neither my wife nor I wanted any type of sauce with the fish. I am a barbecue and tartar sauce junkie and wanted none of it. I don’t think I ever ate a piece of fish with zero sauce before Wood N’ Hog’s fried fish. The fry was perfect, and like the chicken wings, it was super crispy on the outside. The fish had a clean mild flavor and was flaky on the inside.
Fries were included with most orders. I didn’t realize that, so I also ordered a side of large fries ($4.99). Much to the delight of my son, who has the metabolism of a marathon runner, we had fries galore. He gladly enjoyed the bonus fries with their signature sauce.
There are two Wood N’ Hog locations: Five Points in Urbana and Downtown Champaign.
Their slogan is All Smoke…No Joke!! And if you doubt that, just drive by their Urbana location. Chances are, you will see and smell smoke billowing out of their smokestack. Try something traditional and try something unique from a Champaign-Urbana owned business.
Wood N’ Hog
101 W University
M-F 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
500 N Walnut
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.