1203 N Gloster St., Tupelo, MS • (662) 269-2533 • eatneonpig.com
By Mario Pacetti
I recently had to go out of town to New Albany, Miss., to do a job for Patriot Construction on a Trans-Canada pipeline project. We were only supposed to be there for a couple of days, but in true pipeline fashion, we were put on stand-by for four days.
Vinnie was the last Pacetti boy born before my son, Mac. That was a 39-year drought, so we are thrilled to have some boys to carry on our names.
But let’s get back to talking about food. During my last visit, about two years ago, Vinnie suggested we go try a place called Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen, and boy, did he come through with that recommendation. We loved the food and the restaurant, and I reviewed it in this column.
This time, Vinnie said we needed to go to the Neon Pig and try the Smash Burger. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t figure out where I’d heard it before. I soon realized that the owners of Kermit’s also owned the Neon Pig.
The Neon Pig is in a little strip mall. I was a bit puzzled by the location, but that confusion went away as soon as I walked in. The place had the feel of an old warehouse district, and the décor gave it an aged look, as though it had been there for 50 years.
Now, Vinnie swears on this Smash Burger as the real game changer on the menu. And this burger was voted by Thrillist.com as the best burger in America in 2015. So I was eager to get to eating.
The owners of the Neon Pig claim they are the only Mississippi restaurant to break down cows, pigs, lambs and chickens from local farms in-house. I’m a big supporter of local business, so that made me love the place even more.
The Smash Burger has aged filet, ribeye, sirloin, New York strip and Benton’s bacon all ground together to create a beautiful burger. It’s topped with Benton’s bacon bits, cheddar cheese, house-made pickles, pickled onions and the house’s hoisin sauce, all on a ciabatta bun. The ciabatta bun is the only real choice you can go with on this burger, as it is very juicy, and the crust of the ciabatta keeps the bread from coming apart in your hands.
This burger was the bomb.com. I could have sat there and eaten two of them if I really wanted to hurt myself. I was thrilled about how well all the different ingredients made sense together. And the pickles gave each bite that pop that makes me say, wow!
The curry slaw was smooth tasting, and it held just the perfect amount of curry — enough to give it flavor, but not enough to overpower. Too much curry is not a good thing.
The pimento was probably the best I’ve ever had, and believe me, I’ve eaten it more ways than I can count. There was something about this one that packed in so much flavor. I couldn’t figure out all the ingredients, and of course they were not really wanting to share the recipe, so I just accepted that this dish was going to remain a delicious mystery.
I also bought some duck prosciutto that they made in-house. I have never even heard of duck being prepared like this. I had to buy some. I haven’t opened it yet, as I was waiting to share it with the wife. I’ll let you know next issue how it was.
I don’t understand why we don’t really have any places like the Neon Pig around here, because with all the local farmers and ranchers it would seem to be a no-brainer. I guess I can hope one day we will get a one-stop shop like this.
If you ever find yourself in Tupelo, do yourself a favor and stop in and try the best damn burger around. If this burger had been sold here when I did my best burger challenge last year, it would have won hands down!