I’ve always heard great things about the sandwiches at Dancing Pigs Deli (https://www.dpdeli.com/), but it is way across town from me, south of downtown Orlando on South Orange Avenue. But a few weeks ago, on a day I had an errand to run in the area, I knew I had to make a special stop to try Dancing Pigs Deli for the first time. I tried stopping by earlier this year, but it was a weekend, and they were closed. According to their Facebook page, their hours are Monday through Friday, 11 AM to 3 PM (which contradicts the website with Saturday hours), so plan accordingly.
There are a few other foodie destinations I like out that way, and I made a morning of it. Sister Honey’s Bakery (http://www.sisterhoneys.com/) is a tiny operation with no seating, strictly a to-go bakery. You don’t always know what they’ll have from one day to the next, but my wife loves her vanilla bean pound cake, so I picked up a slice for her. She also has some excellent pies: coconut cream, strawberry cream cheese, blueberry cream cheese, and key lime. Believe it or not, I try to avoid sweets, but fruity, creamy, cheesy pies are probably my favorite desserts.
My next stop was Freshfields Farm (http://www.freshfieldsfarm.com/category/orlando/), a permanent farmer’s market with fantastic prices on fresh produce (on one side of the building) and meats and cheeses (on the other side). Each side has its own separate entrance with its own cashiers, and there is a snack bar window in the middle, where you can get giant smoked turkey legs without paying theme park admission or dealing with gaggles of tourists. And they’re $5 each! Let’s see Mickey’s House do that. Did I bring home a turkey leg? You’re wrong, fearless readers — I brought home TWO! And I also got the biggest blueberries I’ve ever seen, and a pound of sliced Cabot American and provolone cheeses for $3.50 each. Even Aldi can’t compete with that.
Then I drove a few miles further south on Orange to Dancing Pigs Deli, which is in a nondescript and easy-to-miss strip of shops. It’s a small place and definitely not fancy, but don’t be daunted. If you’re reading The Saboscrivner, you probably already know those restaurants can be hidden gems and are always worth taking a chance on. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was some shelves of groceries:
The menu is on the wall above the counter, but I had already studied it online (which you should probably do, due to this image quality):
This was a Friday, but on Monday through Thursday, they have different specials, all made in-house, including meatballs on Mondays, roast leg of lamb on Wednesdays and roast turkey breast on Thursdays. I’m sure the leg of lamb sandwich is not baaaaaaad.
Since I couldn’t decide, I chose to order the Steer sandwich to eat there, and a Muffaletta to bring home for later. Typically I’ll gravitate toward Italian cured meats like salami and prosciutto when given the choice, but I’ve been on a real roast beef kick lately. The Steer ($7.50) contains rare roast beef, sautéed onions, goat cheese, horseradish, and au jus on a French roll, and if you ask me, a roast beef sandwich without sauteed/grilled/caramelized onions and horseradish just isn’t a roast beef sandwich. Moreso than salami, roast beef goes well with almost any cheese, from provolone to pepper jack to underappreciated American, but I was excited to try it with goat cheese.
I chose wisely. So wisely. It was delicious; definitely one of the better roast beef sandwiches I’ve had anywhere. It came with the cup of au jus and potato salad that was just okay. I’m honestly not a fan of “wet” or “dipped” or even open-face soggy sandwiches you have to eat with a knife and a fork, but I did dip some chunks of beef and bread in the au jus, and it was like a rich broth that would make a perfect French onion soup. It was good enough to drink, and I did sip whatever was left. (Don’t judge me!)
The goat cheese was very soft and spread onto the lightly-toasted roll, which was the perfect way to do it. I never thought of spreading cream cheese on a roast beef sandwich, but it would actually be great (especially combined with horseradish and onions). The goat cheese had the same soft, creamy texture with a little bit of funkiness that worked well with the other ingredients.
I had the muffaletta sandwich ($8.50 for a half-muff) at home the next day, and it was very good too. It contains Genoa salami, mortadella, pepperoni, ham, Swiss cheese, olive-giardiniera salad, and is served on “Sesame Jazz bread.” I am not an olive lover, but I’ll always try the chopped olive salad on a muffaletta. My gold standard remains the one at Central Grocery on Decatur Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter, which is served cold instead of hot. This one was originally served hot, but since I ate it cold out of my fridge, I think it was even better, after the flavors had a chance to mingle and marinate for 24 hours. The Sesame Jazz bread was still crispy even after its time chilling overnight, which was a nice touch.
For this sandwich, I got a side of macaroni salad, which was better than the potato salad, but not quite as good as my homemade one or Poke Hana’s.
I have no idea when I’m going to be back down that way again, but I hear that “Chili Daddy” sets up inside of Dancing Pigs Deli and sells different kinds of chili when the weather cools down, so that sounds worthy of a return trip. If you ever find yourself in the SoDo region or with any business south of downtown Orlando, drive the extra few miles and check the place out. I’m glad Orlando is experiencing a sandwich shop renaissance over the last few years, with so many exquisite and unique contenders like Bad As’s Sandwich, Stasio’s Italian Deli & Market, and Manzano’s Deli joining stalwarts like LaSpada’s and Pom Pom’s, and Dancing Pigs Deli is one more worthwhile destination. I promise I’ll never Steer you wrong. (Seriously, try the Steer!)