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Hiding Out in East Dallas' Whistling Pig, the New Bar by the Guy Behind Cock and Bull

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It was a food critic's seventh-worst nightmare: While trying to get caught up on new bars and restaurants, I found myself at the Whistling Pig, a new bar on Ferguson Road in East Dallas, down an eating partner. Most of chef Asher Stevens' new menu looked good, but the pastrami sandwich and the Cuban were duking it out in my mind, like two heavyweight prize fighters. Both had meat, warmth and oozing cheese pulling for them, and I only have one belly. I had a tough decision to make.

When polled, the entire bar (read: three lonely bar flies including one sour cream salesman who likes to golf) voted for the Cuban sandwich. But I trusted my inner heavyweight and pulled for pastrami. The deli meat is made in house, just like the corned beef for the Reuben sandwich is back at Stevens' first bar and restaurant, the Cock and Bull, and that sandwich has been one of my favorites in Dallas for three years standing.

It's wild how similar the Whistling Pig is to the Bull. The walls are painted the same burgundy color, and despite the large window and door at the entrance, the Pig is almost as dark and dreary. If you prefer to drink in the shadows, Stevens' sequel is another winner.

There are some differences. There's a pair of pool tables in the back, and high ceilings that open the place up a bit. The bar is also a lot larger than the one at the Cock and Bull, and it's bent into a sort of horseshoe, which makes it easier to socialize.

There's also no Reuben on the menu, which is how I found myself staring at that sandwich up above. Asher calls the fried mess you see in front of it Texas toothpicks. They're slivers of onion and deseeded jalapeño deep fried, and I had to stop myself from finishing them. The pastrami was tender but kept its shape when sliced, and it got along fine with the yellow beet mayonnaise that was slathered all over the bread. I vacuumed that sandwich up Conehead-style -- it was gone in a second. And it was more than enough to convince me to make a return visit(s).

Oh, I'll be back for that Cuban. And next time I'm bringing reinforcements.

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