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Bite of the Week: Pork Belly Banh Mi at West Columbia's Savage Craft Ale Works

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$13. 430 Center St.

Cognizant that drinking and eating are intertwined Carolina pastimes that deserve equal attention, our city’s newest craft beer bastion truly crushes it with its crave-able pub grub. The rib-sticking offerings also serve a dual purpose, helping to sop up booze and slow the roll on your body’s alcohol absorption.

Technically the biergarten, taproom and rooftop sections each get their own designated eats, which is a cute idea, but these rules seem fast and loose. Just because you’re sitting out on a picnic table doesn’t mean you are forbidden from partaking in something off the indoor list.

There’s a slew of fire choices to pick from, and I found myself vacillating between the “Pulp Fiction”-inspired royale with cheese, a duck confit dagwood and Thai-chili-sauced gator bites before conquering my indecision by vowing multiple return engagements.

While I’m always down for a new version of the French-Vietnamese amalgam born on the streets of Saigon, I experienced FOMO watching one tasty-looking order after another come out of the kitchen. But after one bite of my banh mi, my stomach swooned in appreciation.

The thin crust of the toasty, buttery baguette gives way to a thick, juicy and lightly charred cut of juicy pork belly. A patch of pickled onions, cucumbers and carrots provide crunch and a delightful tangy counterpunch. The brine ratio is on point, too, with just the right amount of vinegar. A dab of sweet aioli and fresh cilantro put a bow on the flavor sensation.

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