South Carolinians are nothing if not passionate about their barbecue. Go ahead, ask some locals, and they
won’t hesitate to share their favorite barbecue joint. Here in the South, it’s all about pork that has been cooked low and slow in a smoky pit.
But that hasn’t stopped some brisket masters from coming into the city, giving residents and visitors a taste of something new. Mouth-watering barbecue can be found all around the Charleston area so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample some ‘que.
But before you dive into a plate piled high, you’ll need some education on South Carolina barbecue. This is the only place where you’ll find all four kinds of barbecue sauces: mustard, vinegar and pepper, light tomato and heavy tomato.
Mustard sauce is unique to South Carolina and originated from German immigrants who settled in the middle of the state, combining their love of mustard with a love of pork, according to the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.
The department of tourism also notes on its official barbecue website that vinegar and pepper sauce are popular along the coast and add some heat to the barbecue. The light tomato sauce is basically a vinegar and pepper sauce with ketchup added for a little sweetness. The heavy tomato is also sweet and the most common sauce used in the United States.
Now that your mouth is watering, head to one of these restaurants for a heaping plate of barbecue and sides of coleslaw, baked beans and mac ‘n’ cheese:
Bessinger’s Barbeque (bessingersbbq.com)
A family-owned restaurant since 1960, Bessinger’s serves up fresh pork shoulder and hams, basted in one of their sauces. Founder Thomas Bessinger has been making his own mustard sauce for 60 years, but don’t ask about the ingredients – it’s a secret.
1602 Savannah Highway in Charleston
Cumberland Smokehouse (cumberlandsmokehouse.com)
Brisket bacon cheeseburger, anyone? Or maybe a pulled pork sandwich with a side of BBQ duck fat fries? Yes, please! Cumberland also has a wide selection of cocktails, bourbon and beers to wash down your barbecue meal.
5 Cumberland St. in downtown Charleston
Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ (hometeambbq.com)
The crew at Home Team has created a menu filled with comfort food, barbecue and South-ern fare. Order up salads, tacos, sandwiches and wraps or get the full barbecue experi-ence with the dry rubbed ribs, chicken and pork shoulders.
New location: 126 Williman St. in downtown Charleston
1205 Ashley River Road in Charleston
2209 Middle St. on Sullivan’s Island
Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q (jimnnicks.com)
Whether it’s ribs, pork, chicken or brisket, all the dishes at Jim ‘N Nick’s have the same three ingredients: smoke, meat and time. Order up some classic pulled pork, beef brisket or smoked ham for a memorable meal.
288 King St. in downtown Charleston
4964 Center Pointe Drive in North Charleston
Opening soon: 1486 Stuart Engals Blvd. in Mount Pleasant
Lewis Barbecue (lewisbarbecue.com)
John Lewis takes his meats seriously, perfecting a taste uniquely his own. In 2010, Lewis helped open Franklin Barbecue in Austin, pioneering a new flavor for Austin barbecue. Two years later, he opened La Barbecue in Austin, gaining accolades and admirers. Earlier this year, Lewis brought his brand of Texas barbecue to Charleston, opening Lewis Barbecue to much praise and fanfare.
464 N Nassau St. in downtown Charleston
Melvin’s Barbecue (melvinsbbq.com)
Smoking pork since 1939, Melvin’s is a staple when it comes to Charleston barbecue. This long-time local restaurant serves up some of the best St. Louis style pork ribs, chicken and “Boston Butts” BBQ in the South – all with the family’s secret mustard sauce recipe. Feel like something a little different? Order up the cheeseburger praised by Emeril Lagasse.
925 Houston Northcutt Blvd. in Mount Pleasant
538 Folly Road in Charleston
Smoke BBQ (smokebbq.kitchen)
The space may be small but the food is overflowing with flavor. Order a meat platter of smoked brisket or slow smoked pork. Or try a signature sandwich – the Smokey Chicken Salad or The Cuban with slow smoked pork, ham, house pickles, swiss and mojo aioli.
487 King St. in downtown Charleston
Swig & Swine (swigandswinebbq.com)
Barbecue plates, rib plates and plenty of apps like pork rinds and pimento cheese will leave you stuffed and satisfied. Also, watch for a second location opening in Summerville soon.
1217 Savannah Highway in Charleston
Coming soon: Scott’s Bar-B-Que (thescottsbbq.com)
Acclaimed pitmaster Rodney Scott has attracted people from all over to Scott’s
Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, S.C., and now he’s moving into Charleston. Scott cooks the whole hog overnight in custom-built wood-burning pits. Founded in 1972 by his parents, Scott cooked his first hog when he was just 11. So let’s say he knows a thing or two about slow cooking a hog. When news broke that Scott was opening a location in Charleston, mouths were watering all over the city. According to news reports, Scott plans to open at 1011 King St. in downtown Charleston by the end of 2016.