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Lowcountry and Midlands SC barbeque joints worth checking out

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    Lowcountry and Midlands SC barbeque joints worth checking out

    Firstly please understand the SC colloquialism MH imparts is quite true: In SC barbeque is a noun meaning pulled or chopped pork; it is not a verb!

    In no particular order--

    Lowcountry, SC:

    Duke's* Barbeque - Ridgeville, SC
    Melvin's** Barbeque - James Island and Mt. Pleasant, SC
    Bessinger's** Barbeque - West Ashley, SC
    Firey Ron's Hometeam BBQ - West Ashley, SC
    Little Joe's** Barbeque - Goose Creek, SC
    Browns Barbecue - Moncks Corner, SC
    Music Man Barbeque - Moncks Corner, SC
    Sticky Fingers*** - Summerville, Downtown Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, SC

    Midlands, SC:

    Maurice's** Piggy Park - several locations, original is in Cayce, SC
    Shealy's Barbeque - Batesburg-Leesville, SC (many say it is the best in the area)
    Sweatman's**** Barbeque - Eutawville, SC
    Duke's* Barbeque - Orangeburg, SC
    Fat Boy's Barbeque - Chapin, SC

    *= Please be aware that there are several "Duke's Barbeque" joints in the area. They are NOT affiliated with each other and many (like Duke's of Summerville and Walterboro Duke's) are not very good. The one in Ridgeville is the best IMHO; expecially for hash and fried chicken.

    **= The Bessinger patriarch invented the originall SC Mustard sauce at "Joe's Restaurant" in Holly Hill in the 1930s (no longer there). His sons Melvin, Maurice, Thomas and Joe all claim to have have the 'original' recipe from their father and opened their own joints not affliated with their other brothers. Melvin's and Maurice's bottle and sell their sauce - both are SC standards. Each BBQ restaurant is good (Melvin's has the best bacon cheeseburgers around - BTW), but don't mention the other brothers' restaurants while in one - lots of infighting and lawsuits between the brothers and their families - such a shame.

    ***= Be aware that Sticky Fingers is more of a rib joint. Their ribs and specialty sauces are good, but don't expect to find top notch barbeque (pulled / chopped pork). I have been told by several people their brisket is an abomination to the trade - so caveat emptor.

    ****= I have learned that the Sweatman family have sold their restaurant in Eutawville. It used to be the finest barbeque, ribs and banana pudding around, but I have not been since it has changed hands. Caveat emptor.

    On a final note there are several joints (none that are mentioned that I am aware of) that prepare their barbeque gas cookers with liquid smoke, but they have a small pot-belly wood stove or cooker out back burning hickory to give the appearance they slow smoke their product. Some even have food service barbeque brought in like some of the large chains like Jim N Nicks and Smoky Bones - again caveat emptor for imposter slow-smoked SC barbeque. A good sign is that they cover their meat in BBQ sauce instead of serving you the straight dope and letting you sauce it up if you choose to.

    Enjoy the SC Barbeque trail!

    Author Note: I live in the Lowcounty of SC and have much more experience with the ones here - if I left out a good joint in the Midlands out of ignorance of its existance; please correct me.
    Last edited by HC in SC; December 10, 2014, 08:22 AM.

    #2
    Bessinger's West Ashley is the best for me. I really loved that place and was there the last time I was in Charleston back in March 2014. There Friday night Buffet was to die for. Ribs, Pulled pork, and Fried Shrimp was on the bar and all the great Southern veggies including Mac and cheese, sweet potato souffle,and greens. Then they had a huge section of deserts with several pies and cakes. I took my family every Friday night I was home. It was a West Ashley happening!!

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    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      That is a good one for sure - Thomas Bessinger (and family) runs it. When Melvin updated his restatuants with the metal roof and hurricane shutters he was sued by Thomas for proprietay theft. That was several years ago and Melvin has passed on now - maybe the familes can play nice now. Melvin's son David runs the Melvin's joints now.

      You can't go wrong with any of the Bessinger boys' restaurants. We usually go to Little Joe's in Goose Creek because they are the closest to us; but I have zero complaints about any of them.
      Last edited by HC in SC; November 24, 2014, 09:52 AM.

    #3
    Ah ... the Low Country. How I miss it. Once upon a time, we traveled there 3-4 times a year for family vacations. Stopping for Q was always on my agenda. A couple places I found to be good:

    Farm Boys' in Chapin SC. 'Best Barbeque in These Here Parts' is on the sign and they're spot on. I have only eaten their take-out. Their pulled pork was delish. This was the first place that I had SC Mustard based Q, ans WOW! I was hooked. Sides were authentic too. Prices were really good; 2 dinners with for under $18. Banana pudding is killer.

    The Pink Pig in Levy, SC. We were turned on to the place from locals on Hilton Head. At the time, the place had a dirt parking lot and a pink cinder block exterior. My wife & I passed the place by on 3 occasions before we worked up the nerve to go in. Only open limited hours so lunch is the best option. But everything is fresh. Great service and fair prices.


    Little Pigs in Columbia, SC. We went there and had the buffet for a midday meal. Their pulled pork had all 3 regional sauces. An entire smoked pig - EVERYTHING - was cooked and on the buffet too. You could pick at your own meat. That grossed out the wife a tad bit. Good sides. Good greens. A fairly good hash was there too. But the banana pudding seemed like it was made with instant pudding.

    Sticky Fingers on HHI was pretty good for a chain. Had the rib sampler - dry rubbed were best.


    Disccalimer: the opinions above are from a Yankee - but with some southern lineage.

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      #4
      I used to love JB's Smokeshack, but I think it's closed now. Dukes, Kelly's, and Sticky Fingers are pretty decent places!

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        #5
        I’ve enjoyed the Q at Sticky Fingers (Ribs) and at Firey Ron’s. I've been disappointed at a few written up in magazines like Southern Living but haven’t tried the specific locations on your list.

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          #6
          A few notables since original post was penned...
          Swig 'n Swine, one in West Ashley and one in Mt. Pleasant.
          Lewis BBQ, a real taste of Texas in the Lowcountry.
          Rodney Scott has opened his 2nd location, now in Downtown Charleston.

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            #7
            I don't believe Little Joe's is around anymore. The only barbecue going in Goose Creek these days is Three Little Pigs. Not sure on the quality but I don't believe it's inedible.

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