Let the “BarBeQue” War Begin in Charleston!

The past year has seen a heated battle between old and new BBQ restaurants.  Over the past year 2017, we have seen newcomers arrive on the BBQlandscape.  John Lewis brought his Texas brisket to town and Rodney Scott has brought his whole hog vinegar laced BBQ to downtown.  And don’t forget Alabama’s Jim ‘N Nick’s, a few years earlier.

This BBQ blog article breaks down and list some of the old and new Charleston BBQ restaurants.  The competition has really heated up with old places like Bessinger’s, Dukes, Kelly’s, and Melvin’s now taking on new kids on the block like Home Team BBQ, Lewis BBQ, Rodney Scott’s, and Swig & Swine.  Think about which is/are your favorite(s)!

What sets all these old and new BBQ restaurants apart – is it their sauces? Their rubs?  Their precooking basting or brining?  The family friendly internal setting? A modern looking interior? Diversity of food options? Beer to wash down the pork? Rib options?  Great service?  Reasonable prices?  Buffet/all you can eat?  Fast service? Accessible locations? These are all factors to help determine your likeability!

First, the Old School, many of these places have branched out to offer other types of BBQ from wings to pork-skins and from brisket to burnt ends.  Several of these older BBQ dining spots have also added a variety of veggies (even Brussel Sprouts and Beets to augment Greens, Limas, & Green Beans).

Bessinger’s – website = http://www.bessingersbbq.com/; location = 1602 Savannah Hwy./West Ashley; Go To Item(s) = Mustard based BBQ sandwich called “Big Joe” and Huge perfectly fried onion ring; and, Above the Top = Bonus Buffet Friday to Sunday great assortment of BBQ, veggies, and other items.

Dukes – website/facebook = https://m.facebook.com/Dukes-Barbecue-105657326153745/?_rdr; location = 331 Folly Rd./James Island; Go To Item(s) = Chopped pork and fried chicken; and, Above the Top = City Paper readers voted best buffet in Charleston (be sure and try the collards, corn fritters, fried okra, and banana pudding).

Kelly’s – website = http://www.kellysbarbq.com/; location = 10475 Hwy. 78 East/Summerville; Go To Item(s) = BBQ with various hot/temp sauces (mustard, ketchup, & vinegar), bacon cole slaw, and banana pudding; and, Above the Top = Buffet with excellent variety of vegetables (try the cabbage casserole, salads, and ribs/chicken/fish options during certain days (Open Wednesday thru Saturday).

Mamma Brown’s – website = http://mammabrownsbbq.com/; location = 2840 N. Hwy. 17 North/Mt. Pleasant; Go To Item(s) = Vinegar/pepper based BBQ, collards, and seasonal squash (from their Kingstree garden); and, Above the Top = Meat options of pork, ribs, chicken, turkey, & brisket, plus chicken/sausage peurlo.

Melvin’s – website = https://www.melvinsbbq.com/; locations = 538 Folly Rd./James Island & 925 Houston Northcutt Blvd./Mt. Pleasant; Go To Item(s) = Mustard based BBQ sandwich (family related to Bessinger’s listed above), onion rings, and home cooked sides (baked beans, butter beans, collards, hash & rice, etc.); and, Above the Top = For a BBQ place they have super hamburgers/cheeseburgers, on Fridays try the burnt ends and Saturdays either the beef brisket or St. Louis low/slow ribs.

Here come the New BBQ Kids on the Charleston Blocks – John Lewis with their Hot Guts, Home Team BBQ with their Wings and Alabama White Sauce, Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, Swig ‘n Swine with their Burnt Ends, Smoke  BBQ with their two types of Beef Brisket, and Jim ‘N Nicks and their delicious Biscuits.

Home Team BBQ – website = https://hometeambbq.com/; locations = 1205 Ashley River Rd./West Ashley, 126 Williman St./downtown Charleston, & 2209 Middle St./Sullivan’s Island; Go To Item(s) = BBQ pork, ribs, & brisket plus smoked chicken wings with Alabama white sauce, embellished with super sides; and, Above the Top = Of course the food is above average (pork sliders, tacos/burritos, smoked turkey, variety of BBQ sauces), but also the West Ashley location has great live music and libations to wet your whistle, Sullivan’s trivia, and Downtown music when the weather warms up.

John Lewis — website = http://lewisbarbecue.com/; location = 464 N. Nassau St./downtown Charleston; Go To Item(s) = It’s all about the Meat as Texan John Lewis brought his cuisine to Charleston (pork, beef ribs, TX Hot Guts sausage, & beef brisket) ; and, Above the Top = Sides such as cowboy pinto beans, corn pudding, and don’t forget their specialty drinks.

Rodney Scott’s — website = http://www.rodneyscottsbbq.com/; location = 1011 King St./downtown Charleston; Go To Item(s) = Whole hog pork barbecue cooked from the whiskers to the tail, fresh cut fries, baked beans, & tasty cornbread; and, Above the Top = Don’t forget the ribs, chicken, catfish, or prime rib sandwich.

Smoke BBQ — website = http://smokebbq.kitchen/; location = 487 King St./downtown Charleston & 713 Coleman Blvd./Mt. Pleasant; Go To Item(s) = Southern blues paired with BBQ and smoked meats, plus locally sourced fixings; and, Above the Top = Sandwiches made with buns from Brown Court Bakery, your choice of smoked meat (2 types of beef brisket), sides like smoked slaw, hash ‘n grits (Geechie Boy), & brown butter mac ‘n cheese.

Swig & Swine — website = https://swigandswinebbq.com/; locations = 1217 Savannah Hwy./West Ashley & 1990 Old Trolley Rd./Summerville; Go To Item(s) = They cook the whole barnyard from pork and cow to chicken and turkey, the brisket takes about 14 hours using only wood to get to perfection; and, Above the Top = Multiple sauces to fix your meat the way you like it, collards, corn pudding, beans with brisket added, and dessert (they also have over 60 craft beers).

Sometimes it is hard to evaluate good BBQ restaurants.  I like to use a multiple criteria including BBQ flavor, cleanliness, dining location, price/value, sauce, service, sides, taste, and temperature of food, to judge how I liked the whole meal experience.  What is/are your top choice(s)/favorite(s)?

Wow, that is some list and with any of these there are plenty of options!  There are many other options in the Charleston area for sure, such as Black Wood Smokehouse, Cherrywood BBQ at Osprey Point/Kiawah, Cumberland #5 Smokehouse, Homey’s Tea Kettle BBQ Pit, JB’s Smokeshack BBQ, Jim ‘N Nick’s, Poogan’s Smokehouse, Queology, RightonQue BBQ, Robert’s BBQ/Ashley Phosphate, Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, Smokey Oak Taproom, Southern Roots Smokehouse, Sticky Fingers BBQ, Three Little Pigs, and Willie Jewell’s Old School BBQ.

Then if you need a road trip venture up the roads to B & D BBQ/Smoaks, Big Bill’s Low Country Bar B Que/Georgetown, Dukes/Beaufort, Ridgeville, & Walterboro, Herb’s BBQ & Seafood/Georgetown, Hog Heaven/Pawleys Island, Moe’s Original Bar B Que/Georgetown, Music Man’s BBQ/Moncks Corner, and, Sgt. White’s/Beaufort, Smokin’ Oaks/Beaufort, and, Sweatman’s BBQ/Holly Hill.  For further road trips in the state of SC, see the link to the BBQ trail, https://destination-bbq.com/sc-bbq-map-locator/.

Hope you enjoyed the article and it is useful to your decision on where to eat tasty BBQ!

Your LovetoDineOut co-Navigator,

Gary Crossley