South Carolina

8 SC barbecue restaurants made Southern Living’s top 50 joints. 3 are in the Midlands

Why do people get so defensive about BBQ in the Carolinas?

Charlotte Observer food writer Kathleen Purvis explains what happens every time she writes about BBQ - and tells us the one thing that astonishes her every time she eats a barbecue sandwich.
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Charlotte Observer food writer Kathleen Purvis explains what happens every time she writes about BBQ - and tells us the one thing that astonishes her every time she eats a barbecue sandwich.

Each year, Southern food writer and historian as well as South Carolina native Robert Moss undertakes the task of traveling the Southland and ingesting a variety of barbecue. The trouble comes not from the gustation but the struggle of ranking the restaurants that serve one of the South’s longest, most disputed traditions, which the writer and Southern cultural magazine took to doing last year.

The Southern Living list has a lot of love for the writer’s place of birth, including giving a Palmetto State joint the highest honor. The Middle Country of South Carolina can hold its head high when considering the rankings. Of the eight South Carolina restaurants that made the top 50, Moss ranked three barbecue restaurants in the Columbia area and Richland County on his list.

Big T Bar-B-Q ranked 38th on the list. The restaurants have two locations in Columbia, one in the Northeast part of the city on Sparkleberry Lane and another on Garners Ferry Road. But Moss suggests people take a trip out to “’the mothership’” in Gadsden.

Home Team BBQ, coming in at No. 35, started in Charleston and opened its Columbia location in Five Points within the last few months. Moss praised the restaurant for its “inventive blend of old and new.”

Hite’s Bar-B-Que in West Columbia climbed the highest on the list for Midlands restaurants. Hite’s landed in the 27th position, making it in part, for the taste of the smoked wood it uses to cook their pork, Moss said.

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Souther Living’s list included three other Charleston barbecue restaurants; Lewis Barbeque, Swig & Swine, and Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog Barbecue.

McCabe’s Bar-B-Q of Manning made No. 22.

But the king of all barbecue restaurants in the Palmetto State and the entire South for Moss and Southern Living is Scott’s Bar-B-Que. The well-known joint, which truly lives up to that designation, took the No. 1 spot on the list for “the inimitable flavor of the wood-cooked whole hog,” Moss said.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.
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