Name: Smoke on the Water
Location: 1 Augusta St., #202, Greenville, SC 29601
Order: Smoked chipotle chicken wings, Combo platter with beef brisket and pulled pork, fried okra, sugar snap peas (link to menu)
Bill: wings – $6; Combo Platter (included two sides) – $14
Last weekend, I decided to take an impromptu trip to Atlanta. And since I was driving through Greenville, SC right around lunch time, I decided to stop at my favorite Greenville barbecue restaurant – Smoke on the Water. I have been telling Monk about this place for a while, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go without him, even though he was off the grid. Just an excuse to go back, I guess.
Smoke on the Water sits next to Reedy Falls right between downtown Greenville and West End – basically smack dab in the middle of all the good stuff. I spent over a year working in Greenville, and this restaurant because a staple for me. It had been nearly a year since my last trip, so I was excited to go.
Generally, I really enjoy sitting outside at Smoke on the Water, but it was nearing 100 degrees outside, so my party decided we would eat inside in the A/C. The inside of Smoke on the Water doesn’t exactly scream “barbecue.” It’s not well lit, it has a nice, classy bar, and it just has the appearance of a more upscale restaurant. While this is certainly nice, it’s not exactly my style – especially for a ‘cue restaurant. So while the atmosphere isn’t exactly like your good ole southern barbecue, the food definitely is.
For starters, we had an order of the smoked wings. The wings come out whole, instead of split, as wings are traditionally served. The wings are marinated, then smoked, but are not sauced. However, they are still moist and are really, really good. You can definitely taste the smoke and there’s a noticeable kick in the back. I would definitely recommend these wings to anyone.
For my main course, I had the combo platter with brisket and pulled pork with sides of fried okra and sugar snap peas. In a word, the meal was fantastic. The pulled pork has a great smoke flavor, is tender, and not dry at all. You can definitely eat it without adding any sauce, but the sauce definitely enhances the flavor. My personal favorite is a spicy vinegar based sauce, but you can also choose from SC mustard, KC sweet, and a house red sauce.
Smoke on the Water is probably the only ‘cue joint I’ve ever been to where I think the brisket is better than the pork. The brisket comes sliced a little thinner than I’m used to seeing, which I actually like. The brisket also doesn’t really need sauce, but I’d recommend it. It is a bit drier than the pork. The brisket is tender and flavorful. If I could only order one meat at Smoke on the Water, this would be it. I’m no beef barbecue expert, and I haven’t eaten NEARLY enough ‘cue in Texas, but to date, I would say Smoke on the Water is the best brisket I’ve had.
The sides are good, though I’ll echo previous reviews in saying I’m disappointed that they don’t serve hushpuppies. The wait staff does bring out corn bread immediately upon seating, which is a great (and delicious) touch. The fried okra and sugar snap peas were both good, as have other sides I’ve had their previously, and they have a pretty nice selection.
The rest of my party also thoroughly enjoyed their meals. Everyone save one had either the brisket, the pork, or both for their meal. The lone hold-out ordered a salad (really, Princess Leia???) and I won’t even pretend to justify her decision. The mac ‘n cheese was a pretty popular side, but I didn’t partake due to my intolerance of dairy, but I’m told it’s really good here, if you’re in to that sort of thing. I did try some fried asparagus, which was good, but that’s not exactly a ‘cue staple. The menu does stray from a traditional ‘cue shack by offering other southern favorites like fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, fried oysters, and a supposedly-amazing pimento cheese burger, but I can’t personally comment on any of that (save the fried green tomatoes, which are excellent), as I stick to the ‘cue.
Overall, Smoke on the Water is among my favorite places. Though it looks a little fancy pants, these guys definitely know their smoke. Combine that with a great location in an awesome city, and you’ve got a restaurant most everyone is sure to love.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Brisket – 4 hog
Wings – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs