Name: Scott’s Bar-B-Que
Address: 2734 Hemingway Hwy, Hemingway, SC 29554
Order: Pulled pork plate with baked beans and cole slaw (link to menu)
Despite the state’s reputation for mustard-based barbecue, South Carolina is actually home to 4 distinct styles of barbecue sauce – mustard, vinegar and pepper (a la Eastern NC), light tomato (a la Lexington), and heavy tomato (a la Georgia) – a point of pride for South Carolinia, who also claims to be the birthplace of barbecue (I’ve read differently but that’s for another post).
Scott’s Bar-B-Que cooks whole hog over wood coals (there was a huge wood pile out back next to the smokehouse) and uses a vinegar and pepper sauce, very similar to eastern NC barbecue likely due to the town’s proximity to NC (just over an hour’s drive). Both the joint and it’s pitmaster Rodney Scott have received a lot of plaudits and praise in recent years, between stories in major outlets like Time and the New York Times as well as food personality Andrew Zimmern calling it his favorite barbecue joint in the US. So lucky for me, on the way home from a recent mini-vacation in Charleston, Mrs. Monk was game for taking the scenic route back home and making a stop into Scott’s.
Scott’s was started in a convenience store/gas station in 1972 by Rodney’s dad just a year after his birth and has since been taken over by Rodney, who cooked his first hog at age 11. The current setup is still part convenience store, part barbecue joint. Scattered among the shelves of convenience store items and walls are various framed magazine articles and awards for Scott’s, but in a “I guess I’ll just stick this over here” manner. There are a couple of plastic tables and a small bar at which patrons can eat, but it was empty when we arrived at 11:30am on a Wednesday.
Once seated, our food orders were brought to us in no-frills styrofoam to-go boxes with a side of barbecue sauce. The pulled pork was coarsely chopped strands with visible pepper flakes and only slightly warm, but it still had a nice texture and tasted fantastic. I have to say, the barbecue at Scott’s certainly compares very favorably with the best eastern NC joints I’ve had, albeit a little spicier (especially if you add the table sauce also brought out with the boxes).
There was not much to talk about when it came to the sides. Both the baked beans and the coleslaw were nothing special. My plate came with two slices of white bread, which you don’t see all the time but was kind of a nice touch and I gladly used them to make sandwiches (they also helped cut the spiciness of the barbecue). Really, the pork was the star of the show here.
Even as a NC barbecue diehard, I have to admit that Scott’s was a true roadside barbecue experience. Speaking of experiences, the bathroom situation around back and upstairs was certainly one that Mrs. Monk won’t soon forget – I think “scary” was a word used to describe the ordeal – but at least she was a fan of the barbecue. In any case, its location in Hemingway (pop. 573) , about an hour east west of Myrtle Beach and an hour forty-five north west of Charleston, doesn’t make it the most convenient joint to try but Scott’s Bar-B-Que is well worth any detour if you are in the coastal plains of South Carolina. Highly recommended.