Palmetto Pig – Columbia, SC

Name: Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant
Date: 12/30/16
Address: 530 Devine St, Columbia, SC 29201
Order: Barbecue sandwich with sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $8

Monk: After a stop at True BBQ, I researched and decided what the second and last stop of my quick SC sojourn would be while partaking at The Flying Saucer in downtown Columbia. There may have been a better option for barbecue (Little Pigs remains on my list), but Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant was very convenient to the Saucer’s downtown location, mere blocks away, so in the end that won the day.

Had I been spending more than two hours in Columbia, I would have been a little hungrier by the time I got to Palmetto Pig but after a small plate at True BBQ and my requisite three beers at the Saucer, I skipped the buffet and opted for just a sammie. I also skipped the mustard this time around and went for the spicy vinegar sauce.

And what a huge sammie it was. In my haste I didn’t notice how well the pork was smoked or whether I could taste any wood smoke but my hunch is that the pork, though tender as it was, is heavily dependent on whichever sauce you choose. The spicy vinegar was indeed spicy; gotta say, I didn’t look twice at the Texas Pete on the table. And did I mention how big it was? It was a good sandwich overall, albeit a little on the pricey side.

While I can’t say that I got a complete feeling for all of the barbecue offerings at Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant, I did get a nice sandwich that did the trick.

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

True BBQ – West Columbia, SC

: True BBQ
Date: 12/30/16
Address: 1237 D Ave, West Columbia, SC 29169
Order: Small barbecue dinner with hash and rice, collards, and slaw (link to menu)
Price: $13.01

Monk: Ever since reading this Garden & Gun Magazine article last year about Hite’s BBQ in West Columbia, it shot to the top of my list. Being that it’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays, I took the opportunity during my week off between Christmas and New Year’s to make the trip to Columbia specifically to check it out on a Friday, only to find this:


Nevertheless, my other planned stop was True BBQ not more than a mile away so I decided that I would head there and would figure out my second stop later.

During my research for the quick trip, I checked Marie, Let’s Eat! (as I always do when it comes to barbecue in the southeast) and True BBQ was received very favorably by those folks so at that point it was a no-brainer for me.

Speedy: Grant actually specifically mentioned seeing you here on Instagram and being jealous. It seems he’s been a bit disappointed by the Chattanooga ‘cue…

Monk: Yea, I get that sense based on some of the latest chapters on the blog, which is too bad…

I had timed my trip to arrive in Columbia as close to 10 as possible (which ended up being more like 10:30) since Hite’s opens at 8am, but luckily True BBQ opens at 10:30 Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Seeing as how I was planning to eat another meal shortly after, I only ordered a small barbecue dinner. I’ll get the pork out of the way – it was a bit on the dry side, especially considering it was so early in the day and should have been freshly smoked. You get a choice of three sauces – the Pretty Lady mustard sauce, Sexy Lady red sauce, and Lexington vinegar sauce – and it needed it. Hopefully this isn’t the case normally.

Hash and rice is a dish that intrigues me more and more these days and at True BBQ it comes standard with every dinner along with two sides. This was damned good hash and rice and by far the best part of the meal. Next time, I may even get a double order as one of my sides. The collards were above average but the slaw was a bit of a letdown and would be my choice to be replaced by more hash and rice.

As an aside, apparently the pork chop is worth ordering since the only other customer there with me at 10:30 was raving about it to pitmaster Ernest Zanders who was back and forth between the kitchen and the smoker out in front of the building, which was the first thing I noticed pulling into the parking lot. So take that for what its worth for those who are considering ordering that item.

In addition to the pork, True BBQ has some daily specials like brisket and beef ribs that may or may not be worth checking out. But at the very least I can recommend the hash and rice. As Grant so succinctly put it, “it’s two-hundred mile hash.” Come to think of it, next time I may just go triple sides of hash and rice…

For more reviews of True BBQ check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!
Destination BBQ
Eat It Atlanta

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Hash and Rice – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
True BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
True BBQ

BBQ Saloon – St. Louis, MO

Name: BBQ Saloon
Date: 11/29/16
Address: 4900 Laclede Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108
Order: Pulled pork barbecue sandwich with southern corn bread and a beer (link to menu)
Price: ~$18

Monk: Unlike Speedy, I don’t travel that much for work and thus haven’t had nearly the same opportunity to try barbecue around the country. However, I recently found myself in St Louis and while I wish I could have revisited Pappy’s Smokehouse (visited pre-blog), Sugarfire Smoke House (which Speedy liked), or Bogart’s Smokehouse downtown (which Johnny Fugitt ranked #12 in his book) but those were a little too far away for the little over an hour of free time I had. Instead, in the Central West End neighborhood where I was staying there was a somewhat promising looking joint within walking distance – BBQ Saloon.

As I walk up from my nearby hotel, the first thing I notice is the large smoker on the sidewalk going full blast at dinner time; it was hard to miss honestly. Interestingly, I later confirmed that all meat is smoked in that smoker on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

At the bar, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with a honey topped cornbread. The pork was coarsely pulled chunks full of flavor and smoke. The sturdy bun was a nice touch even if was a little unwieldy to eat as a sandwich.

The southern corn bread was brushed with honey but even still not quite as sweet as i’d like.

I would definitely go back to BBQ Saloon (particularly if I was able to check out the extensive whiskey list – checking in at over 520 strong), but if I find myself in St. Louis again I hope to check out some of the other joints on my list first. And also pork steaks – the St. Louis barbecue specialty that I have yet to try.

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
The BBQ Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carolina Bar-B-Q – Statesville, NC

: Carolina Bar-B-Q
Date: 7/19/16
Address: 213 Salisbury Rd, Statesville, NC 28677
Order: Regular chopped barbecue pork dinner with baked beans, barbecue slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $11

Monk: About 3 years BBB (before barbecue blog) – that’s 7 years ago in layman’s speak – I tried Carolina Bar-B-Q on a lark while heading back to Charlotte from a day tubing on the New River. I don’t recall a ton about the meal other than generally liking it but the presence of it on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail has made it a target for a revisit on our neverending quest to try all of the joints on the trail.

Only about a mile off I-77 in Statesville (about an hour north of Charlotte), its hard to miss the joint. The building was opened by owners Gene and Linda Medlin in 1985 and has a  huge green roof and “CAROLINA BAR-B-Q” prominently displayed in white block letters.

Carolina Bar-B-Q is a Lexington-style joint (Statesville is about 40 due west of Lexington), and thus smokes pork shoulders before mixing a dip prior to serving. It’s offered either chopped or sliced and while I liked the chopped it is a little lean and lacks much fat or gristle mixed in. The lack of fat or gristle is a complaint apparently shared by Charles Kuralt calling it “too refined,” but a small note at the register says it’s available on request. I do wish it was noted on the menu itself, so that I would know to ask for it when placing my order. There wasn’t a lot of bark mixed in either but at this point I should know to ask for outside brown at a Lexington-style joint. Rookie mistake.

Speedy: Monk, Monk – you never learn! But a little bark mixed in, whether requested or not, is a sign of a truly superior ‘cue joint. Not including it in a standard order shouldn’t be excused.

Monk: You do get a choice of coleslaw or barbecue slaw, and the barbecue slaw was a pretty standard version. The beans were passable, though they did remind me of Bush’s from a can. The hush puppies were perfectly fried and the best of the sides.

Speedy: True Lexington style joints don’t even offer coleslaw. Just sayin’…

Monk: Fair point. Carolina Bar-B-Q is a barbecue joint reminiscent of a few we’ve tried on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail – solid but unspectacular. All in all, I’d say its still worth a stop for sure.

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Carolina Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Carolina Bar-B-Q

Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering – Lake Wylie, SC

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: Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering
Date: 7/8/16
Address: 4052 Charlotte Hwy, Lake Wylie, South Carolina 29710
Order: Pork sandwich lunch combo with cole slaw (link to menu)
Price: $8.47

Monk: Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering is not that far away from Charlotte – just over the SC border – but I’ve always had a mental block about going to it because it’s at least a 35-40 minute trip to get out to it from just about anywhere in Charlotte I would normally be. It’s been recommended by readers for a couple of years now so I decided to bite the bullet and finally make the trek.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. Not because it was in a non-descript strip mall or that it wasn’t particularly crowded (though it should be said that the lunch crowd did pick up by the time I left), but sometimes you just expect to be letdown. While it was the lunch hour on a Friday and I wasn’t partaking, it was encouraging to see that they keep a good-sized draft list with a decent amount of local beer options. The walls were adorned with lots of vintage Hornets and Panthers memorabilia so I had no complaints about the decor.

Lunch service was very quick and within a few minutes of placing my order, I had my plate of food. While the sandwich may have been scooped from a tray of already chopped pork, it  wasn’t overly dry or grainy. And I got a nice hint of smoke in the meat. I did add some of their vinegar table sauce, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was necessary or needed.

Each combo comes with a couple of hush puppies, and they were fantastic. The mayo slaw was fine but I really wish I had ordered hush puppies as my side to get a couple more.

Overall, a very solid sandwich from Q2U BBQ and Catering and definitely the best barbecue I’ve had just across the border in the Charlotte metro area. I don’t know that I will find myself in the Lake Wylie area very often but if I do, I will steer my group towards it to try some more of their meat offerings.

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Q2U BBQ Pit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Poogan’s Smokehouse – Charleston, SC

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: Poogan’s Smokehouse
Date: 5/28/16
Address: 188 E Bay St #201, Charleston, SC 29401
Order: Three meat combo with pork, brisket, and smoked sausage; Adluh white cheddar grits, brussel sprouts (link)
Price: $25

Monk: With John Lewis Barbecue unfortunately still not open, I had to find another place for barbecue while in Charleston over Memorial Day weekend. In the end, convenience to a local production of Cinderella (for the Monkette) put on as part of the Spoleto Festival won out and I settled on Poogan’s Smokehouse.

Poogan’s Porch, a southern restaurant with an extensive wine list housed in an old Victorian house, has been in Charleston for nearly 40 years ago. When a wine bar called Social closed on the popular E. Bay Street tourist strip, the restaurant group behind Poogan’s Porch turned the space into a restaurant of “southern cuisine with a barbecue backbone” and used the Poogan’s brand.

Mrs. Monk and I shared a three meat platter (perhaps a little begrudgingly on her part) during Sunday brunch service, choosing pork, ribs and sausage. Of the three, I liked the smoked sausage the best (it also happened to be the most plentiful portion). Though it may have been slightly dried out from being sliced well before being served but nonetheless the taste was excellent. The two bones of ribs we got were meaty St. Louis cut ribs and not overly saucy. The pork was a bit dried out and I added some of the table sauces to help.

Luckily, I was able to try some of the other barbecue dishes from the other folks in our party. The pork belly was a potential option for the combo platter and I would recommend opting for it over the pulled pork. My daughter also got a side of hash over rice that she barely touched and I liked it quite a bit despite not necessarily having an affinity for the dish.

The sides really stole the show. The Adluh white cheddar grits were cheesy, creamy, and just generally excellent and Mrs. Monk and I were fighting to finish them. The brussel sprouts had pieces of bacon or pork belly and were also very good. The tray also comes with a standard white roll and some pickles and onions. But dang, those grits man. Should have gotten a double serving of them.

Poogan’s Smokehouse makes the eighth or so barbecue restaurant in downtown Charleston, presumably catering towards the tourist crowds. It’s fine but really I just wish that John Lewis Barbecue had opened. Next time.

Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q – Reidsville, NC


Name: Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q
Date: 2/16/16
Address: 1328 South Scales Street, Reidsville, NC
Order: Chopped tray with fries and hushpuppies, Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: ~$11

Speedy: A work trip recently brought me to Reidsville, NC, and since I don’t really happen through this small NC town too often, it seemed like a great opportunity to visit another spot on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail – Short Sugar’s.

Monk: One of the first goals for this blog (other than finding the best barbecue in Charlotte) was to visit each joint on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail. But we’ve been a little lax lately, having visited only one joint in 2015. While there are a few that are a bit east and may end up requiring a dedicated trip, there’s definitely a couple within easy driving distance. Maybe we’ll hit another this year and double our 2015 output!

Speedy: Short Sugar’s is advertised as a drive-in, but in reality, it’s more like an old school diner. There are plenty of tables inside, as well as a lunch counter, and patrons are invited to seat themselves upon entry. Like a typical diner, the menu is fairly diverse, but there is a small section devoted to the barbecue. My order was easy – the barbecue tray with hushpuppies and slaw. When I found out from the waitress that they served white slaw, I quickly subbed in fries instead.

The food came out fairly quickly and I was ready to dig in. It didn’t take me long to figure out why Short Sugars has a sweetener in its name. The barbecue was covered in a dip that was heavy on the brown sugar. While good, it was just a little too sweet for my taste. The meat was chopped fine and very tender, and I still enjoyed my portion. Other than the sweetness, I had two complaints – I didn’t seem to get any outside brown in my portion (I didn’t ask for any), and my ‘cue was a little lukewarm. I imagine it has been chopped a couple hours ago and not placed in a heat lamp. All that being said, I still enjoyed the pork.

The hushpuppies were really good. They also had a sweetness to them, but one that’s more appropriate for the side than it is for the main course. The fries were typical crinkle cut fries, so nothing exciting there.

I have certain expectations whenever I hit up a joint on the historic NC barbecue trail. While Short Sugar’s wasn’t the worst trail joint I’ve hit (and overall I did enjoy the meal), I was slightly disappointed. If I ever find myself in Reidsville again, I wouldn’t be opposed to stopping again, but I won’t be going out of my way to do so.

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Short Sugar’s

Bucky’s Bar-B-Q – Greenville, SC

: Bucky’s Bar-B-Q
Date: 12/28/15
Address: 1700 Roper Mountain Road, Greenville, SC‎
Order: Monk: pork plate; Speedy: St. Louis rib dinner (link to menu)
Price: Monk: $7.95; Speedy: $13.95

Monk: In the midst of a heck of an undefeated season for the Carolina Panthers, as season ticket holders, Speedy, Mrs. Monk, and I headed down to the ATL to support our team. While our trip actually in Atlanta was a bit whirlwind in nature (and unfortunately included a Panthers L), it at least afforded us a chance to grab barbecue on the way back to NC. Consulting the SC Barbecue Association’s 100 Mile BBQ site, I picked the Roper Mountain Road location of the four Bucky’s Bar-B-Q locations in Greenville.

On a side note: after researching potential joints to hit on the way home, I am officially declaring the stretch of I-85 between Greenville, SC and the NC/SC border to be a barbecue wasteland. Try barbecue restaurants in that part of that state at your peril.

Speedy: Bucky’s has an old school joint feel, with mismatched tables, barbecue paraphernalia on the walls, and a counter to place your order. The menu isn’t very diverse, but in barbecue, sometimes less is more, so Monk and I made sure to order two of the three meats (skipping chicken, obvi).

Monk: Obvi. One nice touch at Bucky’s that I hadn’t seen in many (possibly any thus far) cafeteria-style barbecue restaurants was the chopping of the pork butt in front of you as your order. The pork served from this freshly chopped butt was decently smokey and moist. I tried the table sauces but found that the meat held up on his own and didn’t need it.

Speedy: The ribs were big, meaty, and well seasoned. You could get a nice bite and you didn’t really need to add sauce. They were also cooked membrane off, which is a nice bonus.

Monk: Finally, membrane off! I feel like this is a common complaint at just about every joint we visit where we try ribs.

Speedy: Overall, they tasted like a good rib is supposed to taste, but there wasn’t really anything that made them stand out. Just a solid effort overall.

Monk: The green beans tasted straight out of the can while the mayo slaw was also nothing special. I tasted some of Mrs. Monk’s mac and cheese and it was slightly better. Based on the sides I tasted this day, the focus on Bucky’s is mainly on the meat. Which at a barbecue joint, I guess there could be worse things.

Speedy: That kind of sums up my thoughts, Monk – it was a pretty good meal overall, but not one I’ll be making special trips to replicate.

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Bucky's Bar BQ Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Arrogant Swine – Brooklyn, NY

: Arrogant Swine
Date: 10/6/15
Address: 173 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Order: 1 lb East Carolina whole hog, 1 lb Western NC outside brown shoulder, 1 lb spare ribs, Tikka Masala Sausage, Greensboro Pitmaster Chicken Wings, red vinegar slaw, collards, mac and cheese (link)
Price: ~$120

Monk: Having followed for the past year Tyson Ho’s excellent blog series on Serious Eats on the opening of his barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn, Arrogant Swine was my number one priority while we were in New York for 9 days in early October. That plus the fact that he was doing eastern NC whole hog in the middle of Brooklyn and that his joint was also advertised as a beer hall made it an easy choice.

Speedy: And what a fantastic atmosphere it had! Contrary to every other place in NY, the restaurant was spacious and comfortable, and had a large outdoor seating area. We started our meal at the bar (Monk and crew had some beers and smoked wings while I dealt with a closed subway line) before ordering. A great beer (and whiskey) selection was a big help in allowing the group to wait for me. Anyhow, once I arrived, we put in our order.

Monk: As a nod to cracklins, or crispy hog skin chopped into whole hog, Arrogant Swine serves their chopped pork with a layer of pork rinds. Which is a little bit of a curious choice if you ask me and it took me a minute to realize the pork was underneath it. Once I waded through the pork rinds, I found the vinegary chopped pork to be a decent version of NC whole hog but not quite as good as I had hoped or expected.

Speedy: The western style outside brown was also a little different than you’d find in NC. It came chopped, though I’d consider it more cubed. The pork almost looked more like burnt ends. The flavor was pretty OK, but the cubes made it seem a bit less tender than typical. Overall, I think this really missed the mark. Sorry, Tyson.

Monk: The  tikka misala sausage was made in house and was definitely one of the favorites of our group, though there isn’t much of a link to NC either in the sausage or the fact that its Indian spiced.

Speedy:The spare rib was big, meaty, and smoked well. They weren’t over cooked, so you could get a good bit, and the seasoning and sauce was a good compliment to, but did not overpower, the meat. Overall, I think this was better than the pork, which is odd for an NC ‘cue joint. If I were to return, I’d focus on the sausage and the ribs.

Monk: The Greensboro Pit Master wings are a nod to the Vietnamese pitmasters who do much of the smoking in the Piedmont joints that still smoke over wood – notably Stamey’s in Greensboro. While a nice tip of the hat, the sticky and sweet sauce on the wings isn’t really reminiscent of anything related to NC barbecue traditions. In any case, a nice idea and decently executed wing.

Speedy: I thought they were well smoked, but I didn’t love the sauce – a little sweet on my end. In terms of sides, I think I only had the slaw, which I enjoyed, even though there were raisins in there for some reason, which I can’t figure out.

Monk: Oh yeah! Even after we got an explanation from Tyson that just chopped cabbage and carrots in vinegar wouldn’t cut it in NYC, raisins still didn’t make sense to me. Another curious choice. Shout out to the waffle mac and cheese served with a side of queso, though.

Speedy: While eating, we did chat with Tyson a good bit and he was very cool. We talked about some of the differences between his joint and what we typically see in NC, and he was very aware of that. As he put it, he wanted to take the unique pieces on NC ‘cue and amplify them, which I think he did. While doing that, I think it lost some of the things I love about NC ‘cue, but it’s still better than most of the “barbecue” I’ve eaten in the city.

Monk: As an experience, Arrogant Swine was definitely worth trekking it out to Bushwick and I only wish we had been able to go a little earlier to hang on the outdoor patio and drink more of their great selection of beers. As a barbecue restaurant, Arrogant Swine was a little more of a mixed bag with some items more successful than others. In any case, I would definitely go back to Arrogant Swine again and will continue to follow its development, since  a joint that cooks whole hog over wood (particularly in NYC) is a rarity these days.

Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork (eastern) – 3 hogs
Pork (western) – 2 hogs
RIbs – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Arrogant Swine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Arrogant Swine

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Killer Q (food truck)

: Killer Q (food truck)
Date: 9/19/15
Order: Pork platter with beans and coleslaw
Price: $9

When it came to food options at the Southern Sauce BBQ Festival back in September I could have gone with a sure thing in Boone’s or safer options from Sauceman’s or Moe’s, but ultimately (potentially foolishly?) went with a truck I had never heard of.

I can’t find too much on Killer Q other than a Facebook page but it appears they are a very new food truck in Charlotte with the food truck only becoming operational in early September shortly before the festival. Since then, they’ve added a BQ smoker to their impressive mobile rig.

Whichever of their smokers they used that weekend, they produced some smokey pork with some decent bark. They also managed not to serve dried out pork, quite a feat during service for a day-long festival. If this was one of their first food truck services, they are off to a pretty damn good start. As for the sides, they  were standard and thankfully did not taste as if they came straight out of a can. They do a version of a barbecue sundae which combines all three and while I did not partake on that day, based on the individual foods I imagine it to be quite tasty.

When it comes to barbecue food trucks, all I ask for is quality smoked meat and sides that aren’t an afterthought. Killer Q manages to check both of those boxes, and can be added to the list of above average barbecue food trucks in Charlotte.


Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hog
Overall – 3 hogs

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