Photo Gallery: The Best Barbecue in 2017 So Far

Bar-B-Q King – Lincolnton, NC (review)

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The Smoke Pit – Salisbury, NC (review)

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Jon G’s BBQ – Monroe, NC (review)

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Central BBQ – Memphis, TN (review)

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B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque – Atlanta, GA (review)

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Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que – Atlanta, GA (review)

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DAS BBQ – Atlanta, GA (review)

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Lewis Barbecue – Charleston, SC (review)

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Rodney Scott’s BBQ – Charleston, SC (review)

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Swig & Swine – Summerville, SC (review)

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Linkdown: 7/5/17

– The Battleground Ave location of Stamey’s will reopen in the next few weeks after a fire last summer and has even added a drive-thru

– A visit to Keaton’s Barbecue in Cleveland, NC near Statesville, known for their spicy chicken

– Keaton’s also gets a write up in this month’s Our State

– The Fayetteville Observer reviews Buddy’s Bar-B-Q, an eastern NC joint which opened 72 years ago in 1945

– Eater jumps on the “Charleston as a barbecue hotspot bandwagon”

– Stick with me here: Tim Carman of The Washington Post says that the brisket at Hill Country, which just recently switched off the gas assist on their Ole Hickory smoker, is “as good or better than Franklin’s”

– Austin 360’s Matthew Odam then takes exception to that statement

Look, I’ve never been to Hill Country barbecue in D.C., or the flagship in Manhattan opened by a man with Texas roots who modeled his restaurant on Kreuz Market in his family’s hometown of Lockhart. But I don’t need to to know that the brisket there, or anywhere in D.C., can’t touch that at Franklin Barbecue.

– The Washington Post then responds back immediately, calling Odam’s take “food chauvinism”

– Scott Moore, the pitmaster at Tejas Chocolate, writes about the experience After Texas Monthly, or ATM, when they were named a top 10 joint

– The Christian Science Monitor takes a macro view of barbecue today, starting from its roots up through this year’s Memphis in May competition

Barbecuing, of course, has always been bound up in the politics and race of the nation. Six years before colonists dumped tea in Boston Harbor to protest British tariffs, the royalist governor of North Carolina, William Tryon, tried to appease local militiamen by roasting a whole ox. The men responded by tossing the roast in the river, an act of affirmed loyalties hence referred to as the Wilmington Barbecue.

– Barbecue the film is available next week

Swig & Swine – Summerville, SC

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Name
: Swig & Swine
Date: 5/27/17
Address: 1990 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville, SC 29485
Order: 3 meat plate (pulled pork, brisket, and sausage) with hash & rice, collards, and mac & cheese (link to menu)
Price: $24 (for two)

Monk: I have a confession, dear readers, and not one that I like to readily admit: sometimes I do get sick of barbecue. It doesn’t happen often but it usually happens after I’ve had a particularly bad meal. After having 4 meals in 6 days on the Monk family vacation I was actually completely fine with hitting something quick on the road back to Charlotte so we could just get back to real life. The last meal at Smoke BBQ had broken my enthusiasm for the week, it would appear.

However, in an unexpected twist, Mrs. Monk had looked up reviews of Swig & Swine’s Summerville location and insisted that we stick to our original plan. Her enthusiasm helped push me and on we headed about 35 minutes from Mount Pleasant to Summerville, SC. Sometimes the missus really does just get me.

This Swig & Swine, unlike the West Ashley location that Speedy previously visited, has enough room to smoke whole hogs and that was the main draw for me. Besides that, they do go the “international house of barbecue” route with a little bit of everything in terms of smoked meats.

The pulled pork single-handedly restored my faith in barbecue after the disaster of a meal the day before. The lighter meat was pulled into long strands and dare I say, might I have enjoyed it a bit more than Rodney Scott’s BBQ? Perhaps so.

The brisket had well-rendered fat and a nice tug to it. While the whole hog was the main draw, I would just as soon as go back for the brisket.

The housemade sausage was another solid entry and at this point in the meal, Swig & Swine was running laps around my previous meal at Smoke BBQ. In Speedy’s review of the West Ashley location, sausage was by far his favorite part of the meal and I found it to be really juicy with a nice snap to the casing.

My hash & rice fascination continued at Swig & Swine and I realize should take better notes when it comes to hash, because the subtle differences are probably lost on me. Still, that plus the collards and mac & cheese really brought it.

Swig & Swine capped my trip off nicely with a great meal of barbecue. This was the fifth and last barbecue meal in seven days of vacation to and from Charleston – almost certainly the most amount of barbecue I’ve eaten out in a week-long stretch. There was only one real dud, and overall most of my other experiences were really positive. But after this trip, I’m not ashamed to admit that barbecue and I decided to take a little bit of a break from each other for a week or two – and a welcome one at that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hog
Sausage  – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Friday Find: John T. Edge Visits The Winnow Podcast

Southern Foodways Alliance Director and author of the recently-released “The Potlikker Papers” John T. Edge recently stopped by The Winnow podcast to discuss all things southern food with Hannah Raskin and Robert Moss. There’s really only a passing mention of barbecue, but the 36+ minute podcast is worth it just to listen to one of southern food’s foremost minds opine on the past, the present, and the future of the cuisine.

 

Smoke BBQ – Mount Pleasant, SC

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Name
: Smoke BBQ
Date: 5/26/17
Address: 713 Coleman Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Order: The Tommy B. Monster Sampler Platter (pork, pastrami brisket, “Charleston brisket”, chicken) plus “perfect rib” and a beer (link to menu)
Price: $35

Monk: I hadn’t planned to visit a fifth barbecue spot during our vacation week but when I saw how close Smoke BBQ was to our Airbnb in Mount Pleasant I couldn’t resist sneaking away one afternoon to check it out. Unfortunately it turns out I shouldn’t have wasted my time or money.

Since I was there I went for it and got the Tommy B. Monster Sampler platter which comes with 4 meats. I then added a “perfect rib” to round it all out. When my platter of meats was delivered each meat was sitting in a pool of grease and appeared to have been reheated. Fresh off the smoker these definitely were not. I won’t bother to go through each meat individually – but I will say that after a bite or two of each one I decided to move on, finding each to be as equally bad as the previous.

The “smoke style slaw” is their take on coleslaw and comes with green apples and candied pecans topped on red cabbage and carrots. I didn’t find it to be a successful barbecue side. The baked macaroni and cheese was the best food part of the meal and was the only real edible item for me.

There was very little that was redeeming about my meal from Smoke BBQ and I ended up tossing most of the takeout container in the trash once I got home. At least I got to enjoy a beer on their nice covered patio. So there’s that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Brisket – 1 hog
Pastrami – 1 hog
Rib – 1 hog
Chicken – 1 hog
Sides – 1.5 hogs
Overall – 1 hog

Rodney Scott’s BBQ – Charleston, SC

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Name
: Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Date: 5/24/17
Address: 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Order: Whole hog plate with hush puppies and coleslaw (link to menu)
Price: $13.50

Monk: Coming into my vacation week in the Charleston area, I was just as excited for Rodney Scott’s BBQ as I was for Lewis Barbecue. I was fortunate enough to have visited Scott’s Bar-B-Que in tiny Hemingway, SC (pop. 573) a few years back taking the long way from Charleston back to NC. First trying Scott’s whole hog at a plastic table in that tiny convenience store was one of the top five or so best barbecue experiences in my life.

Thankfully, Rodney Scott has made it little more convenient to try his barbecue for those who can’t make the trek to Hemingway by opening up a store in Charleston earlier this year, adding to the city’s already booming barbecue scene.

Remembering that styrofoam tray back at Scott’s, I focused on the pork plate as I stepped up to the counter to order. In hindsight maybe I should have tried the ribs as well, but there’s always next time. In terms of setup, Rodney Scott’s is fast casual and covered in the same soothing light blue as the original which reminds me of a classic diner. It has booths on either side of the small-ish dining area with a raised community table at the center of the restaurant.

I’ll start by saying that the whole hog was very good. Still, I don’t think it quite lived up to how I remembered it from the original store. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare it to a memory of one of my favorite barbecue bites, but in any case it didn’t quite measure up. Both were tender and I favored the spicy table sauce in each instance. One difference between the two stores though: whereas the original has coarsely pulled strands of pork the Charleston location was coarsely chopped. But, like I said, it was still very good.

Keeping it traditional, I got hush puppies and white slaw on the side. The hush puppies in particular were very good, served with honey butter which I always like to see.

Like Lewis Barbecue, Rodney Scott’s BBQ falls victim to the Charleston effect when it comes to prices. A plate with two sides will run you almost $14 and that’s before a drink or beer. Some may quibble whether that’s worth it, but for whole hog of that quality in a town filled with tourists, that’s about what I’d expect.

For me, the whole hog of Rodney Scott’s BBQ doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original Hemingway location but there’s still a lot to like about the Charleston location.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Friday Find: Jim Shahin drops by the Winnow podcast to discuss all things barbecue

The Washington Post’s Jim Shahin (author of this recent article on the future of barbecue) drops by the Charleston Post and Courier’s Winnow podcast to discuss all things barbecue (with a little on grilling towards the end). He starts by explaining how a professor at Syracuse began writing about barbecue (working in Austin out of college) as well as some of the recent trends he is seeing in barbecue across the country (“pan regional barbecue” but not so much with fish…yet). A fascinating, easy listen at 37 minutes.

All about BBQ, from Texas to South Carolina. We discuss the history, varieties, and future of BBQ with Washington Post columnist Jim Shahin, the resurgence of cooking over fire, plus tips and tricks for cooking out at home.

Theme song by The Bluestone Ramblers (thebluestoneramblers.com)

Friday Find: Hanna Raskin’s Audio Review of Rodney Scott Barbecue

Hanna Raskin of The Charleston Post and Courier reviews Rodney Scott’s BBQ in this special audio review. It doesn’t just cover the whole hog barbecue but runs down other items from the rest of the menu. Don’t worry, she gets to the whole hog eventually.

The review runs from 1:06-10:28, then the other half is some making the sausage behind-the-scenes discussion with other Post and Courier staff.

-Monk

Linkdown: 4/26/17

– Congrats to The Smoke Pit and Midwood Smokehouse for winning Charlotte Magazine BOB Awards for best brisket and pork respectively

– A nice article from Marie, Let’s Eat! on Ten Underrated Georgia Barbecue Joints; we even get a nice little mention

– A locals guide to Lexington, KY contains Blue Door Smokehouse, which was unfortunately sold out by the time we made it last fall (after reading this article we were probably several hours too late)

– An oldie but goodie from Our State Magazine

– Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin BBQ, Jeff Miller of Luella’s Bar-B-Que and Wyatt Dickson of Picnic Durham, will serve whole-hog barbecue at a charity event this weekend in Asheville

– Can’t wait for the remix: an audio review of Rodney Scott’s Barbecue in Charleston by Hanna Raskin

– Uptown Charleston: so hot right now

Rodney Scott’s BBQ

Expect a line for chicken, spareribs and pulled pork slow-smoked overnight then drenched in Carolina whole-hog ambassador Rodney Scott’s signature vinegar sauce.

– It me:

Linkdown: 4/19/17

READ THIS NOW: This doozy of an article in this week’s New Yorker from James Beard-nominated writer Lauren Collins explores America’s most political food; it was based on a Charlotte Observer article from the awesome Kathleen Purvis on Maurice’s Piggy Park from last December

In 1964, Maurice Bessinger was the president of the National Association for the Preservation of White People. On August 12th of that year, Anne Newman and a friend drove to the West Columbia Piggie Park. They stopped outside the lot for curbside service. A waitress emerged and, seeing that they were black, returned to the building without speaking to them. Then a man with a pad approached the car but refused to take their order, even though white customers were being served. In Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc., the district court asserted that “the fact that Piggie Park at all six of its eating places denies full and equal service to Negroes because of their race is uncontested and completely established by evidence,” but it concluded that the restaurants, because they were principally drive-ins, weren’t subject to the public-accommodation provision of the Civil Rights Act. When a higher court reversed the ruling, Bessinger appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that being forced to serve black people violated his religious principles. He lost, in a unanimous decision.

– The Atlanta Journal Constitution reviews Texas-style Das BBQ; our review to come in a couple of weeks

– A sneak peek at the Juan Luis menu from John Lewis; the Tex-Mex spinoff will open in downtown Charleston later this spring

– A McRib-style sandwich made with actual smoked rib meat

– Grant tries some decent chopped beef at Hwy 58 BBQ in Ooltewah, TN

– Eater: 17 Essential Dallas-Fort Worth Barbecue Destinations

– Chef Vivian Howard’s favorite barbecue restaurants include B’s Barbecue and Skylight Inn

– Confirmation that Chef Jim Noble’s barbecue restaurant has gone mobile

– Fuller’s Old Fashioned Barbecue has reopened in Fayetteville after the original Lumberton location closed due to damage from Hurricane Matthew

– EDIA Maps is selling a NC BBQ and Beer Map combo pack