Name: Palmira Barbecue
Address: 99 S. Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401
Order: Whole hog barbecue, hash and rice, beans, slaw, and collards (link to menu)
Monk: As has been well documented, Charleston has experienced a bit of a barbecue renaissance the past few years. Swig N’ Swine and Home Team Barbecue have expanded onto and around the peninsula. Rodney Scott started his self-titled barbecue empire in Charleston in 2017 And now has locations in Birmingham, Homewood, AL, and Atlanta. John Lewis started Lewis Barbecue around the block from Home Team BBQ’s downtown location and Lewis has since opened his border cuisine restaurant Rancho Lewis. Then, in recent years, Palmira Barbecue entered the Charleston barbecue chat.
Hector Garate named Palmira Barbecue after his grandmother and his approach to barbecue reflects both his Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage. He got his start at pop-ups at local breweries, but last fall the Port of Call Food + Brew Hall came…er, calling. Port of Call is what I would consider to be a mini-food hall at the former Bubba Gump Shrimp Company location right off the market. It has a great biergarten-style courtyard with an outdoor bar, 2 more indoor bars, and 5 total food stall options: Italian, Greek street food, Asian Fusion, acai and poke bowls as well as a raw bar. I found it to be a great concept and while business was a little slow on a Monday evening I have been told it gets pretty packed on the weekend.
Palmira offers smoked whole hog every day of the week and on the weekends expands its menu to include some combination of beef cheeks, brisket, beef barbacoa, and house-made sausage. The approach is “farm-to-pit” and for the whole hog, Garate partners with Marvin Ross of Peculiar Pig Farms in nearby Summerville for the heritage hogs that he smokes. The result is flavorful barbecue that is pulled and mixed by hand. Garate spent some time in eastern NC, and perhaps some of that influences his whole hog. Fantastic stuff.
Garate also offers hash and rice most days, a dish that Hector apparently loves and eats daily according to his interview with the Tales from the Pits podcast episode earlier this year. For his hash, he smokes the pig head that goes into the hash and pours the meat gravy over Carolina Gold rice. I might go for a double order next time around.
The Cuban and Puerto Rican influence really came through for me in the sides. The beans have a “Puerto RIcan twist” in the form of I believe sofrito. The Palmira slaw is vinegar-based but nothing like you’d have in either eastern or western North Carolina. The collards pack quite a kick in the form of spice on the back end.
Big things appear to be on the horizon for Hector Garate and Palmira Barbecue. Instead of waiting for a pricey smoker to be built and delivered to him, Hector built his own smoker and will soon be expanding into smoker building for other customers – Cienfuegos Smokers.
Port of Call Food + Brew Hall is a fine start, but I can see Hector expanding to his own brick and mortar for a second location before too long. In short, based on my experience I expect to see more of Palmira Barbecue and its sustainable approach to whole hog and Texas barbecue around Charleston in the near future.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Hash – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs