Monk: 2022 was yet another year of great barbecue. In addition to finally getting to spend some time in the eastern part of the state for whole hog (although still not nearly enough), I tried two of the best new school barbecue at Palmira Barbecue in Charleston and Lawrence Barbecue in Durham. In terms of North Carolina, in the last weeks of the year I ate at two of the best joints in Buxton Hall Barbecue and Stamey’s. Here are the meals in photos listed in alphabetical order.
Whole hog barbecue dinner from B’s Barbecue, Greenville, NC (link)
Whole hog and ribs from Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville (re-review coming soon)
Hash and rice from Duke’s Barbecue in Orangeburg, SC (link)
A little bit of everything from Jon G’s Barbecue in Peachland, NC
Pork, brisket, and sticky ribs from Lawrence Barbecue, Durham, NC (link)
Whole hog barbecue, hash and rice from Palmira BBQ, Charleston, NC (link)
Whole hog barbecue from Skylight Inn, Ayden, NC (link)
Chopped barbecue plate with extra brown from Stamey’s Barbecue, Greensboro, NC (re-review coming soon)
Name: Duke’s Bar-B-Q Date: 4/14/22 Address: 801-813 Chestnut St, Orangeburg, SC 29115 Order: Large barbecue plate with hash and rice and slaw Pricing: $
Monk: Along interstates 26, 95, and 20 in South Carolina, you are certain to see signs for a number of Duke’s Bar-B-Q’s. While these are not all part of the same chain of restaurants per se, they are all loosely connected to the Duke’s barbecue lineage which goes back decades in the midlands of the Palmetto State.
Each store is independently owned an operated, and according to Destination BBQ this plain white cinder block building off Chesnut Street in Orangeburg is just down the road from the original Dukes Bar-B-Q that was opened by Earl Dukes in 1955 and launched the Dukes Bar-B-Q brand. That building sat less than a mile away but closed some years ago. This store is operated by Earl’s nephew Harry Ott, Jr and his wife Ann; Harry’s mother Elma was the sister of Earl and he learned the recipes from his other Uncle Danny in addition to Uncle Earl.
Not much has likely changed since 1975 when the Otts moved from their original location in St Matthews, and this rectangular box that is lit by fluorescent lights has a dining room with checkerboard table cloths at the front with the kitchen separated by the counter and serving area. Also going back to 1975, be sure to have cash on hand as they don’t take cards.
At Dukes, a large plate will get you a generous portion of hash and rice as well as barbecue topped with their mustard sauce and a side of slaw. The chopped pork was fine and the slaw inoffensive but for me, the draw was the hash and rice which isn’t overly sweet. I’m still a newbie when it comes to hash and rice, but I enjoyed the Dukes version of it which has a more orange tint than what I tried a few days earlier at new school Palmira Barbecue in Charleston.
New school is something Dukes definitely is not, but that’s a feature not a bug. Sitting four miles off I-26 in Orangeburg, check out Dukes Bar-B-Q for a classic, old school South Carolina barbecue experience.
Name: Palmira Barbecue Date: 4/11/22 Address: 99 S. Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401 Order: Whole hog barbecue, hash and rice, beans, slaw, and collards (link to menu) Pricing: $$
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.
Monk: While my hunch is that I had roughly as much barbecue as last year, I suspect the ratio of mediocre barbecue to great barbecue was higher than in past years. There’s always highlights to pick out, but let’s hope next year is a more favorable ratio.
In alphabetical order:
Beef rib, brisket, pork ribs, Cheerwine hot link from Jon G’s Barbecue – Peachland, NC
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