Monk: Garren’s turning 40 in late June and throwing a heckuva party at Jon G’s! The Jon G’s Jubilee will bring in town Jake Wood of Lawrence Barbecue in Durham as well as the N. Sea Oyster Co from the Topsail Beach area. Charlotte’s Divine Barrel Brewing will provide the beer with ice cream from Wadesboro’s Brown Creek Creamery, who Jon G’s uses for cheeses in their sausages. Tickets will surely go fast for this so if interested, I’d recommend you act quickly.
Name: Swig & Swine Date: 4/15/23 Address: 1217 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407 Order: Pulled pork barbecue sandwich with hash and rice (link to menu) Pricing: $$
Monk: Swig & Swine has been hit or miss for the Barbecue Bros in the past. Speedy visited this location almost exactly 9 years prior to my most recent visit and found it to be slightly above average (and presumably not just because Speedy’s phone at the time took mediocre photos).
I later checked out the Summerville location 3 years later and liked it quite a bit more. That location at the time had enough space to smoke whole hogs while also putting out some pretty credible brisket as well. Now, whole hog appears to be a Thursday only special (at least at this location) while the brisket continues to be on the regular menu.
Since then, pitmaster Anthony DiBernardo has since become sole owner of Swig & Swine, buying out his initial partners Queen Street Hospitality Group in 2019 while also co-founding the fantastic Holy Smokes barbecue festival, which I went to last year and hope to be back at again in the near future
Back to the West Ashley location, which I understand to be the first of the now three-strong chain. Coming off the Rancho Lewis experience the prior night, I wasn’t exactly in a particularly hungry state even after a short hike at the Morris Island lighthouse at Folly Beach. I opted for a simple pulled pork sandwich (yes, yes I know but that’s how its listed on the menu) with a side of hash and rice.
Comparing this with Melvin’s BBQ a few days prior, I like the pork sandwich less and the hash and rice more. The pork was large portion but a bit on the bland side even with some nice chunks of barked chopped in. Unfortunately it seemed as if it absolutely had to have one of the sauces from the table poured on. The vinegar sauce certainly helped the cause.
The hash and rice was thicker than what I had at the James Island Melvin’s with more flavor. This is actually the opposite of what John Tanner experienced on his visit so take from that what you will. For me, it was my favorite part of the meal
Had I read Speedy’s review before hand, I would have gotten some smoked wings and opted for the sausage sandwich special for that day. Whoops, shame on me.
Swig & Swine seems to do a brisk catering and bulk pick-up business on the weekend as from our view on the patio we saw several cars back in, open their tailgates, and pick up large aluminum pans of barbecue and sides. I like to imagine that they were going to a fun outdoor party. On that day, they would have enjoyed a beautiful spring low country day and some above-average-but-not-quite-transcendent barbecue.
Monk: In “news you absolutely love to see,” Speedy’s Barbecue has reopened in Lexington. Undaunted by the NC DOT’s widening of Highway 8 that killed off Smiley’s Barbecue, Speedy’s has moved about a half mile down the road from their longtime location of 60 years into what formerly housed Tricia’s Catering.
In an interview earlier this year owner Roy Dunn stressed that only the location is changing. Speedy’s will have the same menu, same staff, same prices and same motto — “ Quality, Quantity and Quick service.”
Curb service, a staple of classic Lexington barbecue joints, is open with 13 spots available
Merch is available
Speedy’s Barbecue is now open 11am to 8pm Monday through Saturday at 408 Piedmont Dr Lexington, NC 27295
Congrats to Little Pigs BBQ of Asheville, who celebrated 60 years open last month
Jon G’s Barbecue makes Eater Carolinas’ list of Essential Restaurants in Charlotte
Paste Magazine reviews the Cheerwine-flavored beer from NoDa Brewing
Congrats to Concord-based SnS Grills for being named “The Best Kettle Style Grill” by Food and Wine in a recent rundown of charcoal grills
WRAL’s best barbecue in Raleigh contains one old but mostly newer places
Congrats to City Limits Q on the announcement of their upcoming brick and mortar in West Columbia
Aaron Franklin’s latest restaurant Uptown Sports Club is more sports bar than barbecue joint, but it does have some chopped brisket and sausage on the menu in various forms
Amy Mills of 17th Street Barbecue was recently honored back in March
Happy belated birthday to “Black Smoke”
Congrats to Wildwoods BBQ on winning last week’s Brisket King NYC
A little history lesson on Big Joe Bessinger, the “pioneer of SC BBQ”
Content ahead of last week’s NFL Draft in Kansas City: Mitchell Schwartz’s favorite barbecue joints in KC
Name: Rancho Lewis Date: 4/14/23 Address: 1503 King St, Charleston, SC 29403 Order: Beef Back Ribs “Half The Cow!” with cowboy slaw, charro beans, and a green chile baked potato (link to menu) Pricing: $$$
Monk: John Lewis established his barbecue restaurant Lewis Barbecue in 2016 after having made the move as the well-regarded pitmaster at La Barbecue in Austin. As the story goes, John had received rapturous feedback from his food festival stops in Charleston over the years and finally made the leap east in 2015. Since opening his first restaurant in 2016, he has opened a second Lewis Barbecue location in Greenville in August 2022. This capped off a busy year that started with the opening of his upscale Tex-Mex Rancho Lewis in Charleston in April 2022. I think it’s fair to say that it’s worked out well for Lewis in the Holy City.
Rancho Lewis didn’t start out of nothing, however. What was then known as Juan Luis occupied a food stall in the Workshop food hall at the location where Rancho Lewis sits today. While I never made it to Workshop, I did force my family to make a quick detour a few years back to the Juan Luis food trailer that sat outside Lewis Barbecue and served some amazing breakfast tacos.
As soon as I opened the menu, I knew there was one item on the menu that was a must order as soon as I saw it. Behold: the beef back ribs, “half the cow!”
As stated on the menu, this item is a “whole full rack, slow cooked overnight in our mesquite pit.” According to our waitress that night, the $48.95 order comes with somewhere between 6-12 ribs. Thankfully I got on the lower end of that spectrum with 7 since I was the main eater of the dish at our table and was going to be at a music festival for the next two days without access to an over to reheat. The ribs themselves were fantastically tender, more so than my previous experience with beef back ribs. Perfectly smoked, the mesquite wood did not overpower the meat or the tangy sauce. I would for sure order these again with a large group next. The sides themselves were worth sharing as well.
Its pretty well established that green chiles are part of the larger pet project of John Lewis spreading the cuisine from his West Texas upbringing in El Paso. For the past 5 falls he’s even hosted an annual Hatch Chile Festival, with the 6th planned for sometime in October 2023. To that end, I was told by our waitress not to sleep on the green chile baked potato, and I can report back that she did not steer me wrong.
The other sides of cowboy slaw and charro beans were also executed to a high level, and I do have to mention their version of the paloma called “So Far So Bueno” which is a “big clay bowl filled with tequila, citrus juices, sparkling grapefruit.” Not the easiest to drink without spilling, but it added some fun to the meal. And while Rancho Lewis (and its pricing) certainly reflects an upscale Tex-Mex restaurant, we did get to enjoy the half-priced happy hour drink specials available on the patio shared with Edmund’s Oast before being seated.
Rancho Lewis takes the Juan Luis concept to another level and while its certainly more Tex-Mex than Texas barbecue, I can’t recommend it more highly. If you’ve got a Tex-Mex fan in your life (as I do with Mrs. Monk), you owe it to check out a different kind of cuisine at Rancho Lewis in Charleston.
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