A pulled whole hog sandwich at Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ on July 03, 2018 in Charleston, SC
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The 15 Best BBQ Joints in South Carolina That Showcase the State's Smoky Meats and Flavorful Sauces

Exploring the four corners of South Carolina barbecue

Barbecue in South Carolina is a cherished culinary tradition that showcases a distinctive style and rich historical roots. The state is renowned for its unique approach to barbecue, with a focus on pork and a diversity of flavorful sauces that distinguish it from barbecue towns in other regions. It's right up there with some of the best in Texas such as Austin and Houston BBQ. But what is the best BBQ in South Carolina?

South Carolina boasts four primary styles of barbecue, each associated with different regions within the state. In the western part, you'll find a preference for smoky, slow-cooked pulled pork, often served with a tomato-based sauce. In the Midlands, the barbecue is characterized by a mustard-based sauce, providing a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the tender pork. On the coast, particularly in the Lowcountry, a vinegar and pepper-based sauce takes center stage, adding a zesty kick to the barbecue. Finally, the northeastern Pee Dee region often combines all these styles, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

The history of barbecue restaurants in South Carolina can be traced back to Colonial times when European settlers and enslaved African people brought their own cooking techniques and flavors to the region. Over time, these diverse culinary traditions fused to create the distinct South Carolina barbecue styles we know today.

What makes South Carolina barbecue unique is the variety of sauces and the emphasis on whole-hog cooking. While pork is a staple, the sauces — from mustard to vinegar-based — offer a wide range of taste experiences for barbecue enthusiasts. Whole-hog cooking, especially in the eastern part of the state, is a labor-intensive process that involves roasting an entire pig over an open pit, yielding a tender and smoky meat that's often mixed with different parts for a uniquely rich flavor.

South Carolina barbecue is not just a meal; it's a reflection of the state's history, cultural diversity and culinary ingenuity — making it a culinary treasure and a must-try for anyone exploring the world of barbecue.

Here are 15 essential barbecue joints in South Carolina.

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