Home Team BBQ, three locations in the Charleston area. Get the addictive chicken cracklins, the crispy pork cake and the creative chopped-brisket taco. hometeambbq.com.
Swig and Swine Authentic BBQ, 1217 Savannah Hwy. Get the succulent and smoky beef brisket, the smoked pork belly and the pork rinds with Tabasco honey and blue cheese. 843-225-3805; swigandswinebbq.com.
Cumberland St. Smokehouse,
5 Cumberland St. Get the Benton’s country ham spread, duck fat fries, chicken wings, luscious pulled pork. 843-641-0131; cumberlandsmokehouse.com.
Bessinger’s BBQ, 1602 Savannah Hwy. Casual, family-style restaurant, Midlands style (mustard sauce). Get the mustard-sauced pulled pork sandwich and house-made onion rings. 843-556-1354, bessingersbbq.com.
Melvin’s, two locations, Charleston area. Homey, comfortable; Midlands style. Get the double cheeseburger. 843-762-0511. melvinsbbq.com.
Dukes BBQ, 331 Folly Rd. Unpretentious workingman’s spot with a large buffet; Midlands style. Get the crunchy-skinned, moist fried chicken, fried okra. 843-789-4801; no website.
Queology, 32-C North Market St. Get the BBQ pork tacos. 843-580-2244; queology.com.
Smoke BBQ, 487 King St. Hipster casual, with live music on weekend nights. Get the crispy, juicy wings and the tangy Smoke salad. 843-805-5050; smokebbq.kitchen.
Lewis Barbecue, 464 N. Nassau St. Texas-modern: spacious, high slatted wood ceiling, concrete floor, outdoor seating with a view of the giant John Lewis-made offset smokers. It wasn’t open when I visited, but I’ve eaten Lewis’s food before and can recommend without reservation his brisket and beef short ribs. 843-805-9500; lewisbarbecue.com.
Poogan’s Smokehouse, 188 E. Bay St. Spacious, nouveau-barn vibe. Get the sinful pimento cheese fritters with smoked tomato bacon jam, the zesty pork belly/pulled pork sliders, the tender pork ribs and the hash with sunny-side-up egg. 843-577-5665; pooganssmokehouse.com.
Wise-Buck Smoked Meats,
23 Ann St. Rustic-industrial chic. Get the sharp provolone-studded sausage, the rich house-made liverwurst, the meaty pork ribs and the curried cauliflower. 843-306-0101; wise-buck.scarecrowandco. com.
Elsewhere in South Carolina:
Henry’s Smokehouse, three locations in the Upstate, two in Greenville, one in Simpsonville. Bare-bones place where locals meet. Get the juicy pork, smoked over hickory coals in a double-door metal pit. henryssmokehouse.com.
Midway BBQ, 811 Main St., Buffalo. Sawdust on the floors. Established 1941. Get the velvety, creamy chicken stew and the hash. 864-427-4047; midwaybbq.com.
Cooper’s Country Store, 6945 U.S. Hwy. 521, Salters. Takeout; a throwback to the early days of commercial barbecue. Get a zippy pulled pork sandwich and house-cured ham and bacon. 843-387-5772; no website.
Scott’s Bar-B-Que, 2734 Hemingway Hwy., Hemingway. World class Pee Dee-style ember-cooked whole hog with a unique version of vinegar-pepper sauce in a two-table general store. Get the unsurpassed pulled pork sandwich (or plate) and skins off the hog. 843-558-0134. thescottsbbq.com.
Jackie Hite’s Bar-B-Que, 460 E. Railroad Ave., Leesville. Bare-bones eatery. Get the whole hog cooked over hickory embers, the smoke-infused full-bodied hash cooked in an iron kettle over a wood fire, and the brittle pork skins. 803-532-3354; no website.
Hite’s Bar-B-Que, 250 Dreher Rd., West Columbia. Established 1957; meats cooked in a pit using hickory and oak wood. Get the delicious pork, hash and liver pudding. 803-794-4120. hitesbbq.com.
Carolina Bar-B-Que, 109 Main St., New Ellenton. A barbecue version of Garrison Keilor’s Chatterbox Cafe, abuzz with townsfolk. Excellent buffet. Get the terrific pork, flavorful hash and crunchy hush puppy balls. 803-652-2919; no website.
Maurice’s Piggie Park BBQ,
12 locations around Columbia. It’s a chain, but its meats are slow-cooked in an all-wood pit, a rarity. Get the classic Midlands-style mustard-sauced pulled pork sandwich; 1-800-MAURICE; piggiepark.com.
The War Mouth, 1209 Franklin St., Columbia. Small, funky hipster joint with items like catfish pâté, deviled-crab-stuffed squash blossoms and crispy duck confit. Pasture-raised whole hog cooked over wood coals on weekends; I wasn’t there on a weekend, so I missed the pig. Hash was good, though. 803-569-6144; thewarmouth.com.
The Southern Belly BBQ, two locations around Columbia. Quirky sandwich shop, retro in a modern sort of way. Exotic sauces, custom toppings. Get the sumptuous, ridiculous pulled pork/Jack cheese/bacon/grilled oinions/roasted peppers/jalapeños “barbecue unchained” D’jango Sammy. 803-667-9533; southernbellybbq.com.
Sweatman’s BBQ, 1427 Eutaw Rd., Holly Hill. Whole hogs basted with mustard sauce while cooked over hardwood coals. I didn’t eat there, but the place comes highly recommended by barbecue experts, including author and Southern Living barbecue editor Robert Moss, for its classic Midlands-style mustard-based pork. 803-496-1227; sweatmansbbq.com.
Cannon’s BBQ & More, 1903 Nursery Rd., Little Mountain. Tiny, ramshackle joint. Hash is cooked in an iron cauldron over hickory wood, like way back in the day. Order it. 803-945-1080; no website.
Shealy’s Bar-B-Que, 340 East Columbia Ave., Leesville. Since 1969; giant eating hall with a huge buffet. Get the crispy, succulent fried chicken. 803-532-8135; shealysbbq.com.