Smoky and sweet, with meat that melts in your mouth. Charleston, South Carolina, is something of a legendary place when it comes to BBQ, and the nationally known “South Carolina Style BBQ Sauce” is a testament to that fact.
Luckily for us foodies, Charleston isn’t just a BBQ name. The proof of its popularity is in the pudding. From the Lowcountry to Mount Pleasant to downtown Charleston, here are the best of the best BBQ restaurants in Charleston, SC.
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If you want what some Charleston residents call the best barbecue you’ve ever had, check out Lewis Barbeque. With a bar and a patio for the Summer, Lewis Barbeque is a quality Texas Barbeque with all the flavors of homemade smoking.
Famed pitmaster John Lewis, who is famous for his unending lifetime of devotion to high-quality BBQ, is the head chief at Lewis Barbeque. John Lewis brings his deep knowledge of Texas BBQ to the mecca of southern cooking, Charleston, with quality craftsmanship you can taste in every bite. Try the hot guts for something truly fine.
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An award-winning barbeque spot since 2001, Queology has a Kansas City-style barbeque that is perfectly smoky, sweet, and savory.
Likely signature dish at Queology is the ribs, whose meat easily comes off the bone and creates a symphony in your mouth. The pulled pork sandwich is another fan favorite. All the meats are good, however, and very recently, Queology received first place for its ribs in the Berkeley Bar-B-Que Cook-Off.
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With mouth-wateringly delicious dry-rubbed chicken wings and meats, Poogan’s Smokehouse is an establishment that’s all about tradition. At Poogan’s, the recipes are all old barbeque recipes passed down to the next generation of barbecuers.
At Poogan’s, the philosophy is to slow down and take it easy. All the meats are super-slow smoked, infusing them with rich and complex flavors. The experience of Poogan’s isn’t a fast food one, either. Show up to Poogan’s to enjoy food the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed: bite by bite.
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ
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A relatively new restaurant on the scene, Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ is all about going the whole hog in everything: a dedicated staff feels like family, while the man himself Rodney Scott stands in the back, perfecting each piece of meat.
Although the restaurant is new to the world of Charleston’s best BBQ, Rodney Scott’s BBQ journey is far from new: he began smoking meats around 11 years old and has never since looked back. He received the James Beard Award for best chef in 2018 and continues to gain traction and a following in the Charleston area.
If you’re not sure what to try, you can test the catfish for a brilliant take on the bayou favorite, or stick with the classic ribeye sandwich or the pulled pork.
Southern Roots Smokehouse
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With live music, plenty of events throughout the year, a full and healthy bar, and quality BBQ, Southern Roots Smokehouse is a great place to pay homage to Charleston’s BBQ roots.
If you can’t decide on something, Southern Roots provides you with the Smokehouse Sampler, a highly recommended dish that comes with mac and cheese balls, pork rinds, baby back bites, and cheesy fries. From Monday to Friday between 4 and 7 pm, enjoy $2.50 pints of Bud for happy hour.
Swig & Swine
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At Swig & Swine, they claim that their beef brisket “brings all the boys to the yard,” and we don’t doubt them. For a juicy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth brisket sandwich, you need to look no further than Swig & Swine.
As the name implies, Swig & Swine is a place with a fine selection of craft beers, as well as the usual Buds, Blue Ribbons, and Millers. Sit back and relax as you sip your brew and taste the flavors of slow-smoked swine.
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The most recent of the barbecue restaurants in the Dukes family (which include locations in Beaufort, Blackville, and Orangeburg) is on James Island off of Folly Road. At Dukes, a well-known and respected barbecue family relies on the strength of their reputation and their recipes to stay in business, and boy does it work.
Don’t expect anything fancy at Dukes: they swear by the simple goodness of their meats and the faith that good cooking and good company is all that it takes for a well-lived life.
Home Team BBQ
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At Home Team BBQ, traditional high-end restaurant practices meet BBQ. And even though Home Team BBQ brings a lot of expertise and, as they put it, “white tablecloth” experience to the BBQ restaurant, Home Team BBQ feels as carefree and relaxed as you want your BBQ joint to be.
The patio is lovely in the Summertime. The meats are excellent, the mac and cheese is an undeniably choice, and the bartenders know how to mix a cocktail. For family affairs, there is a chalkboard wall for the kids to draw on to their hearts’ content.
The Rib Guy
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At 396 Huger Street in Charleston stands the unassumingly excellent The Rib Guy restaurant. Pitmaster Guy Simmons, from whom The Rib Guy takes its clever name, excels at cooking ribs, and it may be harder to find better ribs anywhere in all of the South.
For something different, try the fried fish or okra soup.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
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Martin’s Bar-B-Que serves Western Tennessee whole hog BBQ for the people of Charleston. What does this mean? A whole fresh hog is put on the pit each day to be smoked for the next day. This keeps the barbeque fresh as can be, no matter what day you walk into Martin’s.
For one of the best BBQ joints out there, try Martin’s.