Perhaps it’s just because I’ve grown up in North Carolina, but I feel like SC is a little overlooked when it comes to BBQ. We talk about North Carolina BBQ often, but delicious smoked meat doesn’t disappear when you cross the border. In fact,  when Southern Living Magazine released its yearly top 50 Barbecue Joints, it was actually the Palmetto State that came out on top, in two different ways. 9 BBQ restaurants in South Carolina included on Southern Living’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints for 2023. That’s one more than North Carolina’s 8. It was a South Carolina spot that ranked highest on the list as well-coming in 5th.

A good portion of these are located in the Charleston area, which is known for its culinary scene. But there are also some small town joints steeped in history.

So how exactly where these BBQ joints ranked? Southern Living’s Contributing BBQ Editor Robert Moss, traveled across the South trying as many restaurants as possible. So each of the top 50 restaurants is personally tested and approved by a certified expert. He took into consideration factors such as overall experience, setting, food presentation, sauces, and regional authenticity. Some recognized restaurants are repeats from previous years (if you’re good you’re good!). However, there are also some new additions to the rankings.

It may come as a surprise that South Carolina’s 9 restaurants on the list aren’t the most. That honor goes to Texas who had 14 spots included on this list. I guess everything is bigger in Texas (and they probably have more to choose from!) So take a look below at each of the South Carolina restaurants recognized as the best of the best. Interested in the full list? You can find that here. Thanks to Southern Living for sharing this information with us!

  • 42. Home Team BBQ (Charleston)

    Home Team BBQ actually has 5 locations across South Carolina. And randomly one in Colorado. But the Charleston one is the location Southern Living is recognizing. According to their website, they combine “traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, bbq, and southern fare. And while the BBQ looks good, a burrito made with pulled pork or chicken, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and slaw is what caught my attention. View the menu here.

  • 39. (TIE) Bessinger's Barbeque (Charleston)

    The Bessingers are the first family of barbeque in South Carolina. And with a proclamation like that comes a lot of high expectations. Since the 1930’s Bessinger’s has been known for their legendary mustard-based barbeque sauce. See the menu here.

  • 39. (TIE) Melvin's BBQ (Mt. Pleasant)

    Melvin’s also has ties to the Bessinger family and that legendary mustard sauce. Guess that’s why this was declared a tie! See Melvin’s menu here.

  • 35. Hite's Bar-B-Que (West Columbia)

    Hite’s Bar-B-Que has been family-owned and operated in West Columbia since 1957. You’ll get your money’s worth with hearty servings and family-style service for less than $12 an entree! See the menu here.

  • 33. McCabe's Bar-B-Q (Manning)

    McCabe’s doesn’t have much of a digital footprint at all. But with Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews as recently as this week its safe to assume they are still serving up delicious bbq. You’ll have to stop by to see the menu for this one!

  • 30. Big T Bar-B-Q (Gadsden)

    Big T’s is another South Carolina BBQ joint that is thriving despite a lack of updated social media or a website. You’ll have to trust Southern Living on this one, which seems to have locations not only in Gadsden but also Columbia.

  • 28. Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ (Charleston)

    James Beard Award Winning Chef Rodney Scott brought his BBQ to the Charleston area amid locations across the South. View the menu of sandwiches, plates, and other dishes (like Catfish fingers) here.

  • 8. Lewis Barbecue (Charleston)

    What goes best with true Central Texas barbecue that’s cut-to-order? How about a huge bar and backyard patio? That’s what you’ll find at Lewis Barbeque in Charleston. See the menu here

  • 5. Scott's Bar-B-Que (Hemingway)

    Ok South Carolina, I get you might not NEED to, but some sort of website and social media can do nothing but help you. Scott’s Bar-b-que is located in Hemingway which is the vicinity of Myrtle Beach.

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