Travel and food go hand in hand but what happens when travel is all about food? That’s where a trip to South Carolina comes in handy. Now, you can marry the two and take a wonderful and tasteful trip through the state of South Carolina, on The South Carolina BBQ trail.
South Carolina claims to be the birthplace of barbecue and while I’m not 100% sure that is the truth, I’m not about to argue the point with anyone who is willing to fight about it! The state claims to have a five century tracing to the roots of their barbecue history. So they do have at least a “leg” to stand on.
There are three primary parts to the S.C. BBQ trail. Yes, it is a state-recognized route that tours the tastes of S.C.’s BBQ heritage. The SC Mountains trail, the SC Midlands trail, and the SC Coastal trail. All of which provide a different taste through the history and flavors. At the heart of it all, is the argument or debate if you will, over the sauces. Four primary sauces exist. Vinegar and pepper, light tomato, heavy tomato, and mustard are the official sauces of the state. Personally, I prefer mustard but they are all fantastic in their own right.
South Carolina Mountains BBQ Trail – 61 restaurants
It is in the mountainous regions of the trail that you will find the heavy tomato sauces. The northwestern mountains claim to be the home of the sweeter variety of sauce. From Greenville to Pendleton, and on to Easley, there are many BBQ restaurants to fill your day, your week, or who knows, your month.
South Carolina Midlands BBQ Trail – 113 restaurants
It is along this portion of the SC trails that you will find the mustard sauces and a light tomato sauce. A little tang and sweetness go a long way. These BBQ Joints will take you from Manning to Lexington and includes Florence as well.
South Carolina Coastal BBQ Trail – 79 restaurants
Vinegar and pepper sauces dominate the coastal joints and along with the tang of the vinegar, the heat takes over the sweet. Make no mistake you can find all of the sauces across the state but each comes with its own unique recipes that make them entirely special. In other words, you’re not going to find the same recipe for a sweet sauce on the coast. If that is what you want, head to the northwest.
The coast is what they say it is. Coastal BBQ. Pawley’s Island, Charleston, and Walterboro. Enjoy the tastes and marry it further with the seafood offerings of the coastal plains as well!
South Carolina takes their BBQ seriously and the BBQ Trails comes with a state-wide map.
You can’t claim to have a trail of BBQ joints without actually backing it up and S.C. does just that with an actual map that will take you through the trails themselves.
The map, as listed above by region, has 100’s of restaurants that the state recognizes but there are 100’s more that are not on the official state list. You can download a copy of the State map in PDF form here.
South Carolina is known as the Palmetto State and their pulled pork BBQ is a staple of their history in food. They pride themselves on the slow-smoked process and offer it to you. Personally, I would avoid chain restaurants. It is not that they are bad but if you really want to dive into this type of travel/food bonding then hit the mom and pop joints that are on the list. Or take in the tastes of a “pitmaster” award winner and compare them to another.
Regardless, you can’t go wrong, and obviously, you will need far more than a week to take them all in but with a little bit of research and a little bit of time, you can experience the three regions easily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! And why shouldn’t you!