If you’re looking for barbecue, you’re in the right place. South Carolina barbecue consists of pork, served shredded or pulled. Depending on who you ask, this succulent meat should be served with one of three types of sauces: a hearty, thick tomato-based sauce, a thin vinegar and pepper sauce, or South Carolina’s traditional mustard-based sauce—the locals call it "Carolina Gold." No matter which side you choose in the great sauce debate (we admit, we’re biased), there’s no wrong way to enjoy this delicious southern classic.
For a casual barbecue lunch in Columbia, Palmetto Pig, Doc’s Barbecue, and Little Pigs offer southern buffets loaded with pulled pork, mac and cheese, and all the fixin’s. If you’re on the outskirts of town, Farmboy’s in Chapin and Shealy’s in Batesburg-Leesville are also worth the drive. If you can’t handle the buffet—no one can blame you for lacking self-control—Midwood Smokehouse and Hudson’s offer full-service restaurants with build-your-own barbecue sandwiches featuring beef brisket, pulled pork, or barbecue chicken.
When seeking out the best barbecue, don’t judge a book by its cover. You might find the best sandwich of your life in an unassuming hole-in-the-wall. Big T’s and Hite’s may be casual establishments, but they take their reputation for serving delicious pork very seriously. At True BBQ, you may even catch the owner outside in the parking lot cooking his barbecue “low and slow” in the traditional pit.
Feeling more adventurous? Check out Southern Belly, voted best BBQ in Columbia by Yelp and TripAdvisor. Their specialty BBQ sandwiches and nontraditional flavor combinations (like barbecue with grilled pineapple, cheddar, and bacon) ensure everyone can find something to love. War Mouth is a little more upscale, with craft cocktails and a smaller menu featuring local ingredients—try the BBQ plate with hash, Carolina Gold rice, pickles, and white bread!
Finally, we have to mention Maurice’s, a local chain with 12 restaurants around town. Their delicious barbecue is smoked naturally with local 100% hickory and oak wood in a one-of-a-kind barbecue pit that operates 24 hours a day.
Oh, and one more thing: in some parts of the country, the word “barbecue” simply means “any grilled meat.” But down south, burgers on a grill in the backyard is called a cookout—a barbecue means you’re having folks over and you’re serving pulled pork!