South Carolina BBQ Trail: 5 Delectable Highlights

Although South Carolinians have been serving up delicious pork barbecue for a while now, the state has been overshadowed by the Carolina to the north when it comes to barbecue. This is a shame since South Carolina boasts four tasty sauces - mustard, light tomato, heavy tomato and vinegar- and is the self-proclaimed birth of barbecue. The official South Carolina Tourism body has recently revealed a South Carolina BBQ Trail, complete with a map of more than 200 barbecue joints to visit. A barbecue tour of South Carolina may be a bit of an offbeat choice, but it is certainly one you will be glad you made.

Henry's Smokehouse, Greenville, SC
Henry's continually makes an appearance in my articles about the best of Greenville, well, because it is just that good. It might have something to do with the fact that Henry's barbecues the old-fashioned southern way. Cooked long and slow over hickory wood, their pork butts cook for 12 hours. There's no rushing perfect barbecue. All of the sides are made in-house, with the exception of the potato salad. The mac 'n cheese, green beans, and sweet potato casserole are particularly stellar, as is the decadent banana pudding for dessert.

Bucky's BBQ, Greenville, SC
From its humble beginnings when the owner, Wayne Preston, sold barbecue sandwiches on the side of the road, to the now four locations in the Upstate, Bucky's has quite the following. Their pork plate is the best deal around, with a plate full of chopped pork and two sides for $7.95. In addition to their porks, ribs, and chicken delivered "hot out of the pit" daily, Bucky's is also known for its sweet potato crunch side dish. For a crowd, Bucky's will cater, and they'll even deliver and set up for you for a perfectly no-fuss party. And you can get a free sandwich on your birthday by signing up on their website. What's not to love about that?

Mike & Jeff's BBQ, Greenville
Despite being a hole in the wall, you will not leave Mike & Jeff's with a hole in your stomach. It's an unassuming little spot that will leave you coming back for more. They keep it simple with pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, and "old school" sides, such as coleslaw, corn on the cob, and baked beans. Mike & Jeff's may not be on the coveted 100-mile barbecue list, as in places worth driving 100 miles to eat barbecue, but it's an up-and-coming spot that just may make the list yet.

Maurice's Piggy Park BBQ, Columbia, SC
For over 60 years, Maurice's has been serving up some of the best mustard sauce in the state, smothered over pork, sausage, and even fried chicken. You can't miss the signs from the interstate directing you there, daring you to keep driving without stopping for some tasty lunch, no matter the time of the day. As such, the lunch buffet does bring in folks from near and far. Make sure to come hungry, because that buffet just keeps on going. You can take a jar of sauce to go, and you definitely should or you'll be kicking yourself later.

Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ, Sullivan's Island, SC
There's actually three locations, but the Sullivan's Island spot sits on a hip little section of the island, making you want to take a break from the seafood to put away some pork. Fiery Ron's combines classic barbecue techniques with a bit of a modern flair. You'll find tacos on the menu, for example, and sliders, as well as fancy cocktails. The owner pitmaster, Aaron Siegel, is also a trained chef, bringing his culinary skill to the kitchen, and making this place stand out in a slew of down-home barbecue joints.

There are many, many more places to get a good plate of 'cue in the state, but allow this list to wet your palette and amp you up to try them all. Someone's favorite barbecue is also as personal as a favorite song, so there is no right or wrong answer to the which spot is the best in the state. They're all pretty darn good. So next time you're looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, take a ride on the South Carolina BBQ trail.

Jannan Poppen is a travel writer based in Greenville, SC. She's an explorer at heart and will try just about anything once, but prefers to eat her favorite barbecue more than once.