Food & Drink

The Best BBQ Joints in Charleston Right Now

From Texas-style brisket to South Carolina 'cue.

Most people think shrimp and grits is the dish that Charleston is most proud of, but those people are dead wrong: the city’s true culinary pride lies in its barbecue scene. Ask 13 people for their favorite spot, and you’ll get 13 different answers for 13 different reasons. And the thing is, they’re all right. Whether you prefer mustard (South-Carolina style), tomato, vinegar, or white, here’s where you can get sauced in Chucktown. 

Note: While South Carolina recently reopened for dine-in service, availability varies by restaurant. Takeout/delivery is always a safe bet during the COVID-19 era so we've provided info for each.

Lewis BBQ

NoMo

It’s hard to remember what Charleston was like before Lewis Barbecue moved into the neighborhood -- granted it was only a few years ago, but that feels like a lifetime to live without hot guts and brisket (plus what would we do without puffy tacos from Juan Luis in Workshop?). The brisket is an absolute must-try (John Lewis is a Texan, after all), and if you stop by on a Saturday, try to get a rack of short ribs before they sell out -- they absolutely live up to the hype.
How to order: Takeout available via Toast.

Rodney Scott’s

North Central

There’s a reason Rodney Scott won a James Beard Award: his barbecue is absolutely delicious. While the pulled pork and bbq chicken are both solid choices, the real magic here is in the ribs. Pair them with a side of hushpuppies (with a drizzle of honey) and mac and cheese, and you’re in for a good time.
How to order: Doordash and UberEats

Swig & Swine

West Ashley

The goal at Swig & Swine is to marry delicious, smoky BBQ with cold craft beer, a favorite combination for those of us south of the Mason-Dixon. The menu is full of meats that are slow-smoked in a custom-built smoker, which you can see working hard whenever you pass by. Can’t decide between all the delicious options on the menu? Get the family platter, served with seven different types of meat, plus your choice of three excellent sides (I recommend the baked beans, mac and cheese, and pickled veggies).
How to order: UberEats and Postmates

Dukes

James Island

Part of the Dukes' family of BBQ joints that span the state, this ‘cue spot requires a totally empty stomach to take advantage of the buffet line-up. If nothing else, you should come here for mac and cheese alone. It’s creamy and delicious, and almost manages to overshadow the slightly smoky pork.
How to order: Via GrubHub

Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ

West Ashley (& other locations)

If ribs are more your thing, then head to Home Team BBQ. The ribs have been dubbed the “most life-changing ribs” you’ll ever eat. Prepare to leave the restaurant with a whole new outlook on life. They’re dry-rubbed and slow-smoked, so each bite is packed with flavor.
How to order: Via Postmates.

Bessinger's

West Ashley

Bessinger’s is like two restaurants in one. First, you’ve got the buffet side, which is only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and is loaded with BBQ and other Southern favorites. Then, you’ve got the basic order-at-the-counter sandwich shop, where you can get specialties like the Big Joe (chopped BBQ pork sandwich), served with signature steak fries and a giant onion ring (which is really more of an onion donut, on account of how sweet it is. Which is perfectly fine with us.)
How to order: ChowNow

Music Man's Bar-B-Que

Moncks Corner

If you’re willing to make the drive out to Moncks Corner, you’ll find some of the best chopped pork and catfish stew in the low country at Music Man’s Bar-B-Que. The atmosphere is family oriented and no frills, offering only two sauces for you to choose from. You should choose the vinegar sauce, because hot damn, that stuff is good.
How to order: For takeout and curbside pickup call 843-899-PORK (7675) 

Smoky Oak Taproom

James Island

Smoky Oak is a James Island favorite that is constantly packed full of people waiting to gorge themselves on BBQ. In addition to classic ribs and pulled pork, it offers more unique takes on BBQ, like wood-grilled quesadillas stuffed with hickory-smoked pork, BBQ chicken pizza, or the “Spudzilla,” a giant baked potato stuffed with beef brisket, cheese sauce, chili, bacon, and green onions.
How to order: Head to their website.

Poogan's Smokehouse

French Quarter

Poogan’s Smokehouse is one of Downtown’s best places to find some ‘cue. The Smokehouse does a great job marrying upscale Southern cuisine with BBQ. Try the pork belly/pulled pork sliders with “Red Neck” kimchee and Duke’s mayo, served on Hawaiian rolls. You’ll see exactly what we mean.
How to order: Via Grubhub or UberEats

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Sydney Gallimore is a food writer from Charleston, SC who prefers mustard to vinegar when it comes to BBQ sauce. You can follower her food adventures at Queen of the Food Age.