CP file photo by Jerrell Guy

Barbecuing or smoking your own meats at home can be tough to beat, but Charleston’s pitmasters will give you a run for your money. You’ll find delicately smoked cuts of brisket, pork butt or chicken carefully paired with down-home sides like potato salad, collard greens and mac and cheese at the many barbecue spots in town. Each joint puts their own spin on these classic barbecue meals and fixins. Save yourself the at-home clean-up and try one of these local stops.

Bessinger’s BBQ
1602 Savannah Hwy (West Ashley)
(843) 556-1354
Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Bessinger’s is a family-owned establishment best known for its classic mustard-based barbecue sauce, a South Carolina specialty. The tangy, spicy sauce balances the smokey flavor of meat sandwiches like the Big Joe pulled pork sandwich, burnt ends or the chicken sandwich. Even the fixins like the steak fries and onion rings can be dipped into the mustard-based sauce. 

Home Team BBQ
1205 Ashley River Road (West Ashley)
126 William St. (Downtown)
2209 Middle St. (Sullivan’s Island) 
(843) 225-7427
Open daily 11-12 a.m.

Home Team BBQ takes a low and slow approach to barbecue at its three locations in the Lowcountry. Try their famous smoked wings or smoked barbecue tacos for a different twist on traditional barbecue items. But if you’re wanting classic barbecue offerings, Home Team has meats by the platter and per pound. Watch the upcoming NFL and college football season at the place voted Best Sports Bar with the Best Mac and Cheese, Nachos and Tots by City Paper readers in 2022. 

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
1622 Highland Ave (James Island)
(843) 790-0838
Open Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 .m.

Stop at Martin’s on the way to or from Folly Beach to fill your belly with the Tennessee-based barbecue spot. Get a taste of Tennessee style barbecue with vinegar- and tomato-based sauces for wet, saucy ribs, smoked pork shoulder, catfish tenders and spare ribs.

Melvin’s Barbecue
538 Folly Road (James Island)
925 Houston Northcutt Blvd (Mount Pleasant)
(843) 762-0511 (James Island)
(843) 881-0549 (Mount Pleasant) 
Open Mon.-Sat. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Melvin’s is part of the Bessinger family, serving up the family’s famous mustard-based barbecue sauce. Named after Melvin Bessinger, the son of founder Joseph Bessinger, Melvin’s offers similar menu items to its sister restaurant Bessinger’s with items like the Little Joe pulled pork sandwich, but Melvin’s expands a bit more into burger territory with over 10 burger options. 

Lewis Barbecue
464 Nassau St. (Downtown)
(843) 805-9500
Open Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun.-Mon. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Pitmaster John Lewis brings Texas backyard barbecue to the Lowcountry at Lewis Barbecue, voted Best Barbecue in City Paper’s Best Of 2022 awards. Try the famous Texas Hot Guts Sausage, a house-made sausage stuffed with beef, pork and some peppers for a kick. Or indulge in the pork spare ribs, fixed with cowboy pinto beans. But not only does Lewis Barbecue offer the best barbecue in the city according to readers, it was also voted the place with the Best Brisket, Best Ribs and Best Meat & Three Veggies combo. 

Palmira Barbecue
99 S Market St. (Downtown, located in Port of Call)
(8430 263-4228
Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Palmira is one of the newest barbecue restaurants to join Charleston, housed at the Port of Call Food + Brew Hall on S. Market Street. Owned by Hector Garate, the Palmira specializes in beef cheeks, whole hog and house-made sausages from local heritage farms. Garate takes inspiration from his grandma, who grew up on a sustainable cattle farm and wood-fired barbecue. 

Poogan’s Smokehouse
188 E Bay St. (Downtown) 
(843) 577-5665
Open Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Poogan’s Smokehouse takes Southern barbecue to the next level with dishes like the Four Porksmen — a sandwich stuffed with pulled pork, smoked sausage, bacon, St. Louis ribs, cheese and the signature Poogan’s sauce on a Hawaiian bun.

Rodney Scott’s BBQ
1011 King St. (Downtown)
(843) 990-9535
Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Rodney Scott was voted Best Pitmaster by readers in City Paper’s 2022 Best Of Awards, but the pitmaster has been making rounds across the country with his famous whole hog and pit-cooked barbecue, even earning a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Southeast Chef. Scott, his restaurant and his cooking style has been featured on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl and Netflix’s Chef’s Table. Rodney Scott’s offers indoor and outdoor seating to try the nationwide-famous barbecue. If you’re in a rush, they even have a drive-through. 

Southern Roots Smokehouse

2544 Savannah Hwy (West Ashley)
1083 E Montague Ave (Park Circle)
(843) 212-5785 (West Ashley)
(843) 805-4147 (Park Circle)
Open daily 11-2 a.m. (West Ashley)
Open Sun.-Wed. 11-12 a.m., Thurs.-Sat. 11-2 a.m. (Park Circle)

Southern Roots does its best to provide truly local barbecue, partnering with local farmers and purveyors. Of course, classics like pulled pork sandwiches are available, but try something different like the baby back bites: deep fried ribs tossed in their signature rib rub. 

Swig & Swine
1217 Savannah Hwy (West Ashley)
(843) 225-3805
Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Swig & Swine specializes in fresh-smoked meats with ice-cold drinks. Their extensive drink menu has many local brews on tap, as well as signature cocktails to pair with their food. Try some St. Louis ribs or the pork rind nachos for a messy good time.

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