Rodney Scott | Photo by Ruta Smith

Charleston is known for multiple signature dishes and types of cuisine, and barbecue is definitely one of them. To help you get a real taste of Charleston’s barbecue, we’ve compiled a list of the top three barbecue restaurants in Charleston with a couple local favorites from our Dish Top 50 Spring 2021 Restaurants — and we added a few extras worth checking out.

These top three barbecue restaurants in Charleston were well represented in Best of Charleston 2021, as City Paper readers recognized dishes like ribs, brisket and even nachos and the pitmasters who make the magic happen behind the scenes. South Carolina is barbecue country, and there’s no better time than the present to get out there and see what Charleston has to offer. 

Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ
Inexpensive 
West Ashley. 1205 Ashley River Road. 
(843) 225-7427
Downtown. 126 Williman St.
(843) 225-7427
Sullivan’s Island. 2209 Middle St.
(843) 225-7427
hometeambbq.com
Serving Lunch, Dinner (daily), Weekend Brunch 

With three Charleston locations plus one up in Columbia and another way out in Aspen, Colorado, pitmaster/chefs Aaron Siegel and Taylor Garrigan have built an acclaimed barbecue empire. Whether you’re at the West Ashley original or at the newer outposts on Sullivan’s Island or downtown, the barbecue offering is anchored by pulled pork, smoked chicken, ribs and a superb salt-and-pepper brisket, all cooked over wood on offset metal pits. Siegel’s and Garrigan’s fine-dining roots show in an array of creative snacks and tacos, like chopped brisket sliders on brioche buns and smoked shrimp tacos with white bean puree. There’s always a cheffy special or two, like pulled pork empanadas or a pit-smoked pork chop with purple cabbage and apple, and don’t miss out on Home Team’s smoked chicken wings with tangy white Alabama-style sauce. —Robert F. Moss

Lewis Barbecue
Moderate 
Downtown. 464 N. Nassau St.
(843) 805-9500
lewisbarbecue.com
Serving Lunch, Dinner (daily)

Lewis’ building houses four custom built smokers and a sausage smoker that can cook 1,600 links at a time, all hand built by Lewis and his father. Once inside you’ll queue up to have meat hand-sliced by one of two meat-cutters stationed behind a long counter directing you to opposite ends. Lewis’ “life changing” beef brisket is definitely the star. The infinitely tender meat has a salty, peppery crust and shines with melted fat. But there’s also juicy smoked turkey, pulled pork, pork ribs and Texas sausage called “hot guts” available and priced by the pound (or hot guts by the link). After your tray is filled with your order of meats, choose your sides from mustardy potato salad, lemon slaw, cowboy beans and rich green chile corn pudding. —Robert Donovan

Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Inexpensive 
Downtown. 1011 King St.
(843) 990-9535
rodneyscottsbbq.com
Serving Lunch, Dinner (daily)

Rodney Scott made waves in 2017 when, after two decades of cooking hogs at his family’s acclaimed operation in Hemingway, he brought his traditional burn barrel style of barbecue down to Charleston. That splendid whole hog — basted in a pepper-laced sauce and pulled into long, succulent strands — remains the foundation of Scott’s offering on King Street, but he’s added a few new options for the city crowd, like meaty spareribs, crisp fried catfish and craft beer on tap. The flawless collards and the ribeye sandwiches, made from pit-smoked steak sliced thin and piled high on soft rolls, are must-try sleepers. Now, with a second restaurant open in Birmingham and two more in the works, Rodney Scott is exporting South Carolina-style whole hog cookery across the entire South. —Robert F. Moss

Honorable Mention: 

Bessinger’s BBQ
Inexpensive
West Ashley. 1602 Savannah Hwy.
bessingersbbg.com
Serving Lunch and Dinner

Melvin’s BBQ 
Inexpensive
Mount Pleasant. 925 Houston Northcutt Blvd.
(843) 881-0549
James Island. 538 Folly Rd.
(843) 762-0511
melvinsbbq.com
Serving Lunch and Dinner

Poogan’s Smokehouse
Moderate
Downtown. 188 E Bay Street.
(843) 577-5665
pooganssmokehouse.com
Serving Lunch and Dinner

Swig & Swine
Moderate
Mount Pleasant. 1217 Savannah Hwy.
(843) 416-7368
West Ashley. 1217 Savannah Hwy.
(843) 225-3805
Summerville. 1990 Old Trolley Rd.
(843) 974-8688
swigandswinebbq.com
Serving Lunch and Dinner

The Slaughter House BBQ & Brew
Inexpensive
Ladson. 9616 Hwy 78. Suite 13
(843) 789-3090
slaughterhousebbqandbrew.com
Serving Lunch and Dinner