Lowcountry Food: A round up of Beaufort's BBQ spots
Beaufort loves its BBQ just as much as any other town here in the south and we’ve got a few good Beaufort BBQ spots to enjoy some of the best. There are many things that can be considered “controversial” on our part of the south. There’s the constant college football debate, and tradition and terminology debates too: see Frogmore stew vs. Lowcountry boil. But, outside of all of these, there’s one thing that’s a guaranteed controversy in the south; something that will get your face hotter than a summer Lowcountry day; B-B-Q.
For something that seems to be simple on the surface, nothing can be more complicated that southern BBQ. From different regions of the south to different regions of a single state, there are so many variables – ingredients, flavors, wood, coals, meat cuts, hogs, cattle, cooking-vessels – that all ultimately impact the meat that’s piled high on your plate. Not to mention the regionally-specific sauces, too. From a tangy vinegar-based sauce whose roots can be traced back to the NC coastal and SC Lowcountry areas, to a hearty, smoky tomato-base that is seen in the Western and Piedmont regions of North Carolina, and the thick and yellow mustard-based sauces of South Carolina with, quite possibly, German roots. The regionality continues through Texas, Alabama, Kansas City, and Memphis.
Quite literally, everything that has to do with bbq is a phenomenon unto itself.
We set our sights on a few daring, competitive, and delicious establishments to sample them and see what makes Beaufort BBQ so great.
Q on Bay
Looking over Q’s menu, it’s clear that they specialize in all things BBQ, but also have dishes to please those who are not ‘cue inclined. And while Q offers a variety of ways to enjoy pulled pork, it was time to slide into some sliders.
Up to bat are two sliders – one pork and one brisket. By itself, the meat of the pulled pork slider has been rendered nicely tender and ever so slightly sweet and not too heavy handed with sauce – all attributes that can be attributed to the meat being seasoned well before the cooking process. Offering the 3 most common sauces found in the Carolinas to be used at one’s discretion, including a horseradish sauce, which is a bit uncommon, but, when dipped, does add a spiced kick and offers yet another flavor. They were quite good.
Feeling particularly southern this evening, we followed up the sliders with sides of mac n cheese and collard greens. The mac n cheese is well cooked and decently seasoned and the collards are wonderfully wilted, savory, and delicious. Highlighting the acidity from the greens being cooked down with some meat (pork most likely) and slight tangy-ness from vinegar, and remnants of the bacon that cooked in the same pot, the collards are everything you’d hope they be.
Roadhouse Ribs offers a variety of BBQ staples including smoked brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and of course ribs with five different bbq sauces to choose from; as well as hand-cut grass-fed organic steaks, seafood and prime rib. All of their meats are slow-smoked in an oak and pecan wood-filled smoker.
The kitchen showcases a variety of BBQ that touches on southern cultures including South Carolina’s mustard base, Texas’s sweet style, Tennessee’s famous dry rub, etc., and they put them all in one place. The menu also favors lunch with a variety of burgers and sandwiches available and a list of appetizers and side orders that reads quite well with brisket nachos, sweet potato fries, cider slaw, a variety of sliders, fried pickles and more.
What caught our attention most, other than the wall-sized wine racks and stylish full service bar, was the creativity behind the mac n cheese.
Roadhouse offers a shrimp & sausage mac n cheese, and we all know how well shrimp and sausage go together; a pork & green chili mac, bacon and jalapeno and a recipe called ‘burnt end mac’ which consists of brisket, tomatoes, and a thick & sweet bbq sauce.
One of the most famous restaurant names in the Lowcountry is Duke’s BBQ. Family owned and palate-pleasing since we were all tots, Duke’s left Beaufort for awhile then came back a few years ago on Salem Road off of Highway 170.
Offering a buffet style restaurant that has the total feel of a country kitchen, Duke’s is a place to enjoy some local BBQ, and then more. And more. And then some more.
With pulled pork, fried chicken and lots of extras at Duke’s, there’s always plenty to choose from but it’s the BBQ chicken that hooks you. And the hash. Oh, and the homemade mac n cheese and slaw. We capped our meal off with some of their homemade banana pudding, a local favorite.
KC Mike’s Smokin’
Newest on the scene, KC Mike’s made a name for itself around the community for the past several years serving up its signature Brunswick stew and other delicacies at area farmer’s markets and events. The restaurant opened this year on Lady’s Island and is quickly becoming an area favorite with a smoky selection of pulled pork and ribs with all the fixins and a menu full of what you’re looking for in good southern bbq.
We enjoyed the rib plate. Perfectly flavored and the ‘crisp’ was in all the right spots. Also, the side of baked beans…just get it. Trust us. You’ll be glad you did. One of the most abused and misunderstood bbq sides are baked beans, and Mike crafts his unlike many others we’ve seen, er, we mean tasted.
‘Cue Here, There, Everywhere!
As you know, when you’re in the south and the BBQ craving comes callin’ you better make sure you mind your manners and answer accordingly. After sampling some of what Beaufort has to offer, we feel quite accomplished.
Each has its own unique flavor. Each its own signature. While we may have been partial to one over another, each is well worth the price you pay and gives you that BBQ experience you were craving before you walked in the door.
One of the things that makes BBQ so great, so special and so treasured, is that it is as unique as a fingerprint. An individual’s personal taste and preference for BBQ can be just as unique. Whether it is from the cooking traditions that one grew up with and the nostalgic memories that ‘cue can evoke, or the adventurousness of ones’ own palette that desires to sample unique cuts of meat with a more post-modern culinary technique and flavor profiles. Everything about BBQ changes from plate to plate.
Don’t just take our word for it. Go and explore what our great region has to offer. Try your beloved ‘cue a new way with a different sauce or cut, or stick to the ol’ tried and true.
Because no matter where you go, or how you eat it or what sauce is “the best sauce”…the one thing that we can say with an absolute certainty is that without fail, you’ll enjoy every moment of a southern BBQ experience.