Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

BBQ Battle: North Versus South

Posted August 5, 2008

South Carolinians will argue that mustard is an essential ingredient to any superb barbecue sauce. Many chefs will fight tooth and nail to keep anything tomato out of their prized concoctions. Apparently this love affair with mustard can be traced to the 18th century when German settlers brought their own sauce to the Palmetto State. They like it tangy in South Carolina. Along with yellow mustard the barbecue sauce south of our border contains cider vinegar, brown sugar and spices.

It is interesting to note that when you go south of South Carolina the loathing of tomato-based barbecue sauce ceases. Savannah chefs embrace ketchup just like their culinary cousins in Lexington, NC.

Have any of you ever had good barbecue outside North Carolina and if so where?  Do you enjoy mustard on your pork?

Ponder that as we get ready to vote tomorrow on the Best of Carolina Barbecue Restaurant.


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  • RD28327 Aug 8, 2008

    Lots of folks from Columbia drive 30 miles west on US 1 to Shealy's BBQ in Batesburg-Leesville. And they have a big buffet. Closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

    Also, check out Brushy Creek BBQ in Piedmont, SC (outside Greenville). Good chicken and ribs too.

  • NCtraveler Aug 7, 2008

    My votes for best BBQ either outside of NC or not pork are below.

    Brisket - Rudy's, San Antonio
    Ribs - Corky's or Blues City Cafe, Memphis
    Chicken - Hillbilly's, Lowell, NC
    Mustard based - Bessenger's, Charleston, SC

  • michael2 Aug 6, 2008

    I grew up with Angelo's and Risckey's in Ft. Worth, but I did make the pilgrimage to the Kreuz Market in Lockhart and dang if it wasn't even better than I expected and I expected a lot. By the way, whenever possible (always possible in Texas) I get the brisket. And no, Texans don't use sauce. They use smoke. And maybe a little dry rub, maybe not. If you want sauce, there is probably a squeeze bottle on your table. When I want pig, I ALWAYS stop at a Maurice's in SC. Pig and mustard. Wonderful!

  • Travised Aug 5, 2008

    Vinegar based is good on ribs, however for the rest (steaks, and others) I have to go with the ketchup base. TX has shown me a lot of different styles depending on where I was in the state. Eastern TX will be interesting to see this fall to see how they prepare. Austin always did a GREAT job.

    A few Steak Houses up north (one is no more) were tomato based. The one my brother in-law had to suffer with. He can't take his meat properly cooked (PINK!) He wants it cooked so it's dead (no taste).

  • TheDude abides... Aug 5, 2008

    As far as sauces go, I have heard a lot of the old folks around home (not in Cary) saying that George's Sauce is about as close as you are going to get (for store-bought)to old-fashioned Eastern NC sauce. I admit, it IS good!

  • TheDude abides... Aug 5, 2008

    Bill - Can we have a blog on hog chittlins as well one day?

    There has been much emphasis on sauce on this blog. Another HUGE difference in BBQ is how it is processed. Pulled, Chopped or Shredded. My fav is pulled (right off the bone), but I like chopped as well (What you usually get at restaurants). Shredded is just too fine cut for me. GREAT BLOG

  • StaggerLee Aug 5, 2008

    Ketchup should not be allowed on a cooked pig. Heck, have you ever been to the Roast Grill in Raleigh? They don't even allow ketchup on their hotdogs....they have a sign that says don't even ask for it.

    Ketchup goes well with french fries....that's about it.

  • eyesblue Aug 5, 2008

    Sonny's (which is a chain with places in NC too..near Concord Mills) in Commerce, Ga. My husband thinks their BBQ sandwiches are like ham on a bun with sauce. But pretty tasty. Our other interesting taste of BBQ outside of NC was in Dawsonville, Ga. (home of NASCAR's Bill Elliott) at a place aptly called "Hogs n Dogs". I've also had BBQ in Austin, Tx, but I'd call that beef on a bun with sauce. NC clearly is BBQ country...east or west.

  • dhall357 Aug 5, 2008

    Never had any bad BBQ NSE or W. Raised on Piedmont and Eastern style, but my favorite is Memphis style at Charlie Varga's Rendezvous or Corky's in Memphis. The Rendezvous is worth the trip just to get to the place. Not far from Beale St., you literally go up an alley and down some stairs to the basement of an office building. There you will find all the ambiance you can take in with great food and service.

  • NCTrue Aug 5, 2008

    The BBQ song explains it all...




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