What’s good here?
Barbecue. The delectable smell wafts from the cottage style building and can be enjoyed even from the parking lot.
Owner Jimmy Phillips observed and traveled to learn the techniques of slow-roasted, melt-in-your mouth pulled pork. There are several unique sauces to choose from – besides the familiar vinegar or mustard-base varieties. Phillips prefers a cream-based sauce. His, called “Southern Bell-y”, is inspired by some of the Alabama sauces he tried; he describes them as “creamy, rich, fruity, and delicious.”
The “Rebel Red” is inspired from Kansas City and St. Louis recipes and includes tomatoes, molasses, brown sugar and vinegar. The “Asada Vinaigrette” is a mash-up of South American and Afro-Caribbean style sauce.
Many who eat at The Southern Belly BBQ say it is good without any sauce.
Patrons can order a traditional sandwich on a bakery fresh French roll, choose the sauce, and even order it topped with a variety of choices: applewood bacon, roasted red peppers, jalapeno peppers, banana peppers, grilled Vidalia onions, grilled red onions, grilled pineapple or pickles. Sandwiches are served with slaw and chips.
Unique barbecue combinations on the menu include the “Castro,” topped with pickles, banana peppers, melted Swiss cheese and the “Midas” sauce (mustard-base); and the “Avita,” topped with grilled pineapples, grilled Vidalia onions, roasted red peppers and served on a French roll with the Asada sauce.
Occasional specials include watermelon salad, cornbread and banana pudding. Phillips plans to add more health-conscious items to the menu, such as a variety of salads.
His goal was always to offer a gourmet shop concept – but with barbecue. Choose the base and then create your own individual barbecue sandwich. He plans to offer fried pickles and sweet potato fries in the future as a side option, instead of just chips.
Phillips is also working on purchasing from as many local suppliers as possible. On the menu is this statement: “We strive to use sustainably farmed local ingredients, humanely raised (meats) hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic fruits, vegetables, fresh-baked breads, and all-natural, made-from-scratch sauces.”
What does the place look like?
Phillips decided the “shabby chic” label might describe the ambiance. The building is an old cottage style home with a porch that wraps from the front to one side. The building has a tin roof and is decorated entirely with antique, thrift store and found items such as an organ, oil paintings, books and signs. A tire swing and a wooden swing are in the front of the restaurant. Old picnic tables decorate the porches. Phillips said he wanted a place that was inviting and relaxing – as if visiting a casual home. The Southern Belly BBQ seats approximately 50 inside and another 50 outside.
How did The Southern Belly BBQ get its start?
Phillips’s food industry experience is primarily as a manager of bars and music venues where some food has been served. He was involved in organizing tailgating events where barbecue was served and he began offering some barbecue mainly as a bar food.
“People responded really well to the barbecue and the sauces, so I decided I could do a full restaurant,” he says. Last spring, Phillips opened in the building that is at the base of the railroad bridge on Rosewood Drive; it is in sight of Williams-Brice Stadium.
Who eats here?
Since his staff is mostly made up of USC students, many students know about Southern Belly BBQ and frequent the restaurant. It also attracts young professionals, as well as industrial employees working in the Bluff Road area. “Plus, we get foodies in here who want to try a different type of barbecue place.”