The Pot Smoker BBQ in the Vista is open 24 hours.
Well, kind of.
While diners may not be able to go in and order the restaurant’s smoked Boston butt, St. Louis-style ribs, chicken halves or wings at 3 in the morning, the kitchen at the restaurant at Senate and Park streets is always hopping.
“We go to great lengths to assure maximum quality with very precise and sensitive timing methods (for) our meats,” said owner Philip Pye. “We do this by employing third-shift pit bosses who start the smoking process at 10 or 11 p.m. and cook all night and into the next morning. This ensures that our meats will be perfectly smoked by lunch the following day.”
Just like the original Pot Smoker BBQ restaurant in North Augusta, The Pot Smoker BBQ Columbia is known for those perfectly smoked meats.
“Our pulled pork is the top seller in the entire restaurant, and it is the best pulled pork that you can find. Bar none,” Pye said. “However, because of our meticulous and thorough process, all of our smoked meats are among the best in the industry. The smoked chicken is moist and flavored throughout. The brisket melts in your mouth. And our ribs literally fall off the bone.”
The restaurant’s sides are all made in-house, too. Customer favorites include the baked beans – which are sweet, but filled with hamburger meat and sautéed veggies – and the loaded baked potato salad (what it sounds like: a fully loaded baked potato in potato salad form). There are also traditional Southern favorites – sides of mac and cheese, black-eyed peas, and hash and rice.
And then there are the restaurant’s signature sauces (also made on-site), all the creations of Pot Smoker founder Bobby Boggs and his family.
“We have one for each palette. We have a sweet sauce called ‘Brenda’s Yum Yum;’ we have a mustard-based sauce called ‘Tantalizing Mustard BBQ sauce;’ and our homemade vinegar sauce is available at every table as well. We also have a spicy sauce called ‘Kickin’ Butt,’ and for those people who like it even spicier, we have ‘Help Me Jesus Hot Sauce.’ Spicy people love that sauce. However, our meat comes (to the table) without sauce, because it honestly doesn’t need it.”
How did Pot Smoker get its start?
Boggs and family opened the original Pot Smoker in North Augusta in 2013 and moved to its current location there at 341 Edgefield Road in 2014. The Vista location, franchised by Pye, opened in mid-April.
While the name is an eye-catcher, it is actually derived from Boggs’ original cooking method.
“When I started developing barbecue 14 years ago with a ceramic smoker, I would explain to friends that it was cooked in a ceramic smoker similar to a ceramic pot,” Boggs explains. “So I guess you could call it ‘pot-smoked’ to which I guess I am ‘The Pot Smoker.’ ”
Pye decided to bring a location next to Flying Saucer on Senate Street because of his love for the restaurant’s food and his love of the area.
“I’ve always loved the Vista. The energy and atmosphere are the best in the state of South Carolina in my opinion,” Pye said. “There are a lot of great restaurants here, but I wanted to bring a barbecue concept that matched the ambiance of the Vista.”
What does it look like?
Picture a modern Southern barbecue restaurant. Sheets of galvanized roofing metal are hung as accent pieces throughout, and old gas station signs complement the two large garage doors located on the front of the restaurant that roll up to create an open-air feel. To the left of the entrance is the meat smoking area, opened up to draw in customers far and wide with its tempting aromas. After all, the restaurant’s catchphrase is, “You can smell our butts a mile away.”
Who eats here?
Apparently much of Columbia. Boggs planned to have an initial soft opening in mid-April, but word spread quickly, and lunch lines snaked out the front door.
“It’s going great,” he said.
Pot Smoker BBQ Columbia
WHERE: 931-A Senate St.
WHEN: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
WORTH NOTING: Kids eat free Thursdays