South Carolina is known for its many enduring qualities such as the Thomas Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, Sumter sweet tea, Table Rock mountain, and of course, the sultry and savory tastes of barbeque.
It is hard for many who have grown up in, or become a part of, our state to nail down exactly who makes the best ‘que. In my final year at the University of South Carolina, I had the daunting task of telling the story of our state’s love with pulled, roasted and smoked pork, forcing my gullet to endure countless plastic fork-fulls of barbeque.
In my travels, I and my palate questioned: Who is the fairest barbequer of them all? My answer: Southern Belly, at 1332 Rosewood Drive, in Columbia.
Now, I do have a bias. It is hard to not fall in love with a bar and barbeque joint that is within walking distance of my home. But man, they have some good ’que. Each dish is lovingly served with plain chips and some of the best-tasting coleslaw in the restaurant business.
Jimmy Phillips, the owner and ’que-rator at Southern Belly, makes all of his sauces from scratch and painstakingly perfects his pulled pork day-in and day-out. When you walk inside the little restaurant, just a stone’s throw from Williams Brice Stadium, you are immersed in the small-town feel of a man who loves his job and knows he is good at it.
Of course, I’m what I consider a plain ’que-eater. I go for the traditional pulled pork sandwich with the Midas-mustard base sauce. It’s hard to go wrong with something that has “Traditional” in the name. But Southern Belly also offers a step off the beaten path for those with a more adventurous appetite. The “Wookie” will leave you wanting more after you have dived into its double-meat, three-cheese, grilled-onions, with a center-of-sliced-bread insides.
When I Go Columbia, I make sure my shotgun rider is a steaming Southern Belly barbeque sandwich.