Esquire.com named Hite’s in West Columbia among the top 15 longtime barbecue restaurants in the U.S. What's yours?
ARCHIVES: Eaton Wright on SC Bar-B-QueOriginally published on: 08/25/2006
Every few years, my friends and I get into a friendly debate about who serves the best barbecue around the Midlands. This year, it started on the way to do a bit of antiquing off U.S. 76 near Clinton.
We had passed a couple of barbecue spots and began to wonder whether any could hold a candle to our Columbia favorites (Big T's, Little Pigs and Doc's).
We decided to take a sampling of some of the more interesting spots along our route. The ground rules were simple: Order at least a half-pound of chopped/pulled meat at each location, some ribs or chicken if available, a bit of hash and/or any other side item that looked good.
We would take everything back to the house for supper and rate the food on a scale from 1 to 5. The higher the score, the better the 'cue.
By the way, I'd advise anyone duplicating this journey to pack a cooler in the back of the car. I never travel without one because I just never know when I'll need it.
Here's a summary of the opinions of six hungry folks over the course of two weekends.
25548 U.S. 76, Clinton (almost equal distance between Clinton and Newberry); (803) 276-6699
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday
WHAT WE BOUGHT: Chopped pork, barbecue chicken and ribs
RATING: 5s all the way. The mustard/vinegar sauce has a tart edge. We snacked on a sandwich on the way to our next stop. Quite tasty. Best meat and ribs. Definitely worth the drive.
Cannon's BBQ & More
1903 Nursery Road, Little Mountain (intersection of U.S. 76 and Nursery Road, just past Little Mountain); (803) 945-1080
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
WHAT WE BOUGHT: Chicken, pork, beef ribs
RATING: 4.5 average. The ribs were a little too fatty, but otherwise no complaints. Another vinegar/mustard combination for the sauce, a little sweeter than Wise's. Cannon's has the most variety on the menu. The bologna burger and the cooked-to-order fried chicken looked intriguing.
2508 Augusta Highway, Lexington; (803) 356-8284
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
WHAT WE BOUGHT: Ribs, chicken, pork, hash, potato salad, mac and cheese
RATING: The smoked chicken and mac and cheese get the highest ratings with 5s. The meat and ribs were average. The smoked-chicken-salad sandwich on a bun, not white bread (to hold us over until supper) was just short of heaven. The hash also scored high.
204 Dreher Road, West Columbia; (803) 794-4120
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday
WHAT WE BOUGHT: Pork, chicken and hash
RATING: Overall, 4. The chicken scored the highest. The pork was a little too vinegary for some in the group, but Hite's must be doing something right. They've been around since 1957 and if you don't go early, chances are they'll run out of popular items (such as ribs).