The Lowcountry is home to many barbecue joints, and locals and visitors often engage in heated discussion about which is the best. Most of the restaurants offer a choice of pulled pork, ribs, chicken, or brisket with sauce.

There many different ways to make pulled pork: with a smoker, in a conventional oven, on the stove or in a slow cooker. The term “pulled” refers to the meat being tender enough, after a long cooking time, to be pulled apart or shredded using a fork. Sauce is typically added to the warm meat just before serving, but some barbecue restaurants serve a choice of sauces on the table and let the diner add their own to “naked” meat.

And, of course, sauce leads to a heated discussion of its own: South Carolina is known for its mustard-based sauce—a tangy, spicy and subtly sweet blend of yellow mustard, ketchup, vinegar, honey, sugar and spices. There are entire aisles at the grocery store devoted to bottled barbecue sauce, but few can match a homemade one.

Lathered on whole-hog barbeque, it is the epitome of stick-to-your ribs comfort food served with sliders, sandwiches, nachos, tacos, beans, mac ‘n’ cheese and cornbread and in omelets — the possibilities are endless. Just be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand.  Other sauces that deserve mention and are very popular in South Carolina are tomato-based sauces or vinegar-pepper sauces.

The art of barbecue is seriously hardcore business. The Southern South Carolina Barbeque Association is a training ground for certifying judges who judge ’cue cookoffs around the state. The Southern BBQ Network also trains people who judge contests that raise money for charitable causes. Judges must learn the technique of judging appearance, aroma, taste, texture and tenderness. It’s a hard job, but somebody’s gotta do it!

Coconut Pecan & Grilled Pineapple Coleslaw

Recipe by Carrie Hirsch / Makes: 6 servings

1/2 cup sweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cups green cabbage, coarsely grated
1 cup carrots, coarsely grated
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
4 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes
4 pineapple rings, grilled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt

Whisk together coconut milk and orange juice in a medium serving bowl. Stir in cabbage, carrots, apple, coconut flakes, pineapple, pecan pieces and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve.

1. Choo Choo BBQ Xpress

129 Burnt Church Road
Bluffton | 843.815.7675

Choo Choo BBQ Express offers traditional oak wood smoked, slow-cooked, pulled pork, brisket, chicken and baby back ribs. The variety of home-made BBQ sauces are an exclusive recipe to ‘top off’ your unique dining experience. The restaurant is a short distance from U.S. 278, the gateway to Hilton Head Island.

We have maintained our reputation as being one of the best purveyors of traditional BBQ anywhere in the South Carolina Lowcounty! Choo Choo BBQ Xpress has indoor/ outdoor seating, take-out and Party Pans for your events.

OPEN LUNCH & DINNER - Daily Monday thru Saturday 11:00AM - 8:00PM. | Closed Sunday. | DAILY LUNCH SPECIALS.

2. Smokehouse

34 Palmetto Bay Road
Hilton Head Island | 843.842.4227

You know good BBQ when you taste it —and the Smokehouse has been serving up their famous, award-winning barbeque on Hilton Head Island since 1999, originally at Coligny Circle and now from a beautiful location at 34 Palmetto Bay Road. Owner Jerry Leonard has always had passion for barbecue, and when he first moved to Hilton Head Island in 1989, he realized that there was a niche to be filled. So he opened his BBQ restaurant specializing in smoked ribs and wings. After 20 years in business, Jerry has won many local awards including Best Wings, Best Ribs, Best Chili and more, but he is most proud of his consistency in quality food, pricing and friendly staff. When you walk in the 200-seat restaurant, you are greeted with a smile and fabulous smells of the highest quality meats, slow smoked for hours over hickory. The Smokehouse offers a diverse lunch and dinner menu with indoor and outdoor seating, including many lunch and dinner specialties, a fantastic Sunday brunch, the best Happy Hour on the Island, and a beautiful indoor bar and outdoor bar with more than 15 TVs to watch your favorite sporting event with a cold beer.

3. Big Jim’s BBQ

7 Trent Jones Lane
Hilton Head Island | 843.785.1165

4. Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

872 Fording Island Road
Bluffton | 843.706.9741

5. Chow Daddy’s

15 Towne Drive 
Bluffton | 843.757.2469

6. One Hot Mama’s

1 Greenwood Drive #7A
Hilton Head Island | 843.682.6262

7. Bullies BBQ

3 Regency Parkway
Hilton Head Island | 843.686.7427

8. Bluffton Barbeque

11 State of Mind Street | Bluffton