South Carolina BBQ Trail

downloadIn order to increase tourism, states are developing all kinds of trails.  In Tennessee there was the “Pie in the Sky” trail.  Mansfield Ohio has the “Shawshank” Trail.  South Carolina has the BBQ Trail.

South Carolina claims to be the birthplace of barbecue.  I’m not endorsing that claim, but barbecue has been popular in South Carolina since the Colonial days.  Wild pigs were caught and cooked in smoking pits.  South Carolina also claims to be the only place where four sauces are commonly served, representing the four regions of South Carolina.

Tom loves pulled pork so barbecue places are a favorite place to eat.  While we were in Chattanooga we tried several barbecue places and enjoyed all of them.  Now that we have the South Carolina BBQ Trail Map with 105 barbecue places listed, I’m sure we will be eating at plenty of barbecue places here also.  I don’t plan on reviewing each restaurant individually, but the first one we tried was unique enough that I thought it deserved its own post.

While we were in Spartanburg on Tuesday, we had lunch at a place called “Bubba’s BBQ & Bash” which claims to be the best barbecue in Spartanburg.  I was surprised at their advertising restraint because barbecue seems to be an area that inspires superlatives.  I wasn’t sure what the “bash” part of the name implied until we went inside and looked at the menu.  Besides barbecue, Bubba’s is also known for its “Calabash Chicken.”

Calabash Chicken (or seafood) is marinated, rubbed with spices, breaded with cornmeal and deep-fried.  The result is a delicious, moist chicken tender with just a little kick to it.  It is another popular South Carolina dish although it originated in Calabash, North Carolina.  Tom recognized the name from Jimmy Durante’s famous sign-off of his radio show (“Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”).  The Mrs. Calabash to whom Durante referred was Lucy Coleman, owner of a restaurant in Calabash, North Carolina, that served Calabash seafood.  Durante enjoyed it so much that he told Lucy he would make her famous.

But back to Bubba’s.  Tom ordered the pulled pork, of course, but I get tired of pulled pork and wanted something different.  “Hash” was listed on the menu.  I love my mom’s ground roast beef with potatoes, which she always called hash and I thought that might be a good choice.  But it was served over rice, so I asked what it was.  They gave me a sample of very tender pulled beef roast.  It was good, but not something I wanted a full plate of, so I asked about the Calabash Chicken and ordered that.  It was delicious – only similar to fried chicken in that it was deep fried.  I also ordered the hush puppies and they were also delicious and made with real corn, not just cornmeal.  They were very moist inside.

Tom said his pulled pork might be the best he has ever had.  He kept making “mmmmm” noises and saying it melted in his mouth.  He also got the BBQ slaw which has a barbecue sauce in it.  One thing I’ve noticed with the barbecue here in South Carolina is that rice is usually offered as a side dish, not something I see elsewhere.  Rice plantations were central to the economy of South Carolina until after the Civil War.  Rice disappeared from agriculture in South Carolina by the early 1900’s, although it remains a traditional South Carolina dish.

There are 105 barbecue restaurants on the South Carolina BBQ trail.  We selected a great one our first time out.  Can any of the other barbecue restaurants in South Carolina beat it?  I will have to let you know.

Bubba’s from the outside
Simple and satisfying since 2002
Three sauces on the table
Tom’s pulled pork and bbq slaw
My Calabash Chicken with a honey mustard dipping sauce