Certain restaurants are known for their expertise at turning out signature foods really well. They've pinned down the ingredients, mastered the process, and gained a strong following as a result. Columbia has had much success creating a substantial market for Barbecue. Locals can't get enough of the city's excellent food, and you'll often find them, along with eager tourists, at popular Doc's Barbeque & Southern Buffet or at Maurice's Gourmet Barbecue, a major player in the field. Make sure you see what all the fuss is about!
Maurice's Piggie Park
Famous for their delicious bbq and infamous for their controversial flying of the Confederate flag, Maurice's is a Columbia landmark and South Carolina legend. This is the original "Piggy Park" restaurant with its neon sign. Maurice Bessinger's secret recipe for his special mustard-based sauce is what has kept people coming back time and again to this simple, old school barbeque joint. A must-see and a must-eat! (803-796-0220, 800-628-7423)
Here's the drill. You order up a plate of slow-smoked pulled pork, and then eat it naked, or choose one of three sauces: Western-style has a sweet tang, Gold has a bite-y mustard base, and Ultimate has a spicy, vinegar-y kick. Alternatively, you could opt for beef brisket, ribs, chicken or catfish (or a plate of all of the above). Sure, there are sides (cole slaw, squash casserole, mac and cheese, collards, fried okra, and the like), but with all this beautiful barbecued meat, do you really need sides? (803-356-1070)
Doc's Barbeque & Southern Buffet
Heading to Doc's for lunch? Bring your appetite, because this is one big, hearty buffet. Along with barbecue, fried catfish and fried chicken, this place is loaded with an abundance of down-home sides like collards, mac and cheese, rice, baked beans, green beans, slaw and potato salad. Plus banana pudding and a cobbler for dessert. No way you're leaving hungry. Also open on Gamecock football Saturdays. (803-799-1532)
This one's well outside of town, about a 30-minute drive away in Leesville, but if you're a barbecue fan, don't let that deter you. It's a no-frills spot, as all great barbecue joints should be, but Shealy's does things a tad different. They have a buffet, fully loaded with all manner of sides and lots of pulled pork and BBQ chicken. There's also a different special everyday (ribs, fried fish, quail). The mustard sauce is the standout here. (803-532-8135)