When European settlers came to the Carolinas, they brought a pair of traditions with them. One was barbecue, the art of slow cooking meat with the smoke of aromatic wood. The other was pigs, which quickly became wild, nuisance animals and the perfect target for hunters looking to feed their families. The two came together more than three centuries ago and the tradition continues today. Unlike the Northern use of the term "barbecue: which means to cook outside, in the South it's all about the animal - the pig - and the smoke - usually hickory and pecan wood. That makes it possible to pick out a roadside barbecue joint by smell alone, which is the case for off-the-beaten-path places like Hog Heaven BBQ. For families with mixed taste buds, be sure to check out some of the BBQ places that also double as country cooking restaurants, such as Prosser's Bar-B-Que and Damon's Oceanfront Grill. If you are picky about your barbecue sauces, be sure to choose the right spot for you. From North Carolina-style (vinegar-based over chopped pork), South Carolina-style (mustard-based over pulled pork) and Texas-style (sweet tomato-based over smoked beef), you'll find the right barbecue to hit the spot along the Grand Strand.
Big KT's BBQ
This great little barbecue and beer joint in North Myrtle Beach is famous for its ribs. Slow smoked over hickory coals, this ribs are slathered in Big KT's special sauce and cut to make them easier for consumption. Still, there's a good chance you'll have BBQ sauce up to your ears before the meal is over. Side items include house specialties as tomato pie, Brunswick stew and hushpuppies. Serving North Carolina-style barbecue just below the South Carolina state line, Big KT's tries to keep everyone happy with your choice of vinegar-based, mustard-based and tomato-based sauces, each with a mild, medium and hot concoction. ((843) 427-4117)
Sticky Fingers RibHouse
The name says it all - finger-lickin' and finger-stickin' barbecue straight from the South Carolina Lowcountry. Specializing in pulled pork and baby-back ribs, Sticky Fingers provides down-home BBQ in a more modern/casual restaurant setting. Although this local chain is based in Charleston, it offers a wide range of barbecue flavors from all over the Southeast. From Memphis-style dry-rub ribs to Carolina pulled pork, BBQ lovers will find something for their taste buds at Sticky Fingers. But man can't live on barbecue alone, as much as they would love to, so Sticky Finger's also offers country-style side items like mac and cheese and collard greens. ((843) 839-2837)
The surrounding towns of Calabash and Southport are famous for their seafood, but Bart's makes sure that good North Carolina-style barbecue is also represented in the coastal region of the Carolinas. Offering smoked pork, chicken and beef smothered in the house sauce, Bart's puts on the hog for hungry customers in the community, serving as a haven for country cooking for generations. Located in a former service station building, Bart's packs them in for lunch and dinner. The smoked pork is the main draw but Bart's also serves a limited seafood menu highlighted by fried shrimp. Fresh pies and cakes are available for dessert. (910-287-7522)
Hog Heaven BBQ
In an area that is torn between regional barbecue preferences, Hog Heaven offers Lowcountry barbecue at its best. Hog Heaven is a small, stand-alone shop on a secluded stretch of highway just north of Georgetown, and people come from miles around the check out this unique eatery. A popular dinner buffet has been added and features country cooking and seafood in addition to tasty barbecue. Families gather around the picnic tables and feast on the smoked pork, ribs and other S.C. favorites, such as chicken bog and Frogmore Stew. This place gets pretty busy on the weekends. Phone ahead for carry-out service. ((843) 237-7444)
Bar B Que House
This family-owned and operated barbecue joint is a popular spot among locals who like their smoked meat with all the Southern-flavored trimmings. Not only will you get the great taste of true Carolina pork barbecue, slow cooked over hickory coals until it is melt-in-your-mouth tender, but also its famous barbecue chicken. Whichever you choose, your plate also will be packed with hot hushpuppies, cole slaw, fries, potato salad and most any other country dish your tummy desires. Save room for a dish of banana pudding or peach cobbler. This family owned and operated eatery is also a fun hangout for locals. (843-249-6401)
Screamin' Pig BBQ
From the curb, the Screamin' Pig isn't much to look at - that's how you know they serve good barbecue. This hole in the wall was once a drive-in and walk-up style diner that has been concerted into a family dining establishment, but iot more than makes up for what it lacks in curb appeal with tasty barbecue and other country classics. Serving slow-cooked pork over hickory coals as well as barbecue chicken and ribs, accompanied by some of the best sides in town - hot hushpuppies and fries, cole slaw and BBQ beans and some excellent banana pudding and other desserts. (843-427-7901)
This family-owned and operated eatery has been serving sweet barbecue and country cooking since 1953, and for good reason. Not only does Prosser's do barbecue the good ol' Southern way - slow smoked over hickory coals to perfection - it also serves some of the best country cooking on the Grand Strand. Fried chicken, country-fried steak and the Lowcountry favorite dish of chicken bog join barbecue and ribs on the buffet amid a sea of home-style vegetables. Breads and desserts are also available on the buffet, which is quite affordable for hungry visitors. Save room for dessert if you dare. ((843) 357-6146)
Damon's – Oceanfront
Damon's specializes in ribs - big, meaty ribs char-grilled and slathered in a tantalizing sauce. Not a fan of ribs? Well, Damon's obliges, with a well-rounded menu of prime rib, steaks, barbecued chicken, juicy burgers and tasty salads. Even the kids menu will satisfy the pickiest little eaters this side of the Mississippi, with corn dogs, popcorn shrimp, and chicken fingers among the favorites. A great oceanfront location outdoor seating make for a sublime experience any time, and take out is available all day. Damon's is also located on a fairly secluded stretch of beach if you want to walk off ribs after dinner. (843-626-8000)
Little Pigs BBQ
This hidden jewel at the end of a secluded strip mall if worth searching for, and you can follow your nose to the smell of burning hickory and smoking meat. Little Pigs does it the South Carolina way - whole pork shoulders rubbed in spices and slow cooked until it's fall-off-the-bone tender. They chop it, pile it on a bun, cover it in their vinegar-based sauce and barbecue slaw. Little Pigs also specializes in ribs, and traditional Southern side dishes are available - baked beans, fries and hushpuppies. There's plenty of sweet tea to wash it all down, especially if you opt for the hot sauce over the mild. ((843) 692-9774)
About Terry Massey
It's no surprise that journalist Terry Massey is credited with creating the word 'stay-cation.' He considers the past 18 years in Myrtle Beach a vacation.
He and his wife Stephanie were honeymooning in Myrtle Beach, when Terry was offered a job at the local newspaper. Without hesitation, they packed a U-Haul with their belongings - including unopened wedding gifts - and moved to the beach. They now have a daughter, Riley, a golden retriever, Duff, and their roots are deeply grounded in the sand.
After 13 years at the newspaper, Terry became a freelance writer to cover all the things that brought him to the beach.
Read more about Terry Massey here.
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