I should probably begin with a fair warning that reading this post may lead to involuntary mouthwatering and a sudden urge to lick your fingers. Now that the legal stuff is out of the way, let’s get cooking. I hope you're hungry, Hilton Head.
Now let’s be clear that you can’t rank these restaurants anymore than you could pick your favorite child (not that I’ve tried that sort of thing). The bottom line is they all do what they do and do it well. And what they do, ladies and gentlemen, is the best BBQ in South Carolina.

Queue the ‘Cue

Although my good friends and online marketing team at Dakno Marketing (in Raleigh, NC) might disagree, everyone knows that South Carolina is the birthplace of BBQ. Settle down Tennessee and Georgia, this doesn’t concern you. Don’t believe South Carolina is where the sweet art was born? Folks, facts are facts.
Now that we’ve settled that (no?), let’s get down to honey-glazed business. Our beloved Palmetto State is home to many award-winning BBQ chefs and some of the best are right here in our very own Hilton Head Island area. Ladies and gents, I present to you the South Carolina BBQ Trail.

The Sweet Smell of Slow-Cooked Glory

Big Jim’s BBQ Burgers & Pizza: Located at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, Big Jim’s is well known for it’s relaxed atmosphere 
overlooking the beauty of the course. With big screen TV’s and drink specials all week you can catch all the sporting events while washing down your succulent prime rib with an ice cold sweet tea (or beer if it’s been a triple bogey kinda day). Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner there’s always a good time to get those fingers messy!
Bluffton BBQ: Don’t call this a “restaurant”. This is a BBQ Joint. Yes, there’s a difference, as any self-respecting Southerner who doesn’t drink unsweetened tea knows. This is where you come to get down and dirty with a good ole-fashioned, 12-hour slow-cooked, tender rack of ribs. It’s a place where you serve yourself and a roll of paper towels awaits you because silly little napkins won’t cut it. Have patience when you walk in because perfection is a process, but, your stomach will praise you for it.
Bullies BBQ: Everyone knows that great BBQ takes time and Bullies is here to help keep that tradition going. Prepare to have your socks (and at least one shoe) knocked off by brisket that is slow smoked for 14 hours! That’s flavor that you won’t find anywhere but our neck of the woods. The pulled pork here has made Chef Bob Sutton a legend and I don’t know about you, but, I love legendary BBQ.
Choo Choo BBQ: Ready for some hand-pulled pork (sorry, NC) and smoked chicken? Choo Choo BBQ delivers the goods with a true taste of oak wood in every bite. Highly regarded by some local residents as some of the best you’ll ever have, it’s no wonder folks are rolling up there sleeves and heading over to Choo Choo. All aboard!
Jim ’N Nicks: Prepare yourself for hands down some of the best ‘cue you’ll ever have the pleasure of enjoying. Jim ’N Nicks is renowned for treating its patrons to BBQ dishes that will make your tongue start dancing. And while you’re there, try a cheese biscuit and thank me later. With a large variety of food to tickle your fancy, all they’re missing is you and all you’re missing is a huge stain on your shirt.
One Hot Mama’s: More than just a cool name, One Hot Mama’s lives up to its reputation of fall off the bone BBQ and steaks served straight from the pit to your plate. You won’t find a heat lamp here (this isn’t Georgia, after all). What you’ll find are chefs that know how to smoke a pig and cook a cow! Drink specials are also in place to help you wash down the glory of what is SC BBQ.
Smoking Planks: You’ll find no franchise chain here. No, you certainly will not. Family owned and operated, this smokehouse offers all the BBQ fixin’s with a unique smoky spin. A great BBQ chef knows that the sauce should be a delicious accessory, but, not the heart of the flavor. The meat is the main attraction and Smoking Planks wants to remind you of that fact with tender, juicy cuts. Let’s eat!
The Pink Pig: You know your BBQ is good when folks drive from towns over to have a taste. When your dishes beckon those from other cities you know you’re doing something right. The Pink Pig routinely gets visitors from other areas like Savannah that make the trek across state lines to partake in this SC BBQ greatness. Grab your wet wipes and come see what all the hub bub is about.
The Smokehouse: For the past 15 years, The Smokehouse has been making it known to the world that they’re in the BBQ game to win it. They started with modest beginnings and have blossomed into a beautiful place with terrific food. Few things are better than having a cold one with your ribs and The Smokehouse offers a large variety of suds as well. Not much more you could ask for except maybe a new pair of pants. You really should’ve put a napkin there.

Get Up and Fill Up

Hilton Head Island and Bluffton residents are in a unique and wonderful area that offers so much and SC’s best BBQ is definitely one of those attractions that make you glad to call it home. Both Hilton Head and myself invite you to experience each of the above restaurants and bbq joints along the SC BBQ Trail and get a taste of why they all have their own spin on a great SC tradition.
My name is Rick Turner and I look forward to seeing everyone out on The Trail. I’ll be the guy with the sauce all over his hands…like a true South Carolinian. Come join me and let’s “pig” out together!
Posted by Rick Turner on


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