Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway, SC
I had a free Saturday for the first time in a while and the wife was busy so what was I to do? A trip to Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway, SC seemed to be in order. Off I went. Hemingway is about an hour and 45 mins from Charleston on nice back roads so I figured I could double up and do a little shooting there and back. I’ve had Scott’s que once before but had never made the trip to the actual “restaurant” if you can call it that. It’s more of a smokehouse with a to-go counter and a Pepsi machine out front, and it’s just about perfect that way. Their website says they’ve been serving barbeque for forty years since it was founded in 1972 by Ellie and Roosevelt “Rosie” Scott. Their son Rodney now runs the show and describes their ‘cue secret as ”we put a whole lot of love into what we do”. Yes they do. Real authentic wood fired pits, the way ‘que was meant to be made. It’s a lot more labor and time intensive, but it pays off. They recently gained some national (international?) fame by having the New York Times run an article about them. That was three years ago. My visit this past weekend confirms that while there has been fame, it doesn’t appear to have gone to anyone’s head. The restaurant / smokehouse doesn’t seem to have lost any of its authentic back roads SC charm, and the cue is still about as good as I’ve ever had.
The inside of the restaurant is essentially a walk up order window and a couple of shelves stocked with loaves of white bread, some snacks and a few other items. But not much. You’re here for barbeque not for a grocery trip. The menu is simple. You can order whole hogs, parts of hogs, turkeys all either uncooked or have them cook it for you. You can get 1/2 pound and pound orders of pulled pork and you can get yourself a whole or half a chicken. You can also get your self a house smoked rib-eye, which really sounds awesome. And outside of extra sauce and some pork skins that’s pretty much it. And that’s how it should be as far as I’m concerned. There’s no need to fuss with a bunch of other items when you do your barbeque like this. Whatever you do, do not talk on your cell phone when you are ordering. There are at least 5 different signs warning you on this. I was even scared to take a photo while in there for fear of some sort of Seinfeld soup-naziesque response forever shutting me out. And bring cash, no debt or credit cards allowed. In fact there’s a big sign preaching on the evil of credit, so fill that wallet with green and bring it.
My fears of cell phone retribution were immediately quashed when I got to the counter and placed my order. Two very nice and helpful ladies took and filled my order, made sure I had everything I needed and sent me on my way with a big smile. The problem here is that I was a good two hours from home. Would I be able to control my picking at the Styrofoam container enough to make it to Charleston with anything left? Aside from a few instances I managed to control myself and the ‘cue made it home mostly unscathed. The BBQ is classic long pulled pork sauced with a Lexington like vinegar, light tomato, pepper and chile flakes combination. All together it’s a perfect mix of a little sweet, just the right amount of smoke and a little heat to finish you off. They cook whole hogs instead of just shoulders but other than that it reminds me of Lexington style, and it’s as good or better than any Lexington style barbeque I’ve had from the source. I ordered a couple pounds and some extra sauce on the side, but that sauce is unneeded. It’s a good thing that it’s a 3-4 hour round trip for me. I could see myself visiting Scott’s way more often than is advisable. I do however advise everyone and anyone who appreciates good ‘cue, a family making things the right way not the fast way, and an interesting trip to head to Hemingway one weekend and check out Scott’s.