TRUE 'CUE SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolinians have good reason to believe that their state is the birthplace of Southern barbecue (a tradition with more than one mother), and the Palmetto State's dedicated pit masters keep the fires burning today.  This page is your gateway to finding restaurants independently certified as serving real, old-school South Carolina barbecue.


To learn more about what defines South Carolina barbecue, visit the website of the South Carolina Barbeque Assocation.  The SCBA is a "varied and colorful group of people who have come together to have fun and promote South Carolina barbeque" by training BBQ judges, sanctioning cooking competitions, educating the public, and maintaining a list of the Top 100 Barbecue Houses in South Carolina.

To qualify for True ‘Cue SC certification, a restaurant must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be located in South Carolina.
  2. Cook the barbecue using wood coals or charcoal as the sole heat source.
  3. Avoid electricity, gas or any other non-wood heat source for the barbecue other than to ignite the wood, to keep the finished barbecue warm, or to re-heat the finished barbecue.
  4. Serve the barbecue on site at the location where it is cooked (exceptions may exist for food trucks and other mobile purveyors, but a restaurant that serves barbecue cooked by another business does not qualify).
  5. Offer regular business hours, with barbecue available on the menu regularly (at least monthly).
  6. Serve chopped or pulled pork shoulder, Boston butt, hams, or whole hog on the regular menu. Offering additional meats is acceptable--and irrelevant.
  7. Provide a sauce that is regionally appropriate, which in SC means anything from mustard-based to vinegar/pepper to light tomato to thick tomato.  Variety is the spice of life--and, it seems, of SC BBQ. 

Sadly, we believe there are no more than forty or so restaurants (some with multiple locations) in South Carolina that serve True ‘Cue, out of hundreds of barbecue restaurants across the state.  We need your help to change this. Please take THE PLEDGE, steer clear of faux ‘cue when possible, and patronize True ‘Cue SC-certified restaurants.

To the best of our knowledge, these restaurants serve barbecue that meets the True ‘Cue SC criteria (some serve barbecued meats or sauces in addition to those specified above but their menus include traditional SC-style barbecue):

Certifications are performed by our volunteer team of True ‘Cue Inspectors.  Restaurants may choose to display the True ‘Cue SC Real Barbecue certification on their premises, but it is not required.  If you think you know a restaurant that meets the True 'Cue SC criteria, let us know.  If you think a place on the list now cooks with gas or electricity, drop us a line at truecue@gmail.com and we’ll check it out (we don’t want to start a flame war, so to speak).  

We believe that these restaurants also serve barbecue that satisfies the True ‘Cue SC criteria, and are working to verify it with a site visit:

  • Creekside, Greenwood, SC
  • Lewis Barbecue, Charleston, SC
  • Midwood Smokehouse, Columbia, SC
  • Nick’s, North Charleston, SC
  • Sgt. White’s, Beaufort, SC
  • Westwood, Hartsville, SC
  • Woodstone, Florence, SC
  • Mr. T’s BBQ, Columbia, SC
  • Melvin’s Legendary Bar-B-Que, Mt. Pleasant, SC
  • Hudson’s Smokehouse, Lexington, SC

We conduct inspections and re-inspections as time, money and cholesterol levels allow.