One of my all-time favorite dove shoots happened a little more than five years ago. It was a simple affair. My friend Jason Harkey had a field near Mayesville, South Carolina, that was holding a steady number of birds and also provided a perfect place to work our dogs, both Boykin spaniels. When I pulled up around noon, Jason had a Styrofoam clamshell filled with a couple of pounds of pulled pork from Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway on the tailgate, along with a loaf of Sunbeam white bread, a ziplock bag stuffed with fresh pork rinds, and two bottles of Red Rock strawberry soda. I don’t remember much about the birds or the dog work on that day, but I still think about that lunch.
Jason is a bit of a barbecue connoisseur and has been known to drive more than two hours in pursuit of perfect pulled pork. (And if you have thirty minutes to kill, he’ll happily take up a debate about which joint has the best sides, banana pudding, and even fried chicken.) When I first moved to Charleston, in 2008, if you weren’t headed to Home Team, driving beyond the city limits for good ’cue was a given. Friends and I would hit McCabe’s in Manning, Sweatman’s in Holly Hill, Po Pigs on Edisto Island, and, of course, make occasional trips to Hemingway for Scott’s.
These days, like many cities around the South, Charleston has a lot more options when it comes to good barbecue. Scott’s pit master, Rodney Scott, now has a Charleston location (and a James Beard Award), and while he’s famous for his whole hog, my children, Sam, who’s five, and Rosie, three, especially love the ribs (they also devour the mac and cheese and the hush puppies). Just around the corner from Scott’s, Texas pit master John Lewis has set up shop at Lewis Barbecue. That’s where creative director Marshall McKinney, deputy editor David Mezz, and I went to brainstorm this issue’s cover package over trays loaded with brisket, hot guts, and ribs. Just a week or so later, the Nashville-based Pat Martin, of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, opened his Charleston outpost. Clearly the barbecue world is growing fast. And while the classic joints are still terrific, we decided to focus on the current wave of new spots sweeping the South and beyond, enlisting the expertise of the powerhouse duo of Kathleen Purvis and John T. Edge.
I hope that this issue helps you add some new locations to your barbecue bucket list. Certainly we couldn’t hit every great new spot, and more are opening all the time, so feel free to let me know if you have a new favorite I need to add to my roster. I’m sure I’ll be hearing from Jason.
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