Barbeque Heartland

Posted On March 5, 2021

Midlands barbeque restaurants serve heaping plates of southern comfort.

by Kristin Scott

Sauces from Home Team BBQ

Photo:  A varietey of sauces at Home Team BBQ.

South Carolina has one of the nation’s oldest and most vibrant barbeque traditions largely based around the all-you-can-eat buffet and our regional mustard-based sauce. Diners are looking for a little more southern comfort than usual during these times and no, I’m not talking about the liquor. But no judgement here! I’m talking about tried-and-true southern comfort foods. There are many options for southern style barbeque scattered throughout Columbia and the Midlands. Read on for our list of restaurants you’ve just got to check out to get your fix!

Shealy’s Bar-B-Que
shealysbbq.com | (803) 532-8135

Shealy’s is a local icon and well-known barbeque restaurant located in Batesburg-Leesville. Diners travel from all over the state for their buffet-style, all-you-can-eat offerings. Guests rave about their barbeque, rice and hash, and creamed corn – among plenty of other crowd favorites. They are currently open every day except Wednesdays and Sundays and run daily specials, including discounted plates on Mondays. The traditional buffet is still up and running, but management asks guests to wear gloves while serving themselves and to practice social distancing. If you want to check Shealy’s out but are wary of a buffet at the moment, consider getting carryout with online ordering. Catering options are also available.

The Southern Belly BBQ

The Southern Belly BBQ has multiple locations throughout Columbia, so no matter where you are there is one that is convenient. Not only is this restaurant mouthwatering and locally renowned, but they have also received national recognition from outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, The Huffington Post and Southern Living. The Southern Belly BBQ specializes in smoked BBQ sandwiches with an array of sauces made in house for every barbeque style and taste. They make it a point to mention that the sandwiches are best when eaten in the restaurant (fresh from the kitchen), but they do deliver through Uber Eats.

City Limits

Another local favorite is the City Limits food truck, which specializes in Texas and Carolina style barbeque using premium meats and making as much as they can from scratch. The truck typically sells in Columbia and Lexington on Saturdays. Prior to Covid-19, there was a line as soon as the truck opened and they would serve until they ran out of food. Currently, they are only accepting preorders for pickup. Find out where they will be serving and get on the list for a preorder by visiting their website or following their social media accounts.

Midwood Smokehouse
midwoodsmokehouse.com | (803) 764-1231

Midwood Smokehouse is a North Carolina based barbeque restaurant chain with a location in the Crosshill Market on Fort Jackson Blvd. If you are looking for an easy comfort food fix at home without having to cook all day, this is the place to order from. Midwood Smokehouse has great meal options for families looking to get a barbeque dinner on the table with ease. They only use local hickory for smoking the meat and the brisket is USDA Prime, so you know you are getting top of the line barbeque. Catering and private dining options are available.

Palmetto Pig
palmettopig.com | (803) 733-2556

Palmetto Pig is a Columbia barbeque buffet icon located on the corner of Blossom St. and Devine St. They are open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch, and Thursday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. There you can find fried chicken, traditional barbeque, mac n cheese, beans, rice and hash, and other Carolina comfort food staples. They have their own unique flare and offer a traditional in-house barbeque buffet as well as takeout plates, private dining, and catering. Check them out on social media and visit their website to stay up to date on their events and specials.

Big Bulls Bang'n BBQ

Photo: Smoked chicken plate at Big Bulls Bang'n BBQ

Little Pigs
littlepigs.biz | 803-799-8238

If you are in Northeast Columbia and craving some southern comfort, you need to stop by Little Pigs – a local barbeque joint located on Percival Rd. near the Blue Cross tower. It is a favorite haunt of many Blue Cross employees and other locals alike. There is often a line, but the service is efficient and the line moves quickly. Fill up on mouthwatering barbeque, chicken, sides, hush puppies and more. But make sure you save room for the banana pudding. The restaurant also has a private dining area for bigger parties. Social distancing protocols are in effect for the buffet and for the banquet facility.

True BBQ
True-bbq.com | 803-791-9950

True BBQ is a family-owned restaurant centrally located in West Columbia. It offers small or large plated meals with the barbeque of your choice, served with hash and rice and two sides. You can also order a sandwich with one side and finish the meal with a dessert that changes daily. The restaurant is always open Wednesday through Saturday and is open on Sundays seasonally. True BBQ offers catering and bulk orders, so it is a great pick if you are looking for a larger meal to bring home to the family – a popular option currently due to Covid-19.

The Pot Smoker
thepotsmokerbbqcolumbia.com | 803-400-2251

The Pot Smoker offers a unique type of barbeque that originated with Sunday meals as a family. The original smoker that started it all looked like a ceramic pot, and that’s how the name originated. We see what you did there. With homemade sauces you can buy by the bottle, barbeque and sides made with mom’s recipes, great service and a unique menu, this barbeque joint is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. You can find appetizers, barbeque plates, sandwiches, a kids’ menu and more. The restaurant will soon be offering weekly specials and catering so check social media and the website often.

Home Team BBQ
hometeambbq.com | 803-724-3900

You will find Home Team BBQ located in the heart of Five Points, and you certainly will feel at home. Here you will find the best barbeque plates sprinkled in with other diverse menu items, good drinks, and fun. Social distancing is being practiced at Home Team, but you can still enjoy a fun night out with live trivia, family friendly dining, and specials. If dining in takes you out of your current comfort zone, take advantage of the large order carry out options to bring home to the family.

Big Boys Original Smokehouse
bigboysoriginalbbq.com | 803-788-6822

It may be easy to pass by this unassuming restaurant located on the corner of Farrow and Parklane, but you will be disappointed you did. Big Boys Original Smokehouse is on the edge of a plaza and may require a second look to find, but you will be happy you made the effort. You can smell barbeque from the street and get an idea of the high demand for this “Q” from the people waiting outside for their carryout orders. Prior to COVID-19 you could dine in or get carryout, but due to social distancing protocols carryout is strongly encouraged with very limited seating inside.

Doc’s Barbeque
docsbarbeque.com | 803-799-1532

If you are looking for a different kind of barbeque experience, then head over to Doc’s Barbeque. Located on Shop Rd. near Williams Brice Stadium, this barbeque joint provides delicious, fresh, buffet-style lunch Monday through Saturday with buffet options to include hand-breaded catfish, chicken fried fresh daily, and of course – barbeque. If unable to stop by for a buffet lunch, you can order takeout plates for one or an entire family dinner. Doc’s Barbeque also offers catering, so keep them in mind for your next large event. Curbside and delivery are currently complimentary.

Big Bull’s Bang’n BBQ
bigbullsbangnbbq.com | 803-479-4475

Located on Hard Scrabble Rd., Big Bull’s Bang’n BBQ is one of the best barbeque joints in town. With a large social media following, a growing menu, and a full-service dining room, this restaurant is a great place to get fried fish, barbeque, and sides. Everything is served with the option of seven made-from-scratch sauces, including mustard, tomato and vinegar varieties, and a signature white. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. They also offer pick up and delivery via preorder with their app.

Big T’s Bar-B-Que
Bigtbbq.com | (803) 776-7132

Big T’s Bar-B-Que is a big name in the Midlands. There are two locations to choose from, one on Garner’s Ferry Rd. and a location in Gadsden. You can also find the signature sauces at Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly. With a reach this wide and a spread as big as theirs, you know you are getting top notch barbeque. Big T’s was also number 38 on Southern Living’s best barbeque list in 2019. The restaurants are currently closed for dine-in, but you can still get takeout and even order online. They are open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, so pick up Big T’s Bar-B-Que the next time you want to skip turning on the stove.

Peebles BBQ and Wings
Peeblesbbqwings.com | (803) 569-6631

There are big things happening at Peebles. You may have heard about this sports bar for its support of all sports, including the mighty Gamecocks, but did you know they also serve delicious barbeque? The menu consists of wings, seafood, and barbeque so it is a great place to take the group because if its expansive menu. There are now two convenient locations. One on Rosewood and the other in The Vista on Gervais Street. The Vista location offers pickup and delivery, and the Rosewood location offers call in and pick up. If you are craving a beer and some company while watching your sport of choice, the dining room is still open.

Johnson’s Restaurant
(803) 735-1622

Johnson’s Restaurant is a community favorite that’s locally owned and has a reputation for the best burgers around. This hidden gem is located on Monticello Rd. and is open every day except Mondays and Wednesdays. The family has been serving the community for 60 years and it shows. The restaurant’s Facebook page is flooded with happy customers and photos of mouth-watering burgers. They do not just serve burgers, though. You can also find dogs and barbeque, so whatever mood you are in, they have something to satisfy your craving. The restaurant only takes cash, so be sure to stop at the ATM on your way.