Explorin’ With Loren: Hemingway calls itself the ‘Barbecue Capital of the World,’ we put it to the test

“No gas, no coal, no gauges.”
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 9:14 PM EDT
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HEMINGWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - We earnestly explored Hemingway, a town that calls itself the “Barbecue Capital of the World,” to find out if that motto is true.

There are 377 people living in town and their business is barbecue.

“No gas, no coal, no gauges,” quipped Sam Wilson, Manager of Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway.

It’s cooking with pure oak and pecan wood that keeps Scott’s Bar-B-Que so busy. The late Roosevelt Scott and his wife opened the world-famous restaurant in 1972, specializing in whole hog BBQ. It’s a family-run business that Sam Wilson took over along with his two experienced pitmasters.

“We’re just doing it the old-fashioned way,” said Wilson.

And it starts with donated wood that’s dumped into burn barrels.

“The coal drops down and we use a shovel and we take that shovel with the coal and put it up under the hogs,” he said.

The hogs are then placed on the pits, ready to be mopped in the vinegar-based sauce. It’s a secret recipe that’s been in the family for the last 50 years. Wilson said it takes 12 hours to cook one hog and they can cook up to 20 at one time.

“The guys will come out, put it on the tray and we take it inside and then we’ll pull it by hand,” said Wilson. “When you leave here, you can tell somebody else, ‘Listen, I’ve been to Scott’s BBQ and the barbecue is great.’ And, that’s what I want people to continue to say when they leave here. Enjoy, when you come here, we’re going to treat you like family.”

Photographer George Hansen and I tried the pulled pork, pork ribs, chicken and all the fixings. We enjoyed everything! We could taste all the flavors and the sauce was delicious.

Eat at Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway

Big D’s BBQ Barn was next on our list. It’s a buffet-style restaurant that’s been open since 1973. Owner Kurt Davis said his food is all about consistency.

“We push to have the same consistency in our pork and fried chicken and everything we do. We try to have the same consistency and that’s what we really strive for,” said Davis.

Davis said he traded the wood for electric decades ago without losing any flavor, and they cook about eight to 10 hogs a week.

“We cook it for around 10 hours. We let cool down and we come in and we pull the barbecue, and we go ahead and mix our sauce on it and let it sit overnight and serve it the next day,” he said.

It’s a simple vinegar-based sauce made up of vinegar, ketchup, salt and pepper, that he said keeps the customers happy.

Big D’s also serves up pork ribs, fried chicken and perlo. They also make fresh pork skins.

“It’s a delicacy around here. Everybody loves pork skins,” said Davis.

But, you better know when to go because the restaurant is only open two days a week. Whether you’re in the mood for pork or fried chicken, Davis said his experienced cooks will have you coming back for more.

“As long as you’re coming to see us and you like something better than the pork, that’s perfectly fine with me. We’re just trying to be consistent and put a good product on the table,” said Davis.

George and I tried a plate of pulled pork, fried chicken, ribs and some sides. Our favorites included the fried chicken and the ribs.

Eat at Big D’s BBQ Barn

Kenny’s BBQ was our last stop. The restaurant was too busy to chat but said they serve traditional vinegar-style barbecue with all the traditional fixings. We bought a plate of pork, ribs, chicken and sides, and dined al fresco.

The pulled pork was tasty but it was the ribs that stole the show.

Eat at Kenny’s BBQ

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