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Taste Test: Charleston's Best Barbecue Sauces

Taste Test: Charleston's Best Barbecue Sauces
June 2008
Question: What does a Southern magazine staff do in its spare time? Answer: Sample more than 20 locally made barbecue sauces—with the help of a few well-qualified “foodies”—and vote on their favorites. The results....

Read what our staff and panel of judges had to say about the top eight contendersRay’s Memphis Hickory Smoked Vinegar lovers praised this new kid on the block, courtesy of Georgia-born Ray Waldrup and his recently opened barbecue joint in Mount Pleasant.

Smokin’ Cole’s Fans of sweet sauces liked this one from Bayou Barbecue, begun by a Baton Rouge transplant who found his way to Charleston via the U.S. Navy. Be warned: this sauce isn’t for anyone with even the slightest aversion to the sweet stuff.

BlackJack Original Though our foodie panel was split on this sauce—born of local Jimmy Hagood and his award-winning barbecue outfit—the staff found it to be a good, versatile contender.

Jim ‘n Nick’s This house-made staple of the eponymous King Street restaurant is another that scored well among tasters who prefer a milder sauce.

Melvin’s Golden Secret Among staffers, you didn’t need to be a loyalist of mustard-based sauces to give this one high marks. As for our foodie panel? One remarked, “Pleasant surprise for a mustard sauce.”

Lillie’s Lowcountry Tomato Building on its local fan base since 1985, this Charleston-family recipe just picked up a dozen or more new followers in our magazine staff, who cheered its smoky flavor.

Uncle Pete’s Original Our foodie panel was a tough crowd to please, but please them Uncle Pete did with his fourth-generation sauce they praised for its heat, among other things.

Sticky Fingers Carolina Classic The other standout among our foodie judges was this slightly mustardy SF variety, which they liked best for its well-balanced composition, not to mention its satisfying, spicy finish. See Resources for where to buy, to learn about our judges, and to view photos from the tasting.­