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Oct 19, 2013 04:07 AM

Sweatman's Bar-B-Que, Holly Hill, SC

Sweatman's has always been a favorite stop when we're in SC, but we've seen reports that the quality is down since being sold a couple of years ago. I don't want to drive that far out of my way if it isn't good anymore. Has anyone been there recently and have an opinion? If not Sweatman;s, where to go for good bbq within a reasonable distance from Charleston/HHI?

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  1. There is a current review in the travel section of the USAToday website. It was near the bottom of the travel page a few seconds ago.

      1. re: G8trDoc

        Had to laugh at this line from the USA Today review: "...the very fine consistency Brunswick Stew is quite tasty but lacks the usual noticeable chunks of meat..."

        Yes, that's because it was hash not Brunswick stew. The writer does not appear to be an expert on SC foodways.

      2. Interested in any recent updates from Chowhounders on this place. I never made it when under original ownership, and reports had been that the new owners had some transitional growing pains when they first took over the place. Trying to decide whether it's worth spending a meal here on an upcoming trip from the West Coast to SC (when it would mean passing up on something tried and true like Dave's Carryout when I don't make it back to this area very often).

        Is the food back to its old standard? Reviews are all over the map:

        -Some people say it's still outstanding, but is that because they don't know BBQ or didn't try it before?
        -Some people say they cook over gas or over roast the BBQ now, but the website says they still cook over wood and people have gotten a tour of the smokehouse
        -Some people say the new owners are from NYC, but others say they are southerners. Can't tell if some of the poor reviews are because of irrational loyalty.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mikeh

          The new owners father was my preacher, They were raised 4 miles from Sweatmans.

        2. Don't go to early. But early enough for some pig skins as they will run out. There are very few places in SC where WHOLE HOG BBQ is done.

          1. Okay, so I went and am kicking myself for not having tried it sooner when I actually lived down there. They're doing it right. The bbq was clearly smoked the old-fashioned way with a wonderfully complex flavor and variety of textures. The outside brown was exquisite. And those pork skins? Seriously, one of the best things I've ever tasted. Crunchy and brittle on the outside, airy on the inside. It was "what have I done right in my life to deserve this?" level of good.

            So prices may have crept up, but the new owners clearly know what they're doing. Steady stream of business on a rainy Friday night. I think they kept most of the old pit staff.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mikeh

              Great news! Thanks so much for the update. Sounds like they are as good as they used to be. I'm looking forward to getting back there.

              Are they still open Thursday - Saturday only?

              1. re: carolinadawg

                Only Friday and Saturdays now. Until 9 p.m. at night (I was there around 7:30 p.m. and they had plenty of skins).

              2. re: mikeh

                I was raised on BBQ in that area. I used to jog to Sweatmans (4miles) eat and jog back. That is really the first type of BBQ in SC. Whole animal cooked then stripped and mixed up. I was 33 years old before I learned that BBQ joints only cook butts. It is really the only way IMO to be able to taste the whole pig. I'm glad it was good.