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NY to Charleston (Kiawah), am I missing anything?

Hi,

We've been making this trip about every other year for the last 15 years, so I've had the opportunity to try a lot of CH suggestions. Also, as BBQ has improved in NYC (and my backyard smoker), there's less of an imperative to drive off 95 for BBQ. Finally, I judge bbq contests, and some of the Q is other worldly.

Over the years, we've been to Buzz and Neds, Wilburs, Moores, Sweatmmans, Bessingers, Parkers, Carls (ice cream) and the Summerton Diner. I've also traveled to a bunch of other places on business (lex 1, prices, a bumch of great places in texas, kc, etc.)

Would love to hear your suggestions, especially for whole hog over wood. Years ago McCabes and Blakcbeards got mixed reviews, I see they've gotten better, not sure if that's a diffusion in the quality of reviewers or if the quality of the Q has improved. Also, suggestions don't have to be for BBQ, we love great seafood, fried chicken...really, anything interesting.

I know the skylight is missing from the list but at this point, I can't justify dragging my wife, 3 teens and dog an extra 1.5 hours for what might be the best chopped in the US...cause they'll like it but it's going to be hard to explain how it's better than say Wilbur's and why we made the trip. And I'm not sure if Scott's has re-opened but there used to be no place to sit.

tia!

ps I should add that although the Q has improved in our area, the hush puppies have not and it's scary how many hush puppies I can eat if they're good. I recall going through two baskets on my own at wilburs...

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  1. Are you sticking on I-95 for your trip? How far off the interstate would y'all be willing to travel and are you only interested in Barbecue?

    I'm crazy for Bunn's Barbeque in Windsor, N.C.. They put the BBQ on slices of fried cornbread. It. is. amazing.

    https://www.facebook.com/BunnsBBQ

    I spent every summer as a child in Kiawah. *great memories*
    I'm assuming you've been to F.I.G. on your trips; right? For pizza in Charleston try DiSano's for Neapolitan pizza. It isn't VPN certified but very good. (I mean, coming from NY, you have the best pizza, I'm sure, but if you get a hankering for it on your trip….)

    1. I'm SURE you don't want to go back to Lex 1, but I had hushpuppies there yesterday that were perfect. Really hot, crunchy, and melt-in-your-mouth. I haven't had any that good in a long time.

      When I drive to Charleston from Greensboro, I always take 52 from Florence into Kingstree. Brown's there is good, not as good as Scott's.

      Also Schoolhouse in Scranton SC is pretty good. You could get off that god-awful 95 and go a back way into Charelston and try 2. They are both on 52. It will be slower, but I always enjoyed that drive so much more than the interstate. Plus Brown's has a drive through, so you don't have to leave the dog in the car.

      McCabe's was great last time I went but it's been a couple of years.

      1. I'm not sure I'm getting this.It sound to me that you know the I-95 BBQ scene as well as anyone here.I'm sure I've missed something,but for my money I'm looking for things other than BBQ once I get south of Manning SC along I-95.What are your plans when you actually get to Kiawah?

        1. Tehama, thanks for the suggestions. Bunn's looks great but looks to be about a 1.5 hour detour, a little too far our of the way. Probably half an hour is the limit...for 1.5 hours, I'd stop at the skylight. Love F.I.G and so many of the great low country restaurants in charleston. Thanks for the DiSano's recommendation, looks great...actually, we were at pepe's in new haven over the weekend but as you say, good to have in our back pocket.

          Sue, as for Lex 1, we have a client in CLT, so I'm down there a couple times per year and I make the drive about every other night. The Schoolhouse looks like a winner, I like the idea of getting off of 95 and fwiw, google calls it just 15 minutes slower. which would you go for, schoolhouse or browns?

          mollybelle (I love your name!), I'm positive I don't know the I95 route as well as people that live in the state. anyhow, would love to hear what you recommend south of manning!

          once we're at kiawah, we typically eat at the red hen, wild olive, JBs amokehouse, if we can get a discount, the kiawah oyster roast (which also had delicious roast pig last time we were there), and into charleston the other nights. When we first started going, 15 years ago, we loved the rosebank in bohicket but prices steadily rose, we had some not so good meals and now I understand they're closed. very sad. we've also been to the wreck, it was good but a long drive and kinda expensive for what it was. we also find if you hit it just right, the piggly wiggly has pretty good fried chicken! I also do some grilling when we're there.

          When we're not eating I'm playing tennis,swimming or biking with the hope of a net zero weight gain. But I'm afraid this notion is another example of the "triumph of optimism over experience".

          anyhow, all suggestions are welcone!

          9 Replies
          1. re: vinouspleasure

            Hahaha, yeah you betta. Net zero is tough in the lowcountry.

            I think you would like Schoolhouse better than Brown's. Brown's is a buffet but you can order off the menu too. I guess it depends on when it's lunchtime for your people. Remember, dog can't stay in the car!

            When I lived in Mt. P. I loved the Wreck. But I get your point. Kiawah is far from there. My Piggly Wiggly had the best fried chicken ever. I miss it.

            My Charleston friends say the MacIntosh is their new favorite. If you go, let me know what you think.

            1. re: vinouspleasure

              Would you consider the Delmarva route via the Bay Tunnel? That would take you past Metompkin Seafood in Mappsville, Va, and into Eastern NC. I've traveled this route twice and plan to do so again (with another detour to Skylight) in December. I'm not sure it is that much longer than I-95, but do check if interested. I'm eager to hear your report once you return!

              1. re: erica

                metompkin looks right up our alley but google calls it over an hour out of our way. But thanks, it definitely on the "must try" list for another trip.

                1. re: vinouspleasure

                  We are from upstate SC and almost never travel on I-95, we cross it in three spots, with Manning in the middle.Manning is the home of McCabe's, most likely the best all around BBQ joint in the state.Anyplace SE of Manning is all about lowcountry creole and fresh seafood.

                  And as Jon says, Cooper's Store is a southern treasure.Its maybe 25 miles off I-95.We most likely won't be through there again until Oct.We will buy country ham, fresh sausage and BBQ.We will buy charcoal,flashlite batteries and toilet paper.We will buy motor oil,shotgun shells and boiled peanuts and we will top off gas tank as we leave.

                  As for good spots around Kiawah,Fat Hen and Wild Olive are two of the best.Throw in Glass Onion For fried chicken and Tomato Shed for lunch and you'll be set!

                  1. re: mollybelle

                    If you google Coopers Country Store you will find a great short video by the Southern Foodways Alliance featuring Russell Cooper, time well spent!

                    1. re: mollybelle

                      thanks, mollybelle, forty years ago when I was in high school, my mom, an antiques dealer used to pick me up in NY at the beginning of summer and we'd take a month to drive to her home in florida, picking antiques and eating bbq. I didn't think to keep a list of the places we stopped, but Coopers sure reminds me of those trips. after watching the video, I don't see how we can pass it up.

                      thanks also for glass onion and the tomato shed, both look wonderful. Looks like I'd better double my workout schedule!

                        1. re: Tehama

                          In the pre-internet age, my mom had a way to figure out who served the best BBQ. We'd drive to the center of town, get out the car and she'd ask the first person she saw over 50 who serves the best BBQ in town. This was never a short conversation but by the time it was over everyone was smiling and it was like we were all old friends. She had that way about her.

                          1. re: vinouspleasure

                            That is absolutely one of the best ways to find good food, no matter the destination. I've also had good luck overseas (not for BBQ, however) by asking market vendors where they would eat for a special celebration; often they will tell me who buys their produce and why that particular place is worth considering. I hope you will report back...sounds like some good chow is coming your way!

            2. I think McCabe's consistently has the best BBQ I've tried in SC. I put them slightly ahead of Scott's even. Plus their small buffet is pretty good all-the-way-around. Scott's does have some outdoor picnic table seating across the road. A few miles from Scott's is Cooper's Country Store. They also have some good BBQ. They are not a restaurant, but you can pick up a sandwich or pulled pork for later. In addition, they have a country ham room, and well, the whole place is like stepping back in time.

              1. For what it is worth… Southern Living just put up their Top 100 Southern restaurants
                http://www.southernliving.com/travel/...

                1. make sure to stop by Swig and Swine by the Glass Onion. Good BBQ, great cobbler
                  my new fav spots: Park Cafe (downtown) and Chez Nous.

                  1. we're back in ny after a fabulous week in kiawah. Unfortunately, time and traffic didn't cooperate with our restaurant agenda. We planned to stop at scott's/coopers on the way down but at the last minute, my son decided he'd like to see GWU on the way down. We still had a shot to make it for dinner but then got caught up in some of the worst traffic I've seen in 15 years of making the drive. However, we turn lemons into lemonade by stopping at white swan in smithfield. For gas cooked, it was really very good q, good fried chicken, slaw and sweet tea. And the 3 baskets of complimentary hush puppies were much appreciated.

                    we headed to hominy the first night, it was very good, great wait staff, nice room, very good food. Next up was the kiawah mingo point oyster roast. It's gotten much more expensive over the years but my wife pointed out that the $45 fee included tax+gratuity. The pulled pork was very good but gone are the days of whole suckling pig. the steak, chicken, sides, it was all very good and I waited for the rush to finish and had a table to myself and about two dozen hot, roasted oysters.

                    fat hen was even better than we remembered. I had perfectly prepared grouper but what made the dish was the bed of perfectly prepared succotash, mushrooms and sauce. Everyone loved the food here.

                    Exhausted from tennis in 95 degree heat, we tried angel oak one night on john's island. My wife had the steak with crab cake and bernaise sauce on top, it was delicious and the touch of fennel in the crab cake really made the dish pop. Unfortunately our other dishes, while perfectly prepared, were IMO very salty. I couldn't eat the cheese grits or finish my fried chicken, same verdict on my daughters chicken fried steak (both dished were perfectly prepared). Really friendly service, we'd definitely go back and just ask if we can salt the dishes ourselves.

                    Our last night we decided to give magnolia a try. My wife and I had been about 18 years ago when our son was 1, so it was a sentimental choice. While the food was good, some of the dishes seemed disharmonious and the service was very uneven (to be fair, it was very crowded).

                    On the way home, the plan was to stop at mccabes but we decided to leave a early to deal with traffic and I just couldn't muster a quorum to eat lunch at 11am. 12:30 rolled around and we decided to give fullers in lumberton a try. the q was edible, the fry bread was good but definitely not a place we'll try again.

                    so many places left to try for our next trip, thanks for all your recommendations, sorry we didn't get to them this trip but we will!

                    ps just a 1 pound net gain!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: vinouspleasure

                      Good job! Glad you had fun. I love the Fat Hen. That duck breakfast dish is one of my favorites.