The South's Top 50 Barbecue Joints Of 2023

Melvin’s BBQ, which is the place to head if you’re east of the Cooper River in Mount Pleasant and want to sample South Carolina’s iconic mustard-sauced pork and savory hash and rice. Melvin Bessinger was another of the brothers who fanned out around the greater Charleston area and opened barbecue restaurants, and Melvin’s is run today by his son David. Over the decades, all the family’s restaurants have had to adapt to the each new shift in the barbecue industry — from drive-ins to all-you-can-eat buffets to the rise of craft barbecue and brisket mania — while still maintaining the fundamentals that make South Carolina unique.

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Voted Best Barbecue 2023 in Best of the Holy City Food and Drinks

Melvin’s has consistently topped “best of” lists for their burgers, their mac & cheese, and, of course, for their barbeque. This meat lover’s paradise dates back to the late 1930s. You can easily feed your family with the Pit Master Combo, which contains pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked turkey, USDA prime brisket, wings, and ribs. Don’t forget the sides, like the sweet potato souffle and fried okra and homemade lemonade. It doesn’t get more Southern than that.

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It Started With a Sauce, a Cow, and a Mule: The History of Melvin's BBQ

Barbecue, an American culinary tradition, has a rich and diverse history, with various regions across the country claiming their own unique styles. In the heart of South Carolina, Melvin's BBQ stands out as a legendary establishment known for its distinctive mustard-based barbecue sauce and a legacy that dates back to the late 1930s.

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Melvin’s Voted 1 of 6 Standout Barbecue Spots in Charleston

Melvin’s has served smoked meats to the Charleston community for decades. It is known for its family-friendly establishments and speedy service. Try a pulled pork plate with mustard sauce, onion rings, or the famous burger while on the go.

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Melvin's Voted 1 of 10 Best Burgers in Charleston

Many people know Melvin’s BBQ for its award-winning BBQ, but only locals know that Melvin’s serves some of the best cheeseburgers in Charleston. Owned by third generation pit-master, Melvin David Bessinger, Melvin’s BBQ has been serving a variety of cheeseburgers since 1981 in Mount Pleasant and on James Island. You may ask, “What makes a Melvin’s burger so special?” Although they can’t share all of their secrets, the legendary taste comes from a combination of condiments: ...

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Voted Best Ribs in "Best of 2022" by Mount Pleasant Magazine

An eatery with roots that date back to 1939, Melvin’s has made its original — and secret mustard-based sauced meats — a mealtime staple throughout the Lowcountry. And if you think that you might prefer your ‘cue tomato-sauced, you’re obviously “from off.”

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Cheerwine ‘Cue tours through the Carolinas

“Cheerwine and barbecue together are known as the ‘southern handshake,’” said Cheerwine vice-president of marketing Joy Ritchie Harper. “In addition to being a refreshing sidekick to a plate of pulled pork, Cheerwine’s sweet cherry notes make it a perfect ingredient. Amatuer cooks to seasoned pit masters have incorporated Cheerwine into their smoked meats, barbecue sauces, sides and drinks for generations.”

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David Bessinger: Years of Participation

A true Charleston native, Melvin “David” Bessinger is the real deal. Born and raised with his granddaddy’s legendary mustard barbecue sauce in his baby bottle, no doubt. David was brought up working in the family business since childhood. David’s been at the helm since 1982. Influenced mostly by his father, who taught him more than just how to cook, but how to run a thoughtful business, care for his employees and keep customers happy and coming back for more. David is a BBQ obsessed, full of life (and BBQ stories) local who has never met a stranger.

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Voted Best Barbecue in "Best Of the Best 2021 in Charleston SC" by Charleston Living Magazine

Melvin’s Barbeque in James Island is home to South Carolina’s original mustard-based BBQ. Melvin’s has been using the same recipe since 1939 and the owner’s commitment to their legacy has made them a Charleston barbeque institution. Diners can enjoy different daily specials and deals, but no matter what you order, make sure you slather it in their signature sauce.

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Voted Best Barbeque in Charleston Living Reader’s Choice “Best of the Best 2020”

Loosen up the belt and prepare to delve hands-first into a plate of St. Louis-style pork ribs, chicken or "Boston butts”; or order up the barbecue chicken wings for some finger-licking fun at your next outdoor tailgate party. Save room for dessert—peach cobbler and milkshakes available.

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Melvin's Pickle Pepper Bar & Onion Rings Considered Two of the South's Top BBQ Freebies

Melvin's BBQ's onion ring isn’t an ordinary onion ring. It’s a two-inch slice coated in a thick, sweet batter than puffs up big and golden brown in the fryer—essentially, a giant vegetable donut.

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Where Classic BBQ Begins

With Charleston area's barbecue landscape expanding and evolving, owner David thought now was the perfect time to re-imagine his restaurant. David hopes the branding overhaul will keep Melvin's Barbecue relevant in the Charleston barbecue scene, while staying true to their family friendly atmosphere and quality food.

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Voted Best Barbecue in "Best of 2020" by Mount Pleasant Magazine

“Don’t mess with success” might as well be the motto for Melvin’s BBQ. Since 1982, they’ve been cooking outstanding pork, chicken and burgers over on Houston Northcutt. Next time you’re in traffic on 17, stop off for some ribs or burnt ends. Get some of their famous onion rings, too, and wash it all down with a glass-bottle of Cheerwine.

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Named one of the 8 essential BBQ spots in Charleston

Melvin's has served smoked meats to the Charleston community for decades. The restaurant is known for its family-friendly establishments and speedy service. One of the top BBQ restaurants in Charleston!


David Bessinger From Charleston's Original BBQ Family Shares the 80-Year History of Mustard Based BBQ

The Bessinger family name is synonymous with the tangy, yellow barbecue sauce that put South Carolina on the map as a mustard-based BBQ region. It was 80 years ago that the now famous sauce was first used by Joseph Bessinger in a Holly Hill, SC, restaurant.

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The 6 Types of Barbecue Sauce in the US

South Carolinians also serve their barbecue pork with a mix of hash and rice, an amalgamation of meats, spices, sauces, and vegetables cooked down to a thick stew.

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Food Network Lists Melvin's BBQ as one of the Best BBQ from Coast to Coast

From traditional Carolina whole hog to Hill Country brisket to Memphis ribs, check out the Food Network's guide to the regional 'cue styles of the United States.

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Melvin's Sauce Featured in Charleston's Magazine's Foodie Gift Guide!

Melvin's BBQ's Original Golden Secret & Southern Hickory BBQ Sauce featured on page 7 of Charleston Magazine's Christmas Foodie Gift Guide! The perfect gift for the food lover in your life!

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David Bessinger Shares His Family's Savory BBQ History

Melvin David Bessinger's passion for what he puts on a plate is as deeply-rooted as the pride he has for family. The third-generation pit-master comes from a long line of BBQ Pioneers with mustard sauce in their blood.

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Melvin’s BBQ

David Bessinger shares his family’s savory barbecue history. Melvin David Bessinger's passion for what he puts on a plate is as deeply-rooted as the pride he has for family. The third-generation pit-master comes from a long line of BBQ Pioneers with mustard sauce in their blood. In fact, the family's name is synonymous with smoked meats and down-home restaurants like Melvin's BBQ that have served South Carolina for 80 years. According to Bessinger's wife Debbie, who traveled with him to Texas on a barbecue pilgrimage a few years ago, “David eats, breathes and dreams barbecue.”

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Melvin’s Barbecue: Fresh Look, Classic Techniques

While Melvin’s Barbecue has been a staple for locals in Mount Pleasant for years, their new sign – and wood-fired only techniques – are beckoning old friends and new to enjoy one of the hottest barbecue destinations in the nation. With a new logo and freshly designed label, the look may be different, but the sauce and unbeatable flavor stay the same – and nothing beats the original!

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Fresh Looks & A Classic Technique

While Melvin's Barbecue has been a staple for locals in Mount Pleasant for years, their new sign and wood-fired only techniques are beckoning old friends and new to enjoy on of the hottest barbecue destinations in the nation.

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Melvin's Original Golden Secret FEATURED in Southern Cast Iron

The Southern Cast Iron names Melvin's Barebecue's Original Golden Secret Sauce as one their 6 favorite Southern-Made Barbecue Sauces. This tangy mustard based bbq sauce is a South Carolina staple.

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Melvin's BBQ Raises Money for Autism Awareness

Started in 2003, Walk for Autism works to create a strong community for families and supply financial support for treatments and alternative therapies, a cause that is very close to the heart of Melvin’s owner David Bessinger.

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Collard Greens From Melvin's BBQ - A Family Treasure

The best collard greens we have ever eaten were from Melvin's Barbecue in Charleston, S.C. Much as I have tried, I have never been able to duplicate them or even come close.

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Melvin's BBQ Featured in Where to Find the Best BBQ in America

National Geographic names Melvin's Barbecue as one of the top spots for BBQ in South Carolina! Visit One of our two location on James Island or in Mount Pleasant and try for yourself!

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Travel & Leisure names Melvin's BBQ one of the Best Barbecue Restaurants in Charleston

Mustard-based sauce on the BBQ, that’s Melvin’s speciatly. Fast service, too, and southern sides including collard greens and fried okra. A granddaddy of the local BBQ scene dating back to the 1930s, the restaurant’s “secret-recipe” draws crowds.

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What is South Carolina Hash?

Hash and rice is a true Southern treat indeed! Melvin's Barbecue's recipe dates back to colonial times here in South Carolina. “I judge the worth of a barbecue joint based on the quality of its hash,” says Charleston resident Christina Cummings.

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A South Carolina BBQ Icon Returns to All-Wood Cooking

Robert Moss reveals "For years we’ve been hearing lamentations that the old ways are fading, that all-wood cooking is a dying art, that nannying health departments and market economics are determined to wipe traditional barbecue from the Southern culinary landscape. Those big black Lang cookers out behind Melvin’s are an encouraging counterargument."

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Melvin's BBQ Brings Texas Style BBQ to SC

Texas BBQ has come to Melvin's and it tastes so good, y'all! Before launching beef in our restaurant, David Bessinger took a trip out to Texas, visiting classic brisket joints like Kreuz’s and Smitty’s in Lockhart and spending time with Ronnie Killen at Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland, talking beef and pork techniques. Melvin's now serves up some Texas favorites like beef ribs, and brisket. Read more in Southern Living.

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Melvin's BBQ Adds Burnt Ends to the Menu

A South Carolina barbecue institution so identified with pork that it 25 years ago adopted a smiling pig as its logo is venturing deeper into beef barbecue territory.

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Melvin's BBQ Celebrates 75 Years

Melvin Bessinger’s Barbecue Restaurants are a South Carolina tradition that began in 1939. Generations later, Melvin’s is still famous for serving the finest St. Louis style pork ribs, pork shoulders, chicken and pulled pork barbecue – not just in Charleston, but the whole South.

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Project: Southern BBQ Trail - South Carolina

Bessinger, certainly the most famous surname in South Carolina barbecue. Mustard sauce, Piggy Park. Icons of South Carolina history and culture and Bessinger family inventions.

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Voted Best Barbecue in “Best of Charleston 2007” by Charleston City Paper

Considering the tender glories that come out of them, the “pits” at Melvin’s Barbecue are nothing romantic to see. Two metal boxes, each the size of a pair of refrigerators, that might as well be in a dry cleaner’s. But inside are smoldering wet hickory logs and a dozen pork shoulders. Twenty-four hours each at 200 degrees and you’ve got the best barbecue in Charleston, 10 years running. At the Mt. Pleasant store on a recent weekday, owner David Bessinger (Melvin’s son) took orders while his longtime general manager Mehdi Rahimi worked the wheel.

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