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Greenville South Carolina has two competing BBQ joints – Henry’s Smokehouse and Bucky’s Bar-B-Q. I crashed at my buddy’s Clay’s place in Greenville and it was a requirement that we try them both. Unfortunately for me, Henry’s closes early and Bucky’s wasn’t too far behind. Bucky’s has great rags to riches story behind it. Wayne Preston was a man who had it all and lost it only to build a business with investors willing to gamble on a dream and faith in a higher power. The result today is a thriving barbecue business with four locations in one city.
I have a gripe with the South Carolina BBQ Association in that their top 100 destination BBQ joints do not distinguish people using gas smokers versus those who cook only with wood. The North Carolina BBQ Society actually does that for you, though they could use some updating. This leads invariably to odd couple comparisons. As you can see from the list Bucky’s sit on the same metaphysical plane as Jackie Hites, Scott’s BBQ, and Maurice Piggy Park. Given that I haven’t made my own list I can’t really fault them for how they make theirs. It would seem to me though that if we’re making a map of destination BBQ joints, it should be a map of places that preserve a heritage artisanal form of it.
Now it doesn’t mean you’ll have a bad meal if someone cooks with a gas powered smoker. I’ve cooked plenty of things in my oven that taste great. It just doesn’t give the same magic that comes from slow cooking over wood embers. Sadly this is the way many places in the South is going which basically makes many of the places I try taste like BBQ up here in New York.
As a testament of how good Bucky’s is, the series of photos I’ve taken at Bucky’s are my worst. This is because I was so preoccupied with wolfing down my food that forgot to snap some “before” pictures. I had some pulled pork and ribs. The ribs were very nicely done. I love how the rub leaned more on the savory end than sweet. The highlight of the meal was the Sweet Potato Crunch. I’ve had sweet potatoes before but THIS is the benchmark that all sweet potatoes are to be measured against. It was indeed sweet but not cloying, deeply fragrant, and the crunchy topping really brought it all together. If there was a better BBQ side dish in South Carolina, I’ve haven’t tried it.
We got tour the pits after dinner. The one thing I will say about Ole Hickory pits. They do look very nice. Bucky’s has two of them on location. I think they also function to cook for some of their other locations as well but I could be wrong. I’d encourage people to visit Bucky’s if they’re in the area. It’s a great story with tasty food. Don’t you dare leave without the sweet potatoes.
Click the link on top for photos.