100-Mile Barbecue: McCabe’s Bar-B-Que in Manning

By:Gwen Fowler


Even if McCabe’s Bar-B-Que in Manning didn’t cook some of the best barbecue you’ve ever tasted, the rest of the food on the buffet would make it worth a 100-mile drive.

So when you add in the barbecue, it’s no wonder that McCabe’s is on the South Carolina Barbeque Association’s list of barbecue you’d drive 100 miles to eat.

I especially love two things about McCabe’s.

First, you are served barbecue the way the McCabe family thinks it should be eaten. This is not one of those restaurants where you’re served pork along with your choice of sauces. There’s one sauce available here, and that’s fine because it’s delicious. It’s a vinegar and pepper sauce that is slightly sweet. It’s also got a just-right kick of heat; it’s not so hot that you can’t enjoy the sauce. And the pulled pork, cooked on pits in a screened room in the back, is so mouth-watering perfect, it would be delicious without any sauce.

Second, the other foods on the buffet, delicious every one, are cooked by 90-year-old Jessie McCabe. When I visited, she’d cooked rice and hash, perlo, green beans, turnip greens, cabbage, sweet potatoes, peas, coleslaw and hush puppies.

Her fried chicken is famous; in fact, I overheard someone in the restaurant call it “the best fried chicken in the world.” It’s as much in demand as the barbecue, and it’s hard to keep it on the buffet it goes so fast.

And the sweet potatoes are wonderful – thick, round slices of potatoes cooked in a bit of water, sugar, cinnamon and butter.

McCabe started doing the cooking about 30 years ago, when her two sons opened McCabe’s. Almost everyone working in the small place is a McCabe, and it’s a friendly family.

The walls of this small restaurant are decorated with articles that have been written about the barbecue, including one from Garden & Gun magazine that features a big photo of Jessie McCabe and a plate full of barbecue and other scrumptious foods. The June/July 2010 edition of the magazine featured McCabe’s as one of the South’s best-kept secret barbecue pits.

“With each mouthful you’ll wonder if the good Lord put the McCabes on the earth to answer the question: Who makes the best barbecue on the planet?”

Best on the planet? Go decide for yourself. McCabe’s is open three days a week: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

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