South Carolinians have had a long love affair with buffet dining. Friend of the hearty appetite, these dining destinations are typically brimming with hungry folk drawn by the multiple eye-popping options.
But not all buffets are created equal. Amidst the myriad steam tables and salad bars, several stars stand out, each delivering a buffet experience that rises above the rest. Here is a sampling of some of South Carolina’s best and a few reasons why they are worth lining up for.
This buffet dares to be different by serving meals on holy ground. Brookland Baptist Church welcomes diners to lunch Tuesday through Friday and brunch on Sunday. You’ll be anointed by their famous fried chicken, fresh-from-the-oven mac and cheese, a variety of perfectly seasoned vegetables, tempting desserts and more.
Crack all the crab legs you can eat in airy surroundings that give off a definitive high sea’s vibe. This place is attractively decorated and massive, seating more than 1,000 in an atmosphere that’s been described as cruise ship chic. People are willing to wait in line to snag a table here for good reason. The steam tables, designed to look like towering tall ships, are replenished at lightning speed, which means the food is hot right down to the crab legs. A well-trained, attentive staff further distinguishes Captain George’s. While seafood is by far this busy restaurant’s most popular draw, there’s prime rib, fried chicken, pulled pork, salads and countless other tempting choices, too. No one leaves unsatisfied. No one.
South Carolina is busting at the seams with good barbecue buffets, but this one stands out for being selected by Southern Living as having some of the best barbecue in the nation. The good folks at Duke’s know how to hit that pork with just the right amount of smoke. This is where the locals go for Southern barbecue cuisine. Dig in to classics like collards, corn fritters, ribs and the regionally favored liver hash.
Though this Myrtle Beach tradition is known for its sizzling steaks, locals and visitors swear by the Italian buffet, too. Now, you won’t find a mile-long steam board here, but you will find a thoughtfully laid out array of well-prepared dishes crafted from family recipes passed down through generations. Lasagna, chicken cacciatore, ravioli, stuffed shells and everybody’s favorite – tortellini alfredo – form the foundation of choices with strong pairings of Italian green beans, sausage, meatballs and pizza. Bonus: Every table gets a family-size bowl of garden salad with garlic rolls.
Take a trip back to simpler times when you visit the buffet at this old-timey barbecue house and mercantile. Want to dine on foods like grandma used to fix? This is your place. Reminiscent of country stores of old, Lonestar is a series of four frame buildings where locals once carried out the business of stocking their pantries, mailing letters and buying farm supplies. Today, you’ll find a vintage atmosphere with a kicking little buffet dishing up barbecue, liver hash, mac and cheese and more. There’s also a lineup of rotating daily specials with the stewed shrimp and grits being a main crowd pleaser.
This buffet is farm-to-table – literally. Old McCaskill’s Farm is a real-life farming operation (complete with animals!) and a hub of agricultural activity. Each Friday, the public is invited to partake in a specially prepared buffet of dishes made from ingredients straight from the field. Eat your fill, then stroll the grounds for an inside peek at life on the farm. Sign up on their website for info on the week’s offerings.
Any time spent in this quaint, historic town is special, and the buffet at Old South Catery beautifully fits into that overall experience. This dedicated catering company throws its doors open each Sunday so everyone can enjoy their elegant Southern buffet supper. Fried chicken, baked turkey, chicken and dumplings, baked ham, roast beef, pork chops and all the vegetable sides you can imagine are some of the offerings you’ll find on this spread. Desserts like strawberry shortcake, chocolate eclairs and everyone’s favorite, peach cobbler, will make your tummy smile.
Shuler’s is an institution in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. This is the Southern barbecue buffet of your dreams. After appearing on the CNBC show “The Profit,” the secret was out and Shuler’s is now a hotspot for I-95 travelers, barbecue aficionados and locals craving outstanding whole hog barbecue, ribs, irresistible homemade biscuits and a host of vegetable accompaniments. Goes down best with a tall glass of their sweet tea.
This downtown Greenville fine dining restaurant sets out a sumptuous Sunday brunch buffet they describe as “over the top.” Omelet and waffle stations, brioche French toast, cheese grits, braised chicken and a carving station with succulent top round of beef are some of the dishes worthy of your indulgence. Their pastry chef puts out an impressive spread, too. Have a bloody mary or mimosa toast, then savor this thoughtfully prepared buffet.
Darlingtonians cherish this small but well-executed buffet presented weekdays in a historic home, and you will, too. Dine at what was once the residence of the late South Carolina author, Elizabeth Boatwright Coker. The entire house has been renovated and rooms set up for dining. Head straight back to the buffet room and fill your plate with good Southern fare, most of it made with ingredients produced and grown in Darlington County. In keeping with local customs, the blessing is said before lunch begins. (Note: Some evenings a prime rib buffet is served, call for details.) Once you’ve had your fill, plan to sit a spell in one of the rockers on the inviting porch.