Robin Hudson, owner of Hudson’s Smokehouse, was selling cars before he started experimenting with his knack for serving up smoked perfection. He opened up a small drive-through window, which eventually grew into the sprawling barbecue palace you see today. A total of six additions turned a simple roadside business into a successful dine-in establishment, with a second location that acts solely as a catering hub.
Clearly, Hudson has taken traditional, family-run barbecue to a whole other level. Standing outside the restaurant, the mixture of the South Carolina breeze and sweet, smoky aromas is so appetizing you’ll find yourself walking a little bit faster just to get to the front door. The outdoor patio is casual, fun and very inviting — it looks like the place to be during the warm spring and summer months. And the first thing you see after walking in the main entrance is the extensive buffet that has everything you’d ever want in a barbecue restaurant — so deciding between that or an option off the lengthy menu is nearly impossible.
“I just had a family call me from Alabama asking me how far we were from the airport,” Hudson says. “They’re flying all the way here just to eat the barbecue.”
If that’s not impressive enough, Hudson also traveled to Denver, Colo., to cater a Monday Night Football event for legend John Madden. Needless to say, Hudson’s has earned its reputation as one of South Carolina’s go-to barbecue spots. But the usual bragging rights that come with that kind of success are nowhere in sight. Hudson is as humble, generous and happy-go-lucky as they come. And he’s not shy when it comes to promoting other local pit masters; after listing a few of his favorite places, he said, “I’d like to take a week off and go try ’em all.”
His two sons, Clint and Clay, currently run the day-to-day business and the subtle pride they have for the legacy they built just adds another layer of appeal.
But all the accolades aside, the food speaks for itself. The barbecue is impeccable. Pork, brisket or chicken — it doesn’t really matter what you order because it’s all unbelievably tasty. Let’s just say it’s a melt-in-your-mouth, close-your-eyes-and-enjoy kind of experience. The fresh coleslaw complements the barbecue perfectly, and Hudson’s makes sure to include three freshly made sauces on the table to use at your leisure. And if you’re able to fit in any of the other specialties, which include fried catfish, blackened shrimp and grits, a savory sausage plate and so much more, it’s a tasting experience you won’t soon forget.
Interestingly enough, Hudson is originally from North Carolina, and that’s where his grandfather taught him the secret to smoking barbecue. But his loyalty to the Palmetto State’s smokin’ expertise is unquestionable. “I still think South Carolina has better barbecue,” he said. And thanks in part to Hudson’s Smokehouse, we couldn’t agree more.