I won't call Scott's Bar-B-Que in Hemingway heaven, but for those of us who love our pulled pork slow cooked to perfection and our vinegar-based sauce with a little kick, well, it's right next door to heaven.
If you aren't looking for it (and sometimes, even if you are), you will drive right past Scott's. It is on a side road off a side road in the middle of absolutely nowhere, South Carolina. (It's actually at the crossroads of S.C. Highway 261 and Cow Head Road, get the picture?)
You drive past cotton fields, the occasional tobacco field (for years, that was the area's lifeblood) and mostly soybean fields. Scott's is actually a little outside Hemingway. But if you take the old-old route to South Carolina's beaches, it's almost on the way.
When you see the people trailing in one after the other to this unassuming old country store, with the building next door that looks like it's on fire because of all the smoke pouring out of it, you know something must be going on.
What it is, quite simply, is some of the best barbecue you will ever eat. Whole hogs are slow-cooked over a wood fire overnight. They are mopped in a vinegar and pepper sauce during cooking. The Scott family guards their sauce recipe, but say one of the keys is a lean pig - fewer grease fires and the fat melts away during the slow cooking, making the meat tender and juicy.
Check out the short film Cut/Chop/Cook to learn more about the cooking process. You can almost taste and smell the smoky goodness.
Most folks stop in at Scott's on their way to or from somewhere else. After all, Hemingway doesn't offer the traveler (even the road-less-traveled traveler) much in the way of things to do or places to see. So most of Scott's sales are to-go orders. Bring your cooler and pack it full with take-home goodies.
But if there is an open table inside the store or across the street under the shelter built for overflow, it's worth the time to slow down and do a little people-watching while you are enjoying your barbecue plate with cole slaw, baked beans and, of course, two pieces of white bread. Their menu includes fall-off-the-bone ribs and barbecue chicken.
If you don't want to make the drive to the Pee Dee region of the state, you can enjoy the same artisan pulled pork in Charleston at Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ (www.rodenyscottsbbq.com). In 2016, Rodney Scott left the family business to open his own place in the culinary-centric coastal city. Two years later he was named James Beard Best Chef: Southeast.
Along with his famous slow-cooked, pit-smoked pork, Rodney now offers ribs, chicken, fried catfish and a slew of Southern accompaninments. While his legendary whole-hog cooking aesthetic is the same, the upper King Street location is larger and decidedly more visitor-friendly with indoor and outdoor seating.
At Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ, you can get your fill of 'cue seven days a week. Like most old-school barbecue joints, Scott's Bar-B-Que in Hemingway has limited hours of operation. It's open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday only.
Don't be late and don't skip the fried pork skins or the sweet tea, after all, you've come all this way.