A few weeks back we were down on the coast and while in Charleston, SC for a day, sought to find good low country BBQ. We ended up at the James Island location of Melvin’s Ribs and Que.
Apparently the family history of this joint dates back to the 1930s and the secret sauce has been in the family since the beginning. There is another restaurant nearby called Bessinger’s Bar-Be-Que which is also related. Reading some of the history written on both places web sites, it sounds like there were a variety of restaurants over the years including a small chain of Piggie Parks, which are also a family spin-off and seemed to exist in great quantity around Columbia, SC. Also in reading about Melvin’s I see Melvin passed away in October of this year, just a few weeks before we visited.
So how was it? Good eats, the sides were standouts. All of the sides that we tried were good, the sweet potato souffle was like candy. Good collards, lima beans, mac-n-cheese, cornbread, really it was all good. I had my obligatory pulled pork plate and some ribs. The pork is hickory smoked and before they serve it, they pour on and mix in the secret sauce, which is a very good mustard vinegar low country sauce. They also had on the tables a Southern Red Sauce, which didn’t show me much. It seemed to be just some ketchup stirred into the regular yellow sauce. Stick with the classic. They also sell their sauces by the bottle or the gallon (or maybe it was half gallon; it was a big glass jug!) A couple other varieties of sauce were available by the bottle as well.
I really enjoyed the pork, it was tender, hard not to be soaked in sauce, and flavorful. My wife had the smoked chicken and spoke highly of it, as I recall I didn’t get a bite! When ordering I wanted ribs too, but not a $19 combo plate. When I asked the kid behind the register if I could just get a single rib sampler he recommended I get the kids rib meal, which worked perfectly – my 3 yr old could eat sides and I got my 3 rib sampler. The ribs had good flavor, but were a bot dry, probably the only part of the meal that was a bummer.
If you eat in at Melvin’s they have a pickle bar with whole jalpenos, banana peppers, cherry peppers, and a spicy garden mix. Good stuff to much on while waiting for and with your bbq.
I recommend Melvin’s if you are in Charleston. Good for the whole family.