Drake’s Duck-In, Columbia SC

“Are we having barbecue for breakfast, or breakfast for breakfast,” Marie asked. Uh-oh. She’s onto me. Fortunately, I anticipated her desire, and picked a very old and much loved local restaurant for her to enjoy a chicken biscuit. Continue reading “Drake’s Duck-In, Columbia SC”


Little Pigs Barbeque, Columbia SC

Of the five states that we have visited the most over the last six years, South Carolina’s barbecue has been the most uneven. To be sure, we’ve had some transcendent and amazing meals in the Palmetto State, and found some plates worth a very long drive, but we’ve also hit far more disappointments here than anywhere else. I’m very happy that Little Pigs, which is just northeast of Columbia, on the other side of I-77 and on the outskirts of Fort Jackson, is firmly in the “amazing” camp. I was hoping for a pretty good meal, and I got one of the best plates of barbecue I’ve ever had in this, or any state. Continue reading “Little Pigs Barbeque, Columbia SC”

Cromer’s P-Nuts, Columbia SC

My daughter and I went to Columbia to visit the campus of the University of South Carolina, and give her a first proper college tour. She really, really liked the place, far more than I was expecting. Within a few weeks, to be honest, some of the shine and excitement had ebbed somewhat, even after buying a T-shirt (blast it, campus bookstore prices are criminal at every darn college, aren’t they?), only to resume, happily, in the last week, and the visit did wonders for her self-confidence and drive. It’s entirely possible that she might apply here a year or so down the line in the hopes of getting a degree in management, and if she does, we found a great place for her to get a terrific cup of coffee. Continue reading “Cromer’s P-Nuts, Columbia SC”

Hite’s BBQ, West Columbia SC

A couple of years ago, we visited Jackie Hite’s in Leesville SC and had a really good meal at their buffet. In 1957, another member of that family, cousin John D. Hite, opened a little weekend-only takeout shack about twenty miles closer to town. Hite’s BBQ is just a hop, skip, and a jump from US-1, and, like many restaurants with a lot of hype and a hint of legend about them, it gets really busy during the two days of the week that it’s open. It is still in family hands – John’s grandson David is in charge these days – but the business is still as no-frills as it was almost sixty years ago. Continue reading “Hite’s BBQ, West Columbia SC”

Rosewood Dairy Bar, Columbia SC

“You know,” the old-timer said, “those pictures you’re taking, I was talking with my boss once, and he said there’s all sorts of people who take all sorts of pictures of old restaurants. Then they put ’em on the internet!”

“Yes,” I said, lowering my camera. “That would be me.” Continue reading “Rosewood Dairy Bar, Columbia SC”

Maurice’s Piggie Park Barbecue, West Columbia SC

Last month, I indulged on another barbecue road trip. I’ll relate the details in the next chapter, and use the space here to talk about my experience at one of South Carolina’s best-known barbecue joints, Maurice’s. It’s a pretty large family-owned business, similar in size and local impact to, say, Country’s Barbecue in Columbus and eastern Alabama, Buddy’s in Knoxville, or Golden Rule in Birmingham. The business as we can perceive it today dates back to 1953, but it claims a somewhat older lineage on the strength of its bottled sauce, which the current owners’ grandfather, Joe Bessinger, began selling in a restaurant in Holly Hill SC in 1939. (A restaurant called Villa Tronco, also in Columbia, claims to be the oldest continually-operating one in the state, and was founded in 1940.) Continue reading “Maurice’s Piggie Park Barbecue, West Columbia SC”

Zesto, Columbia SC

Our readers in Atlanta are probably loosely aware that our small chain of Zesto stores is not entirely unique. Thanks to the wonderful work of Roadside Architecture, we know that there are Zesto restaurants, called, in some cases, “Zesto Drive-In,” all over the country, but they’re slowly but surely vanishing to time. The corporate chain, which launched in 1945, only lasted for a few years. A newspaper story on the wall of the store in West Columbia, SC claims that it disintegrated in 1951, but the Atlanta Zesto says that their one-time corporate owner, Taylor Freezer Corporation, didn’t halt operations for another four years. This left all of the original franchisees independent and able to grow, expand, or mutate at their own pace, no later than 1955. Continue reading “Zesto, Columbia SC”