Shuler’s Bar-B-Que is in Latta, SC, about an hour up I-95 from McCabe’s. Actually, it’s closer to Sellers than Latta, but everyone says it’s in Latta, probably because Sellers only has 211 residents and Latta has nearly 1,400. At any rate, it’s in between the two with nothing nearby, but only a few miles off I-95 on SC38, on the right. You can’t miss it.
And you shouldn’t. I stopped by their carry-out window for a sandwich. It was a good idea.
The sandwich was terrific. The meat was hot, tender and moist, with a good smoke flavor. It had a mustard and vinegar sauce — not too much sauce, not too much mustard in the sauce: perhaps the Platonic ideal of mustard-based barbecue sauce.
Shuler’s is a second-generation barbecue place. Shuler Hughes sold barbecue out of a country store near I-95. Son Norton Hughes picked up the business 18 years ago and is growing it for his son, Shuler. Norton learned Truth from his father:
“Low and slow, and cook on wood. That’s what he taught me. If the fat isn’t drippin’ on the coals it’s not real barbecue. That’s where most of your flavor comes from.”
Shuler’s is more than the carry-out. Nancy and I went in and looked around. There is an impressive buffet, with lots of good-looking vegetables, chicken and, unusually in the Carolinas below the fall line, ribs. It is all-you-can-eat.
A you can imagine, with lots of good food, Shuler’s does a good business. And they have expanded. There is a second, larger dining room and more seating on deck overlooking a large pond.
There also is a large store next door that sells the sort of stuff that country stores sell in tourist areas — mainly clutter-in-waiting, but also some genuinely useful things, not least chow chow and relishes — and there’s a dangerous-looking bakery. There are rocking chairs on the front porch and it’s a good place to walk around a bit while you let your lunch digest.
Shuler’s was featured on a CNBC show, “The Profit”, which I gather is sort of like Shark Tank (which I haven’t watched but which has been explained to me.) That brought a major investor who was impressed by the land-office business Shuler’s does and by their biscuits, which I gather are great. Thus deck and the store were added in December. So now it’s big and, like I say, you can’t miss it.
You can get the biscuits in New York now, but Shuler’s hasn’t gone big-city. They still take only cash, no credit cards. Well, they’ll take an IOU if you only have cards and no cash. No one should go hungry. It reminds me of the yard sales in Tuscaloosa where they told us to take an article of furniture with us and come back with the money, or the store in Fairhope who told friends to take an oriental carpet home to Birmingham to see if it would go well in their dining room. If it goes, send a check. If not, bring it back on your next trip. We came back with the money and our friends brought the rug back, and people send checks to Shuler’s.
Get on down to Shuler’s. Norton Hughes knows where the flavor comes from. And bring cash. It won’t take a lot. My sandwich was $4.50.
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