I just noticed that on Pop Pop’s menu the dessert listing includes “Fresh Fried Pork Skins.” Respect!
Continuing my post-Thanksgiving barbecue eating trip to South Carolina, I headed back to the Marriott Grand Dunes in Myrtle Beach after lunch at Scott’s, where I was staying to burn up a few unused Vacation Club points. I walked on the beach for a couple of hours in a hopeless effort to counteract a fairly heroic breakfast and lunch at Scott’s. By the times it got dark, I had made little progress, and I felt like a light dinner. Duty, however, compelled me to try another barbecue place from the Campaign for Real Barbecue List places in South Carolina. So I headed to Pop Pop’s.
Pop Pop’s was a little hard to find. It’s well outside Myrtle Beach, actually closer to Surfside Beach, and set inland in an ill-lit, anonymous area between Socastee and Burgess. Pop Pop’s sits in a tiny shopping center, with not much else nearby. I arrived early on an unseasonably cold Wednesday night, and walked into a long, narrow room with six booths and a few chairs at a narrow counter. There was a lot of motorcycle stuff on the walls, and not many people were there. It was an inauspicious start, but I saw the Campaign for Real Barbecue certificate, assuring me that they cook only with wood, and I sat down to order.
Things brightened up immediately. The waitress was very friendly and cheerful, and greeted me with an amuse bouche of freshly fried pork skins.
They were delicious. I’m not a huge fan of pork skins, even freshly fried pork skins, but I loved these. They had been dusted with Pop Pop’s spice blend and were actually light and almost melt-in-you-mouth tender. There was none of that hardness that normally besets a batch of pork skins. You know, the one’s you end up throwing away. They were the best pork skins I’ve ever eaten. Pop Pop was cooking up a fresh batch and I would have ordered some more if I hadn’t already overeaten before I even got there.
I ordered a pork plate with fried okra and green beans.
The pork was pulled and loosely tossed in a sauce that was sweetish, but well spiced; and more sauce was served on top of it. Regular readers will know that I’m not a fan of sweet sauces, unlike a lot if people: it can smother the flavor of the pork. A good bit of my pork was sauce-free, however, and that was excellent by any standard. It was tender, moist, and with that blend of smoke and pork that makes great barbecue. I learned later that Pop Pop’s also has a vinegar and pepper sauce — he was cooking some up while I was there. Next time I’m anywhere near Myrtle Beach, I’ll ask for that.
I’m glad that I ordered the fried okra. It was coated with corn meal rather than flour. It’s hard to overstate what a difference a corn coating makes in frying vegetables and fish. See this post. It was the best fried okra I’ve had in more years than I can remember, and I can remember a lot of fried okra. It really is worth a trip to Pop Pop’s for the fried okra alone. Really.
The green beans, it turned out, were cooked with smoked brisket. They were good and had an interesting flavor. You should try them.
While I was eating, more customers arrived, some to dine in and many to carry out. I think there was something big on TV that evening. Everyone was as friendly and cheerful as can be, and I may have been the only one who wasn’t greeted by name. It quickly turned into a warm and cheerful place on a cold dark night.
Pop Pop’s has an extensive menu. Prices are good, andyou can get a beer for $3.00. Among other things, you can get wings 12 ways, including Stupid Hot and Death Nectar. (The Death Nectar, which probably has a habanero sauce, is the only fried food I would avoid at Pop Pop’s. I just don’t like the flavor of habaneros.) But anything else is almost certainly great. Pop Pop’s excels at two of the hardest cooking styles to get right — barbecuing and frying.
If you’re in or near Myrtle Beach, head straight to Pop Pop’s.