Let’s wrap up our consideration of the Southern Living list. You can see Part 1 here and Part 2 here, in which I address the selections made by Southern Living’s readers in response to their annual Best in the South survey. The choices range from horrendous (see Part 1) to not bad, with much in between, with a number I’ve never tried, so I’ll pass over. See Part 2. We finish today with South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, DC.
As I’ve said before, it should be a UNESCO site. It may have slipped a bit since Rodney set out on his own, but it has a special character, a special sense of place, and the food is good. Truth to tell, though, I think my South Carolina favorite is Shuler’s (see here). It’s just inside the North Carolina line, but it is distinctly South Carolinian, with a truly great mustard-based sauce (which is … rare) and delicious food. I can’t think of better quality food on a buffet, and you can order a la carte as well. Heck, eat at all three. You’ll thank me.
You can see my review of the Peg Leg Porker, the readers’ choice for the Volunteer State here. For me, it was another illustration of the difference between winning tournaments and running a restaurant. I must have eaten there on an off day, because it was pretty bad. You can do so much better in Tennessee. There’s Payne’s in Memphis, with a knockout sandwich I reviewed here; and Helen’s (see here) in Brownsville, the smokiest barbecue place ever, with a sandwich that was memorable, even though it was my fourth sandwich and third state of the day; and B.E. Scott’s in Lexington, with great whole hog (here). I have a special place in my heart and stomach, though, for Ramey’s in Parsons. Click here for my report.
I need to spend more time in Tennessee.
The Salt Lick is in a lovely spot in Dripping Springs, which is out in the Hill Country outside Austin. I enjoyed a meal at the Salt Lick, and went to a rehearsal dinner there — maybe my favorite rehearsal dinner ever, except Liza’s. The barbecue is good. They also sell it in the Austin airport, and it’s not bad at all. But the best in Texas? The best brisket is at Snow’s. That was my experience, as noted here, and that also is the wisdom of Texas Monthly and the James Beard Foundation. Snow’s is only open on Saturdays, and the seating is almost all outdoors, which can be a problem. And there’s a long wait and they run out pretty early.
My favorite Texas place overall was the City Market in Luling (see here) but that was 10 years ago, and I haven’t been to the new places — the Micklethwait food truck, Franklin, la Barbecue, and so on. For now, you should stick with the latest Texas Monthly Top 50 list — which is put together by a lot of people eating a lot of barbecue, and which always includes the City Market.
As someone who lives and eats here, Washington is not a place to come for barbecue, but good barbecue is coming to the Washington area. There’s a lot of money in Washington, and if you spend it, they will come. The Southern Living reader’s choice, Hill Country, is well located between the Mall with its museums, and the Verizon Center, the big sports and concert venue. Liza saw both Alan Jackson and Puff Daddy in concert at the Verizon Center on the same week when she was in high school. She’s pretty sure she was the only one who saw both shows. Anyway, Hill Country has a Texas menu and feel, and live music. It’s a popular place, and no less that Doug Jacobson, the Kansas City Barbecue Maven, has enjoyed a meal there. I’ve been there four times — twice for Texas events, and twice on regular weekdays (see here). My advice is, go there only for Texas events. That’s when they’re sure to pay attention to what they’re doing.
Please go on out there as soon as you can and eat some barbecue. There are a lot of great places out there, and they really need some help, some business during this crisis and its aftermath.
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