Memorable | One of the Best
521 B-B-Q & Grill
Review by: Michael Stern
An inconspicuous storefront in a commercial strip by the side of the two-lane, 521 B-B-Q & Grill is a conspicuously worthy barbecue destination. Not that there’s anything wrong with the menu’s extra-thick fried bologna sandwich, but it would be a crime to come here and not eat chopped pork and/or ribs. The former – Boston butt that is slow-smoked for 14 hours – becomes rough-hewn hash that is served sauceless. Please, savor some unadorned forkfuls for full appreciation of the refined synergy of swine and smoke. But then, bring on the sauce. Two kinds are arrayed in squeeze bottles on every table (next to the roll of paper towels): a thin, pepper-powered vinegar dressing that adds an exclamation mark to the flavor, and a thicker, sweeter and extremely tangy tomato sauce. Both are winners.
The ribs are just about the meatiest baby backs we’ve ever run across. Huge amounts of juice-sopped meat slide off the bone at the slightest provocation. Like the pork butts, the ribs are slow-smoked so the woodsy flavor of the pit completely insinuates itself into every fiber of the meat. Then they are painted with some of that tangy sauce and grilled until the sauce begins to caramelize. The glaze hugs the pork; and those two tastes together define the joy of ribs.
We haven’t yet mentioned what some people consider to be the very best thing on the menu, included on every plate or tray of barbecue: hushpuppies. Irregularly shaped with dark, red-gold skin that offers both crunch and chew, their interiors are moist and sweet-corn sweet, laced with perfumy onion. Nor are the baked beans to be ignored. They fairly vibrate with barbecue zest.
And finally, we need to mention the staff: a corps of waitresses who are as much fun as they are efficient, eagerly replacing a couple of hushpuppies that accidentally tumbled into the baked beans and lost a touch of their crispness and taking great joy when a customer is caught licking every bit of sauce off his fingers. In short: if you like barbecue, put 521 on any short list of must-visits in the Carolinas.
Note: There is a 2nd 521 BBQ at 1135 Stonecrest Blvd, Suite 101, Tega Cay, SC.
Directions & Hours
- Monday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Thursday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Friday: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
- Saturday: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
- Sunday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|