Located in North Augusta, South Carolina, The BBQ Barn makes fine hickory-smoked meats with sauces that reflect the two states it practically straddles. The house specialty is Georgia Red Sauce, the hotter version of which is very hot with a sharp vinegar tang; and there is a less peppery version known as Smokey Sweet Red. Those with taste buds loyal to the Palmetto State can choose Carolina Gold, which is like the red but not as hot and tweaked with mustard, and a full-bore South Carolina mustard sauce.
Only the chopped barbecue really needs any sauce. While it is very moist, its duotone character of pork and smoke benefits tremendously from the spicy excitement sauce provides. Ribs and chicken, plastered with herbs and spice, welcome whatever sauce you like, but are complete and tasty without any additions whatever.
Long-cooked ribs quite literally separate into bone and meat at the slightest provocation, the meat offering minimal chew and maximum flavor. Chicken isn’t quite as tender – you actually have to apply teeth to remove meat from bone – but it hums with smoke and spice zest, its semi-crisp skin especially luxurious.
Side dishes are less impressive than meats. Beans seem like standard-issue canned (not that there’s anything wrong with that); baked mac ‘n’ cheese provides the comfort-food cushion that spicy barbecue wants, but little in the way of textural or taste excitement; hash and rice is mild enough that its flavor tends to be eclipsed by other things.
Cakes are a big deal, ranging from simple and good pound cake to Red Velvet Cake and extremely green Key Lime Cake to such extravaganzas as Peanut Butter Chocolate Happy Cake and that St. Louis specialty Gooey Butter Cake, (soft, dense, chewy, intensely sweet).
BBQ Barn is a clean, pleasant place with in-the-rough service: step to the counter, place your order, pay, then wait for your number to be called. Tote the meal to a table indoors or at one of the picnic tables outside. Everything comes on disposable dishware.