Carolina BBQ

All-You-Can-Eat | Bar-b-q | Buffet
Memorable
One of the best
Save

The city of Aiken is surrounded by three traditional all-you-can-eat pig-pickin buffets: Dukes, Bobby’s Barbecue, and Carolina BBQ. Of the three, Carolina is the most humble: a fairly small place, more meditative than boisterous. But there is nothing humble about the array of food available. It’s a grand selection, a true taste of the Central Savannah River area.

The first time I tried to eat here, I had driven straight through from Connecticut, arriving early one Wednesday evening, ravening for BBQ. But I had forgotten that traditional South Carolina barbecue parlors are weekend-only affairs. I returned the next day (the weekend in this place starts on Thursday) for what proved to be a memorable feast.

The pork is a gorgeous, hacked-up mess of smoky pig that ranges from velvet soft mouthfuls to long, chewy shreds to crisp and crunchy bark. It’s sauceless as presented in the buffet; tables are set with sweet red sauce that is fine if that’s what you like and hot-sweet mustard sauce that is just right for this meat. You’ll also want hash on rice, the hash being a hearty stew that is comfort-food supreme and a de rigueur BBQ companion in the CSRA (Central Savannah River Area).

Among not-to-be-missed side dishes are sweet ‘tater tots rolled in sugar, buttery discs of fried squash, fried chicken skin, corn nuggets, onion-sweet hushpuppies, wonderfully ragged macaroni and cheese, extremely candied yams, and three different kinds of pickles.

Dessert is an afterthought. There are serve-yourself soft ice cream and a trio of soft sweet things including dense banana pudding, ultrasweet peach cobbler, and some sort of chocolate creamy swirl. I recommend skipping dessert in favor of a return trip through the exemplary buffet line.

What to Eat
Carolina BBQ, Barbecued Pork
Barbecued Pork
Must-Try
South Carolina BBQ at its finest, with tangy mustard sauce.
Carolina BBQ, Hash & Rice
Hash & Rice
Must-Try
Pig pickin' essential hereabouts: hash on rice.
Carolina BBQ, Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese
Must-Try
Dip your own mac & cheese, selecting as much chewy 'bark' as you wish.
Carolina BBQ, Fried Squash
Fried Squash
Must-Try
Warm discs of yellow squash: a luxury vegetable
Carolina BBQ, Sweet ‘Tater Tots
Sweet ‘Tater Tots
Must-Try
Sweet 'tater tots, rolled in sugar.
Carolina BBQ, Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea
Must-Try
Tables are outfitted with a pitcher of sweet tea and 2 types of BBQ sauce.
Carolina BBQ, Fried Chicken Skin
Fried Chicken Skin
Must-Try
Crisp-fried chicken skin crunches into a slurry of flavor.
Carolina BBQ, Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
Substantial banana pudding is without leavener.
Carolina BBQ, Hushpuppy
Hushpuppy
A core of dense, oily cornmeal makes this crunch-skinned hushpuppy the right companion for BBQ.
Carolina BBQ, Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler
Gloppy good peach cobbler
Carolina BBQ, Pickles
Pickles
Mixed pickles & cauliflower, bread-and-butter pickles, dill pickles.
Directions and Hours
closed now
SundayCLOSED
MondayCLOSED
TuesdayCLOSED
Wednesday10:30am - 1:30pm
Thursday10:30am - 8pm
Friday10:30am - 8pm
Saturday10:30am - 8pm
Roadtrips
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
10 stops | 48 MILES | 1 hr 22 min

Aiken has long been a vacation destination for the horsey set – back in the 1950s, weekly non-stop train service direct from New York served wintering horses, horse owners, and their staff. It remains a destination for horse people of all kind. If riding (or watching) the four-legged athletes conjures up an appetite, there is…

10 stops | 286 MILES | 5 hr 42 min

South Carolina is a magnificent barbecue state with diverse regional styles. Heading north by northwest from the coast, you'll eat red-sauced, mustard-sauced, and minimally-sauced pork, with hash on rice being a common denominator among nearly all of the state's great whole-hog parlors. Restaurants in the southeast tend to have normal 6-day-a-week hours, but many of…

Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
No
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Rooted Coffeehouse

    Evans, Georgia

    Rooted is a fresh, modern coffee house with an inviting menu of toasts, sandwiches, pastries, and superfood bowls to accompany a plethora of caffeine drinks.

  • Taj Aiken

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Kaleidoscopically seasoned Indian food (hot or not, as you wish) makes Taj Aiken a destination for adventurous eaters. Nothing on the menu is boring.

  • Deep South Cheese & Grill

    Dearing, Georgia

    Deep South Cheese is a hospitable Georgia roadside cafe that makes its own fresh cheese curds for poutine, plain or fancy. Plus fine burgers & smoked sausages.

  • Chef Bob’s Café

    Edgefield, South Carolina

    Daily downhome buffet lunch and lavish weekend dinner make Chef Bob’s a restaurant for big appetites. House motto: “If you leave hungry, it’s not my fault!”

  • 3 Caminos

    Aiken, South Carolina

    A restaurant in the back room of an old South Carolina gas station, 3 Caminos serves wonderful from-scratch Mexican fare along with brilliant house-made salsas.

  • Peaches ‘n’ Such

    Monetta, South Carolina

    A farm-stand cafe surrounded by South Carolina orchards, Peaches ‘n’ Such serves breakfast, lunch and, of course, peach ice cream and peach cobbler.