Dukes BBQ

Review by: Michael Stern

Dukes BBQ in Orangeburg, SC |What to eat

Everything about Dukes BBQ is designed to help you concentrate on hickory-smoked barbecued pork. It is served in hacked-up chunks at a cafeteria line that also includes a choice of red sauce that is four-alarm hot or glowing yellow mustard sauce that is sweet and tangy (unique to central South Carolina), and pickles.

In addition to barbecue, the buffet line offers excellent fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, greens, beans, hushpuppies, and that South Carolina smokehouse favorite, hash on rice. Dish out as much as you want into your partitioned plate, grab a plastic fork, and find a place at one of the long picnic tables in the cavernous eating hall.

The pork hums with complex flavor that is just faintly smoky, each piece a tender mouthful. Somehow, it is especially right to savor it in the peace of this dining room, where the only music is the sound of more pork being hacked into hunks back in the kitchen.

The drink of choice is tea — sweet, of course. Also of course, each table is outfitted with a few loaves of white bread, which is the right thing for mopping a plate of all its good sauce.

Note the limited hours. Dukes is open for lunch and supper only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. In the tradition of the old-time pig-pickin’, South Carolinians consider a meal like this a weekend event.

What To Eat

Barbecue with Mustard Sauce


Dukes BBQ Recipes


What do you think of Dukes BBQ?

2 Responses to “Dukes BBQ”

Gordon Howard

July 18th, 2011

I couldn’t disagree more with the prior reviewer. We drove 25 miles out of our way to eat at Duke’s and were very pleased with the experience.

This is real BBQ. We arrived at around 2:30 in the afternoon. The fare is simple and very inexpensive: all you can eat (and drink) for about $7. The food consisted of chopped pork, hash, rice, coleslaw, pickles (sweet and sour), sliced white bread, and sweet or unsweetened iced tea.

The meat is flavorful and fresh with a good-tasting smoked flavor that is not overwhelming. The sauces are different. I’m not a fan of mustardy BBQ sauces and that is the favorite at Duke’s. They also have a hot sauce that is more of a North Carolina vinegar type, and more to my liking. The meat was so good I didn’t want much sauce anyway.

The hash is unlike anything I’d seen at a BBQ before. It appeared to be chili but it tasted something like a pureed Brunswick stew; very good. The coleslaw was fresh. They were also selling homemade red velvet cake for $1 per slice. I enjoyed that too.

Worth a drive out of your way for some original BBQ.


Brent Kulman

October 27th, 2004

Duke’s appears to have gone way downhill since the Stern’s last visit.

I ate dinner there on Thursday, 10/14/04, and at 6:00 PM I was the only one in the place. That should have been my first warning.

The place is as spartan as the Sterns reported. You go through a makeshift “cafeteria” line where you can get bbq and slaw, hash and rice and some sliced pickles.

The rice had been left out for a considerable time and was cold and beginning to harden. The bbq was less than lukewarm. The one redeeming factor was the glorious hash and I would return only to buy a container to take out.

This was not hickory smoked pork. Perhaps Duke’s was a log burner at one time but there was no smokey flavor whatsoever in the meat. In this part of the country, the best bbq places still smoke with wood and it makes a clear difference.

It’s always disappointing to have to report the decline of classic Roadfood place but this Duke no longer deserves its position in the royal family.


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