Behold the rib cut. Not for the pantywaist, it is a great mass of protein taken from the midsection of a smoke-cooked hog. Crackly skin clings to the top of a thick stripe of belly, which is barely attached to a quartet of ribs, the whole huge meat monument set aglow by a film of tart mustard sauce. Rib cuts are unique, and they are the pride of the pit at Hite’s Bar-B-Que.
Of course, skin, ribs, and chopped pork are independently available, and that may be how you have to get them if you arrive late. Connoisseurs frequently buy all the rib cuts early. That’s OK. Each element, separately, is delicious. Skins could almost be a meal themselves, they are that meaty. Crunch into one and pork flavor fairly explodes across your tongue. The chopped meat is presented as a motley pile: some soft pieces that are off-white and double-bite size; some golden shreds, some mahogany-colored crunchy bits, dark chewy bits – all of them quietly singing that subtle duet of swine and smoke together. Spare ribs are as good as anywhere, the bones clad in meat that offers just the right resistance to healthy teeth, oozing porcine goodness with every chew.
Other than sections of hog and smoke-cooked chicken, Hite’s dining menu includes cole slaw and hash on rice. That is all. I am not counting the butcher case in the front room that holds a cornucopia of ready-to-cook pork in season (November through Easter): chops and loin roasts and bacon, and also sausage and mush and liver pudding and souse, not to mention tails, feet, and neck bones, plus lard at $5 per gallon. All these are for taking home, not eating on premises. In fact, there is no place to eat on premises unless you count a few al fresco tables at the other side of the parking lot by a tranquil pond. Everything Hite’s serves is take-out, and most is sold by the pound. Sandwiches and plates are available for dining outdoors or off dashboards.
Hite’s is now a third-generation operation, and it remains true to central South Carolina barbecue tradition in every way – not just in its focused menu, its pit, and its devotion to whole hogs, but also in its limited hours of operation: Friday and Saturday only, from 8am to 7pm.