Starting early in the 20th century, the Sweatman name became synonymous with great barbecue in this part of South Carolina. It used to be that the menfolk of the family hosted weekend pig-pickin’s for relatives and friends, but in 1977, the family made it into a buffet-style restaurant in the South Carolina tradition. That means that barbecue is served only on the weekend, and that customers help themselves along a buffet line. The dining area is the former living quarters of the family home.
There are few dining experiences anywhere more truly homey than this: throwaway plates and utensils, calico-curtain windows, high-ceilings and wood slat walls. The buffet line where everyone helps themselves is a literal pig-out. Help yourself to white rice and top it with savory hash. Choose from white meat, dark meat, and ribs; supplement that with pigskin stripped and fried into mottled brindle strips with a wicked crunch. Decorate your plate with pickles and grab a couple of slices of white bread. Carry your plate and a glass of sweet tea to a table and dig in.
This barbecue is as succulent as food can be, especially the dark meat, which literally drips juice when you heft it from the plate. It certainly needs nothing in the way of a condiment, but if you do want to doll it up, Bub’s offers two sauces, one reddish sweet one and the other a typical mid-Carolina sauce based on mustard.
Sweatman’s is a fundamental place without a lot of amenities; but it is no rough-and-tumble smoke pit. A barbecue meal in this smoky shrine is an expertly choreographed experience, one that will linger in your memory as sweet as the aroma of pit-cooked pork.