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Bub Sweatman's

1313 Gemini Drive, Holly Hill, SC - (843) 563-7574
Posted By Michael Stern on 1/29/2012 5:22:00 AM
Starting early in the 20th century, the Sweatman name has been synonymous with great barbecue in South Carolina. It used to be that the menfolk of the family hosted weekend pig-pickin’s for relatives and friends, but some time in the 1970s, the informal ritual became something like a restaurant. We say something like a restaurant because it is an unusual operation (although utterly faithful to South Carolina culinary traditions). At Sweatman’s, you serve yourself, you eat in the former living quarters of the family home, and you come for one and only one thing: pit-cooked pig. Furthermore, meals are served just two days a week: Friday and Saturday from 11:30am to about 9pm.

There are few dining rooms anywhere more truly homey than these: 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.

Bub 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.

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5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Bub Sweatman’s is out a country road pretty far from any town. Barbecue lovers from miles around come to the sign of the pig and the waving stars-and-stripes for a weekend pig-pickin – a ritual as American as hot dogs and apple pie.
"Bub Sweatman’s is out a country road pretty far from any town. Barbecue lovers from miles around come to the sign of the pig and the waving stars-and-stripes for a weekend pig-pickin – a ritual as American as hot dogs and apple pie."
Michael Stern





Can you spot what’s missing in this picture? The answer is ribs, which required a second run through the line once some of the plate was cleared. What’s here, going clockwise from the upper left, is hash on rice, white meat topped with mustard sauce, dark meat with no sauce, a handful of pig skin, and cole slaw. Those are sweet pickles in the middle; and white bread also is available – good for mopping up juice and sauce.
"Can you spot what’s missing in this picture? The answer is ribs, which required a second run through the line once some of the plate was cleared. What’s here, going clockwise from the upper left, is hash on rice, white meat topped with mustard sauce, dark meat with no sauce, a handful of pig skin, and cole slaw. Those are sweet pickles in the middle; and white bread also is available – good for mopping up juice and sauce."
Michael Stern


These suspender-wearing gents have just parked their car out front and are passing under the live oak tree that shades Bub’s front porch.
"These suspender-wearing gents have just parked their car out front and are passing under the live oak tree that shades Bub’s front porch."
Michael Stern


Thrilling as the barbecue may be, it is so intense that it induces a meditative hush in the dining room. Note the old wood-slat farmhouse walls.
"Thrilling as the barbecue may be, it is so intense that it induces a meditative hush in the dining room. Note the old wood-slat farmhouse walls."
Michael Stern


Do you like bacon? If so, you will love Sweatman’s pig skins. There isn’t a more luxurious food on earth.
"Do you like bacon? If so, you will love Sweatman’s pig skins. There isn’t a more luxurious food on earth."
Michael Stern


Like so many of the South’s significant pork parlors, Bub Sweatman’s has a good supply of images of pigs. This table of figurines adjoins the cash register where you pay before making your way through the buffet line.
"Like so many of the South’s significant pork parlors, Bub Sweatman’s has a good supply of images of pigs. This table of figurines adjoins the cash register where you pay before making your way through the buffet line."
Michael Stern


Dessert is no big deal at Bub Sweatman’s. But we never can resist a serving of banana pudding.
"Dessert is no big deal at Bub Sweatman’s. But we never can resist a serving of banana pudding."
Michael Stern



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