Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Sign In | Register for Free!
Restaurants Recipes Forums Eating Tours Merchandise FAQ Maps Insider

521 B-B-Q & Grill

7580 Charlotte Highway, Indian Land, SC - (803) 548-7675
Posted By Chris & Amy Ayers on 1/2/2008 5:42:00 PM
If it wasn’t for our Roadfood friend Amy Howington, we might never have stopped at 521 BBQ & Grill. All we needed to hear was, “They make their own vinegar sauce,” and we were on our way. Tucked in a small strip south of Indian Land High School on Highway 521 (toward Lancaster/Monroe), its unassuming façade hides spectacular barbeque, ribs, and hushpuppies, though it’s certainly not concealed to their loyal legion of regulars, some of whom travel as far as Asheville, North Carolina to eat here. 521 has been voted best BBQ for the last two years in local publications.

First and foremost, the chopped pork is tender, irregular chunks of “inside” meat mixed with a smattering of charred “outside” skin. Its flavor is smoky and woodsy, and it’s itching to be graced by a tableside triumvirate of sauces: two commercially bottled tomato- and mustard-based sauces, indigenous to Western North Carolina and South Carolina pork parlors, respectively; and 521’s homemade vinegar sauce, a heady brew flecked with red, yellow, and black pepper, and harboring a manageable kick that’ll send piggy partisans into ecstatic displays of affection after first taste. Two types of cole slaw are available: a traditional, mayonnaise-based white slaw, or the more popular barbeque slaw, made with finely minced cabbage and a tangy, tomato BBQ sauce.

The other item of unprecedented choice is their hushpuppies, the omnipresent starch on Southern barbeque and seafood plates. Mind you, these are not the cold, corny chewfests of lesser restaurants that resemble Styrofoam peanuts. These beauties are big, bumpy, deeply browned delights that, when hot from the fryer, induce backflips of glee upon the tongue. And like many similar establishments, 521 runs out of items (ribs, most frequently) late in the day, so customers must have a Plan B in mind if they show up for a late dinner. There is even a disclaimer printed on the menu: “In order to offer the highest quality barbeque and ribs, we smoke them fresh daily on the premises, which means that on occasion we may run out. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

521 does not yet sell bottles of their vinegar sauce, though the kitchen is known for sending customers home with containers of sauce when asked. There was once an extreme dearth of quality, non-chain barbeque houses in the Rock Hill/Fort Mill area, especially on this once desolate stretch of secondary highway. Thankfully, 521 BBQ rises to fill that need with consistently delicious pork, sides, and a spicy vinegar sauce that cannot possibly be beat.

11 out of 11 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

Scorecard

3 - Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Hushpuppies
Chopped BBQ Sandwich
Chopped BBQ Tray
Rate this place

Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

There are no words to describe how tender these ribs are, nor how flavorful. When the meat slides off the bone, you practically can hear the piggy juices ooze inside the caramelized-sauce coat that encloses the meat.
"There are no words to describe how tender these ribs are, nor how flavorful. When the meat slides off the bone, you practically can hear the piggy juices ooze inside the caramelized-sauce coat that encloses the meat."
Michael Stern





A plate gets you one more item than a tray, in this case the baked beans at the upper left (plus a cup of slaw). They are wonderful beans, their sweetness tempered by the tang of barbecue sauce.
"A plate gets you one more item than a tray, in this case the baked beans at the upper left (plus a cup of slaw). They are wonderful beans, their sweetness tempered by the tang of barbecue sauce."
Michael Stern


The chopped tray: lean BBQ, crinkle-cut fries, and 521's unparalleled hushpuppies.
"The chopped tray: lean BBQ, crinkle-cut fries, and 521's unparalleled hushpuppies."
Chris & Amy Ayers


We would never suggest ordering a fried bologna sandwich in lieu of 521's superlative barbecue, but it's nice to know that it's available if needed. An application of house mustard sauce did wonders for the thick slab of oinky pork.
"We would never suggest ordering a fried bologna sandwich in lieu of 521's superlative barbecue, but it's nice to know that it's available if needed. An application of house mustard sauce did wonders for the thick slab of oinky pork."
Michael Stern


The pork you get on a plate of barbecue is very gentle-tempered and as subtly delicious as food can be. To spice it up, there is a thick sweet/tangy sauce and a thin pepper-vinegar sauce that is quite hot. This is a close view of the Q after an application of the hot stuff.
"The pork you get on a plate of barbecue is very gentle-tempered and as subtly delicious as food can be. To spice it up, there is a thick sweet/tangy sauce and a thin pepper-vinegar sauce that is quite hot. This is a close view of the Q after an application of the hot stuff."
Michael Stern


Tangy vinegar and red BBQ sauces.
"Tangy vinegar and red BBQ sauces."
Tom Lewis


A plate of rib goodness.
"A plate of rib goodness."
Tom Lewis


A BBQ tray doused with colorful pepper flecks from 521's house-made vinegar sauce.
"A BBQ tray doused with colorful pepper flecks from 521's house-made vinegar sauce."
Chris & Amy Ayers


Generous pork topped with tangy barbeque slaw on a soft, steamed bun.
"Generous pork topped with tangy barbeque slaw on a soft, steamed bun."
Chris & Amy Ayers


I knew I'd like this place the moment I entered: the lined-up tables with worn checked cloths, the roll of paper towels on every table and, best of all (but not shown here), a staff of extremely friendly, sassy and entertaining waitresses added up to perfect BBQ-eating ambience.
"I knew I'd like this place the moment I entered: the lined-up tables with worn checked cloths, the roll of paper towels on every table and, best of all (but not shown here), a staff of extremely friendly, sassy and entertaining waitresses added up to perfect BBQ-eating ambience."
Michael Stern


521's porcine mascot greets customers with his hoof-up approval.
"521's porcine mascot greets customers with his hoof-up approval."
Chris & Amy Ayers


Located in an unpreposessing strip mall, 521 isn't going to win any beauty contests. That's fine; you can't eat beauty, but you CAN eat some of the best barbecue anywhere when you step inside.
"Located in an unpreposessing strip mall, 521 isn't going to win any beauty contests. That's fine; you can't eat beauty, but you CAN eat some of the best barbecue anywhere when you step inside."
Michael Stern



What is Roadfood?  |   Submit Content  |   Privacy Policy  |   Contact Roadfood.com   Copyright - Roadfood.com