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 January 2, 2008 5:42 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.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Hushpuppies
Chopped BBQ Tray
Chopped BBQ Sandwich

8 out of 8 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Larry Mitlin on November 9, 2013 3:40 PM
We are BBQ nuts. If we can find a BBQ restaurant in a town we are visiting, we will give it a try. That said, 521 BBQ, just a few miles from our home is the best of the best. We discovered it when the refreshment stand at our son's high school baseball field imported the BBQ to sell to fans. After finding out where it came from, we had to try the full experience. Now we're there every couple of weeks. The other reviewers have done a good job describing the ambiance. The only thing I would add is that the portions are huge. I usually wind up ordering a "child's" portion, which they've never objected to serving to this senior citizen.

If you're anywhere nearby, you have to give 521 BBQ a try!
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Hushpuppies
Chopped BBQ Tray
Chopped BBQ Sandwich
Rib Plate
Barbecue Plate

0 out of 0 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Matt Culbertson on June 15, 2012 10:18 PM
This was my first visit to 521 and I was not disappointed. The food is incredible and full of flavor. The BBQ ribs, chicken, and pulled pork are fabulous! Even the hush puppies were wonderful. Banana pudding was the perfect ending. Our waitress was very attentive and very friendly. It was a wonderful experience and I will visit them often.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Barbecue Plate
Rib Plate
Hushpuppies

0 out of 0 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By kevin on November 4, 2011 4:56 AM
Brandon Fox turned me on to this place last year. It is awesome! The pulled pork and the ribs are both a notch above what you will find even in most decent BBQ joints around the NC/SC border. Sauce is made in-house and has plenty of zippitydoodah to it. If you desire REAL DEAL BBQ like they used to do before the sucky chains took over, this is it!
3 star rating
Overall Rating

2 out of 2 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Tom Lewis on November 2, 2011 4:24 PM
I was skeptical as I pulled into the parking lot at the 521 B-B-Q & Grill. As a seasoned BBQ cook and lover, the joint just looked out of place among the neat shops, and it's located at the corner of a strip mall. As I exited my vehicle the smells of BBQ and smoke were in the air. The restaurant was very busy and both rooms were pretty full.

I ordered the BBQ’d rib platter. When it arrived, I was amazed at the quality and quantity of the food. The ribs had a nice smoked flavor and were very meaty with little fat. They were coated with a sweet sauce, and had char marks from being finished on a grill. Several of the ribs were almost like eating thick, bone-in pork chops. They were cooked just enough to allow the meat to pull off the bones cleanly, yet they were not dry.

The plate consisted of eight huge back ribs that were more than an inch thick, four extraordinary hush puppies, French fries, baked beans, and white slaw (they also gave me a sample of potato salad). The hush puppies were probably the best I’ve ever eaten: crisp outside and moist on the inside with little bits of minced onion, and slightly sweet. I enjoyed the mahogany-colored baked beans very much because they appeared to be slow-cooked. They contained some diced onion, bacon, and an appropriate level of sweetness.

The two standout sauces, one sweet and one a vinegary mixture with a sludge of mixed peppers, were excellent. I mixed the two and produced a heat-laden piquant sweet sauce that was wonderful. I would have loved to have had a couple of slices of spongy white bread to sop the sauce.

Each table had a supply of sauces, paper towels, and wet wipes for your hands. The ladies waiting on the tables were great and checked on all tables often. They circulated the room with pitchers of tea, soft drinks, and water. You’ll never eat in a cleaner good BBQ joint. The tables are sponged down with aseptic cleaner wipes and the cushioned benches are wiped when necessary.

Note: their chili dogs seem to have a very strong following. Most tables have at least one person with a couple on their plate. The chopped pork BBQ plates also enjoy great popularity, making me wish that I had asked for a combo (ribs/chopped pork) plate.

In short, very good BBQ with exceptional quality and value.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Hushpuppies
Rib Plate

4 out of 4 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Susi Godfrey on January 25, 2010 2:19 PM
We luckily moved within five minutes of 521 BBQ and discovered it by accident. Its unassuming exterior was surrounded by cars and that was good enough for us to try the first time. We've not found anything as good or better since.

I'm hooked on the BBQ which I as a northerner call "pulled pork"; the best I've eaten anywhere, anytime. Their sweet BBQ sauce is more to my liking than the vinegary one my husband is attached to. He is addicted to their ribs and I agree they are spectacular. Our young adult daughter is addicted to the hush puppies and these are the only ribs she will ever eat. In our neighborhood, most agree that this BBQ place is the best!

The waitresses are saucy and fun and ready to joke around with the customers. At first we were welcomed politely but soon we became part of the regular crowd and now enjoy the teasing atmosphere.

There is nothing fancy here but the food is fabulous.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Chopped BBQ Tray
Chopped BBQ Sandwich
Hushpuppies

2 out of 3 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

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