Mount Pleasant Magazine July/August 2018

LC 16 | | lowcountry cuisine W hile Melvin’s Barbecue has been a staple for locals in Mount Pleasant for years, their new sign – and wood-fired only techniques – are beckoning old friends and new to enjoy one of the hottest barbecue destinations in the nation. With a new logo and freshly designed label, the look may be different, but the sauce and unbeatable flavor stay the same – and nothing beats the original! As the oldest local family-owned barbecue restaurant in South Carolina, legendary Melvin’s has been dishing out authentic wood-fired barbecue since 1939. Owner and pitmaster Melvin David Bessinger hails from the “first family of mustard-based barbecue.” His father, Melvin, was 10 years old when he found his dad, Big Joe Bessinger, and a friend in a farm shed concocting the original tangy mustard sauce that would put the Palmetto State on the mustard-based barbecue map. Now digging back to those roots, pitmaster David is smoking meat over all-wood pits at Melvin’s on a daily basis. “That’s how it all started you know – smoking pigs in the ground with family and folks,” he said. While smoking with all wood is the time-honored way, it is not the easy way. You need an all-wood pit and seasoned wood, without the help of gas. David started researching the conversion back to all wood about eight years ago. In 2016, Melvin’s Barbecue in Mount Pleasant unveiled South Carolina’s first “stick burner” Jambo pit made by Jamie Geer in Texas. “When I learned that Jamie rolled his own steel, and he tested the airflow on biscuits, I knew his pits were the real deal,” David explained. David is as selective about the wood as he is the meat and the smoker. “If the wood isn’t seasoned right, you are going to have dirty smoke, and that will affect the taste,” he said. It’s not easy to find properly seasoned wood, but David discovered it in South Carolina. It is kiln-dried more than 30 days after splitting so it is seasoned, dry and ready to burn. It’s not just the food and smoke that draw people in, however. The family atmosphere welcomes and embraces visitors, tempting them to order a Nehi or hand-spun milkshake and stick around for a bit. At the counter, chances are you’ll be greeted by one of David’s children or teens who grew up going to Melvin’s as a kid and now work at their favorite family restaurant. That explains the smiling faces. The barbecued pork, ribs and burgers, regularly voted among the best, are staples at Melvin’s, and Emeril Lagasse himself once rated Melvin’s cheeseburger as the best in America. On the other hand, many regulars are lured in by the Texas-style brisket, smoked chicken wings, burnt ends and smoked turkey. When you finally decide on the meat, the most daunting decision at Melvin’s may involve the sides: fresh collards, butter beans, handcrafted mac ‘n’ cheese, fried okra, authentic South Carolina barbecue hash and coleslaw, to name a few. The epochal doughnut-style onion rings are worth the trip by themselves. If you don’t leave room for Betty’s banana pudding, be sure to take some home with you. By Krysta Chapman Melvin’s offers pickup, delivery and full-service catering. To learn more, visit or call 843- 881-0549. Fresh Look , Classic Techniques Melvin’s Barbecue Photo courtesy of Melvin’s Barbecue.