Dukes BBQ in North Charleston makes for simply good eats

Image by Flickr user Chrys Image by 3622221396_18fdff556c.jpg Drukes BBQ is plain and unassuming.

Duke's BBQ is located on 4428 Spruill Avenue in North Charleston and is easy enough to miss if you're not looking hard for it. 

The unassuming white cinderblock building has no signs out front, except for the hand-painted lettering on the glass window. There's no smoke billowing from the pit out back (I'll explain that later) or any other advertising other than word of mouth. I guess when you've been in the BBQ business for 58 years, and count yourself as the original Duke's BBQ in South Carolina, you don't really need to. 

After reading a post at the Hugging the Coast blog, I felt compelled to give ol' Dukes a try, which isn't as easy as you'd think since they're only open Friday (3 p.m.) and Saturday.

Walk inside and and pay your $7.50 for the all-you-can-eat buffet, which is just as sparse as the outside of the building. Ah, but don't let that fool you, they don't mess around with all of the fancy sides like most of the other BBQ joints. 

At Duke's you'll only find pulled pork, white rice, hash, and slaw. 

Want those fancy little cornbread muffins? Best stick to Jim 'N Nicks. Want a dozen other sides to choose from? Drive to Savannah Highway where you'll find Bessinger's BBQ.

You also get a choice of two sauces -- mustard-based (which seemed like straight mustard) and a "hot" red sauce which did indeed have a bite. 

While I wasn't crazy about either, my advise would be to skip the sauce and go plain, or use the delicious hash as a sauce. Seriously, it's that good.

Want pickles? They have three varieties, not to mention sweet tea (of course) and a loaf of Sunbeam brand white bread on each table. Speaking of tables, they're what you'd expect from any genuine BBQ joint -- bench style picnic tables, complete with checkered table cloth. 

For dessert, you can pick from Red Velvet cake or the silky smooth banana pudding for only $1.25. 

Here's a bit more on the history of Duke's BBQ, from Lisa Warner, the owner and grand daughter of Elma Ott. Elma started Duke's on Spruill 58 years ago and they've been in the same location ever since. Two other Duke's are direct descendants -- one in Orangeburg and one in St. George. The Orangeburg location is where the pits are located and the hogs are cooked, then distributed out to the other two locations each week. The other Duke's BBQ in South Carolina are all "basically related" says Warner, for example the Duke's in Ridgeville being Elma's niece. 

At last count, I found a total of nine in the state.

So, next time you're in North Charleston on a Friday or Saturday and can't decide where to go for lunch, give ol' Duke's a try if you're in the mood for some good, no-frills BBQ.

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