Friday, October 30, 2009

Smokin' Stokes Barbecue (5/10) - 1622 Augusta St., Greenville, SC 29605

My original plan was to make my way up the eastern side of the country on my way back to Washington DC over a three-day voyage -- stopping through Charleston and making my way up towards Scott's Variety Store before an official North Carolina tour.  I spontaneously decided to make the direct trip up I-85 from Atlanta while stopping at four places over the course of the day.  Since I would be travelling through Greenville, SC, I added Smokin' Stokes Barbecue to the itinerary and stopped at approximately 11am for an early afternoon lunch.  It was immediately obvious that this place had experience in the business, both officially and competitively.  Advertisements for Cheerwine were also on the wall, and I later learned that the previous owner of the restaurant used to be a Cheerwine distributor back in his heyday.

I knew that I had multiple stops planned over the upcoming 300+ miles on the road so I decided on a large pork sandwich with a side of fried okra.  Peering over the counter, I could see the Southern Pride smoker, a deep fryer, and a couple banners that had little if anything to do with Smokin' Stokes Barbecue.  My food arrived in a few minutes and I took a seat in the dining hall next to an old timer who appeared to weigh an impressive 105 lbs.

The fried okra was as expected -- pre-made by a distributor -- and the pork in the sandwich at first glance appeared very dry and not fresh.  I pinched a little sample of the pork and it had a fairly solid taste -- little salty, little smoky.  I lined up the sauces -- mustard, mild, cheerwine, hot -- and squirted little dollops on my fingertips.  Mustard = not good.  Mild = good flavor but lacked the heat or kick that I believe complements barbecue so well.  Cheerwine = tasted like Mr. Pibb barbecue sauce.  Although I didn't really like the flavor, I still couldn't stop myself from constantly trying it over and over again.  To date, it is definitely the most unique sauce I've ever tried.  Hot = mild sauce + spice = perfect for my sandwich.

The sandwich was good and was definitely improved with a healthy coverage of hot sauce but was still nothing too exciting.  The most memorable experience at Smokin' Stokes was the cheerwine barbecue sauce and it was something I can say that I'm happy I've tried in my life.  I look forward to another trip through South Carolina where I can sample more of what the state has to offer but Smokin' Stokes won't be on my agenda.

Smokin Stokes BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.