925 Houston Northcutt Blvd.
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Every year or two we take a family trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and one of our chief goals is to eat as much Barbecue as humanly possible. This year our trip was curtailed due to graduation, but we still managed to get a little BBQ in during our short stay. Sadly, we were unable to make it out to Sweatman’s in distant Holly Hill, one of our favorite ‘Que places in the world. However, we found some BBQ joints closer to where we were staying, including Melvin’s. Melvin’s is part of South Carolina barbecue royalty, the Bessigner family, which has been running restaurants in the area for the better part of the century. We felt we had been spoiled by Sweatman’s amazing Mustard sauce, though we hear they have changed owners since our last visit.
Don’t let the location of Melvin’s in the outlot of a stripmall deter you. The restaurant may look a little too new, and perhaps even touristy, but the turnover is high meaning fresh food, and the smoker is legit. The menu at Melvin’s is surprisingly extensive, with chicken, pulled pork, brisket and pork ribs, sandwiches, platters and even burgers. The specialties are ribs and chicken, but we had to order our old standby, a pulled pork platter (which happened to be on special that day). We also tried some of the ribs and chicken ordered by the rest of the family, which are the restaurant’s specialties.
We judge pulled pork on how soon we reach for the sauce after sampling the meat. Good pulled pork should be able to stand on its own, without being doused in sauce. We thought the pulled pork at Melvin’s was excellent – it had tender meat, good moisture, but not too fatty, and a pleasant smoke flavor. The meat itself does not come with sauce – it is provided on the table – you have a choice of iconic South Carolina mustard sauce or a sweeter tomato-based vinegar sauce. We tried a little of each, but we had to go with the signature mustard sauce. However, we pretty much sopped up everything with the delicious golden mustard sauce which was the perfect mix of tangy, spicy and sweet.
There was a wide array of side dishes but we went with our favorites again: macaroni and cheese and corn bread. Sadly, the mac and cheese was very disappointing: a complete mush with very little cheese. The cornbread fared better on our rating scale, but the Que was definitely the star. The ribs we sampled were also very tasty, if a little dry, we preferred the pulled pork. Our drink of choice, was of course, sweet tea, though we also ordered an unconventional-for-a-barbecue-place Oreo milkshake ($3.99 for a large). And as always, we had to splurge for some banana pudding for dessert! We were also pleasantly surprised that all of the sauces were for sale at surprisingly cheap prices, so we bought some mustard-based sauce to take home. Overall, Melvin’s is a great go-to South Carolina BBQ spot with some excellent mustard sauce in a convenient location. We still miss Sweatman’s but it helped ease the pain a little.