by Kenneth and Mercedes Jones
Charleston has too much BBQ! I’ll say it again: Charleston has TOO MUCH TASTY BBQ! When we first started asking for Charleston’s favorite barbecue, we received an overwhelming variety of replies—everything from dairy bars, real deal smoke-shops, and even people inviting us over to try their own personal recipes. BBQ is just about the easiest method of (real) cooking, but is also one of the most difficult to master. Whether it’s purist-style (smoked for 12 hours with a pit-master on hand moving coals), or grandma throwing a pork roast in the crock pot with some soda before church, pulled pork is a thing of true beauty. With all of the options, we somehow had to narrow it down. Thankfully, these two BBQ locations stood out to us because of the overall experiences they provide their customers.
We honestly don’t know where to start when it comes to Rollin Smoke BBQ, but I suppose we should start by saying we’ve never been to one of their storefronts. We would normally never write about a place after only visiting their mobile unit, but this is a unique situation, one too good to pass up. If I could recommend anything to a first-timer, it would be the smoked meat platter with smoked mac and cheese and baked beans on the side. Also, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t order their cobbler. I (KD) prefer the peach cobbler, while Mercedes likes the tart blackberry. If we’re driving through Kanawha City and Rollin Smoke BBQ has their mobile unit set up at Piggly Wiggly, we’re stopping for wings, even if we’re not hungry! They reheat great! With locations in Big Chimney, Sissonville and the roaming Food Truck, Rollin Smoke is never far away. They even post the food truck locations on twitter! (@rollsmokfoodtrk)!!
When I (KD) was studying graphic illustration and Mercedes was pursuing an art Degree at WVSU, we often ate at Ridge View BBQ. You could even say we fell in love over a basket of porky cheese fries. Across from the WVSU campus, Ridge View BBQ is the perfect location to get lunch while on break between classes. If you’re at an event in Charleston, we’re willing to bet they’re there, too! We think what makes Ridge View BBQ so special is their commitment to provide a regional take on BBQ. Appalachia may not really have a BBQ style, but this place has done its part to create one. They’re so interactive with customers and post weekly updates online. You almost want to go eat there just to see the crew!
When it comes to variety, you can’t go wrong at Ridge View BBQ. They have five types of fries, house made pork rinds, and their glorious ramp burger (a seasonal treat we’ll surely highlight in our burger issue). All this hardly scratches the surface of their menu/catering options. If you haven’t tried Ridge View BBQ and don’t want to make the trip to Institute, Visit their food truck at Live on the Levee (we recommend the “Hillbilly Philly”)!
Surely we stepped on some toes this issue, but these are our favorites. While big box companies are shipping pounds and pounds of processed meats into our restaurants daily, it’s important we continue to get our BBQ locally from our local businesses doing it right! We’re going to doze off into our cobbler coma now! Thank you again, Charleston! Tune in to Contraband next month for more EATCWV.