A pitmaster shares 4 tips for ordering at a barbecue restaurant if you want the best meal

Rodney Scott
Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ  
  • Pitmaster Rodney Scott shared his tips for how to order at any barbecue joint.

  • He says asking for sauce separately instead of on your protein or sides is key.

  • Scott always orders a restaurant's signature dish and suggests you do too.

Rodney Scott is a James Beard Award-winning pitmaster, cookbook author, and the founder of Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ.

After growing up around barbecue at his parents' restaurant in Hemingway, South Carolina, Scott moved to Charleston where he started his own expanding empire.

In an interview with Insider, Scott shared his tips to help any diner have the best experience at any barbecue joint by knowing how to order properly.

Try the sauce before you put it on anything

"Beware of the sauces," Scott told Insider. Even if you're a general sauce-lover, you should always proceed with caution.

Once you add a sauce to your protein or sides, it's hard to get it off. And some sauces may not be what you're used to or what you like.

"It may be a super-sweet sauce that you don't like, or it may be a sauce that you love," he said.

One time while at an event, Scott said he had an experience that proved even if you like both components separately, you may not like them together. "I tasted the sauce and it was good, and then I tasted the meat and it was OK," he explained. "And when I put the two together it was not a great combination."

It's always best to taste before saucing and to sauce just a bit at first so that you can taste it again without possibly ruining your entire food portion.

Rodney Scott
Rodney Scott's BBQ  

Pay attention to details in your side dishes

Scott says there are two sides that, at a good barbecue joint, will probably have meat in them: baked beans and collard greens.

So if you're ordering beans and collards hoping to have something for a vegetarian diner at the table, you'll want to ask what's in them first.

Though, according to this pitmaster, protein in these sides is a good sign that you're in a quality eatery.

Beware of hash

Hash, according to Southern Living, is a barbecue stew that dates back to the 19th century. KJ Kearney, a food historian and the person behind Black Food Fridays' social-media accounts, told Insider that while it's basically just chopped pork typically served over rice, it is "a big deal in the South."

Although it's a signature state dish in South Carolina, Scott says that unless somewhere is known for its hash, you should stay away.

"A lot of people don't understand it and don't appreciate it," he said. So you might end up with a subpar dish that doesn't do it justice.

Do some homework and find out what it's known for

Scott says that when it comes to knowing what to order, he usually makes the decision based on the specific eatery he's at.

"Usually when I go to a restaurant, I go after their main protein or what they're known for," he told Insider.

So before you get your food, do a little online sleuthing - or ask someone who works there what's popular. Try to find out what style of barbecue the place specializes in (Is it featuring foods and recipes from a certain region? Do they have a signature iconic dish?) and try some of that.


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