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Shuler’s Barbecue in Latta, SC, is one of those places you have heard of if you know anything about SC BBQ. Shuler’s has a reputation for great BBQ, and we knew it was one of the places we would visit just as soon as life brought us close enough to stop by.
In early November, Camden’s baseball team was going to be playing in a tournament in Rocky Mount, NC, and I knew our journey would take us right by Shuler’s.
Shuler’s sits 4 easy miles off of I-95 at exit 181 and Camden and I would be passing right by around lunchtime, so it was a no-brainer that we would be stopping on our way up.
The first thing you’ll spot on your search for Shuler’s is an enormous American flag. Believe me when I tell you, you can’t miss it. But beyond this patriotic landmark, you’ll find Shuler’s in a cabin nestled alongside a large pond about 100 yards off of Hwy 38.
It has a great new deck on the back to enjoy the view. And at the time of our visit, they were just beginning work on a will be a general store on the property.
All in all, they have a great property. But what about the BBQ?
Well, Camden and I entered and paid at the cash register and stepped into the buffet line. The buffet is more than sufficient with a good number of choices to enjoy: Two different pulled pork options, fried and bbq chicken, assorted beans, collards, sweet potatoes, hash and rice, chicken bog, two slaws, pickles, Lynn Shuler’s famous biscuits, fried corn and more. There was also a dessert bar, ice cream freezer, and other hot desserts.
Unfortunately, there were no ribs on the bar when we visited. Not sure, why. Maybe because we were there for a late lunch and it was not a dinner service? I don’t know, but I was disappointed we didn’t get to try them. Camden loves ribs.
I started with the “Spicy” pork, collards, slaw, pickles, hash and rice, fried corn and a biscuit. Camden got corn, biscuits, mac and cheese, and the spicy pulled pork to start.
“And they were really good. Especially the corn. It was kind of ugly-looking at first (because it is deep-fried). The pork was the best pulled pork I have had at a buffet — ever..at a buffet,” Camden said.
That is intended as a compliment, of course. Most places that serve an all-you-can-eat buffet generally serve mediocre BBQ, at best. Much of it is poor to bad in our experience. Shuler’s is one of the few places where you can get great BBQ in an all-you-can-eat setting.
“I was thinking it was close in quality to Sweatman’s in Holly Hill. They cook over wood coals,” I said about the pork. “I couldn’t tell for sure how it was cooked here. I couldn’t tell you for sure that it was cooked over wood, but I guess it was. It didn’t taste like it was just roast pork either.”
It wasn’t quite as good as Scott’s in terms of its actual flavor, but it is a very high-quality offering.
As for the sauces, Shuler’s offers two options: a unique Mustard unlike any we’ve tried before and a light tomato-based sauce.
The tomato sauce was on the bar by the hash and rice. It is in a metal warmer like the other foods, and there are small bowls nearby to scoop some into. Not sure why it is served in that fashion. My best guess is it is meant to be served warmed. Regardless of why, it is quite tasty.
“The light tomato based sauce, that was really tasty,” I mentioned.
“That was delicious,” Camden responded.
The mustard sauce, on the other hand, sits in a plastic bottle on each table. I don’t have words to describe it. Listen to the conversation Camden and I shared about it:
“They had their own brand of BBQ sauce. That was interesting tasting,” I noted.
“That was weird. It’s hard to explain; It was good I’ll give it that,” Camden responded.
“It was flavorful; it had a vinegar base, but it had a lot more in it than that,” I pointed out.
“You can’t describe it though is the thing,” Camden interjected.
“Definitely different from anyone I’ve ever tried before; was there mustard in it? It had sort of a yellowish tint, but it didn’t taste like a mustard sauce….” I followed.
In the end, the best we can do is tell you is that it tasted good and we believe you will enjoy it as well.
As for the sides, Camden said the mac and cheese was “eh…; it is hard to do mac and cheese right. Lots of people do it well, not many people do it ‘right.'”
I thought the collards were pretty good, not great. “Definitely not as good as Ray’s in Yemassee (now closed), but very few do it as well as Ray’s. Sort of had a smokiness to it; it definitely had meat in it. It was not as good as I wanted it to be, but I enjoyed them.”
As you can see in the image of my plate below, I got the “yellow slaw.” It was the first time I remember seeing such a thing, but later that night we ate with my dad at a BBQ place in Rocky Mount and they served a similar yellow slaw, so I am guessing it is probably an Eastern NC thing.
“They had like a yellow slaw that was just delicious. It was cabbage in a vinegar sauce, so it was almost like pickled cabbage; it was crisp; it was like slaw but it was yellow like it had turmeric in it or something,” I said. I definitely recommend trying it when you go. I got seconds.
The lima beans were like the collards; they were good but not great. Fried okra was little soft, not bad, but I like mine crispy… but again we were eating in the no-man’s land between lunch and dinner when restaurants have a much slower time. In fact, many of the employees were enjoying their own lunch with us.
The hash and rice, I didn’t care for. It was a deep brown too strong on the liver smell and flavor. Now, I like liver, but it is not the dominant taste I am looking for in my hash. As of this writing, the best hash I’ve tried was served at True BBQ in West Columbia.
There also was a dessert bar with a number of options. Camden was too full to eat anything, but I “couldn’t not try” the banana pudding.
Now, you have to understand that banana pudding is close to deity status in our house. In fact, Christian, our oldest, asks for banana pudding instead of a cake for his birthday. Not many people serve a pudding that matches Heather’s, but we always give them a shot.
“The banana pudding was not as bad as it looked,” I said. ” It had a pretty decent taste. Think it was like Sweatman’s….had a lot of whipped cream in it which made it light and fluffy, not bad, actually, but eh…your mom’s is still better.” That said, most people will probably really enjoy it.
As mentioned above, there was also a chest freezer full of different ice cream and, further down, some hot desserts to choose from, but like Camden, I was too full from my meal to eat another bite.
Overall, Shuler’s is definitely a great place to stop. The BBQ is fantastic as were most of the sides. Not only do you get to enjoy great food, but the location is very convenient for those traveling nearby and the setting is about the best you will find of any BBQ spot in SC.
What’s not to love?
Thurs – Sat: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
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