Savoring the Blend: Discover City Limits Barbeque’s Unique Fusion of Texas and Carolina Flavors
“Robbie Robinson melds South Carolina–style and Texas-style barbecue into the menu at City Limits Barbeque, which started as a pop-up in 2016.” – Texas Monthly
In the heart of West Columbia, South Carolina, smoke is rising. City Limits Barbeque, a brainchild of Robbie Robinson, has been redefining the local barbecue scene since its inception as a pop-up in 2016.
Today, it stands as a testament to the harmonious blend of South Carolina and Texas barbecue traditions.
The Story of City Limits Barbeque
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Robinson’s journey is as flavorful as his barbecue.
“When I was about 5 (late 70s), my family moved to Lexington, and I can remember being in the line at Shealy’s in Leesville on hot Saturday afternoons,” Robinson told us in a 2016 interview. “I don’t recall any other memories of my parents and all my brothers and sisters together like that so those are special ones.”
You could say his first steps on that journey were fostered by those early memories, but PBS also played a role.
“Growing up in the country we didn’t have cable, so I only had 4 channel choices. Anytime Justin Wilson’s show, Louisiana Cooking, came on PBS, I watched it because he told the best stories and cooked really good-looking food. I ‘gar-on-tee’ he would keep me entertained with stories and great Cajun food for hours.”
Living in Texas in the early 2000s and later attending Texas A&M’s Camp Brisket laid the foundation for what would become a barbecue haven.
City Limits started humbly as a food truck, quickly capturing the hearts of Midlands’ barbecue connoisseurs. Its transition to a brick-and-mortar location marks a significant milestone in its savory saga.
Authenticity and Craftsmanship
Robinson is committed to authenticity and traditional cooking methods.
The all-wood burning pits, catering to both Texas and Carolina styles, are a nod to traditional barbecue methods. The scratch-made ethos extends to everything on the menu from the handcrafted sausages and pickles, to the pimento cheese, Lexington Hash, Brisket Chili and Brunswick Stew, emphasizing fresh ingredients.
“Our dedication to maintaining authenticity in our barbeque is evident in the all-wood burning pits we use for our Texas BBQ (offset style) and our Carolina BBQ (directly over coals),” proudly notes City Limits Barbeque’s official website.
All Wood, All the Time
The menu at City Limits is a journey through the barbecue landscapes of Carolina and Texas.
The Carolina barbecue, cooked directly over coals, includes pulled pork, chopped pork, and pork ribs seasoned simply. The Texas barbecue, prepared in an indirect pit, features brisket, beef ribs, sweet ribs, and half chickens.
This diversity in offerings showcases Robinson’s mastery over different barbecue styles.
The commitment to authenticity at City Limits is evident in their choice of heat source. “Carolina bbq – direct over coals. Texas bbq – indirect, hardwood. All wood all the time,” Robinson explains.
Exploring the Menu at City Limits Barbeque
At City Limits, the smoked meats are the stars of the show.
The menu always features a robust selection, including pork BBQ (both pulled and chopped), pork ribs, beef ribs, brisket, burnt ends, and house-made sausages. Each item is smoked to perfection, embodying the essence of true barbecue.
“We have worked really hard developing our techniques and flavor profiles for each of our meats so that we can deliver a handcrafted, artisan quality meal to each customer,” Robinson noted.
Barbecue and Ribs: Carolina Classics
Robinson’s approach to SC pork barbecue is built on tradition.
The pork BBQ is cooked directly over coals pulled from a burn barrel. Robinson cooks skin-on long-cut shoulders alongside skin-on pork bellies over coals which are pulled and mixed together Saturday mornings before being served.
City Limits offers their smoked pork BBQ in 3 sub-regional styles, simply “pulled” pork with no sauce, chopped, which is chopped to order and dressed with a splash of a Pee Dee style spicy vinegar light-tomato sauce (nod to Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway, SC), and chopped and dressed with crispy (belly) skins mixed in (nod to Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC).
The salty and smoky shoulder skins are crisped, and sold at the counter as chicharrónes. The use of shoulders and bellies in the pork barbecue ensures a rich, flavorful experience that is both traditional and innovative.
While the chopped pork and pulled pork each stands on their own, the coal-fired pork ribs served by City Limits Barbeque are not to be outdone.
“Our pork spare ribs are served tender and pretty close to fall-off-the-bone, seasoned simply with just salt cooked directly over the coals. Just like the hand-pulled pork, we do not add any sauce to the pork ribs.”
In addition, City Limits Barbeque offers their Texas-style sweet ribs, which are cooked on indirect heat.
Brisket and Beef Ribs
Robinson’s approach to brisket and beef ribs at City Limits Barbeque in West Columbia, SC, is a testament to his deep understanding and respect for traditional Lone Star barbecue techniques.
His brisket, a staple of Texas barbecue, is prepared in an indirect pit using hardwood, a method that ensures a slow and even cooking process. This technique imparts a rich, smoky flavor to the brisket, making it a standout item on the menu.
The beef ribs, another Texas barbecue classic, are also cooked in the indirect pit. This method allows the ribs to absorb the smoky essence of the hardwood, resulting in tender, flavorful meat that effortlessly falls off the bone. “Meat butter,” as they say.
“The beef brisket and (dinosaur bone) beef ribs will be unlike anything most of the locals around here have ever seen or tasted, Robinson shared. “They are both prepared in a traditional central Texas style, which simply means they are rubbed in salt and pepper, and slow-smoked. We’ve added some of our own little twists to give our own flavor profile.
“The high-quality beef we use results in flavorful and tender meat. Both the brisket and the beef ribs have a great savory and peppery bark that complements the meat itself.
“The beef ribs are nicknamed ‘dinosaur bone’ beef ribs because they are huge. On average, each dinosaur bone beef rib is about 1.5 pounds.”
Sauces: The Perfect Complement
The sauces at City Limits are more than just condiments; they are carefully curated to complement the smoked meats.
Patrons can choose from a light tomato sauce, a nod to the vinegar-pepper base with a hint of tomato, a classic mustard sauce, and a heavy tomato sauce. Each sauce is a testament to Robinson’s commitment to offering a complete and authentic barbecue experience.
“We make a traditional ‘Yellow Sauce’ that has a little bit of sweet and a little bit of bite,” Robinson told us. “Our light tomato and slightly spicy vinegar ‘Chop Sauce’ is a nod to Scott’s in Hemmingway, SC. We use that to compliment and ‘dress’ our chopped pork.”
“Our ‘TX’ Texas-style red (heavy tomato) is great with the beef and has a touch of sweet with some different peppers. Of course, they are all made from scratch.”
City Limits Barbeque also serves a popular Alabama white sauce.
Lexington County Style Hash
A special mention must be made of the Lexington County style (yellow) hash, a unique and beloved item on the menu. This hash is a nod to local traditions and is a must-try.
“City Limits Barbeque in West Columbia, South Carolina, offers a distinctive hash made from ground smoked pork shoulder, house-cured bacon, and brisket, mixed with South Carolina–style mustard-based barbecue sauce,” notes Daniel Vaughn in Texas Monthly.
“He grinds pork shoulder (smoked in a Texas-built Klose smoker), pork belly, and brisket together, and mixes the meats with his own South Carolina–style, mustard-based barbecue sauce. It’s likely the only hash in South Carolina with brisket in it.
City Limits was the first Texas-style barbecue joint in central South Carolina, and Robinson is doing his best to honor the tradition he grew up with and the one he fell in love with.
Hours of Operation: A Weekend Affair
City Limits Barbeque welcomes patrons on Saturdays from 11 AM until the mid/late afternoon and on “free-style” Sundays from 12 PM to 3 PM, featuring a hot dog menu with their poplar sweet jalapeno slaw and Brisket Chili in addition to a very limited assortment of smoked meats and sides.
The Saturday and Sunday menus change weekly and are usually only posted at the restaurant an hour or so before they open.
However, Robinson sends the subscribers — subscribe here or follow on social media (links below) — to their email list an update email Friday afternoons with the tentative weekend menus and any other items of interest. These limited hours add to the exclusivity of the dining experience, making each visit to City Limits a special occasion.
Community and Family
More than just a restaurant, City Limits is a family affair and a community cornerstone.
“My wife, my mother-in-law, and my daughter have all been very encouraging since day one,” shared Robinson.
The Robinson family is integral to its operations, creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The State captures this essence perfectly:
“They line up early on Methodist Park Road in West Columbia, out there under the state flags of South Carolina and Texas.” This image of eager patrons under the fluttering flags is a testament to the restaurant’s growing legend.
The Dining Experience
A visit to City Limits is not just a meal; it’s an event.
With limited operating hours, dining here feels exclusive, almost like being part of a secret club. The anticipation is palpable as customers line up, ready to indulge in the smoky, savory delights that await.
Much like the Lewis Barbecue experience, and that of most BBQ joints in central Texas, you’ll order at the counter where the meat slicer will portion out your meats. Next, you’ll move down to order your sides and pay.
Sauces are provided from the self-serve station. If the line is long, beverages are available while you wait or you can skip the line and “Grab ‘n Go” if you just want a beverage or other chilled/frozen items.
There are a couple of tables in the serving room in addition to outside seating on the covered patio and some picnic tables out in the yard. The dining room is currently being renovated.
Passion, Tradition, Community
City Limits Barbeque is more than a spot on the map in West Columbia; it’s a special place that melds two distinct barbecue traditions into a symphony of flavors.
For those seeking an authentic, flavorful barbecue experience, City Limits is a must-visit destination. As Robinson’s journey from a pop-up to a beloved local institution shows, great barbecue is not just about the food; it’s about passion, tradition, and community.
What Folks Are Saying
Among the many Google Reviews, Local Guide Patrick Langston knows City Limits Barbeque is the place to go:
Texas style, SC style, whatever style you like BBQ this is THE PLACE to get it when in/near the capital city!
Pro tip, always check the socials for the most up to date menu and stock levels, but no matter what is on the menu, it’s worth the trip. Don’t sleep on the sides and desserts either, trust me.
Robbie and his crew take such care with the food, prep, and service I guarantee you won’t regret checking this place out! Coal smoked ribs, sausages, pork belly burnt ends, wings, collards, pimento cheese, and so much more oh my!
Over on Yelp, Columbia-area local Jonathan C. simply raves about City Limits Barbeque:
i am an ABSOLUTE raving fan!!!
let’s start with dundee , the owners son, who greats you as soon as your park and walks you to the door. dundee is AWESOME and is a gift of joy and enthusiasm. the entire family is involved whether it’s greeting you or serving you in some capacity and i absolutely love it!
there’s some outdoor seating both upstairs and just outside the entrance.
now, the entire reason for the five star rating, the food!
everything is a la cart , so don’t expect a “platter” option , just build your own
this brisket is the absolute BEST i’ve ever had. it’s sliced thick , seasoned well and has the absolute BEST smoke ring.
their pork belly burnt ends (not in the video) are like having meat candy lol. the perfect balance of salty and sweet and they’re absolutely tender with just the right amount of smoke flavor.
their sides are amazing as well. whether it’s the frito pie or the shells and cheese or their collards they absolutely don’t miss.
as if that’s not enough, they make their own sauces and i am absolutely hooked. whether it’s their take on a carolina gold or the alabama white or a vinegar mop sauce, they’re ALL great! you can also get one ounce of each with your order and if you get hooked like i did, you can buy a bottle to go!
chances are that you’ll find me here on saturday mornings taking some time to myself or getting the meat sweats as i share this amazing experience with close friends / family.
Note: Menu prices and options change weekly. Contact the restaurant or subscribe to their email list for the most up-to-date information.
The entire menu is a la carte, and meats are sold market style by the pound (exact weights). “There are no ‘plates’ or ‘baskets,’ but customers are welcome to order however they want and we will put it together for them,” Robinson said.
Location, Hours, Contact Info, and More
Contact City Limits Barbeque
West Columbia, SC 29170
Hours of Operation
Cards and Cash, Hash, Heavy Tomato Sauce, Light Tomato Sauce, Mustard Sauce, White Sauce