JBs Smokeshack is a local institution among barbecue lovers in the Charleston area.
There was something disarming about our epic road trip down South that made us throw caution out the car window. Healthy or not, calorific or not, we always seemed to have our eyes out for the next barbecue joint down the road.
We were staying at a rental house on Johns Island, an island outside of Charleston that is the fourth largest island on the east coast and home to the Angel Oak tree. After settling in for a few weeks and starting to tour the area, we had passed a red shack on Maybank Highway several times (with incredible self-restraint.) But we ultimately succumbed on a rainy day that offered a perfect excuse for taking another shot at down-home cooking.
All the pickup trucks in the parking lot attest to the popularity of JB’s Smokeshack. At lunch, a steady stream of locals pile in for the all-you-can eat buffet, loading their plates mile-high with what looked to us like enough food to last a week. After they finally get to the bottom, they return for refills. The patrons dressed in denim looked like laborers; others in camouflage may have been hunters.
The rules at JB’s Smokeshack are simple:
- Cash only
- Serve yourself
- No alcohol
JB’s also has a story. After taking a stab at backyard barbecues for friends and family, Billy Quinn has been cooking in this little red house off the side of the road for the past 13 years. The place is only open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Billy explained that he shops on Mondays, cooks on Tuesdays and sets aside Sundays for his family.
Displayed on the counters are the numerous trophies he’s won in barbecue competitions across the country. The décor is pig-heavy, something we also noticed at other roadside barbecue establishments.
The tables have red-and-white gingham tablecloths, and the walls are painted yellow on top and red on the bottom framing the green curtains. There are five different types of sauces, ketchup and a roll of paper towels on top of each table.
As you enter, Billy waits at the counter opposite the door and takes your order. Every other patron we saw that day came for the buffet. When we ordered hickory-smoked ribs and a pulled pork sandwich with onion rings, Billy looked at us as if we should have known better.
But those ribs didn’t disappoint. They had been smoked for 14 hours and were the meatiest, juiciest, most tender, lip-smacking good ribs we had ever tasted.
The pulled pork was cooked eastern North Carolina-style, prepared with vinegar and pepper without any tomatoes. To our palate, it needed some fixins’. Looking for more rules or instructions, we asked Billy which sauce to use for what.
“Who am I to tell you how to eat it?” Billy replied.
I guess JB’s slogan on the wall covers that base: The flavors in the meat. The sauce is on the side.
Bottom Line: We’ll be back next time we’re in the area!
IF YOU GO
- JB’s Smokeshack is located at 3406 Maybank Highway on Johns Island. It’s a perfect place to stop for lunch before or after a visit to the Angel Oak Tree.
- Lunch is served between 11AM and 4PM and dinner from 5PM to 8:30PM.
- The cost of the buffet is $9.75 per person, including tax and all-you-can-drink sweet tea—unless you dare to order from the menu. The 1/4 rack of ribs was $5.99.