Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back

Double Cheeseburger
2011/02/06 03:11:03
I'm not going to go into too much detail here, as I'm saving that for our food blog (Marie, Let's Eat!) and the entries we'll write over the next two weeks, but I thought some people might enjoy this eight-restaurant day trip that my wife and I enjoyed yesterday.  She's about to enter her third trimester, so our ability to get out in the car for fourteen hours and her still be comfortable is about to be curtailed, so we decided to go out with a bang and have a massive day trip, taking in four restaurants reviewed here on this site and some other well-known places.

We dropped the kids off at my mother's house in Smyrna around 7 am, went down to I-20 heading east and our first stop was Mamie's Kitchen (reviewed on this as Mamie's "Biscuits" for some reason), where we each had a biscuit.  My wife had chicken and I had country ham, and we enjoyed eavesdropping and listening in to the four good ole boys at the table next to us be playfully sassy with the waitress and her give back better than she got.  I took the wheel and continued out I-20, stopping in Taliaferro County to spend some Where's George? money in the gas tank - Taliaferro is the most difficult county in Georgia to get a hit, so I couldn't resist the chance to spend some here.  In Augusta, we got to Sconyers BBQ, one of Jimmy Carter's favorites, and split a plate of chopped pork, hash-n-rice and potato salad, along with a side of cole slaw.  At most places, we only ordered one thing to share, and for the most part didn't finish anything, our intention being just to sample.  I didn't care for the pork, but that hash and cole slaw were downright excellent.

Marie then drove to Columbia SC for lunch at Pawley's Front Porch, as seen on Triple-D.  We have a goal for our blog of visiting all twelve SEC cities and having a meal in each.  Columbia makes our fifth in this series.  We had a chicken sandwich with grilled pineapple and guacamole, sweet potato fries and a slice of apple pie.  Both were completely wonderful. I then took the wheel and drove north on I-77 to Rock Hill SC for a snack at Lee's Famous Recipe.  I don't wish to repeat the argument I unwittingly started about Skippers Fish Camp and its presence on this site, because I happen to be interested in regional fast food that we can't get in Atlanta, but I've since learned there are something like 200 stores in this chain, which the RTM franchise company used to open in cities where they didn't have the rights to the Mrs. Winners name, and its presence on this site is something of a surprise.  Anyway, we ordered a two-piece snack and while RTM no longer owns this business, it was about as mediocre as a Mrs. Winners or any of its ilk.

Continuing up I-77, we stopped in Charlotte NC for Bar-B-Q King, a drive-in that was also a little disappointing.  It was pretty good but didn't have much of a wow factor.  I liked the pork much better than I did the stuff at Sconyers, and the vinegar slaw was tasty, but this isn't going to change the Charlotte Observer's recent, controversial, claim that their city has no great barbecue.  Bill Spoon's in town is amazing, but this is just okay.  Then we cut over to I-85 and went south to Spartanburg SC.  Here, I indulged in more fast food we can't get in Atlanta.  Del Taco left the Atlanta market in 2003 and I haven't seen one since, but they opened up here a couple of years ago.  To be honest, say what you will about fast food, but I preferred the taco that I had here to four of the other meals that I had on this trip!  I cut out all locally-available fast food from my diet one year ago, except for Krystal, but I do like this stuff a lot.  Good to see this place again.

Of course, we couldn't leave Spartanburg without finally visiting The Beacon Drive-In, and frankly, the negative reviews on this site are most unfortunate because we loved the place.  This was a completely terrific experience.  We had a blast watching the line assemble food and yell at each other, moving at clockwork precision and incredibly fast, and I say that as a guy raised from birth on The Varsity.  Honestly, Marie's burger wasn't going to win any awards, but I had a hash burger which was unreal - hash, cole slaw and a sweet tomato sauce - and knock me down but this place serves chicken mull!  At least that's what we call it in northeast Georgia but it's "chicken stew" here and it is completely wonderful.  I might like the mull at Athens' Butt Hutt better but this has a very interesting recipe and I look forward to having it again one day.  Finally, we got back on the road, continuing south, and just after the sun set, we pulled into Braselton GA for Stonewall's BBQ.  This is a very small chain - seven stores, five of which are in MS - and the pulled pork was unnaturally heavy with so much smoke flavor.  Again, not bad, but not spectacular, but the bread pudding really is something else here.  I wouldn't mind another bowl of that next time I'm passing by.

We picked up the kids and got back home at 9 pm, 613 miles later, and I slept for all of four hours and for some reason woke up and wrote this until I got too tired to continue.  Now I'll post and go back to bed.  I wish we could afford trips like this every weekend, maternity comfort be darned!

Reviews here on this site:

Triple-D links on YouTube:
Bar-B-Q King:
The Beacon:
post edited by Heartbreaksoup - 2011/02/06 03:12:33
ann peeples
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/02/06 08:26:27
Nice write-up! Sorry about the disappointments, but you found( or revisited) some roadfood treasures!
Filet Mignon
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/02/06 10:03:47
There is nothing like doing something out of your routine on a Saturday, and it looks like you went a little farther even than that.  Marie is a terribly good sport!  I'm glad you enjoyed your meal at Pawley's Front Porch; I haven't been back there since it was the Palmetto Grill (I think) and I know the menu is similar but has been casualed-up.  And I'm glad you had a good meal at the Beacon too--there is really nothing like watching their staff in action.
I thought it was really brave of the Charlotte Observer to go there about the barbecue, but I don't see how you maintain your credibility in a state that does include Lexington #1, etc. (full disclosure: I've only been to one bbq joint in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area, don't remember which one, and was sort of nonplussed) and not take that position.
Discuss amongst yourselves: I think the larger cities of the South don't usually have good barbecue places because the best barbecue places that stay open for a long time thrive on consistency and you are more likely to have longtime consistency in places that, shall we say, don't welcome outsiders as easily.
Thanks for taking us along on your day, soup!
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/02/07 11:51:51
Mamie's has 2 locations in the Covington area in addition to the one in Conyers. They all have good hearty biscuits. Two will last you all day. The one in Covington has the best chicken biscuit I have had and yes that does include Chick-Fil-A. They also have good plate lunches until 2 p.m.
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/02/07 21:30:24
Thanks for the report, I need some places to visit in that direction.
Filet Mignon
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/02/10 12:44:51
Sounds like my favorite kind of trip! Nice report.
Junior Burger
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/03/07 17:50:50
Neal's BBQ - Thomson GA. About 10 minutes off I-20. Worth the stop, hash is awesome. 
Filet Mignon
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/03/07 18:02:55
Heartbreaksoup, awesome report, just awesome!!  I really like that you said when you didn't like something and why it didn't work for you.  Very fair and balanced and the descriptions are making me hungry right now!  Thanks!
Junior Burger
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/04/23 16:14:55
I disagree on the Bar-B-Q-King. That's like the best BBQ I've ever eaten,and I've had some good BBQ. I liked it even better than the awesome Q I've had at several places in Lexington,NC. To each his own though. I enjoyed this post!
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Day trip from Atlanta through SC and back 2011/04/24 14:05:26
Next time at Sconyers try the T-loin instead of the chopped pork. It is pulled pork ham and is a great vehicle for the sauces.