The Grand Strand holds a unique place in Barbecue Belt.
The north end stretches into North Carolina, where vinegar-based sauce is the law. The south end dips into the South Carolina Lowcountry, where mustard-based sauce is king. And in between resides a mix of transplants and visitors who bring their own BBQ taste buds to the party.
The good news is you can get your fix no matter which BBQ church you happen to worship. The one common theme is slow-cooked pork over hickory coals, pulled and sometimes chopped, and served with all the fixins'. Here are the top five spots to cure your BBQ jones:
* Little Pigs: This Myrtle Beach institution is hidden in a strip mall just off Higheay 17 Bypass, but lovers of authentic North Carolina BBQ can find it by following their noses. The Huggins family uses only whole pork shoulders that are smoked on-site and served with a wide variety of side items. The hushpuppies are worth the trip.
* Prosser's Bar-B-Q: This family-owned and operated eatery has been serving South Carolina-style barbecue and country cooking since 1953. Originally opened in nearby Hemingway, which is considered a BBQ capital of S.C., Prosser's brought their own version of pulled pork to the coast, along with some great rib-sticking comfort food.
* Hog Heaven BBQ: Serving South Carolina barbecue at a tucked-away shack just north of Georgetown, folks don't mind the extra drive to find a place in Hog Heaven. True to its Lowcountry roots, Hog Heaven also offers smoked seafood, including an oyster roast, and home-style vegetables. Just get the buffet and try it all.
* Sticky Fingers: This Charleston-based regional chain offers the widest variety of sauces for any and all tastes. Offering smoked baby-back ribs, pulled pork and BBQ chicken, Sticky Fingers allows the customer to choose from its five different sauces, including Memphis Sweet, Tennessee Whiskey and Carolina Mustard.
* Big KT's BBQ: Either a great little BBQ joint with cold beer or a great little beer joint with excellent BBQ, Big KT's successfully pulls off both. Serving North Carolina, vinegar-based BBQ and ribs, this North Myrtle Beach hangout also scores points for its sides, such as Brunswick stew and Tomato Pie.