Big T’s Bar-B-Q
7535 Garners Ferry Rd # C
Columbia, SC 29209
Phone: (803) 776-7132
2520 Congaree Rd
Gadsden, SC 29052
1061 Sparkleberry Extension, Unit G&H
Columbia, SC 29223
Cards: yes, no checks
Hours of operation: Wednesday 11-9, Thursday - Saturday 11am – 10:00pm
|7535 Garners Ferry Rd # C Columbia, SC 29209|
|2520 Congaree Rd Gadsden, SC 29052|
|1061 Sparkleberry Extension, Unit G&H Columbia, SC 29223|
Big T’s started off in Gadsden, SC which is a little town in south Richland County but with sales going through the roof and the take-out business always booming, a second restaurant was opened in a strip mall on Garners Ferry Road in southeast Columbia. After a decade there a third unit was opened in the northeast Columbia area. Big T’s is obviously doing something right.
What he is doing right is barbeque and ribs. He cooks them slow over coals and wood at his Gadsden operation and then delivers the meat to his other two restaurants. And fine, tender barbeque it is with the ribs being especially tender and juicy.
And there is something strangely compelling about Big T’s barbeque. Each fork full makes you want to taste another. You won’t be leaving any on your plate.
Big T mixes his sauce into his barbeque and I generally prefer mine sauceless but this mustard-based sauce is superb. Indeed, he now markets it in Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly so there is a growing base of fans for Big T’s sauce.
This could be 100 mile barbeque if they would just make a little more effort at the restaurants. The place in Gadsden is a bit dingy and it operates now as take-out only. The place on Garners Ferry Road is clean enough but still it lacks a few things that make it a good dining experience.
For instance, the music that was playing when I was there was Black Gospel. And while I’m no music snob and even like a little gospel every now and then (especially the Statler Brothers), the type gospel where some falsetto soprano repeats the same phrase over and over and over while the chorus sing nothing but “Sweet Jesus” or “Lift me Up” hundreds of times in the background is enough to make an atheist out of you. Usually there is no music playing at barbeque restaurants and this is the only barbeque house where I’ve ever listened to that sort of music. In 35 minutes I heard only three songs, each about 10 minutes long with nothing but rhythmatic repeats of the same words over and over. Even having to listen to the progressive jazz one sometimes has to endure in “fine dining” restaurants is more preferable than that.
Another problem is the dining experience I had at their third place on the Sparkelberry Extension in the northwestern part of Columbia. When I went in the woman behind the counter deliberately scowled at me making sure that I saw her displeasure and then so did the woman taking up the money. And, I might add, so did a couple of the patrons who looked up to eye me. This is the only barbeque restaurant I’ve ever been in where I didn’t feel welcome. Heaven knows what that was all about but it certainly did make for a poor experience. Hopefully a personnel change has remedied that but I haven’t been back to find out.
Then there are the side dishes. The creamy coleslaw is wonderful, almost as good as it gets anywhere in the state. And the size of the portions which they dish up for you as you move down the serving line is more than ample. The problem is typified by their cornbread. It is a big hunk, more than ample, but it is just a little too sweet for my taste, (Georgia pound cake it’s called) although as the Yankee sweet-tooth is becoming more catered to all across the state, most people will probably love it. But the greens are too sweet also and there is little else to choose from on the line other than macaroni and cheese. So, when rounding out a plate of barbeque and hash and rice it’s best to just stick to the slaw (you have to request it and they give you a container of it). Also, the hash is just a little too mild for me. It reminds me of the sort of hash one used to get at church socials in the 1940s and 50s. Which isn’t all that bad, of course, but I had to add some hot sauce to make it truly enjoyable.
They offer flounder and flounder dinners as well as fried chicken. But the barbeque is the thing. Why go there if not for that almost 100 mile barbeque?