Maurice’s South Carolina Mustard BBQ

MrB.jpgOn the way to Florida we stopped in Columbia, South Carolina for lunch at Maurice’s. Jim Thames had brought back some Maurice’s sauce and fixed a pulled pork roast at work, and I wanted to try more.

When most people think of BBQ, they think of Memphis-style BBQ, with its sweet-to-tangy, tomato-based sauce. The Carolinas have other varieties.

There’s vinegar-based BBQ, with just a hint of tomato. You’ll also find mustard-based BBQ, which is what Maurice’s serves. I ordered the Big Pig so I could get the complete experience to report to you, my reader. Taking one for the team, I had ribs, pulled pork, cole slaw, cornbread, fries, and a fresh pork rind with lean meat.

Verdict: it may not displace Memphis BBQ, but it’s great stuff, and you should try it if you get the chance. If you’re not planning a trip to South Carolina, you can try one of the online recipes, or get Maurice’s to ship you some. He has an online store, and the shipping’s free.

You won’t find Maurice’s BBQ sauce at your local grocer because, well, here’s the thing. Big stores like Wal-Mart and Bi-Lo used to sell it, but they stopped because people complained about Maurice’s politics. Maurice Bessinger is – how to put this? – a political nutcase and unreconstructed Confederate cracker. That’s him in the picture standing in front of one his stores, which display the South Carolina flag flying over the Confederate battle flag. One of his pet peeves is that state flags should fly above the national flag.

You can get a better idea of his beliefs by visiting his (ahem) Truth Store. Or just visit his restaurants, which sell Confederate flag t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “May We Never Forget Their Sacrifice” and books like “Myths &Realities of American Slavery.” Or you can judge him by the company he keeps. At the store we visited, there was a signed thank-you note saying how good the barbeque was. The author? Pat Buchanan.

15 Responses to Maurice’s South Carolina Mustard BBQ

  1. Barry says:

    Les, I blogged about my visit to sad, sorry, Maurice’s last year if you’re interested:

    It’s almost too bad his bbq and sauce is so good….

  2. Publicola says:

    Actually the sad part is that the ideas of federalism are so easily dismissed.

    I glanced at Maurice’s site & I see nothing too off about what he was saying. The Feds should be second place to the states. Fly a state flag over old glory? damn right. Lincoln screwed ua all? damn bectha.

    About the only thing the Confederacy had wrong was slavery. I don’t know (remember, I just glanced) if Maurice is proposing a return to slavery or discriminatory racism. If he is (& from the reaction he seems to get that’d be the only thing to justify it) then that’s where we part ways.

    But a lot of the country’s problems are attributable to the loss of emphasis on the states in place of the focus on the Feds.

    But then again I make no claims that I’m reconstructed. Perhaps the federal revision of history has been so effective that I’ll be lumped in with Maurice if I say that states have a Right to secede if they so desire & that it’s wrong for the feds to intervene by force. Then again I’m usually called an extremist because I state (rattyher loudly at times) that all federal gun control laws are constitutionally prohibted.

    BTW, if you want to experience more of Carolina barbeque, I’d suggest going about 20 miles north of Charlotte to a little town called Concord. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a barbeque joint that will make you consider relocating.

  3. Les Jones says:

    I’m all for state’s rights, and it’s clear that the founders believed in Federalism and would be shocked by the power of today’s Federal government.

    However, when Federalism is dressed up with a Confederate flag and books defending slavery, I tend to think that state’s rights aren’t the real agenda.

    I’ll give Concord a try. Thanks!

  4. Steve K. says:

    About the only thing the Confederacy had wrong was slavery.

    Uh, yeah. Nothing else wrong at all. Shining example of how to structure a society.

    Anyway, mustard barbeque is an abomination. Not quite on the level of mutton barbeque, but close.

    And do you know why the South lost the war? Because they moved the capitol to Richmond, the town with absolutely the worst barbeque in the entire South. Really, outside of Southside Virginia and Tidewater (which really are just north North Carolina), there’s hardly a decent barbeque restaurant in the entire state of Virginia.

  5. Chris Range says:

    My wife Melissa is Puerto Rican by ethnicity. Her mother and many uncles came to the states in the 1950s; most of them live in Tennessee or Florida. I’ve learned from them about barbecue’s Puerto Rican roots. Barbecue is a Tano indian word meaning, uhm, barbecue. The Tano are the native people of Puerto Rico. The methods used by Carribean people to prepare meats by slow smoking was perfect for a climate unfriendly to fresh meat. Melissa’s uncle Milo lives in Concord North Carolina and nobody in that state can do a better job with a pig in the ground. (Ok well I haven’t tried Every barbecue in North Carolina, but you can’t prove a negative =)

    I’m sympathetic to certain legal aspects of the Confederate form of government. But one thing I’ve noticed in reading about its history is that as the war drew out it increasingly became a doppleganger of its northern cousin. Time brings change to every society and it is unlikely that Dixie’s decentralized government would have survived the changes of the 20th century.

    I think a studied and moral man like Robert E. Lee would be put off by a squeeky wagon wheel like Maurice. Still, Maurice does make good barbecue.

    Anyway Southern culture is now American culture. Rock, Country, Jazz and the Blues have deep southern roots. Barbecue is popular coast to caost. There are people in New Jersey who follow NASCAR, and it has never been easy to get elected president without a Southern accent on the ticket. We’ve kept most of the good and gotten rid of most of the bad. (Most but not all – Buchanan take note)

    On hot Saturdays in August I’m fond of an old Southern pasttime. It involves swinging to and fro in a big net suspended between two trees. You’ve probably seen one before. The name comes from an old Tano indian word — hammock.

  6. David says:


    I surfed to your site somehow, looking for ‘mustard barbecue sauce’ on Google. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your comments. If you get a chance, check out my Barbecue Sauce Recipe site. I would appreciate your comments.


  7. nick says:

    just came across this forum and had to say, i drove down to hilton head a couple of weeks ago, craving ribs, never heard of maurice’s but we stopped and good god were those the worst ribs i’ve ever had…the mustart sauce was okay…the ribs themselves were falling off the bone (good) but bone dry and fatty…i’ve had better ribs at our neighborhood rib-off lol. by the way…what IS in hash?????

  8. Rodney says:

    I don’t care about Maurice’s politics, but I don’t see how anyone that loves barbecue (even mustard based, which I do like) can say his barbecue is good. There are literally hundreds of barbecue restaurants within a 100 mile radius of Columbia which put Maurice’s to shame.

  9. Joanne says:

    If you want to try the greatest barbecue on earth, try the Smokey Pig in Ashland Virginia. Maurice’s is okay, the food is edible, the mustard barbecue sauce is top of the line…Isn’t it the ambience though that keeps us going back to Maurice’s? The man’s got guts, that’s for sure!

  10. Earl says:

    I’ve only read a little of the above comments, and generally agree with folks about Maurice being somewhat of a nutcase. However, that’s not why I am writing. About a year ago I had a business trip to the Westinghouse site in Columbia (first time to the area). I was starving for BBQ and thought I stop in at a “local” place while down there. I just so happened to choose Maurices, and was thereafter a born again Barbequer. Nothing beats Maurices’s mustard based sauce, period. Being from Pennsylvania, I had never even heard of mustard based sauce, but am glad I made that turn off the interstate. Without rambling on, I will comment on one other anecdote. While I was sitting in the restaurant ooing an awwing over the food, one employee said, “Shoot, you think this is good? You should try this little place down the road. It makes this food taste like dirt.” I will forever be left wondering if somewhere, along some dusty roadside in South Carolina, if the holy grail of barbeque remains lost to those of us who are believers.

    God bless the barbeque faithful.

  11. Cassi R. says:

    So I was just lookin for a S. Carolina Mustard barbeque sauce recipe and I’m wondering why all your ramblings came up. Don’t get me wrong, they were nice to read, but where’s the Damn recipe? Thanks for letting us know we’re really missing out by not being able to try the sauce at Maurices but….I’ll keep lookin.
    Cassi R. from Wash. State

  12. George says:

    I am a native of Columbia. I appreciate your article about BARBEQUE. Unfortunately it looks like you have re-ignighted the war between the states.

  13. Billy says:

    I was driving my kids from New York to Florida in July to spend a few weeks with my folks. My brother in law came for the ride. We were getting hungry and I told him to wait it out because there has to be some great BBQ places along the way. Lo and behold, we see signs along the highway; “Maurice’s BBQ” 50 miles, 40 miles, 25 miles. Now, I got my kids going crazy, my brother in law is rabid; we can’t wait to get to Maurices! We pull in and I order the full plate special for myself, almost 18 bucks! My kids order chicken and my brother in law ordered a pulled pork plate. When the food come out we were all like “What the heck is this? “Why its BBQ from South Carolina!” Well, give us our money back because the food is horrible. The kitchen folks were raising a fuss and they decided to make the kids plain wings with no yellow sauce.

    While we’re eating, we looked at the place settings and the various snippets of how “not to forget our heritage.”

    Here we are, 4 “New Yaukers” eating in a place that has the Confederate flag on the free mustard they gave us with our 50 dollar order. I jumped in my Black Mercedes with my NY plates and left the food on the table.

    I lived in Memphis for a year, for all you BBQ lovers; when you see the signs keep driving!

  14. Traveling Bouknight says:

    Hey Les, stumbled upon your page here and decided to leave a comment.

    I come from a small town just down the road from Columbia and grew up on pork barbecue. Maurice’s is pretty well a household name in that neck of the woods. You can always count on one of his Piggy Parks to provide a good quick meal, but it is by no means the height of South Carolina mustard base barbecue. Good luck ever finding the best places, it’s kind of like finding the best pizza in New York, the best Italian in Boston or the best cheesesteak in Philly (all adventures I have embarked on); it tends to be found in small sometimes rough places that only the locals know about. That being said, Maurice’s does provide a good starting point for the un-initiated.

    True he is a bit Kookey, though I tend to agree with his views on federalism, but you do not usually factor the views of the owner in your enjoyment of a restaurant; so I would advocate any future patrons to either ignore it or get your food to go. His views do not represent the mindset of a typical South Carolinian any more then the Berkley crowd represent the majority of Californians.

    For the readers, a little bit of Barbecue information:
    Every region of the south has it’s own way of doing barbecue, but SC Barbecue literally varies from town to town. The german immigants who settled the area of Lexington and Columbia brought a strong influence to the regions culinary preferences, thus the propensity for mustard and vinegar in the sauces used. Mustard based BBQ can only be found in SC. It is worth trying, though you may or may not like it at first.

    Hash, for the poster who asked, is pulled pork rather then chopped that is then blended with spices (and sometimes barbecue sauce) and other ingredients to have a different consistency then barbecue. Eastern North Carolina vinager-based barbecue would be similar to SC hash.

    To the previous “New Yauker” who posted, the manner you conducted yourself in would be considered rude no matter what part of the country you were in. I would not demand my money back for a Fishermans Platter at Legal Seafood simply because I decided I really did not like scrod afterall.
    I have lived in Massachusetts, in California, in Alaska and I have traveled in 34 states and several countries. Spending time in a region does in no way provide me with expertise in it’s history steeped and long standing culinary traditions.

    To any reader transiting through Columbia, give Maurices a try and make your own decision. And make sure you stop by another local chain, Rush’s, for a great chili burger.

  15. J English says:

    I was passing through SC yesterday when I saw a Barbeque place “Maurices”. I went through the drive-thru for a bareque sandwich since i was heading home to NC and wanted to keep driving. I was hungry so as soon as i got on the interstate I opened this awful yellow filled bun with the stinch of musturd. I swear it looked like baby dodo and smelled worse. What was this? Why did u take my money and give me that?