D&H BBQ MANNING, SC
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Our discovery of that interesting Swamp Fox mural was a by-product of our search for this place. This is D&H Barbecue in Manning, SC. Our targets were D&H and a place called McCabe's in the same town. McCabe's was closed ( at 3:00PM on a Saturday !) so we made it over to D&H.
While there seem to be few legal definitions of a barbecue restaurant in South Carolina, we have our own preconceived notions as to what components are required. Generally, it begins with a concrete block structure ( CBS ), weathered and stained about the exterior walls. As to signage we like to see something a bit old, faded and with a little information as to ownership, date of founding and, of course, operating hours. A notation of specialties and a bit of boasting are not unwelcome upon the sign which is usually painted on wood either nailed against the building or hanging independently.
It is a special treat to have the restaurant situated on a dirt road or at least having an earthen parking area. A paved lot is not a great idea, but the oil stained asphalt at D&H at least indicates that not all customers arrived in new Jaguars. Valet parking would be a hanging offense for a BBQ joint.
The interior should have a few picnic tables with the balance being four seaters some of which wobble just a bit. Mostly non-matching chairs are a good touch. A space heater and a window air conditioner are standard fare. The posting of strict rules as to how customers may be served and in what proportions and in what order and for specified ages is essential to good BBQ joint management. While no fool alive should have to be told that there are NO takeouts from the buffet line, there's always the chance that someone from an uncivilized section of the world might wander in. Cover all the bases.
Frankly, the interior should not be so very clean. This is to say that nobody wants to eat off the floor so it need not be that clean. It's OK, even better if it's a little dirty.
So, how does D&H stack up according to our rules? Well, we were a little taken aback buy the cleanliness of the place. It's just a little too clean for a traditional BBQ joint. The building's relatively new with wood siding and all in surfaces freshly painted and in good repair. We were also a little let down to find no stern rules posted, but very upbeat and positive folks behind the counter. It looks like they could only find nice folks to work there, but that can't be helped. Even the manager or perhaps he was the owner was cordial and friendly. What gives!
We just can't pretend to not like the food. D&H offers what we consider to be the " Willaimsburg County " style of BBQ pork with a vinegar based sauce. It's a very nice variation on the standard mustard based BBQ which predominates elsewhere. The hash is also a bit different and very good. It may have a liver base, but we're not speculating any further. It's good and we'll leave it at that. All the side dishes were quite nice and displayed in well maintained bins. They forgot to order flies for the buffet line.
Even though the place is clean, neat, well lighted, comfortable and well organized, we enjoyed the visit very much. Their excellent food causes us to place them very high on our preferred list of BBQ joints.