Pitmaster Rodney Scott has been roasting whole hogs since he was just 11 years old. After years working at his family's South Carolina grocery-cum-barbecue joint, Scott branched out on his own in 2017. His eponymous barbecue spot has drawn major crowds from the start, thanks to a menu packed with perfectly executed Southern specialties—think barbecued whole hog and juicy chicken, creamy mac 'n' cheese, perfectly porky collard greens, and all the fixin's you can expect from a classic barbecue joint.
It didn't take long for the accolades to follow; last year Scott became the very first pitmaster to win a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast. We sat down with him to talk about his favorite spots in Charleston to eat on his night off. Here's what he had to say.
His Night-Off Manifesto
“I unwind by spending time with my family after a long day of work. We’ll either go out to a casual dinner or order delivery. Then, I’ll let them choose a show that we all watch together. That’s all I need to relax, and honestly it reminds me why I work hard in the first place."
How He Gets the Most Out of His Nights Off
"After nights with my family, I go to the restaurant the next day refreshed and encouraged. They’re the reason I do what I do, and sometimes you need that reminder.”
His Charleston Picks
"It’s hard to choose the best spots in Charleston because there are so many great restaurants, and new ones are opening all the time. But there are a few favorites that I always go back to, like Husk. The atmosphere is great; it feels like you're eating in an old house in Charleston. You have to start at their bar next door: grab a cocktail, then sit in one of the lounge chairs upstairs or, if it’s nice out, move out to the patio. Then head inside to the main restaurant for dinner. I always get the pig ears and some oysters to start. If they have duck on the menu that night, I'm definitely ordering it—since it's one of the few meats we don’t cook at the restaurant, it’s a big treat."
The Gin Joint
"After dinner downtown, I’ll go sip cocktails at The Gin Joint. It’s got a sophisticated feel, but it’s also laid-back enough to wind down at the end of the night and do some storytelling. Once you’ve been walking around Charleston and eating all day, it’s the perfect place to sit and relax before heading home. I like doing the "bartenders choice": pick a few descriptors from a long list, and the bartender will whip something up based on those adjectives. It always turns out to be exactly what I want!"
Nana's Seafood and Soul
"Nana’s Seafood and Soul is a must; it’s no frills, just great food. I go at least once a week, and if I’ve been on the road for events, it's exactly what I’m craving when I get back to Charleston. It’s like you're sitting in a relative’s kitchen that happens to serve the best crab and shrimp. Most of the time I’ll get the garlic shrimp to go and bring it home. I'll put some paper or trash bags down, lay it all out, and my family will all gather 'round and eat. It’s like a religious experience. The crab rice and pineapple sweet tea are some of my favorites. I get that tea by the gallon."
"When I’m wanting to do it up big, I’ll go to The Ordinary. It’s the best place to celebrate something extraordinary! This is where I was when I found out we officially got the okay to start building the pits at my restaurant. The energy and incredible service make it the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary, birthday, or big accomplishment. They really make you feel special. Food-wise, the musts for me are the seafood tower (I grab the lobster first!), barbecue shrimp, and baked oysters. If you really want to do it right, then go for Tuesday lobster roll night!"
"For a tried-and-true favorite you can always count on no matter the hour, head to the Waffle House for a waffle and bacon. It’s no-nonsense! Exactly what you need late at night."
Rodney Scott's Barbecue
"My inspiration is sharing not only the food I grew up eating, but also the feeling that it gave me. I cooked my first whole hog at my family’s store when I was 11 years old and I haven’t looked back. At my restaurant, we serve my takes on my childhood favorites, like baked beans, collards, and banana pudding. It’s so rewarding to be able to share those memories and the passion I have for serving them with people each day."
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