All month long we’re giving you behind-the-scenes access to the country’s top pitmasters, hog farmers, sauce makers, smoke experts and meat connoisseurs and capturing it all live across Zagat and HuffPost social channels. Tune in every day to ask questions, learn BBQ tips and keep tabs on the action.
Have a favorite ’cue joint of your own? Instagram it with hashtag #ZagatBBQNation and at the end of our trip we’ll declare a People’s Choice Winner.
You’ll know Lewis BBQ means business when you spot the restaurant’s enormous smokers (each of which can hold 1,200 pounds of brisket), hand-welded by owner John Lewis himself (and made out of old propane tanks).
He’s something of a mad scientist, and will only use his hand-engineered smokers to make his signature ’cue.
Lewis grew up in El Paso, Texas, first taking up barbecue as a hobby, then helping Aaron Franklin open up his eponymous barbecue spot, and finally opening up a place of his own, La Barbecue, with LeAnn Mueller in 2012. Eventually, he decided to bring his very classically Texas barbecue style — with meat cooked for eighteen-plus hours, until it is literally falling off the bone — to Charleston with Lewis BBQ.
The restaurant has become a local gathering spot, with guests enjoying their Texas-style hot guts (sausage) alongside boozy aguas frescas. If you want beef ribs, they’re only offered on Saturdays — but our personal favorite time to go is on Tex-Mex Tuesdays, when Lewis turns his spot into a Tex-Mex joint, serving brisket enchiladas ($5), posole, and more.
Make sure you check out Lewis’ sibling spot Juan Luis (his Tex-Mex alter ego) at food hall, The Workshop down the street. And Lewis is equally famed for this Texas-style hot guts sausage which he cooks in a standing smoker in the front of the restaurant.