This review is being posted on the Lord’s Day, fitting for a barbeque joint with “God’s Mercy and Grace are New Every Morning” painted on the smokehouse wall. Speaking of Mercy and Grace, those are the names of the twin 1,000 gallon Moberg smokers (custom-made in Dripping Springs, Texas from decommissioned propane tanks) that fill said smokehouse at Bobby’s BBQ in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, the newest addition to the fledgling upstate brisket scene.
We arrived about 20 minutes before Bobby’s officially opened its doors on Saturday, October 27, 2018, and quickly found proprietor Tay Nelson pulling the last few sausages off of Mercy. He kindly invited us into the custom-built smokehouse, where the wide smile never left his face despite us peppering him with questions just minutes before the biggest moment of his professional career. Those of you who arrived on-time to Honey Day 2018 may recall that the last few minutes before the food is to be served induced pure panic in us; not so with Tay.
As he used his Thermapen to ensure the final temperature of the hot guts met his approval, we learned the origin of the name (after his late father Bobby), the name of his first smoker (Sadie Mae, still tucked away in the back), the quality of meat (prime brisket), how the sausage is made (hand-stuffed), and that he is a local boy and attended both Hillcrest and Mauldin High schools. He spoke candidly about the circuitous road he has taken in life, and how excited he is to chase barbeque perfection. That chase took him to Texas to learn from some of the masters, including Aaron Franklin and the guys from Terry Black’s BBQ. He brought that knowledge, along with two fine Texas smokers, back to the upstate to offer a different kind of barbeque.
By the 11 a.m. opening, there were 25 people of various ages, races, genders, and walks of life lined up down the side of the building, waiting to try the goodness. The line moved slow, both because it was opening day and because each order is prepared specifically to the customer’s specifications. Tay himself was right there in the mix, chopping the meat to your requested weight, and his wife handled the register - a true family affair. We ate our food in the truck on the way back home but we weren't the only folks taking it to go; before the day was out, an honest to God freight train stopped on the tracks behind the joint so the engineers could hop out and order dinner.
But don’t be intimidated by stopped trains or lines that extend down the side of the building; those are the type of things that make BBQ experiences like Bobby’s so special. A great BBQ place can do what social media and politicians can’t do . . . bring people together regardless of backgrounds or beliefs, even the week before Election Day. So after waiting in line and meeting new friends you are rewarded by meeting the pitmaster waiting to slice your brisket to order, with a smile every time.
Oh, and that Bible verse on the pit room wall? It’s from the Book of Lamentations, a bleak book written after the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. That Tay found the most optimistic quote in it is not a bit surprising.
Order: Your choices basically come down to either meat by the pound (beef ribs, brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, turkey, sausage) or meat in a sandwich (all but the ribs). The prices are not cheap, but then again neither is quality smoked meat. The brisket is very good, but the sausage is the real star.
Maybe Don’t Order: There is something on the menu called Jackfruit. Jackfruit is not meat. You are here for meat.
Pro Tip: Arrive early. Be patient. And be ready with your order when you get to the front of the line as you can do pretty much any combination of meats. It takes time to get the different meats together from where they are held before serving, and you don’t want to unnecessarily hold up the line.
Other Notable Information: Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 11 - 9:00 (unless they run out earlier).
Social Media: Find them on the gram @bobbysseasoningandbbq and FB is Bobby's All Purpose Seasoning & BBQ
I Don’t Believe I’d Told That: If you grew up in Greenville, your knowledge of Fountain Inn is probably limited to the fact that it is the birthplace of Peg Leg Bates; if you didn’t grow up in Greenville, you might know it as the town where you bought your golf cart to cruise around the neighborhood. Prepare to learn something new, as Bobby’s BBQ is worth remembering.
Filed/RS and BG