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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Bodacious BBQ? Find it and much more at Carnivore

Plus, Topspot is closing in Sissonville and the almighty muffuletta returns to Olive Tree!

Barbecue platter from Carnivore BBQ
Barbecue platter from Carnivore BBQ

My recent praise for South Texas Barbecue Co. in Weston generated a ton of buzz, which reminded me of another local BBQ joint folks are pretty passionate about. And that place is Carnivore BBQ in Hamlin, which receives a steady stream of praise in The Food Guy inbox.

Pulled pork hot dogs from Carnivore
Pulled pork hot dogs from Carnivore

“Others may have told you about them, so this will be confirmation as to how good everything is,” reader David Gurley wrote. “After a nice Sunday drive, I and my lady found Carnivore BBQ to be top-notch in every respect you want in a restaurant.”

He went on to say a very friendly waitress made them feel welcome and asked if it were their first time there. When they said yes, she promptly brought them a sampler platter so they could taste several of the restaurant’s offerings with house-made sauces already on the table.

David added that the owner also stopped by their table to say hi and answer all of their questions about the food served there, which includes a mix of barbecue and other options.

“Our food came in a short time with a generous amount of BBQ on a bun that could be picked up and eaten, which is not always found at other places. My overall rating would be that everything about the place was excellent – good food, good prices and an owner who wants you to enjoy being there and to come back again. I will.”

  • IF YOU GO: Carnivore BBQ at 8515 Court Ave. in Hamlin is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 866-405-4227 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Sissonville’s Topspot Closing

After 37 years in business as a local hot spot for down-home dining, Sissonville’s Topspot Country Cookin’ will close its doors on April 15 with a free customer appreciation lunch to thank the community that has supported it for nearly four decades.

Baked steak platter from Topspot
Baked steak platter from Topspot

According to news reports, current restaurant owner Natalie Edens-Fisher said her mother, Janet Edens – who first opened and operated Topspot for more than 35 years – passed away in July 2022. Since then, Natalie has decided she wants to spend more time with her family and grandchildren.

She plans to auction off the entire building on May 4 and hopes another restaurant will take over the space. In the meantime, you still have another month to enjoy one last meal at a restaurant that was once named the best mom-and-pop restaurant in West Virginia.

  • IF YOU GO: Topspot Country Cookin’ at 7139 Sissonville Dr. in Sissonville, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through its last day open on April 15. For more information, call 304-984-2816.

Praise the Almighty Muffuletta

In case you missed it this time last year, I declared The Olive Tree Café’s seasonal muffuletta one of the best sandwiches in the Kanawha Valley.

Muffuletta from The Olive Tree Cafe
Muffuletta from The Olive Tree Cafe

Stacked and stuffed with slices of ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, cheese, marinated peppers and olives on a thick Za’atar-dusted bun featuring a blend of herbs, toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac and salt, this top-notch sandwich is only available for a limited time during Mardi Gras season.

I reminded folks about its brief appearance on the menu last month and Madison reader Lee Schlaegel was one happy customer as a result.

“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for announcing that the muffuletta sandwich had returned to Olive Tree,” wrote Schlaegel, who made the trip from his home in Madison to the restaurant in South Charleston to snag one. “This sandwich definitely deserves an Oscar in the food category.”

Only a few of these babies were left as of press time, so you better get to stepping if you want to try one before they’re gone. (Pro tip: You do!)

• • •

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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