Ernie’s (Charleston, SC)
If you like eating local cuisine, Soul Food is a must when you’re in the South. It’s hard to beat the hearty, simple fare that you get in a Soul Food restaurant. It’s not fancy or pretentious…it’s typically just good! And if you’re looking for a restaurant that serves incredible food, look for a place:
- Where the locals eat
- Off the beaten path
- And with no sign outside
And now you’re thinking, “Wait, did you just say there’s no sign outside?” Well, there actually is a small sign on the front of Ernie’s now. But that’s a recent thing because when we found the place online, it was listed as having an address (64 Spring St, Charleston, SC) and a “No Loitering” sign. Sometime in the past few months, they must have decided to put up a sign. If a restaurant can survive for years and years (maybe decades) without a sign to tell where it is, you know the food must be good.
Lima Bean Dinner
After some initial issues with getting this ordered properly, we ordered a lima bean dinner. It’s pretty much just what it sounds like. It’s basically a lima bean soup with really meaty pork neck bones and pork tail with a big serving of plain ol’ white rice on the side.
It’s thick, hearty, and delicious. It’s actually so big that it comes with two bowls, one filled with beans, broth, meat, and bones and the second filled about 3/4 of the way up with the rest. The meat and beans were both unbelievably tender.
For something called a “lima bean dinner,” this certainly was a meaty meal for all of about $7. While it was really flavorful as presented, as with most Soul Food, a little hot sauce takes things up several notches. So a little Texas Pete made those smokey neck bones and the succulent, tender pork tail even better.
If there’s one thing that is a staple of any good Soul Food restaurant, it’s fried chicken. It’s quintessential Southern food and Kentucky Fried Chicken has nothing on Ernie’s. The chicken was evidence of a chef that knows how to work a deep-fryer: the chicken was still moist and juicy and it wasn’t greasy.
The breading was super crispy and thin, far better than the excessive breading a lot of places use. To top it off, the breading was well-seasoned to add a good dose of flavor to the chicken. For $9, the plate comes with 1/4 of a chicken (i.e., 2 pieces; either a breast and wing or leg and thigh), plus a side and rice with or without brown gravy, plus a large hunk of thick cornbread.
The green beans were your standard Southern-style green beans, meaning they are cooked with meat. They didn’t come with any meat, but the flavor was evident. It’s hard to do anything mind-blowing or exceptional with green beans, but these were definitely good beans.
Rice with Brown Gravy
White rice is pretty boring stuff by itself. But we got it with the brown gravy, which had onions and bits of chicken. The gravy made that huge serving of rice moist and flavorful and it disappeared.
Normally, when cornbread shows up, Scott whips out 3 pounds of butter and slathers it on. Well, the cornbread at Ernie’s is served sans butter. And it isn’t needed. The cornbread is moist enough to be eaten without the slightest smidgen of butter and sweet enough to make your taste buds do back flips. This is how cornbread should be!
There’s a counter in the back by the kitchen where you place your order. The lady behind the counter was super sweet and friendly, even when Scott couldn’t figure out what she was asking him while he ordered the lima bean dinner. The food was delivered quickly and still piping hot and the lady was around if anything extra was needed.
For $16, we walked out STUFFED! There is really nothing to complain about at all here. The food was delicious and perfectly prepared and the portions were more than substantial. We’ll be sure to go back here whenever we’re in Charleston again to try something new, though it’s going to be hard not to get these home runs again.
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
According to a doggy psychic that Mommy took me to a few years back (yup, she really did), my soul is incompletely formed and that’s why I sometimes act a bit irrationally with people. I think that’s a lie, though. If my soul were incomplete, I don’t think I could love Soul Food quite so much.
The parental units brought me a little cornbread, some green beans, and some incredible fried chicken, though as usual, the portions were far too small for my liking. And I wasn’t really sure what to do with the pork (which I’d normally eat), so I skipped that part. Really, I just like being inconsistent to keep people on their toes. But this is good grub, to be sure. I highly recommend ordering two dinners…one for yourself and one for your dog. I’d like to let Ernie give me a good belly rub.