Shrimp and grits. Seafood boils. Red rice. Charleston is known for good eating and rightfully so. This historic Lowcountry city is filled with a rich and layered culture. One (delicious) way to learn more about it is through food. After all, the region is arguably the epicenter of the amazing Gullah Geechee community. Since October is Gullah Geechee Heritage Month, we rounded up 7 must-visit Black-owned restaurants in Charleston that serve, among other mouthwatering things, high-rated Lowcountry fare.
Disclaimer: ESSENCE.com is not responsible for any unwanted pounds gained as a result of this article.
RODNEY SCOTT’S BBQ (1011 King Street Charleston, SC 29403) – Scott, a James Beard award-winning chef, is a bona fide celebrity on the Southern culinary scene and for good reason: His mouthwatering ribs, chicken and pulled pork are finger lickin’ good. The precision with which his highly trained staff run the kitchen and pit where the meats are smoked is legendary.
MUST-HAVE DISHES: BBQ spare ribs, pulled chicken, catfish king platter
MA GLORIA’S TRINIDAD CATERING (3640-B Dorchester Rd North Charleston, SC 29405) – Authentic Caribbean food in South Carolina? Don’t knock it until you try it! Providing island tastes with touches of Asian, East Indian and Southern influences, Ma Gloria’s caters to a vast array of palettes. Food is an unquestionable connector to all who are part of the African Diaspora.
MUST-HAVE DISHES: pineapple chicken, curry blue crabs and dumplings
GILLIE’S SEAFOOD (805 Folly Road Charleston, SC 29412) – Have you ever eaten out and literally tasted love in the food? Don’t be surprised if this happens to you at Gillie’s. Owner and head chef Sean Mendes, who named the establishment after his beloved grandmother, understands soul food is equally about the cuisine itself as it is the feelings it evokes when one eats it. The latter might explain his popular gallery wall featuring his grandmother Gillie along with a host of other grannies from near and far.
Insider Tip: Take an Instagram-worthy pic in front of Grandma’s wall before you leave like Food Network star and Charleston native Kardea Brown does when she’s in town.
MUST-HAVE DISHES: meatloaf, fried okra, soul rolls, fried seafood baskets.
NIGEL’S GOOD FOOD (3760 Ashley Phosphate Road N. Charleston, SC 29418) – Comfortable and cozy accurately describe the atmosphere at this soul food restaurant serving up familiar flavorful classics and Lowcountry regional faves. The portions are hefty so bring your appetite and your childhood nostalgia, too: Nigel’s offers an assortment of Kool-Aid flavors among their beverage offerings.
MUST-HAVE DISHES: Geechie wings, and shrimp and grits, Nigel’s banana pudding
HANNIBAL’S KITCHEN (16 Blake Street Charleston, SC 29403) – No-frills down-home cooking is what you’ll get at this multi-generational family-owned and run eatery just minutes from a bustling downtown. Take in the stunning interior artwork while waiting for your food. While some restaurants lose credibility once tourists get wind of them, Charleston locals still regularly stop in to get take-out for lunch – a true sign of authenticity; especially in the South.
MUST-HAVE DISHES: crab and shrimp rice, smothered turkey wings
SLAUGHTERHOUSE (9616 Highway 78, Suite 13 Ladson, SC 29456) – The strip mall exterior is quite unassuming but if you’re ready to get your hands and face messy eating yummy down-home style BBQ dishes accompanied by tasty sides, look no further. Bonus: There’s a Nigel’s location right next door.
MUST-HAVE DISHES: hot links, blueberry cornbread, Dirty Harry sloppy Joe
MESU (570 King Street Charleston, SC 29403) – If you’re ready for a departure from the tried and true and want to experiment with a culinary fusion, Mesu, a refreshing blend of Mexican and Japanese cuisine, is your spot. There’s also an extensive bar with a unique selection of sake, tequila and Pinterest board-worthy cocktails.
MUST-HAVE DISHES: street corn skewer, Baja fish tacos, dynamite roll