Best Chicken In South Carolina
Best Chicken In South Carolina
By Chuck RitenouR
While vacationing at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this summer, my girlfriend, Jeanne, my daughter, Savanna, her husband, Ben and I decided to visit Charleston and take in some of the points of interest. We are all fans of cable television's Travel Channel. One show we try to never miss is Bizarre Foods America with host Andrew Zimmern. During one episode, Andrew visited a tiny restaurant in Charleston which was reported to have the best fried chicken in South Carolina. Martha Lou's Kitchen is very easy to find. Just enter the address, 1068 Morrison Dr., Charleston, South Carolina into your GPS (for those of you without this technology it can be found easily using a map) and follow the instructions spouted out by that annoying voice.
We arrived at Martha Lou's Kitchen without nary a wrong turn at about 12 o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon. Imagine if you can, a restaurant so small that it can only accommodate about 25 to 30 diners at one time. Imagine the unisex restroom entrance is outside. While mentioning this, I must say it was spotless and well kept. We waited in line about 30 minutes until a booth became available. While waiting, Jeanne and Savanna snapped pictures of us hanging out outside Martha Lou's. We were pretty excited as we squeezed down the narrow aisle to our seats.
Martha Lou's menu is posted above the entrance with a different menu for each day it is open. The Wednesday menu featured fried chicken, fried white fish, collard greens cooked with pork neck bones, lima beans also cooked with pork neck bones, baked macaroni and cheese, chitterlings and corn bread. I believe there was potato salad as well. Savanna asked."what are chitterlings?" I told her, "chitlins are a type of food made from pig intestines after they've been cleaned by hand." The look on her face was priceless. I reminded her that while Andrew Zimmern was there, he enjoyed chitlins and the lima beans which are cooked with neck bones, pig tails." She said, "I'll try the limas."
Our server, a very thin black lady quickly removed the styrofoam plates and plastic eating utensils left by the previous diners and brought us menu consisting of a single sheet of copy paper with the menu which was above the entrance printed on it. All meals were priced at $11.00 which included you beverage. Jeanne and I ordered unsweetened ice tea while Ben and Savanna opted for the sweet tea. Savanna and Jeanne ordered fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, lima beans and corn bread. Ben ordered the same but substituted the collard greens for the limas. Jeanne is not a big fan of fried fish, so this was my opportunity to enjoy some deep fried whitefish with collard greens, baked macaroni and of course, corn bread as my side dish. There's nothing fancy about the plates nor the plastic wear knives, forks and spoons. On the corner of the booth next to the wall, a roll of paper towels sat in a wooden holder. Deep fried chicken is at its best finger food and even when its "finger lickin' good", paper towels are handier than napkins. In between mouth fulls of some of the best soul food (authentic southern cooking) came streams of culinary compliments which would have made Gordon Ramsey (Hell's Kitchen) blush. Savanna demanded that I try a morsel of her huge chicken breast. The skin was crispy and the white flesh was tender and moist. In fact, it tasted very much like the best fried chicken in the State of Virginia which is an old family recipe prepared on most Sundays by my 82 year old mother !
As the meal disappeared, Jeanne and Savanna began snapping pictures of Martha Lou and our waitress and the interior of the tiny eatery. The line outside had grown substantially since we had entered. Those folks had stood outside during a 20 minute thunder storm. To my knowledge, no one lost their place in line to a good drenching. Upon paying for the meal, I was urged by our waitress to sign Martha Lou's visitors book.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, Savanna said, "I wonder what chitlins taste like." I said, "Andrew Zimmern often says they taste a little like a barn yard." She rolled her eyes and said,"I'll have the limas!"