‘Southern Cooking’ takes on a lot of personalities when you break things down. We did our best to eat as much low country cooking and barbecue as possible on this trip. We especially like great food in unexpected places or traditional foods with a unique twist.
In general, Charleston seemed to have some of the best food and, surprisingly, in some very random places. You’ll understand if you’ve seen our blog post-Uptown Social: Unexpected Pizza.
As a rule, we try not to eat in touristy places. We prefer to eat where the locals eat. So, this first place came as a total surprise to us.
Charleston City Market
We had done a walking tour of downtown Charleston and the waterfront. When it finished, we made our way to explore the Charleston City Market. Wandering around, we found places that were too touristy or very overpriced.
The Slave’s Market
In Charleston, the City Market, previously known as the Centre Market was unofficially known as the ‘Slave’s Market’. However, no slaves were ever sold there. It received its name from locals as enslaved people and free blacks often sold their wares there and did some shopping for the plantation.
Henry’s on the Market
Ultimately, we chose Henry’s on the Market which is located directly across from the City Market. Established in 1932, they are considered to be Charleston’s Oldest Restaurant.
Henry’s on the Market
54 North Market Street
The restaurant is very eclectic and offers live music, a classic speakeasy type bar, and a rooftop deck. The downstairs where we ate had huge windows that opened onto the street.
Being in a touristy area, we expected the food to be overpriced and mediocre – but were pleasantly surprised!
The menu has an excellent selection of interesting appetizers, Signature Sandwiches, Burgers, and Charleston’s Southern Specials that date back to 1932.
Chuck went with one of Charleston’s Southern Specialties, the Jambalaya ($18.00). Red Rice is served with Smoked Sausage, Grilled Shrimp, Grilled Chicken, and Sautéed Onions and Peppers. Overall it was excellent, not s spicy as he would like, but not a lot is. But, there was plenty of Sausage, Shrimp, and Chicken for the price.
Mark went a little farther from tradition with their Pimento Cheese Burger ($18.00). The Burger is topped with Fried Green Tomato, Pimento Cheese, and Bacon and was served on a Toasted Bun. It was delicious and came out perfectly Medium Rare, which never happens!
Carolina Red Rice
As good as the Burger was, the meal’s standout was the side dish, the Red Rice with Sausage. It was flavorful, the rice was not overcooked, and it had some nice size pieces of sausage in it.
Despite being located on a tourist strip, the food is not overpriced, the service is good, and the food is excellent. We’d go back as there were many things on the menu we’d love to try.
What is Red Rice?
According to Wikipedia – Charleston red rice or Savannah red rice is a rice dish commonly found along the Southeastern coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina, known simply as red Rice by natives of the region. This traditional meal was brought over to the U.S. by enslaved Africans originating from the West Coast of Africa.
Page’s Okra Grill
Another night in Charleston, we crossed the bridge to nearby Mt. Pleasant. Doing a Yelp search, we found a well-rated place called Page’s Okra Grill and wanted to check it out.
Page’s Okra Grill
302 Coleman Boulevard
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Page’s serves “local food for local folks.” When you drive out Coleman Boulevard, it’s hard to miss. The building looks like it might have been an old Howard Johnsons. It sits on a corner with parking all the way around.
Because of COVID restrictions, they were not taking reservations and limiting party size. The tables are well spaced out. However, we chose to eat outside.
Mark started with their Red Sangria ($7.00). Page’s makes their Red Sangria with Cabernet Sauvignon, Triple Sec, Pomegranate, and Fresh Fruit. It was delicious and also comes carafe if you are drinking more than a glsss!
Unique Twists on Southern Classics
We shared an appetizer, the Low Country Crab Cakes ($13.00). They served two nice pan-seared Jumbo Lump, and Sweet Blue Crab Cakes. There was very little filler, and they were a good size for an appetizer. The side of Okra was phenomenal! It was still slightly crisp, tossed with Cherry Tomatoes and a light dressing.
Mark went with Page’s Famous Chicken and Waffles ($15.00). Mark is a fan of Waffles with “STUFF”. Page’s fills their Savory Buttermilk Waffles with Cheddar Cheese, Sage Sausage, Roasted Corn, and Jalapenos. They top them with pieces of Fried Chicken and Honey Butter. Try it with a Hot Sauce and Maple Syrup mixture. It was delicious!
Chuck chose their Famous Fried Chicken ($14.00). They brine their Chicken for 24 hours and comes with either White or Dark Meat, Bread, and two sides. He went for the Breast and Wing with Fries and Hushpuppies and added an order of Collard Greens.
We liked that they offered nearly sixteen sides (including a few upgraded options), and the list included about eight vegetarian options. One upgraded side was Loaded Pimento Cheese Fries with Diced Bacon that sounded HEAVENLY!
They offer Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, and Supper menus. And each dish sounds better than the next. If we were locals, we’d be eating there all the time. We love seeing their posts on Instagram.
Five Stars for Charleston’s Southern Cooking
These two were pretty impressive in the ‘eclectic’ Southern food category in Charleston. There’s always more food to come. We can’t wait to share our visit to the iconic Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ!