Bertha’s Kitchen

Cafeteria | Meat-and-Three | Soul Food
One of the best

Bertha’s is one of a handful of unassuming African-American eateries that make Charleston an adventurous eater’s paradise. Founded by the late Albertha Grant in 1979, it is a primer in Lowcountry soul food that includes red rice with sausage, fried chicken encased in fissured red-gold crust, pork chops with meat as wanton as gravy itself, and macaroni and cheese fetched from the baking pan with shards of crunchy-chewy crust.

Foremost among must-eat dishes is lima beans. Yes, lima beans. An order of beans is a soupy, khaki-colored side dish. Lima bean dinner pairs them with hunks of neck from which weighty nuggets of meat are easily detached by probing with a fork. With the neck or in place of it to accompany the beans, you also can choose pig tails, which are little more than cylinders of glistening, warm pork fat that melts as it hits your tongue. Who knew a menu item called lima beans could be so mighty a meal?

Bertha’s is inexpensive and informal, but every meal is prepared exactly to order. As you stand at the counter, you consult with a member of the kitchen staff as to whether or not you want more pig tails or less in the limas. Do you want red rice, white rice, or hoppin’ John — on the side or underneath? How much gravy will you have with your stewed gizzards? For all the precision ordering, all meals come on disposable plates.

One day when Jane and I arrived exactly at 11 o’clock, Bertha’s opens, we paid at the register and were given a remote control to carry to our table with the food. The cashier advised that because we were the first customers to be eating on premises, it was our responsibility to turn on the set and choose channels. We ate our Lowcountry banquet to the open-kitchen perfume of simmering soul food and a cacophony of legal wrangling in the courtroom of television Judge David Young.

What to Eat
Bertha’s Kitchen, Turkey Prioleau
Turkey Prioleau
An every-Tuesday dish of what the blackboard menu lists as turkey prioleau is a coastal comfort-food paradigm of long grain rice laced with shreds of white and dark meat, saturated with turkey drippin's and dotted with pepper to boldface the flavor.
Bertha’s Kitchen, Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken
If you order all dark meat fried chicken, you get a leg and thigh still connected. This is some great fried chicken!
Bertha’s Kitchen, Lima Beans
Lima Beans
I never knew lima beans could be so astonishingly good. You can have them alone (shown here), redolent of porky flavor, or served with a heap of meaty neck bones: a huge, whole meal unto itself. In the background are mac 'n' cheese and a fried chicken drumstick.
Bertha’s Kitchen, Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is served how you like it: either all soft, from the center of the baking pan, or crunchy-chewy, from the top and edges. This serving has some of each.
Gumbo Soup
Bertha’s Kitchen, Hoppin John
Hoppin John
Our visit came on December 31st, which meant that hoppin John, the traditional Southern, good luck, New Year's Day dish, was available as a side.
Bertha’s Kitchen, Candied Yams
Candied Yams
What soul food meal doesn't go better with a side order of yams cooked so long that they caramelize?
Bertha’s Kitchen, Red Rice
Red Rice
Red rice is a Lowcountry staple, a good bed for nearly any meat or vegetable. Bertha's offers it with little discs of spicy sausage.
Directions and Hours
open now
Monday11 am - 7 pm
Tuesday11 am - 7 pm
Wednesday11 am - 7 pm
Thursday11 am - 7 pm
Friday11 am - 7 pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
3 stops | | 1 min

You can dine high on the hog in the sophisticated downtown restaurants of Charleston, South Carolina; you also can feast low, on pig tails and neck bones larded into lima beans at a handful of unassuming African-American eateries that are as alluring a part of the city's sea island flavor as its better-known culinary stars…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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