** THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED **
The most useless suggestion we can give for finding good Roadfood is to look for a restaurant that has no sign outside. That’s where you’ll find some of the best local meals … providing you can find the place at all! Ernie’s is an excellent example. Nothing about its exterior other than the smell of pork chops and stewed chicken suggests that it is a place to eat. Nor do most customers bother looking at a menu. They arrive knowing what they want. Even if you are a first timer, printed menus are superfluous because when you step up to the counter, an order-taker recites what is available that day.
The most popular meal, and one of the most satisfying low-cost dinners in all of Charleston, is the lima bean dinner. It is a huge presentation that arrives on one plate (for rice) and in two bowls, one for beans, the other for an impossible amount of brick-red neck bone meat dripping with hammy flavor. For a lesser meal, you get a bowl of lima beans with rice. The beans are liberally laced with pig meat, but you don’t get the whole bowl full of pork that comes with dinner.
Similarly, Ernie’s offers both okra soup and okra soup dinner, the latter poured over rice and supplemented by great chunks of meat. This soup alone has a dense vegetable flavor that is at once hugely satisfying and salubrious. Even the white rice that accompanies Ernie’s fine fried chicken isn’t just plain white rice. It is laced with wisps of cooked onion; it glistens with chicken fat and bristles with grains of hot pepper.
A few other items that are favorites among regulars: turkey wings (gargantuan), turkey necks either as a dinner or simply with rice, gizzards, red rice with pork chops, hoppin john, and out-of-this-world bread pudding.