Review by: Michael Stern


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.

What To Eat

Lima Bean Dinner

Okra Soup

Bread Pudding

Corn Bread

Fried Chicken


Ernie’s Recipes


What do you think of Ernie’s?

One Response to “Ernie’s”

Dick Cain

October 20th, 2011

Finally, after three trips to downtown Charleston just to find Ernie’s, I took my wife there for lunch yesterday! I had the best okra soup (with smoked neck bones and pig tails) and lima beans (with smoked neck bones) that I have ever experienced in my 71 years.

I have always loved Southern food/soul food/plain ol’ food, or whatever you want to call it. I was raised on it, have always eaten it, and obviously continue to do so to this day. I also ordered a quarter of dark chicken and a piece of cornbread. The chicken was so-so, the cornbread was a type we call “cakey and sweet,” which is just fine with me.

My wife ordered an okra soup dinner and I ordered my items a la carte. Strangely, they ended up costing about the same. She got more meat on her dinner than I did on my two sides but I got more than enough to fill me up.

I plan to go back as often as I find myself downtown (it’s about 20 miles from home) or get an aching for great food that desperately needs to be satisfied with just plain old down-home cooking. I would recommend this place to anyone.


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