Weekend in South Carolina

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buffetbuster
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2009/10/13 14:20:21 (permalink)

Weekend in South Carolina

This past weekend, I flew in and out of Charlotte, although most of the time I was in the Palmetto State.  Typically, I do these trip reports in chronological order, but one place was so special, I couldn't wait to write about it.  
 
Sunday afternoon, I was driving around Spartanburg looking for a place to eat a nice late lunch.  The original plan and the reason I was even in sparkle city was to dine at Wade's Restaurant, famous for their Southern vegetables.  Unfortunately, too much time messing around in Columbia cost me as I didn't arrive into town until 3:20PM and Wade's closes at 3:00PM on Sundays.  A backup plan was ready and I headed to Ike's Corner Grill, locally known for their burgers.  According to a website, Ike's is supposed to be open on Sundays.  But when I arrived, they were closed up so tight, they must have thought Travelin Man was coming.
 
Well, I'm no quitter.  I punched up the closest restaurants feature of the GPS and drove to Skillet Restaurant.  Closed.  Next was Sugar 'n Spice Drive-In.  Closed.  I know the great Beacon Drive-In is closed on Sundays, so that isn't an option.  Next was Ricky's Drive-In.  Closed.  The oddly named Boots and Sonny's Drive-In.  Closed.  Okay, now I am considering being a quitter after all, because it isn't looking too good.  On the last screen of the GPS was a place called PK's Homestyle Cooking.  I called and the line was busy.  Good enough for me and I was on my way.
 
When I pulled up out front, I found a small, unassuming rectangular building,

with a brick front.  The signs on the front windows,

"Daily Lunch Specials" and "Homemade Desserts", gave me some hope.  I already knew by the neighborhood that I would most likely be the only white person eating here.
 
I walked in and was greeted warmly by the waitress, who told me to sit anywhere.  In choosing a seat in a restaurant, I look for somewhere there it lots of light, preferably natural light and where my photo taking won't be too obtrusive.  But with this place being so small,

(four booths and five tables), that really isn't an option.  So, I settled on the booth next to the window.
 
PK's reminds me of another soul food restaurant, Niecie's in Kansas City.  All the other diners certainly knew each other and were often conversing, usually from table to table and across the room.  Besides being a restaurant, this place is also part community center. 
 
My waitress brought me a one sided laminated menu

and soon after, a sweet tea. 

The tea is super strong and so sweet, it makes you feel like your teeth are about to fall out.  In other words, great tea that is not for the weak-kneed!  I should have spent more time looking at the menu, but there was something at the front of the room that was distracting me.  More on that later.
 
When she came to get my order, I asked if there is anything they specialize in or are famous for.  She replied, "Everything is good".   That's no help.  I asked, "How is your fried chicken"?  "You'll like it", she replied.   Okay, now we are getting somewhere.  From here things became more difficult.  My waitress had such a thick Southern drawl to my Northern ears, I really struggled with the questions she was asking.  White meat or dark meat, I understood.  I ordered the dark.  But once she started describing the pieces, I was lost.  I just nodded my head in approval, figuring I will probably like whatever they bring out.  She wanted to know which cornbread I wanted.  The second one she said was like grandma's.  Not understanding what she had said about the first type, I said the second one.  For vegetables, two come with your meal, so I took my usual two favorites, green beans and macaroni & cheese.
 
Okay, back to that distraction.  How about this dessert case?  

I walked up and queried what was what and hopefully, I remembered correctly.
 
Top Shelf:  Devil's Food Cake, Pineapple Cake, Cinnamon Nut Cake, Chocolate Nut Pound Cake
 
Middle Shelf:  Coconut Cake, Iced Lemon Pound Cake, Double Chocolate Cake
 
Bottom Shelf:  Strawberry Cake, Cupcakes, Turtle Brownies
 
The cakes looked spectacular and I noticed that almost all of the diners here were finishing their meals with dessert.  There was a sign on the wall which mentions Red Velvet Cake, but apparently they were out.  Okay, I guess they can be forgiven for this.
 
The first food to arrive at my table was the vegetables.  The green beans

were cooked soft and lay in a deep pool of pork juice, which gave them a strong piggy flavor.  There was no meat in the beans, though.  The very cheesy macaroni and cheese

was wonderful.  I loved the combination of the soft noodles and the crusty top layer of this dish.  Since I suspected they would have a way with vegetables here, I had earlier ordered an additional side, the squash. 

The squash itself was baby food soft and was laced with onions, which gave it a faint sweet taste.  I have never had squash like this before.
 
Unfortunately, the bland cornbread 

was a disappointment.  Keeping the menu at my table to look at after I placed my order, I noticed the other version was a sweet cornbread.  No doubt, I would have much preferred this version.  What I was served was still hot, fresh and crumbly and maybe a true Southerner or bread lover would have enjoyed it more. 
 
While I was eating my sides, an older woman came out of the kitchen and sat behind the short counter, by the register.  From the photo on the wall, I could tell that she was the owner.  One by one, she called out across the room to all the tables, asking if everything was okay.  When she got to me, she asked if I wanted some cha cha.  Now, the only cha cha I know is a dance and it is safe to assume that isn't what she meant.  So, with a confused tone, I replied, "I don't know what cha cha is".  Well, this broke the whole place up and most of the other diners turned around to see the dumb Yankee.  Still sitting at the front, she told me it was like a relish and she would have my waitress bring me some.
 
Not knowing what to do with the cha cha,

I asked.  This was also amusing to them and the other diners started telling me what to put cha cha on.  I heard greens, turnips and cabbage and others I didn't catch.  Not having any of those things currently on my table, I asked my waitress if I should try it on my green beans.  She gave me the Are You Serious? look and said, "You can do whatever you want with it" and walked away.  I'll take that as a no.  So, I ate the cha cha by itself.  As you can see, there is green tomato, corn, beans and peppers in there.  The shocking thing was how hot it was.  It packed a considerable punch.  It is easy to see how this could jump start some boring vegetables, but the ones here at PK's didn't need any help.
 
At this point, I still didn't have my chicken.  Figuring this meant that it is cooked to order and not just sitting around, waiting for someone to order it, I didn't mind at all.  They did bring me out a couple of wings

to tide me over.  The wings had a nice, heavy coating and were well done, just how I like them.  Delicious!
 
Finally, my chicken arrived.  She told me they ran out of some pieces (at least that is what I think she said!), apologized and gave me three legs instead. 

These legs had a thick, luscious crunchy crust that reminded me of what I ate earlier in the year at the Bon Ton Mini Mart in Kentucky.  The inside meat was plenty tender, but could have been juicier.  Maybe that is just the nature of leg meat.  I really would have loved to have tried a thigh or even a breast to see how juicy they are.  The feeling here is that they are probably something special.
 
Enough screwing around, let's eat some cake!  Having plenty of time to mull over this monumental decision, I went with a slice of the Devil's Food Cake to eat there and a piece of the strawberry cake boxed up to go.  The Devil's Food Cake

was supremely chocolately and moist, with light, sweet icing.  The pretty pink strawberry cake

(which I ate at the Charlotte airport) was even better, if you can believe it.
 
My bill?  Just under $14.00!  While paying, I asked the owner, who was quite happy to pose for a photo, 

for a business card or a take-out menu.  They didn't have either, so she gave me one of their regular menus.  Here is a hand written sign

on the wall with more food items, plus their specials of the day.

 
I enjoyed PK's Homestyle Cooking so much, I am already planning my return trip.  Next time, I am going to get the fried chicken again.  Or maybe the pork chop sandwich.  Or maybe the perch.....
 
PK's Homestyle Cooking
1011 Union Street
Spartanburg, SC
864-515-0873
 
Hours
M-F 11:00AM - 8:00PM
Closed Saturdays
Sundays 11:00AM - 5:30PM
Open 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Sundays of each month.  Closed on 4th Sundays!
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/10/28 08:10:00
#1

155 Replies Related Threads

    mayor al
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 15:21:29 (permalink)
    BB
    I am sure you've figured this out already, but the "ChaCha" translates to "Chow-Chow' The relish like substance well noted in Amish meals and many Southern condiment trays as well!  Time to get that Rosetta Stone Language Software for Southern Dialect English, Ehhhhh?

    Looks like a good place to visit. Thanks for adding another stop to our SC list.
    #2
    mar52
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 15:52:04 (permalink)
    Yummy!  I love Southern Food.

    Give me some of those piggy green beans!
    #3
    Greymo
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 15:52:52 (permalink)
    What a fun place to go.......................nice that all the others were closed so that you ate here and reviewed it for us.  L would love to go there.
    #4
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 16:17:45 (permalink)
    Oh Cliff that stuff looks awesome--I'm gonna have to try this out. 

    Their chow-chow looks like it might have okra in it too.

    That's stewed squash, and what you would normally receive for ordering squash around here.  Not bad and not usually a lot of calories for the amount of taste.

    She may have offered you some version of Southern or Yankee cornbread; the Yankee version has sugar in it, but most Southerners were raised on the baking-powder flavored thing that I imagine you had.   Looks like they used white cornmeal too.
     
    Oh that dessert case would have killed me.  I'm glad you tried the strawberry cake; I'm real nostalgic for one you can't get anymore around here because I'm afraid the lady who made it might have passed.  Or the lemon pound or the iced pound would have done me fine.
    #5
    mayor al
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 16:34:45 (permalink)
    We grow a lot of 'Patti Pan' Summer Squash and often it winds up stewed as these folks do it. Onion pieces and sometimes stewed tomatoes combined with it makes a great summer side dish! Jan likes to add a scoop of Italian red sauce over hers for a lower carb Italian dinner side.
    #6
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 16:37:09 (permalink)
    Cliff and I spoke while he was at the airport.  I was lamenting Doe's being closed in Little Rock and he began to tell me about this place.  He started off with the story of how all the other places were closed.  I was starting to feel better about myself.  Maybe these things don't JUST happen to me. 

    Then, he gets to the part where he tells me of this all-out gem.  His words - day of, mind you - didn't do this report justice.

    Sounds like a winner...and that there may be a flock of white people who read this story and head over there!  They may not know what to do!
    #7
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 16:46:38 (permalink)
    Well no, but if the doofuses just shut up and eat, they'll be fine.
    #8
    chewingthefat
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 17:28:59 (permalink)
    BB, what's with all the places closed on Sundays? Is it a Religious thing? Dang, Sunday is my second biggest day of the week, many times the biggest, if the weather is good.
    #9
    Greymo
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 18:04:29 (permalink)
    I do think it is part of  that  "I Got That Old  Time Religion In My Heart"!
    #10
    Louis
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/13 18:50:03 (permalink)
    In the South, it is hell trying to get a non-chain restaurant meal on Sunday.  Such restaurants exist, but you have your work cut out for you in looking for one.

    As to what to order when you can't understand the waitress, this is what I've done: I stand up, tell the waitress to wait by the table, walk around and look at what the other people in the restaurant are eating, spot something that looks good, point to that person, and say in a loud voice to the waitress: "I'll have what he/she's eating!"  And then sit down.  If you're in a strange town, they'll probably never see you again, so there's no impediment for not doing it.

    #11
    NC Cheesehead
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 10:40:48 (permalink)
    chewingthefat

    BB, what's with all the places closed on Sundays? Is it a Religious thing? Dang, Sunday is my second biggest day of the week, many times the biggest, if the weather is good.


    Buffettbuster...Excellent report as usual.  I will keep all places in mind since most of these are practically in my backyard.

    Chewingthefat, I thought the same thing when I moved here from Wisconsin 2.5 months ago.  I thought why in the world would a place close on what could possible be the most profitable day of the week.  What the lifelong local residents tell me is that Sunday is a sacred day.  Since many people in the area are Southern Baptist, they believe that this should be a day spent at church and with family.  Agree or disagree, it's the tradition/culture.  However, every chain restaurant is still open.

    Looks like Louis beat me to the punch on this....This was my take as well.
    post edited by NC Cheesehead - 2009/10/14 10:46:15
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 15:05:46 (permalink)
    Since I am so close to the end of my trip with what has already been posted, I mind as well finish it and then go back to the beginning.  Sorry if this is confusing.  I wasn't planning on turning this into the movie Momento.

    After leaving Spartanburg, I was looking for my favorite I-85 landmark, the giant peach water tower.  Unfortunately, trying to snap photos at 70mph is not advisable and this

    is the best I could do.

    It was getting to be time to catch my flight home, but I still needed to make one more stop.  In Gastonia, NC, is a cool place named Tony's Ice Cream

    Besides the really good ice cream, they also have a hot food menu, too.  I stopped in here earlier in the year and had an excellent ham biscuit and a couple scoops of fresh ice cream.  My plan was to stop in and get some better photos, so I could write a Roadfood review for it.

    Before my trip, I contacted Roadfood's Charlotte area food expert, Chris Ayers of ayersian and asked if he had been to Tony's before.  He had not, but still came through with some excellent suggestions, courtesy of his dad, who sounds like is a semi-regular.  Chris wrote I should try the livermush on a bun, with mustard, chili and slaw plus the Cherry Lemon Sun Drop at the fountain, not too much ice and a couple slices of lemon.  He also mentions that the milkshakes are made with real ice cream and real milk.  This sure sounded good to me!

    When I pulled up, the parking lot was jam packed.  With the way that many of the customers were wearing Carolina Panthers football jerseys, I figured out that these were fans who stopped on the way home after the game.  The line for the hot food was 20+ people long

    and I just didn't have that kind of time.

    There was no line at the seperate ice cream counter (what is the matter with these people?), so I still had time to grab a milkshake.  I asked the young lady if they had a particular flavor they are best known for.  She told me chocolate was their most popular flavor.  Since they have so many different flavors (20+) and I can get a chocolate shake anywhere, I decided to go in another direction.  I told her since I just saw a giant peach next to the highway, I will take a peach shake.  She laughed and said, "Good choice".

    I watched her mix the shake on one of those old time shake mixers and before she gave it to me, put another scoop of peach ice cream on top.  Chris had given me a heads up on this and his dad said they do it, "for an extra boost of cholesterol", which I thought was funny.  Here is my peach milkshake. 

    Isn't she a beauty?  It was almost too pretty to eat.  Yeah right!

    I gulped it down and headed for the Charlotte airport and the end of my weekend.

     
    Tony's Ice Cream
    604 East Franklin Boulevard
    Gastonia, NC
    704-853-0018
     
    http://tonysicecream.com/index.htm
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/10/14 15:13:44
    #13
    NC Cheesehead
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 15:15:31 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster!  You just gave me the best tip since I moved here...I'm heading to the mountains this weekend and will be passing right through Gastonia.  Looks like I'll have to take a detour to Tony's.  Thank you for the report.
    #14
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 15:41:07 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    Unfortunately, trying to snap photos at 70mph is not advisable and this

    is the best I could do.


    And yet without trying you somehow still managed to include signage for 1, possibly 2 barbecue joints.
     
    Brad
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 16:03:39 (permalink)
    Brad-
    I didn't do that on purpose, but thanks for the laugh!

     
    NC Cheesehead-
    Excellent!  If you make it to Tony's, please report back how it was.
     
    Louis-
    Well, that is certainly one way to make sure you get what you want. 
     
    As for the closed on Sundays thing, it can be really, really hard to find open restaurants in the South on Sundays.  The Charlotte area can be especially difficult.   
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/10/14 16:26:04
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    sk bob
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 20:17:33 (permalink)
    PK's looks like a diamond in the rough.
     if you took a picture of that peach from another direction it looks like something entirely different.
    #17
    myterry2
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 20:48:31 (permalink)
    I just finished dinner...and all of a sudden I am starved again.  What a great trip, pictures, and report.
    #18
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 21:06:17 (permalink)
    Gee, do  have to read this inane drivel all the time!
    Buffetbuster Travels, Buffetbuster eats lots of pie (or cake in this case), Buffetbuster gets to eat some amazing looking mac n cheese and Buffetbuster gets to do the Cha-Cha with the owner @ PK's!

    Meanwhile I'm stuck here in Rhode Island and get to enjoy that "little bag of peanuts" for a snack every afternoon- at least I have a bonfire to go to this weekend (excuse to get off diet)
    #19
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 21:28:14 (permalink)
    Yeah! What he said.
    #20
    will_work_4_bbq
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 22:41:11 (permalink)
    Your pictures get better and better with each trip!  And they have always been very good.  I could take a bite out of these!
    #21
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 23:32:37 (permalink)
    Brad, I assume you're right about Daddy Joe's, but Fatz is an Upstate-based chain that's maybe about two clicks up from an Applebee's.  I think they specialize in Calabash chicken tenders and sweet crescent rolls before your meal.  I haven't been to one in a long time.

    Cliff I'm sad you missed the livermush.  But it's a beautiful milkshake.
    #22
    billyboy
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/14 23:45:57 (permalink)
    Nobody knows how to work a room like Buffetbuster!  You're the Frank Sinatra of food, Chairman of the specials board.  You ate it, your way...!  Seriously, life gave you lemons and you somehow found a way to "make" Iced Lemon Pound Cake!  Great report man and true Roadfood all the way.  They'll be telling the story of that "funny Yankee fellow" for years to come.
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    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/15 00:51:49 (permalink)
    BB - I know that it is a crazy suggestion, but you COULD pull off the road to take a picture of cool roadside stuff!  Hotel internet is not "photo upload friendly" (read: slow as helllllll), but I will see if I can supplement your photos.

    I have also been to Tony's when heading through Gastonia.  I thought the ice cream was very good - and, while the place was completely overrun with tweens and teens on my visit (looked like a school field trip - but why would they go for ice cream?), no one batted an eye at my picture taking.
    #24
    hatteras04
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/15 09:26:30 (permalink)
    I had no idea about the Sunday thing until last April when I was in Memphis trying to find ribs on a Sunday.  I ended up at Corky's which was about last on my list becasue nothing else was open.

    Around here I've noticed that some of the family owned places are closed on Mondays.  I assume to rest up after a big weekend.
    #25
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/15 12:25:06 (permalink)
    mayor al

    BB
    I am sure you've figured this out already, but the "ChaCha" translates to "Chow-Chow' The relish like substance well noted in Amish meals and many Southern condiment trays as well!  Time to get that Rosetta Stone Language Software for Southern Dialect English, Ehhhhh?

    Looks like a good place to visit. Thanks for adding another stop to our SC list.
    Al, thanks for bringing this up.  I did make the chow chow connection.  After I left the restaurant, I called my Kentucky born mother and asked her if she had heard of cha cha before.  She had, but not since she was a little girl.  I asked if it was similar to chow chow and she had never heard of chow chow.
     
    There is no doubt that cha cha and chow chow are related, but I'm not sure they are identical.  I have found some references to cha cha recipes.
     
    http://www.olsouthrecipes.com/chacha.html
     
    If this is on your way between Louisville and Charleston in February, it may be worth a visit.

    #26
    mayor al
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/15 14:02:02 (permalink)
    We have tried many variations of Chow Chow. The best (so far) was stuff we bought at Dillard's In Georgia. It was a sweet Onion Chow Chow that was much like some Amish Onion Relish we found in Indiana and Ohio. Absolutely the best condiment ever for Hot Dogs and Burgers !  Lots of sweet onion pieces and some good Mustard flavor as well.
    #27
    Captain Morgan
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/15 15:01:32 (permalink)
    that's the kind of roadfood joints I like to see....excellent
    pics, thanks for the time and effort, and looking forward to
    more.

    I'd really love to see a pic of the pork chop sandwich.
    #28
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/15 15:05:59 (permalink)
    Captain Morgan
    I'd really love to see a pic of the pork chop sandwich.
    I'd really like to eat one of the pork chop sandwich!
     
    Thanks for the kind words.

    #29
    Captain Morgan
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    Re:Weekend in South Carolina 2009/10/15 16:16:48 (permalink)
    has anyone here every done a thread on the pork chop sandwich at the Snappy Grill in Mt. Airy NC?  very interesting story.  Andy Griffith,
    who grew up there, referenced the Snappy Grill several times on the Andy Griffith show.  The place was famous for it's pork chop sandwich.
    They had some ancient machine thing that somehow tenderized the pork chop.

    The same guy had been cooking on the tiny grill for a century or show, and tons of Mayberry fans had gone there to eat.  Then he
    apparently fell ill with Alzheimers or some sort of dementia, and
    is no longer cooking, but the grill lives on.


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