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Martha Lou's Kitchen

1068 Morrison Dr., Charleston, SC - (843) 577-9583
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/18/2012 2:30:00 PM
Here is inexpensive, downhome food to remember, and two women to remember, too: Martha Lou Gadsden, who does the cooking, and her daughter Debra, who is the hostess. Friendly and gastronomically knowledgeable, they are ladies who add flavor to a meal beyond ingredients and spice.

Debra greets customers with genuine hospitality offered by few formal maitre d's. It is her pleasure to guide newcomers through a menu that includes fried chicken every day and such specials as fried fish, pork chops, ribs, and chitterlings. Sides are Lowcountry paragons: mac 'n' cheese, red rice and white rice, collard greens, lima beans, okra soup, and cornbread. After we place our order, Debra pauses and looks us in the eye, warning that the food will not come instantly. It will be made to order by her mother, who begins cooking when Debra brings an order back to the semi-open kitchen.

Subtlety is not Martha Lou's culinary signature. Everything she cooks is boldface-flavored. Even ice tea is supersweet and superlemony. Macaroni and cheese is less comfort food than exciting food, the creamy cheese vibrant with pepper punch. Crust on fried chicken and fish is big-flavored salty; okra soup smacks you with a one-two punch of tomatoes and okra. Bread pudding, choc-a-block with fruit cocktail, is as sweet as candy.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Fried Chicken
Macaroni and Cheese
Okra Soup
Fried Fish
Bread Pudding
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A Lowcountry triumph, Martha Lou's vividly-spiced okra soup is thick enough to be a meal.
"A Lowcountry triumph, Martha Lou's vividly-spiced okra soup is thick enough to be a meal."
Michael Stern





Fried chicken is on the menu every day. Its crust is luscious, its meat moist.
"Fried chicken is on the menu every day. Its crust is luscious, its meat moist."
Michael Stern


Martha Lou's mac 'n' cheese is creamy soft but sharply peppered -- a balance that defines so much of Charleston's finest soul food.
"Martha Lou's mac 'n' cheese is creamy soft but sharply peppered -- a balance that defines so much of Charleston's finest soul food. "
Michael Stern


The bread pudding at Martha Lou's is made extra-sweet by the inclusion of canned fruit cocktail.
"The bread pudding at Martha Lou's is made extra-sweet by the inclusion of canned fruit cocktail."
Michael Stern


This is the Lowcountry, where frying is refined, and therefore you can expect the fried fish to be elegant.
"This is the Lowcountry, where frying is refined, and therefore you can expect the fried fish to be elegant."
Michael Stern


The one must-eat side dish at Martha Lou's (and other Charleston soul food restaurants) is the soupy lima beans.
"The one must-eat side dish at Martha Lou's (and other Charleston soul food restaurants) is the soupy lima beans."
Cliff Strutz


Martha Lou's menu
"Martha Lou's menu"
Ken Spink


Chef Martha Lou Gadsden in her kitchen
"Chef Martha Lou Gadsden in her kitchen"
Michael Stern


Our visit was on December 31st and Martha Lou Gadsden was being interviewed by local news about hoppin' John, the traditional New Year's good luck dish.
"Our visit was on December 31st and Martha Lou Gadsden was being interviewed by local news about hoppin' John, the traditional New Year's good luck dish. "
Cliff Strutz


One of the handful of tables at Martha Lou's is where daughter Debra spends time when she is not waiting on customers.
"One of the handful of tables at Martha Lou's is where daughter Debra spends time when she is not waiting on customers."
Michael Stern


It would be correct to call Martha Lou's Kitchen a white tablecloth restaurant, but those words do not mean that it is in any way snooty. It is just very gracious.
"It would be correct to call Martha Lou's Kitchen a white tablecloth restaurant, but those words do not mean that it is in any way snooty. It is just very gracious."
Michael Stern


Martha Lou's Kitchen does not exactly blend into the landscape. Like the food served inside, the building is bold and bright.
"Martha Lou's Kitchen does not exactly blend into the landscape. Like the food served inside, the building is bold and bright."
Michael Stern



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