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Bertha's Kitchen

2332 Meeting St. Rd., North Charleston, SC - (843) 554-6519
Posted By Michael Stern on October 7, 2009 9:36 AM
Far from the steepled skyline of the peninsula in a stark industrial expanse of North Charleston, Bertha's is one of a handful of unassuming African-American eateries that make the Holy City 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.

The restaurant is small enough that the cafeteria line isn't so much a line as it is a counter where you stand and tell one of the several kitchen staff if you want your pork rib niblets on rice, which parts of the fried chicken you prefer, and if you're having just lima beans or lima bean dinner. The beans alone are a soupy, khaki-colored side dish. 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? Lima bean dinner is a below-the-radar Charleston specialty, part of the daily repertory at Bertha's and at nearly every African-American cafe in town.

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 and if you also would like to include some necks. 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. The day Jane and I arrived exactly at 11 o'clock when Bertha's opens, we paid at the register ($16.43 for a spread that crowded two trays) 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.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken
Lima Beans
Turkey Prioleau
Macaroni & Cheese
Red Rice
Candied Yams

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Posted By Jeanne Muir on April 11, 2011 9:08 PM
So glad we found this on the Roadfood website during our January Charleston visit! My fried chicken was really fresh and crispy, right out of the fryer, and my husband couldn't stop raving about the mac and cheese.

Charleston was having a cold snap, and I don't think Bertha's has heat, so the plastic banquettes were cold, but we soon forgot about that with our fabulous plates of food.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken
Macaroni & Cheese

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Posted By R. Keeton on October 27, 2010 12:21 PM
Love the food! We tried the fried chicken, white and red rice, collard greens, mac and cheese, green beens, cornbread and gumbo soup. The fried chick was very chrispy, which is the way I like it. My wife likes hers less done, however. Both the collards and green beens were fresh. The mac and chesse was rich and flavorful. The corn bread was fantastic with fresh baked aromas and that home cooked taste. Definitely a hole in the wall place with limited parking, so we ended up taking the order to go. This is worth the stop.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken
Macaroni & Cheese
Red Rice

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