Black Food Fridays Roundup!
We’ve answered the call of Chef KJ Kearney and his 2020 Instagram sensation, @blackfoodfridays to consciously spend our money at Black-owned restaurants every Friday. Here, we’re compiling the spots we’ve visited, so that you can join us in checking out some of Charleston’s finest Black-owned restaurants, and get a more complete view of the Lowcountry’s culinary landscape!
Swank – @swank_desserts – Between her beautiful (and delicious) macarons and her genius cake snacks, Danetra’s Tiffany-blue shop in Summerville feels like a slice of dessert heaven. Go all in with some seasonal macaron flavors (the gold champagne is our favorite), but don’t forget the cake snacks! These little parcels of free-form cake and frosting also come in a wide array of amazing flavors that change seasonally. Danetra’s a master at her craft and is available to make gorgeous cakes and desserts for your special event as well! While you’re in the shop, we highly recommend grabbing a Mexican hot chocolate to sip on while you stroll through downtown
Mesu – @mesuchs – This exciting spot on King Street offers up an inventive menu of both fun and delicious Mexican dishes and stacked sushi rolls! The luscious lobster rangoon roll and the pork carnitas clothespin tacos are some of our personal faves. If you’re a sushi fan with non-sushi-loving loved ones to appease, check it out – there’ll be delicious options for everyone.
Park Circle Creamery – @pccreamery – Nestled into bustling Montague Avenue, Park Circle Creamery serves up inventive flavors (along with all the classics), made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. We visited in October, tried two scoops of yam (we LOVE fun fall flavors), and it was a perfect autumn-tasting treat for a not-very-Autumn-feeling Charleston day. Check their IG for updates on new flavors and make sure to include a pretzel stick with your cup or cone for some sassy salty-sweet action!
Nana’s Seafood & Soul – @nanasseasoul – Located in North Charleston, Nana’s is serving up some of the very best fried seafood and sides to be found in the lowcountry, along with classics such as garlic crabs and Nana’s signature, addictive sauce. We recommend checking their IG for specials – if the crab rice is available, GO! If you’re feeling good and hungry, grab a platter and then scratch your head over which mouth-watering sides to pick. They’re all showstoppers, but don’t leave without some red rice and a sizable pineapple tea for the road! You can thank us later.
Gillie’s – @gilliesseafood – Offering up coastal Carolina classics like shrimp and grits alongside the fried seafood and sides that are staples of South Carolina’s soul food scene, Gillie’s is a perfect spot to get a map of South Carolina on your plate. Located in James Island, the restaurant is an easy ride from both Folly Beach and McCleod Plantation – our most-recommended historic plantation site. Grab a po’ boy for a handheld beach lunch, or cozy up to a bowl of seafood perloo to refuel after learning about the legacy of Carolina Gold rice and its social and economic impacts on the region.
Martha Lou’s Catering – @marthalous_kitchen_llc – For more than 30 years, folks from all over the world visited Martha Lou Gadsden’s little pink building on Morrison Drive for rib-sticking favorites like pork chops, baked macaroni, and Martha Lou’s famous fried chicken. Sadly, the famous pink restaurant was closed down for good in September of 2020 in the face of rapid development in the NoMo neighborhood, where Martha Lou has been an early pioneer, setting up shop in what had been a largely empty part of town in the 1980s. But Martha Lou and her famous cooking lives on through the magic of catering and devotees can still order up her lovingly-made soul food for events and family gatherings!
The Pickle Lady – @_thepicklelady – Raychelle Bennett is easily one of best-loved vendors on the Charleston Farmers Market Scene. Known for her hot and spicy pickle samples, (followed by a cool down dill sample), fans of her pickles keep coming back both for her briny expertise and for her sunny disposition. For the pickle lover that’s ready to branch out from cucumbers, The Pickle Lady has a variety of other vegetables on hand, from okra to carrots to green beans, all pickled to lip-smacking perfection. Anyone can pickle, but it takes an artist to nail a consistently delicious pickle, time after time, and Raychelle is a master. Her pickled beets are a fan-favorite, and have been said to charm even the beet-haters among us.
Rodney Scott – @rodneyscottsbbq – James Beard Award winning pitmaster Rodney Scott has blown Charleston’s socks off with his cozy Upper King Street smokehouse and restaurant. His whole hog pulled pork is famous, but his ribs, smoked turkey, and banana pudding are equally worthy of praise! Check out Rodney’s recent appearance on Chef’s Table to get good and hungry for anything and everything this accomplished chef puts to the flame, and then eat in or swing by the drive through and enjoy your bounty in beautiful Hampton Park, just a few steps away.
If you’re interested in learning more about the historical culinary traditions of Black Charlestonians, and how their skill and influence continues to shape how South Carolina eats, drinks, and grows its food, sign up for our Downtown Charleston Tour! You’ll receive an in-depth look at the past, present, and future of Charleston’s food scene and the Black and Native American architects of our culinary traditions.