Unfortunately between our food tour and having our dinner plans on our final night go awry, I didn’t get the chance to partake in as many Charleston eateries as I would have liked. However, here are two that I definitely wanted to highlight for how good they were.
Queen Street Grocery
While only a small number remain, I knew that I wanted to get lunch at one of Charleston’s historic grocery stores. So after checking into our hotel, my mom and I walked the short distance to the nearby Queen Street Grocery. Established in 1922 and located on a quiet residential street, it almost conjures up images of dining from another era, just one with more modern looking cars.
As I had checked out the menu prior, I ended up going with the El Cubano ($9) and it was delicious. Cuban sandwiches have always been a favorite of mine and this one that came with their own housemade pulled pork, Virginia ham, and sliced Swiss topped with Dijon mustard and Charleston Pickle on a hot-pressed French Boule roll did not disappoint. All sandwiches come with a side of chips.
My mom went the healthier route and opted for the Queen Street Salad ($8).This featured goat cheese, walnuts, and green apples on a bed of spinach.
And since I had been up at 3 AM that day and wanted to have some positive nutrients in my system, I also ordered the Huger Street Smoothie ($6). This consisted of mango and banana blended with coconut nectar and lime juice.
They also offer a vast selection of both sweet and savory crepes in addition to serving breakfast all day. Lunch at Queen Street Grocery was fabulous, although be forewarned that the sandwiches are massive and depending on the appetites of you and your companion, one sandwich may be more than enough food for both of you.
When planning my trip, this was the one restaurant I absolutely wanted to try since nothing beats Southern home cooking. My meal at Atlanta’s Mary Mac’s Tearoom attested to that.
Jestine’s is named after the original owner’s beloved housekeeper. She was the daughter of former slaves, lived to be well over 100 and apparently was quite the cook. So the offerings you’ll find on Jestine’s Kitchen’s menu reflect the many things she used to whip up.
My mom and I stopped here for an early dinner after our trip to Fort Sumter. Apparently it can get quite crowded with people queueing up, but thankfully we got right in.
Pickled cucumbers were waiting on the table (a nice worthy alternative to the stolid bread option) and these were delicious without being filling. Since we had done our food tour earlier in the day, we decided to split a couple of things in order to try as much as possible.
As I missed out on trying pimento cheese in both Atlanta and Savannah, I finally got to try it here. We ordered the Pimento Cheese with House Benne Crackers ($6.95). I don’t know if I could eat copious amounts of it since it is very rich, but for that time I really enjoyed it.
We also ordered Fried Green Tomatoes ($5.50) although after having eaten them three times on the trip, I am a little tired of them. I find that they are tastier when they have a sauce or glaze to them (like the ones I had at a restaurant in Savannah).
For our entrée, we split a basket of the Fried Chicken ($9.95). All basket options are served with cole slaw and your choice of either fries or fried okra. Being in the South and never having that as a menu option in the North, I went with the latter. I enjoyed it immensely.
Jestine’s Kitchen is a no-frills type place but its food is good and reliable and that’s all that matters. Fancier places with more adventuresome menu options are nice but so is home cooked fare as well. Jestine’s has tons of choices in the way of food, so if there’s a Southern dish you’re craving, it’s most likely available.
Queen Street Grocery | 133 Queen Street
Jestine’s Kitchen | 251 Meeting Street