Hole in the Walls

If you’ve ever attended a black southern barbeque, you may have heard a catchy tune flowing from the speakers.  The song talks about heading out to an establishment that one may not regularly go to for whatever reason.  It may look a little funky, may not have the best décor but you were somehow drawn to it.  But after spending sometime there, they actually loved it and didn’t want to leave.  Does this tune sound familiar? I am talking about Mel Waters’ “Hole in the wall.”  There is a line from the song that I absolutely love that states
“I walked into the room, with my nose in the air, It’s seven in the morning and I’m still in there” (Material Things, 1999)
Oh I think we have all had a similar experience when we talk about hole in the walls.  I would like to take the time to list a few of my hole in the wall restaurants that I have had the liberty of enjoying and not wanting to leave over the course of my travels.  I would like to call this blog post “Hole in the Walls.”
Being a fellow Charlestonian I have had my fair share of seafood.  Fish, scallops, clams, crabs, shark and the list goes on and on.  But there is something that I really like to have when I come home to the Chuck and it’s called “Garlic Crabs.

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What are garlic crabs you ask?  Well let me fill you in on how I think it is prepared lol.  I believe the blue crabs are steamed very well and the shell is removed.  The crab is then drizzled and or dipped into this very succulent garlic/buttery sauce that just makes the crabs oh so good!  It sure as hell beats drowning your crab with Old Bay Seasoning. (Take that Marylanders)
Why do I like these so much?  Well, when I come home and grab a plate of this it just reminds me of home and puts a spin on how we Charlestonians prepare our crabs.  How can you get your hands on these babies?  Well, on Savannah Highway there is a little seafood store called “Ravenel Seafood” .” It’s a little blue store/ restaurant where you can get yourself some garlic crabs.  But before taking the drive out there, be SURE that you give them a call to see if they have crabs available.  This is a very popular dish in the Chuck and they tend to sell out.

Ravanel Seafood
Second on my list of hole in the walls in a restaurant in Gatlinburg, Tennessee called ” Hungry Bear BBQ” . This little restaurant is small and seats maybe about thirty people but my God do they have some awesome BBQ.  The restaurant is located off of East Parkway and in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains.  Why do I like this restaurant?  It’s because of their small hometown, backwoods atmosphere.  There restaurant is decorated with the history of the area and a few trinkets of what TN is known for.  What did I eat when I was here?  I had some ribs, baked beans, string beans, and a roll.  The ribs LITERLLY slid off of the bone and it I want to bet that their sauce was probably homemade.  Their service was very warm and inviting and if I would’ve ordered more food I was most definitely not going to leave.

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Third hole in the wall on my list is a jammin’ little Jamaican spot in Cocoa, FL called “ Jerk Flavas.” I visited this restaurant on a weekend trip to Cocoa Beach, FL recently and was determined to support a black restaurant while I was in the area.  After some googling and reading of the reviews, I decided to give this place a try.

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I pulled up to the restaurant and it was small and cute. It’s tucked away in a little neighborhood and if you drive too fast you could easily pass it.  The restaurant opened at 11 am and to my surprise when I walked in FOOD WAS PREPARED!  I chatted it up with one of the employees and told her what I wanted and she was not stingy with the portions honey!  I got an order of oxtails, mac n cheese, cabbage, rice, plantains and banana vanilla cake. To wash it all down I finished it with a ginger lemonade, and if you have not had ginger lemonade definitely get some.

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What I liked about the restaurant was that it was ran by a family.  You could tell they were related by the way they spoke to each other and how they vibed with one another. Another reason why I liked this restaurant is because it’s black owned.  Many black owned restaurants are slept on and not given a chance because they compete with the chain restaurants.  However, these restaurants lack the love that a black owned restaurant puts into their food.  Don’t debate me.

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In conclusion, I myself thoroughly enjoy looking for a hole in the wall restaurant when I travel. Above, I provided three pretty tasty examples and hope that if you’re ever in the area that you would give these restaurants a try.

Nothing Could Be Finer, Than to Be In Carolina……

If you’re a fellow Charlestonian, you would’ve sang along to the title of this first official post of my blog.  This saying, in my opinion is very true, there is nothing that could be finer than to be in Carolina.

Charleston, South Carolina is my hometown. Founded in 1670, and located on the Atlantic coast of the United States, Charleston is a city full of rich history, culture, and good ol’ authentic Southern cuisine.  Charleston is also referred to as the “Holy City,” because of it is tolerance for all religions and its many historic and renowned churches.

With five distinct beach towns, Charleston gives many of it’s visitors and locals the invitation to sit back, relax, and enjoy the coastal Carolina air.  Visitors have their choice of visiting a family beach such as the “Isle of Palms.” Or you can swing over to the home to some of the best golf courses over in “Kiawah Island.” If you’re looking for a slower pace of life head on over to “Seabrook Island.” Looking to surf it up? Well bring your boards over to “Folly Beach.” Lastly, you can always visit “Sullivan’s Island.”  The only Island to be the setting of a Revolutionary War battle.

Next, if you’re looking to get a dose of some of the Lowcountry’s culture, be sure to head down to the “Charleston City Market.” Here you can purchase authentic merchandise such as sweet grass baskets and even chat it up with a few of the locals. In the vicinity, you can enjoy carriage tours on our cobblestone streets.  Get a glimpse of the famous “Rainbow Row”  located north of Tradd St. and south of Elliott St. on East Bay Street, that is, 79 to 107 East Bay Street.

Now, it’s true that Southerns like myself have a distinct southern twang. However, many African American Charlestonian’s speak a language known as “Gullah-Geechee.” I speak this myself, and can understand it quite well.  This native tongue will sound like one is from one of the Caribbean islands. The unique creole language known as Gullah is spoken language along the Sea Islands of S.C and G.A. The vocabulary and it’s grammatical roots come from African, and European languages. Gullah Geechee is the ONLY distinctly African creole language in the U.S. It has influenced speech patterns and Southern vocabulary.

Along with our rich history and culture, Charleston has some of the best food this side of the Mason Dixon in my opinion.  With it’s location on the coast, this city has an abundance of seafood and seafood restaurants.  A few places to check out are “Nana’s Seafood and Soul” located on Line St. This restaurant prides itself on the delicious Gullah Geechee cuisine and fresh seafood. Another restaurant and Charleston landmark is Hyman’s Seafood which is also located in downtown Charleston. While you’re in the city, you may notice many of the restaurants have the following items on the menu:

  • Redrice
  • Shrimp and Grits

You most definitely have to try these two items! You can not visit Charleston and not try these two local dishes.  Trust me you will not be disappointed! Last but not least, sweet tea is in ABUNDANCE. That goof ol’ liquid gold is almost everywhere in Charleston. Not like many Northern establishments, you do not have to sweeten your tea with the plentiful packets of sugar and Splenda that can be found on your restaurant tables.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for authentic comfort food, rich culture, and Southern hospitality then Charleston is the place to visit. Just remember “Nothing Could Be Finer Than to Be in Carolina.”