Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bertha's Kitchen and FIG once again named among Eater's 38 Essential American restaurants for 2018

"The engines of connection we need in these fractured times"

Posted by Mary Scott Hardaway on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 2:18 PM

  • City of North Charleston
Eater restaurant editor and national critic Bill Addison's list of "America's 38 Essential Restaurants" for 2018 was announced today; the list was first started in 2015. In order to choose which of all the seafood, barbecue, tapas, ethnic, modern American — the delineations go on — eateries in the country were the best of the best, Addison had to do some eating. Lots of eating.

Addison hit the road for 34 weeks, consuming almost 600 meals in 36 cities, with the common thread for all of his choices being, "essential." Since 2015, the list has changed somewhat, although there are repeat winners.

This year there were 17 newbies and five vets, with Charleston's James Beard award-winning restaurants Bertha's and FIG both making the cut. FIG has made Addison's list four out of five years, and Bertha's was previously recognized on the 2017 list. Past Lowcountry winners have included Hominy Grill (2015) and The Grocery (2017).
Location Details FIG
232 Meeting St.
Charleston, SC
(843) 805-5900
Dinner, Closed Sun.
Modern American and Bar
Location Details Bertha's Kitchen
Bertha's Kitchen
2332 Meeting Street Rd.
North Charleston, SC
(843) 554-6519
Lunch & Dinner, weekdays. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Soul Food
"Compiling a succinct list of restaurants that characterizes the totality of America's dining culture is an impossible task. Nevertheless, it's the undertaking that has defined my work — my life, really — for nearly the last five years as Eater's national critic," says Addison.

Opened in 1981 by Albertha Grant and her family, Bertha's was recognized in 2017 with a James Beard America's Classics award, an honor bestowed upon restaurants that embody "timeless appeal, beloved in their regions for quality food that reflects the character of their community." City Paper freelancer Chase Quinn wrote an article this summer for Bon Appetit about the legendary meat-and-three joint: "Throughout the day the perpetual line at Bertha's becomes a crossroads for familiar faces, friends, family, and neighbors — many of whom have been coming to Bertha's for years — to exchange greetings, news, condolences, and hugs."
This year's other winner — just falling short of making the five restaurants that have stayed on the list for the past five years — is not an underdog, or exciting newcomer, or overlooked mashup concept. FIG is just a damn good restaurant. Addison says of the "returning great:" "The first place you should eat in Charleston? And maybe the last? Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope’s ever-creative, always-consistent fixture, where the daily catch from Southern waters steers the nightly menu."

While you can swing by Bertha's and get your okra stew fix for pennies on the dollar any day of the week, FIG's white table cloth reservation situation is a bit more, well, strained. But, speaking from experience, it's the best $200 you'll ever spend.

Addison rounds out his reasoning for the 2018 38 Essential Restaurants in America list: "I can’t imagine America’s dining landscape without these fab five, or frankly without any restaurant in this collection. Sure, they’re all wonderful places to eat. But each in their own way also engenders belonging and possibility. They’re the engines of connection we need in these fractured times."

Earlier this year, the City of North Charleston created a bio video on Bertha's Kitchen:

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