Red and white stripes adorn the awning while red and white checkers are prevalent inside. Old lamps and an abundance of plants definitely set the scene for what could me your ma + pop's place, a bit stuck in time. Records and photos are on the wall surround the hand written breakfast menu chalkboard.
My first visit here was on a weekend when things were in a comically slow loop. With only three tables, the place never gets too crowded, but with some customers sitting down for a meal and a few more placing takeout orders, the woman put in charge of managing all this just seemed lost. She was doing such a poor job handling so few people that it actually became a farce, thankfully our party of three had no place to be.
After some time the homemade lemonade and iced tea arrived, both nice. Needless to say, these cups were empty by the time our food arrived and we neither asked for more or were offered.
Skipping ahead to my second visit, and what I would deem as the priority when coming here is the Carolina-style chopped BBQ, shown below on a sandwich ($6) but also available as a meal with two sides. I was trying to find this on our first day but when I asked their BBQ styles I was met with a deer in headlights. Thankfully the guys who also work the kitchen were the only ones around on my second visit and steered me in exactly the right direction.
When I asked about Carolina roots here, the server quickly reminisced about not being back in his home state of North Carolina for a long while, while the two ladies behind me from South Carolina made sure I ordered right. When the delicious sandwich below came out, they made sure I was offered coleslaw as well to add to it as necessary.
This beauty is the reason to be here.
This Carolina chopped BBQ pork is what I first found at Scott's Variety in South Carolina and have craved ever since. The very slow cooked pork is chopped fine after cooking and laced with vinegar and pepper. Eastern portions of both North and South Carolina do it this way, with the mustard-heavy recipes further on towards the central parts of South Carolina. Here at Ma N' Pop's, they are not doing enough business to justify smoking a whole hog, so they must do smaller portions, but this is not for me to question as the product is very good.
Backing up a couple weeks to the first visit, we were more in the mood for breakfast. The fried fish and grits ($7.50) was our first proof that the fried goods here were all very appealing.
For chicken lovers, stick to the darker, moister meats of legs and thighs when ordering chicken and waffels ($5, below). The waffle is simple yet very good, the chicken crispy and complex.
Those same complexities played in the breast, but this piece was a bit dry. The fried chicken dinner ($8.75, below) came with two sides of your choice, the string beans and mac & cheese below were both right on point. Upgrade your meals to include sides, as all the people around you are doing.
The place seems like it has been here for generations, you expect Ma and Pop to be a reference to long forgotten ancestors. In fact the restaurant is only half a generation old, but an obviously important part of this neighborhood that so far has survived the intrusion of places like Saraghina across the street. The red and white striped awning is actually new from the last year, an upgrade from a more drab all red affair that had become almost completely faded from the sun. We can only hope they survive many more awnings and keep serving these honest plates of bone-sticking foods.