Foodie Travels: Poogan’s Porch, Charleston, S.C.

We love a restaurant with a story.

Poogan’s Porch has many stories, and it offers a wonderful menu of Charleston classics, so it’s just our kind of place.

The restaurant is named for the dog that lived there when it was a home and not yet a business. The structure at 72 Queen Street was once sold by its owners, who left the dog behind on the property. He continued to loaf around during renovations and stayed when it became a restaurant in the mid-1970s. He’s memorialized with a stone to the right of the steps as you enter Poogan’s.

Ghost lore also surrounds Poogan’s. Lights turning on and off after closing time, a woman peering out the window at guests in the hotel across Queen Street, and a phantom knocker on the upstairs bathroom doors are among the stories. We took a ghost tour in downtown Charleston the night before we ate at Poogan’s and had the pleasing terror of learning about some of the happenings at the address prior to dining there.

The food is just as good, if not better, as the stories at Poogan’s.

We started with an appetizer of Blue Crab Dip with toast points. The crab flavor was pronounced, and the dip was cheesy and extra melty. Other than She Crab Soup, crab dips feel like one of the most-Charleston appetizers to me, unless you’re talking about a small serving of Shrimp and Grits.

Since we dined at brunch, our menu was slightly different and cheaper than what you might encounter if you dine at dinner. Molly savored the Biscuits and Gravy entree, which offered soft and hearty biscuits in a very creamy and sausage-rich gravy. I opted for the Chicken and Waffles, one of my favorite stereotypical Southern plates. The waffle was substantial and fluffy. Two boneless fried chicken breasts accompanied the waffle. An orange-infused syrup topped it all.

I found the Chicken and Waffles in particular to be among the best I’ve had anywhere. The waffle had a great flavor prior to getting syrup, and the chicken was juicy with a nice seasoned and crispy coating. The plate was also enough that I didn’t miss the few bites Molly took from it.

The food was fantastic, plain and simple. There’s nothing surprising about the Poogan’s menu. It’s just what you’d expect in Charleston. The stories, however, add a little twist.

I’m often partial to restaurants that operate in former houses or other structures that have been repurposed. If you’re not one of the lucky few who snag a porch seat, you dine in various living spaces in Poogan’s. I like that variety, where you walk through different areas that are divided into smaller seating spaces, instead of one big dining room that’s often standard in American eateries.

I’d also like to note that the staff at Poogan’s exudes that professional feel. Servers dress up, at least in our experience, and that’s something that we’ve found to be true at a number of Charleston restaurants. There’s an elevated experience to these kinds of dining atmospheres. Visiting a barbecue restaurant and being waited on by a teenager in a T-shirt is absolutely okay, but sometimes it’s extra special to have a wait staff that’s experienced, cleaned up and buttoned up a bit more.

Poogan’s isn’t one of the very oldest restaurants in Charleston, but it’s approaching 50 years of service. These days, that kind of longevity is noteworthy for any business. This is one of those essential dining spots in historic Charleston that is worth adding to your bucket list and crossing off when you’re in town. You’ll get a solid meal and might even learn a cool story or two.

Poogan’s Porch, 72 Queen Street, Charleston, S.C. NOTE: There’s a parking garage across Queen Street from the restaurant. Parking is $1 per half hour and can be paid several ways. We chose this option since street parking outside garages in downtown can be an adventure.

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