Charleston, South Carolina
“This place is like a fancy Chick-fil-A,” said Kurt, my good lookin’ husband, as he took a juicy bite of his “Build Your Own” fried chicken sandwich at Boxcar Betty’s on Saturday afternoon. Kurt has a way of putting everything in layman’s terms, so there’s no mistaking the meaning. I thought his perception was spot on, as this “purveyor of gourmet fried chicken sandwiches” is known for its high-end take on a classic Southern delicacy. Their philosophy is simple: Pair the best chicken with locally sourced ingredients. They take one thing – fried chicken – place it between a soft bun – and offer a variation of toppings and sauces so customers can customize their sandwiches. This is a place where only FRIED chicken – not grilled, baked or roasted – reigns supreme.
As a resident of West Ashley, I had driven by the place a hundred times. Intrigued by the look of the outside, and the inviting words “Chicken Biscuits” that often appear on the sign, we pulled in to discover a real delight. Upbeat music plays over the speakers, and regulars bring books to read by the window as they await lunch.
We started the meal with an order of fried pickles, served with house-made ranch dressing. With just one look, I could tell they were done right. Crispy with a thin coating of seasoned flour, the recipe starts with cucumbers sourced from Joseph Fields Farm in Charleston. Just $4 will get you an order. Check out Food Editor Hannah Raskin’s take on these pickles in The Post & Courier. The handcut fries (pictured below) are seasoned while they’re hot and have a nice crunch. Growing up at home, my dad would make them like this and let them drain on a paper grocery sack on the countertop.
Here’s how it works: You can choose from three predetermined sandwich options – #1 The Boxcar including pimiento cheese, peach slaw, house pickles and spicy mayo; #2 The Chicken “Not So Waffle” with bacon jam, maple syrup, pimiento cheese and tomato; or #3 The Buffalo with blue cheese sauce, tomato and bibb lettuce. If the three of those don’t get your mouth-watering, opt to Build Your Own, with toppings such as Kentucky beer cheese, sweet chili sauce or shallots. There’s something for everyone! Kurt built his own and kept it simple with Swiss cheese and honey mustard and an order of handcut fries, and I chose The Chicken “Not So Waffle” with sweet potato fries. That bacon jam combined with pimento cheese and the crispy skin of that fried chicken was SOME KINDA GOOD, now! With a big bite of my sandwich, I happily bobbed my head to the beat of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” as the lyrics perfectly echoed my emotions toward the sandwich.
Inside the restaurant, antique, exposed wood creates a retro vibe while a mix of colorful boxcar wall art and modern lighting combines old with new. Guests can sit on bar stools or at tables in the quaint dining area. Nothing on the menu is over $7, and aside from the chicken sandwiches, the menu offers chicken tenders for kids, and a few salads. Pecan pie is served in a cup and floats are also available for dessert.
When you eat at Boxcar Betty’s, you’re also helping the environment. All the materials on your tray come completely compostable. You’ll find the chicken + bun stamp on everything from the paper-wrapped sandwiches and order numbers to the front doors. If it’s fried chicken you seek, Boxcar Betty’s does it well. It’s refreshing to discover a place that takes pride in every ingredient. Dine here for a truly unique and memorable meal – they’ve genuinely mastered the art of the fried chicken sandwich!
Now based in Charleston, South Carolina, Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” she is the former Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the television program Statesboro Cooks. From 2012 – ’14, she appeared regularly as Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market and wrote as a guest blogger for Visit Savannah and The Local Palate. In addition, Faulk’s work is published in Moments magazine and Connect Statesboro. Her culinary accomplishments are recognized in two publications: She is a featured alumna in Georgia Southern Magazine (Spring ’14) and the “Go Girl!” in Moments magazine (March 2104), a tabloid for Moms and Modern Women. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk.