(Photos courtesy of Poe’s Tavern.)
Poe would be proud. A namesake palmetto tavern on Sullivans
Island, South Carolina, honors its literary past with its ode-to-the-burger menu. But, in true bowing to a brooding poet,
its beer selection outnumbers food items. There are no hungry poets on Sullivan’s though, save for the last burger on the
menu, a bunless patty, aptly named The Starving Artist, topped with your choice of pimiento, garlic blue cheese, or sweet
pepper goat. Others to try: the Tell-Tale Heart, Hop Frog, Pit and Pendulum, and, my heart’s content, the Annabelle Lee, a
crabcake-topped burger wither red pepper remoulade.
America’s poet gothic, Edgar Allen Poe, once called SI home while an army officer stationed at port protectorate Fort
Moultrie. This lowcountry hamlet, just 15 miles from Charleston, inspired a short story titled "The Gold-Bug," a tale about a magical beetle and buried gold. The
story, published in 1843, follows an island hermit and city doctor on a treasure chase on the island that blends Poe’s
definitive melancholy tone with mystery. Legendary pirates and a little voodoo magic finish off the plate.
Today, Sullivan’s, once called the "African-American’s Ellis Island," is a charming beach hamlet, a thin strip
of generational houses with a two block plot of restaurant, café, ice creamery, and bar. Poe the recluse might shudder at
the Tavern’s bustle of summer, but he’d drink up the blazing fireplace in January. And, with a hundred pieces of his
solemn visage hanging—paintings, cartoons, caricatures, and the T-shirts—he’d fit in like a living, breathing
timepiece at a shadowy corner table and hunger no more with one of his burgers.