Charleston’s dining scene is innovative, welcoming and flat-out fun — a winning recipe for a trip full of remarkable meals.
BREAKFAST & FIRST THINGS
207 Rutledge Avenue | (843) 937-0930
“Grits are good for you” proclaims the cheery-eyed painting on the Grill’s exterior wall. One bite of their creamy take on the southern delicacy (plus a gravy-laden Big Nasty breakfast sammy for good measure) and we’re sure you’ll agree.
652 King Street | (843) 619-0151
Butcher & Bee’s early bird outpost specializes in imaginative baked goodies, hot entrees starring local farm fare and flawless coffees. The kindly servers made us feel like we’d pulled up a seat in our own kitchens and we did indeed visit them each morning we were in town.
Brown’s Court Bakery
199 St. Philip Street | (843) 724-0833
Frothy cappuccinos, revelatory sriracha croissants and perfectly flaky pain au chocolats here made us functioning humans again our first morning in the city. (Confession: we impulse bought a boule on our way out and lovingly carted it around in our tote all day.)
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
476 King Street | (843) 737-5159
We made a chilly morning escape to the warm cubby that is Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit and were instantly transported to the best version of a long ago southern grandmother’s kitchen. Ebullient country tunes and a hand drawn “how to” mural scored the delightful atmosphere and Carolina honey, pimento cheese and general biscuit accoutrement were tucked into every available corner. And the biscuits? They really are that good.
73 Spring Street | (843) 327-2621
Tucked into a quiet sliver of up and coming Elliotborough is WildFlour Pastry, whose Sticky Bun Sundays are the stuff of sweet tooth legends. We ordered frothy bowls of cappuccino with dense little doughnut muffins and folded into a candy cane striped window seat for a brief moment, watching the world go by from our perch.
Butcher & Bee
654 King Street | (843) 619-0202
In an unassuming industrial park that has singlehandedly extended the radius of Charleston’s “must eat” city limits, these passionate folks serve up simply delicious sandwiches, sweets and late night eats.
155 East Bay Street | (843) 789-2241
It can be hard to do the Charleston food scene without also going on a Sean Brock-dominated tour of the city. But that is only because every project he touches turns to culinary gold. Minero is a warm, casual eatery that seamlessly marries local and Mexican ingredients. The fried catfish taco with pickled green tomato tartare was out of this world.
698 King Street | (843) 531-6500
This deliberately no-frills oyster shop on bustling Upper King pays homage to its roots as a former auto garage with straight-up delicious seafood, cozy decor and an impressive pedigree.
COFFEE + TREATS
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
652 King Street | (843) 619-0151
Jeni’s distinctive flavors have long been rocking our worlds. Getting the chance to visit her palmetto-guarded scoop shop in the flesh was a truly sweet treat.
59 Cannon Street | (843) 579-2891
We dare you to try and walk by Sugar Bakeshop’s impossibly darling exterior without giving into its charms (or the seasonal tarts, cupcakes and treats within).
1081 Morrison Drive | (843) 727-1145
We confess: we aren’t the most sophisticated or knowledgeable ale drinkers. Charleston’s own “rebel brewer” Edmund Egan serves an impressive anthology of local taps so approachably delicious, we couldn’t help but tuck into our pints and relax.
Goat. Sheep. Cow.
106 Church Street | (843) 480-2526
The folks at this charming cheesemonger talk about the good stuff with a contagious zeal. Plus, their masterful charcuterie pairings left us impressed and full of ideas for our next cheeseboard.
544 King Street | (843) 414-7060
We’ll echo the sentiments of a thousand food writers when we say The Ordinary is truly anything but. As if destined, our Charleston digs were a mere stone’s throw from this fancy seafood hall’s impeccably coiffed quarters, and there couldn’t have been a better first meal for us than Mike Lata’s spicy-sweet oyster sliders, craft cocktails and uncannily fresh-cozy hot chowder.
76 Queen Street | (843) 577-2500
With too many great Charleston restaurants and too little time, we had to carefully curate our reservations. Sean Brock is the real deal and the passion and pride that every Husk-er exudes makes for a “wish I could bottle this and take it home” experience we’ll never forget.
4 Cannon Street | (843) 302-8825
There’s a kind of giddiness that comes over you stepping into The Grocery’s warm, reclaimed wood homage to small town dining; you’ll just want to stay a long while. Our bartender’s encyclopedic knowledge of local spirits and flavors like Fried Green Tomato Dirty Martinis and Pimento Cheese Bites were just a few of the highlights from this wonderful spot.
526 King Street | (843) 727-1228
This warm nod to Little Italys everywhere was an admittedly delightful surprise to us. Chewy pizzas with inspired combinations like sweet green olives with fiery chiles and delectably original pastas you can’t stop eating though you passed the point of full long ago are complemented by one of Charleston’s most unique wine lists.
2 Unity Alley | (843) 577-0025
Down a cobbled alleyway beneath flickering gaslamps is McCrady’s, a legendary tavern whose storied past includes service as a Revolutionary War clubhouse. The prie fixe fine dining room turns out truly excellent dishes and one of us may or may not have tried to stash the insane benne seed bread in our bag for later. (Yes, we have some willpower issues when it comes to great bread).
NIGHTCAPS + DESSERTS
112 North Market Street | (843) 723-0700
The Peninsula Grill is home to the justifiably legendary Ultimate Coconut Cake and the verdict is in: it really IS that good. Add to that a champagne bar that sparkles, merrily elegant clientele and one of the prettiest dining rooms in the city and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an evening to remember.
The Gin Joint
182 East Bay Street | (843) 577-6111
“Drink proper” counsels The Gin Joint, an activity easily accomplished in this 1920’s-inspired watering hole. We were particularly smitten by the Bartender’s Choice which took our personalized checklist (“spicy”!, “citrus”!, “tart”!, “refreshing”!) and served up cocktails tailored to our respective fancies.
474 King Street | (843) 974-5483
This dimly lit bar and restaurant with a cozy retro vibe serves up the classics and does them justice. Purely in the name of research, we sampled good old southern favorites like the Corpse Reviver, the Sazerac and the Mint Julep and left feeling very civilized indeed.
The Bar at HUSK
76 Queen Street | (843) 577-2500
A stone’s throw from the James Beard Award winner’s perfect front porch is The Bar at HUSK, an essential destination in its own right. An old west saloon vibe beckons you upstairs and heady elixirs like the CBWS Punch (that’s Charleston Brown Water Society in case you were curious) and handcrafted shrubs encourage savoring.