Tuck into the bar at this lunch counter on East Bay for top-notch seafood and super-friendly service. You can’t go wrong with co-owner Jesse Sandole’s hunka chunka lobster rolls, served on buttery brioche buns.
Tuck into the bar at this lunch counter on East Bay for top-notch seafood and super-friendly service. You can’t go wrong with co-owner Jesse Sandole’s hunka chunka lobster rolls, served on buttery brioche buns.
A short stroll down Morris Street from King, this brasserie is a hot spot for casual dining. Faves include the brasserie burger, onion soup gratinée, mussels (in six choices of broth), steak au poivre with a cup of pommes frites, and an unexpected but exciting menu of sushi.
Set in a cavernous old sancturary, 5Church brings a contemporary edge to Market Street. Chef Jamie Lynch's standout dishes include an ahi tuna poke bowl with Carolina Gold rice, braided ravioli stuffed with sausage, and seared sea scallops.
At this cozy Italian eatery in Avondale, indulge in homemade pastas, seafood entrées, and desserts. Try the ricotta-mascarpone gnocchi tossed with shrimp and grape tomatoes, or the chicken parmigiana, and end the meal with classic cannolis filled with amaretto cream.
At this seafood house with an easy spirit and a slightly nostalgic air, we suggest choosing from a selection of fish served with Hoppin’ John and pickled fried okra or Andouille sausage and crawfish jambalaya. Trust us—these seafood entrées are sure to have you saying “amen.”
Family-friendly is the name of the game at this Holy City mainstay. Slide into one of the retro-cool booths or grab an outdoor table and order up an amazing calzone or their one-of-a-kind pizza pie with everything on it. Also, the solid beer selection makes this West Ashley joint a place you'll want to linger longer. No reservations.
Watch horse-drawn carriages meander through the Market from the chic dining room, where day-boat seafood, superb steaks, and local produce are served with classic Charleston charm. Not to be missed: blackened redfish with a stew of chorizo, clams, Carolina gold rice, and greens. Order a side of grits ground right in Anson’s own kitchen.
Time and again, Athens gets voted best Greek restaurant in town, as it should for authentic dishes done right. With a space much bigger than its former digs, this is still a tried-and-true place to get gyros, Greek pizzas, generously plated salads, and standards like spanakopita and moussaka.
Co-owners Edward Crouse, Lane Becker, and Marie Stitt run this Cannon Street café-by-day, chic cocktail-bar-by-night. In the morning, enjoy a quiche and cappuccino on the restaurant’s sidewalk seats. Cruise in late for a Manhattan and plates of pickled shrimp, mushroom conserva, Burgundy truffles, or comté cheese. Small and with limited seating, Babas is designed for socializing, a place where in the course of an evening, strangers become friends.
Located in a busy shopping center at the intersection of Coleman and Houston Northcutt, the reigning spirit of Bacco is as fresh and creative as its chef, Michael Scognamiglio, who successfully honors the traditional Italian passion for authentic cuisine by incorporating the simplest of preparations with the finest ingredients. Try the linguine with sautéed shrimp.
Like its Park Circle forefather, EVO's downtown outpost with Holy City Brewing, offers a pleasantly versatile menu of salads (try the snap peas, local kale, speck, and mint), small plates (like the house-made pistachio sausage), and Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas (the Calabrese & Arugula is a spicy stand-out). Patio seating and the sprawling interior—outfitted with two bars, an open kitchen, and its namesake operations (a bakery and brewery)—make this a no-fuss, affordable staple.
Guests enjoy an easy-to-pair selection of small plates inspired by traditional Spanish cuisine at this Upper King Street tapas bar. Perfect for an early dinner or late night graze, it offers dishes such as dates with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese, spicy lamb meatballs, deftly fried calamari or, the pièce de résistance, seafood paella.
Nab a sunlit corner at this clean eats haven and start with a turmeric tonic or a beet latte. Then dig into the tempura-fried cauliflower wings with cashew ranch. The veggie-packed Rainbow Bowl—a riff on pad Thai with sweet potato noodles—or the veggie Bolognese are bright on the eyes and palate.
Clean, crisp Thai dishes set the tone for the sizzling scene here. High-octane red and green curries, crispy fried duck, hot and sour soups, and desserts with undertones of ginger draw locals here, hankering for spice.
"Bavarian inspired, Southern made" is the motto at this German style beer bar. Enjoy sausage and cheese spaetzle at one of the tables outfitted with self-serve taps. A pint wall offers taste tests of new brews, while an outdoor biergarten lets guests mingle alfresco.
Opened by Tony and Kelly Chu of Red Orchids Bistro and Cirsea Ice Cream, this restaurant offers classics for breakfast and lunch, plus over-the-top ice cream creations. Veggie omelets and salads are go-tos for lighter fare; but if you're up for indulging, consider the fried chicken and French toast.
If you like your burger full of surprises (say, with peach jalapeño mustard, or fried kale), Big Gun’s your place. At this hole-in-the-wall, favorites include the Towering Inferno burger with beef and pulled pork, barbecue sauce, queso fresco, and habenero slaw.
At Coda del Pesce’s feisty younger sibling spot, located below Ken Vedrinski’s iconic seafood cucina, classics get a chef’s touch. Try the poblano guacamole sauce with local oysters, then indulge in the crab Rangoon (crunchy wonton pockets generously stuffed with whipped cream cheese, fresh blue crab, and chives). Lighter fare is hard to come by, but crack open a can of wine or beer and remember: A day at the beach is meant to feel like vacation.
Bistro A Vin boasts elegant wood and brick interiors and a satisfying French menu. Come for weekday happy hour—when house red, white, or rosé is only $6—and stay for the Quiche Lorraine, stuffed with Swiss and bacon; or select from items like soft Bûcheron goat cheese, Spanish Manchego, garlicky sausage, and pork pâté for the DIY fromage and charcuterie boards.
When the original pub shuttered in early 2016, crowds flocked before a “final” last call. Yet when the joint reopened some seven months later—after a change in ownership, a quick reno, and sleek re-branding—it came with some much needed improvements: a tasty new menu, craft beer, and a cocktail list. You might start with the smoked wings or avocado toast with pickled shrimp before ordering a hearty duck sandwich with a side of crispy and tangy Brussels sprouts. Or take a seat in the courtyard and opt for a fresh tomato and burrata salad and wash it down with the rosé on tap.
Look for a bounty of raw bar selections and seafood dishes, including oysters and P.E.I. mussels, at this joint with Lowcountry-inspired cuisine. If the weather's nice, opt for a seat on the patio and enjoy a gorgeous view of St. Philip's Church.
At this sleek, beachfront retreat, the menu offers a number of innovative dishes, many featuring fresh catches as part of the eatery's commitment to the South Carolina Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Try the grouper with butter beans and blistered tomatoes or crab and scallop gnocchi.
This spacious hangout is often occupied by sports fans at the bar, families lunching with their little ones, and 20-somethings playing cornhole out back. It's a great place to meet a big group alfresco to sample from the large beer menu. The fare's undeniably bar food, though there are several salad and wrap options for those seeking healthier dishes.
This no-frills industrial (the Pinterest version) eatery is all about fried-chicken sandwiches. Aside from variations on the classic dish, entrée options are limited to a chopped chicken salad; strips for kids; and a fried, stuffed mushroom cap. Don't miss the Box Car—slathered in pimento cheese, peach slaw, spicy mayo, and housemade pickles—and handcut fries.
This seafood and steakhouse offers environmentally-conscious cuts of prime meats cooked on a custom-built 1,400-degree wood fired grill and 700-degree stone.
First-timers should fill up on small sharing plates known here, and in the Middle East, as mezze. On head chef Michael Zentner's menu, saffron, tahini, yogurt, chickpeas, and seasonal vegetables reign over meat. The whipped feta with honey is a life-changer. Order a few apps for the table, but don't skip out on the shakshuka or Iraqi fried chicken legs.
Boasting an in-house butchering program, this steakhouse with Minneapolis roots serves solid takes on the classics (get the steak tartare, topped with a tuft of pecorino shavings), plus Flinstonian-sized prime cuts, daily chef’s catch, and house-made sausages. Pricey, but the hearty Midwestern portions are generous, ideal for sharing with fellow carnivores.
Boasting an in-house butchering program, this steakhouse with Minneapolis roots serves solid takes on the classics (get the steak tartare, topped with a tuft of pecorino shavings), plus Flinstonian-sized prime cuts, daily chef’s catch, and house-made sausages. Pricey, but the hearty Midwestern portions are generous, ideal for sharing with fellow carnivores.
At this eatery on the locals’ end of Market Street, French chef Dominique Chantepie shows his years of experience in breakfast and lunch menus, offering everything from crèpes to paninis (try the Prosciutto di Paese!) alongside a gorgeous array of desserts.
This cheerful counter-service café (which also has another location on Market Street) sells a variety of freshly baked treats, made with buttermilk, country ham, cinnamon, cheese, and chive. Open daily until 2 p.m., as well as late nights (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.) on Fridays and Saturdays.
With multiple locations—including one in the City Market as well as the Charleston International Airport—this downtown spot provides endless possibilities for a casual dinner, takeaway hors d'oeuvres, or breakfast on the run.
Head out to this waterside happy hour haven and relax with a cold one and a plate of shrimp and scallops or a Southern-fried seafood platter. Arrive in style by pulling up in your boat, or keep your sea legs to yourself and just people-watch from the dock.
Charleston Grill executive chef Michelle Weaver crafts a decadent bill of fare divided into shared, veggie-forward, seafood, and meat-focused dishes. Settle into this posh, intimate venue with impeccable service, and don't miss Weaver's signature crab cake or the South Indian fish with curried corn, Pudina chutney, and coriander-cumin tomatoes. Or indulge in the Tasting Menu for your entire table.
There's no need to hassle the waitress for a water-view here. You can look out on the harbor, the Holy City skyline, and the USS Yorktown from every table in the house. For dinner, start with the hush puppies and firecracker shrimp, then move on to one of the daily market fish offerings with a side of the amazing mac 'n' cheese. Whatever you do, don't miss the rooftop bar--it's a destination in and of itself, offering tempting cocktails and some of the best views in town.
At Chez Nous, perhaps the most romantic setting in Charleston, chef Jill Mathias offers diners an impressive wine list and picture-worthy seasonal French-inspired fare. In fact, the only way to browse their menu in advance is via the restaurant's Instagram account, where it is posted daily alongside many elegantly composed dishes at this cozy, Elliotborough gem.
As the name suggests, Chubby Fish is all about seafood. Chef James London serves an ever-changing selection of creative plates like smoked mackerel curry, chili garlic shrimp, and fried blowfish tails. Larger mains, such as braised grouper cheeks with chorizo rice, and whole grilled fish, are perfect for sharing, paired with a glass of bright pét-nat. Don't miss Life Raft Treats' "Not Fried Chicken" ice cream drumsticks for dessert.
In a carriage house tucked behind the Wentworth Mansion, Charleston's iconic Circa 1886 boasts a menu that speaks internationally. Standouts include chef Marc Collin's benne seed-rubbed duck breast with white peach grits, caramelized shallots, broccoli, and sour vanilla-tea demi glacé.
To get into the Citrus Club, you'll need to snag a reservation, which grants you key-card access to the top of The Dewberry and its panoramic views. This pastel penthouse oasis is all about the details: Marcona almond-dusted mai tais, a custom-built coral backbar and matching frozen drink machine churching tropical tipples, and many an elaborate garnish. Example: the Tropical Itch (bourbon, rum, dry curaçao, passionfruit, and bitters) comes with a bamboo back-scratcher. The smoky-spiced calypso chips, crab dip, and raw bar eats are respectable standbys that can hit the spot.
Take an instant beach vacation in this high-style fish camp with a laid-back feel. There’s surf and turf, but COAST is about seafood—served roasted, grilled, fried, steamed, boiled, and on the half-shell—from Baja fish tacos to penne with shrimp and crab in a lobster garlic broth.
What started first as a catering business slinging fresh wood-fired pizzas from a vintage pickup truck is now a brick-and-mortar. Diners order pies, salads, and bites to share from a walk-up window and then seat themselves for alfresco dining. During the day, make sure to check out sister restaurant Vintage Coffee Café, which serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches and baked goods until 4 p.m.
Pick up a pass at the Wild Dunes gate and head to the Boardwalk Inn for a “secret” dining spot. This full-service restaurant strikes a nice balance between upscale Continental and American cuisine served in a casual no-tie-or-jacket-required tropical setting.
Dig into fried octopus tentacles, squid, and other creatures of the deep at this seaside spot, where owner and executive chef Ken Vedrinski—who also helms Elliotborough’s Trattoria Lucca—turns out great Italian seafood dishes. Menu selections change daily, but we recommend starting with an antipasta like yellowfin tuna arancini spiked with radishes, chilies, and fennel, then diving into secondi such as seared swordfish picatta.
Cozy up to the deck with house chenille blankets and tropical plants, retire to the fetching dining room, outfitted with rattan light fixtures and powder blue walls. Then get the any number of excellent dishes, such as the local fish or mussels. Don’t miss a dreamy rendition of the Pittsburgh salad (crisp french fries tossed with little gem lettuce and crunchy radish in peppercorn dressing).
Built from repurposed shipping containers, this North Central arrival hosts a variety of food trucks, with lineups updated daily online. But Container Bar's secret gem is the house-made Deluxe CB burger, whose juicy flat-top patty achieves Shake Shack-level craveability. Sometimes you just want an excellent, effortless burger; for $6.50, you get one with all the fixings, special sauce, and kettle chips. The burger is served out of the yellow-painted "home" truck on Sundays after 2 p.m., alongside the weekly oyster roast. Affordable drinks and giant Jenga are up for grabs all week.
Charlestonians will likely be unfamiliar with the style of Coorg cuisine, a southwestern region in India—but come open-minded for these meat-forward, well-spiced dishes rarely showcased in the States. The Coorg-style pork is simple but layered in heat, best eaten with the house roti. The Coorgi are also known throughout India for their unparalleled single-origin coffee beans, so make sure to order a fresh-brewed cup with your gulab jamun, a cardamom syrup-soaked donut.
A charming, renovated Charleston single draws fans to this north of the Market spot. Duck confit salad and mojo pork chop are particularly crave-worthy options on an eclectic, surprising menu.
Just steps away from The Terrace movie theater, this small pizzeria offers a great option for pre-film snacking. Chef Dusty Chorvat's pies range from the traditional to outlandish with options such as the "crustacean" with spicy shrimp, prosciutto, arugula pesto, feta, mozzarella, grana padano, and chili oil. Surprise hits such as hot wings and decidedly decadent desserts—try the wood-fired s'mores—make it worth a visit.
Cocktails are the name of the game here with fragrant, festive, and spirit-forward drinks that tour the tropics. Skillful twists on classics like the Casa Grande (a rum Sazerac) strike a balance of playful finesse. If you're feeling peckish, get the Elvis in Miami (almond butter, sweet plantains, bacon, and media noche bread), an island-y spin on the King's iconic sandwich by Spanglish Cuban Kitchen. Lagoon blue walls and leafy greenery make a night here feel more like vacation.
A historic single on Calhoun Street now houses a chic, merroir-centric restaurant boasting dishes with as much character as their setting. Latin-inspired notes executed with a deft touch appear from start to finish: oysters perked up with smoked dulce chimichurri, succulent octopus escabeche served atop squid ink chicharron wisps, or the delicate red snapper ceviche speckled with corn nuts afloat in leche de tigre (a Peruvian lime juice marinade). Blue crab rice deepened with crab roe bottarga, sorrel, and sofrito is punchy but balanced, best enjoyed on one of the two luminous piazzas overlooking Marion Square. A charming parlor room bar, attentive waitstaff, and a delightful weekday happy hour (half-priced oysters and $8 martinis anyone?) showcase a snapshot of Charleston in a winsome setting.
This petite Meeting Street bar offers a selection of palate-teasing bites (try the lush tufts of burrata served with North Carolina apples and proscuitto), but cocktails shine brightest. The Mary Moultrie (vodka, Aperol, rosemary soda) and the Burnt District (mezcal, pineapple shrub, black walnut bitters) highlight house-made ingredients while paying tribute to local history. Outfitted in moody panache, bold hues, and tropical flora, Doar Bros. is perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or nightcap.
One part brewery and one part music venue, Dockery's offers updated bar bites (think double-patty burgers dressed with a bacon-shallot marmalade and Comeback sauce, and Duck Tots, a sweet potato riff on tater tots stuffed with duck confit and topped with cherry jam). Be sure to grab a local pint and check out the lineup of live bands playing throughout the week.
No trip to Sullivan’s is complete without a visit to this island institution. Sidle up to the bar, grab a table among the memorabilia-lined walls, or, weather permitting, sit out front at the picnic tables to enjoy ice-cold drafts, deli sandwiches, chicken wraps, burgers, and crave-worthy wings.
Learning from their father, Nick and Ben D’Allesandro serve what they know best: traditional-style pizza. The parlor in Cannonborough-Elliotborough has staked a claim as a favorite among CofC students and other neighborhood residents with delicious dine-in, carry-out, and delivery options. No reservations.
In this off-the-beaten-path spot on James Island, chef-owner Joel Lucas and his wife, Chelsea, serve up eclectic brunch and dinner menus that offer starters of beer-battered sausage and pickled shrimp, creative salads and sandwiches, and entrées such as lobster gnocchi and porcini ravioli. Don't miss the daily special: on our visit, it was a juicy salmon burger with grated ginger and wasabi aioli, served with a bright panzanella salad with local heirloom tomatoes.
Don't expect a carbon copy of flagship restaurant Edmund's Oast here; EOBC, located in the Pacific Box & Crate development, is more relaxed, less polished, and more playful—but still takes its food and brews very seriously. The best dishes are also the messiest, like the catfish sandwich with Cajun mayo and the wood-fired pizzas drizzled with hot honey.
Brew manager Cameron Read has a daily selection of beer on tap, while executive chef Bob Cook, formerly of Cypress and Artisan Meat Share, serves up cheese and charcuterie boards, as well as hanger steak and mac and peas. Make a return trip for weekend brunch, which offers golden griddle cakes, buttermilk fried chicken, and more.
El Mercadito may have undergone a renovation to spruce up the former taqueria/market into a more Americanized Mexican restaurant, but thank heavens some of the authentic menu items remain. The faithful army of patrons can still enjoy platos of carnitas, lengua, and chile verde. And with the best tacos al pastor this side of Juarez, it’s easy to become a regular.
Mexican-owned and run, this downtown restaurant offers dishes you will not likely find elsewhere, such as burritos filled with campechano (a mix of carne asada and crumbly, unctuous beef chorizo sausage), huaraches (masa filled with refried beans, crisped on a plancha), or the cochinita pibil (Yucatan-style pork, slow-roasted in banana leaves). The housemade salsas are a revelation, varying from a fresh and bright tomatillo verde to sesame seed blends. If you're lucky, you'll meet the matriarch, Abuela, on break from her tamale business in Mexico City.
At the Grand Bohemian Hotel's rooftop restaurant and bar, you just might feel like you're on vacation. Arrive in time for happy hour, sit in the airy dining room, and order the addictive fries. Then sample a seasonal salad, the fire-roasted oysters, or consider entrées like the grilled Australian lamb chops.
This fish-camp-style eatery offers indoor and outdoor seating with views of the marsh and creek. Fill up on the apps—including blue-corn hush puppies with honey sumac butter and firecracker shrimp with hot honey Sriracha—though the menu features a nice mix of salads, seafood baskets, and burgers.
With warm lighting and delicious aromas of hearth-baked bread, this Belle Hall space feels almost like a wood-fire oven itself. The menus, crafted by the team behind Five Loaves Café and Sesame Burgers & Beer, are just as comforting. Start by ordering a round of local brews, then move on to the wood-fired pizzas—we love the "Ember," with chicken, basil, and piquillo pepper jam.
At this Spring Street satellite of a popular DC Spanish restaurant of the same name, the ambiance matches the fare. Lively interpretations of tapas (do not miss the outstanding pig trotter patty), an entire gin and tonic program, plus Sunday and Monday dinner hours (rare in the city) make Estadio worthy of repeat visits. No reservations, but standing at the communal table, snacking on salty pintxos, drink in hand, is all part of the fun.
It's hard to name a "best" pizza joint, but there is a best pizza in town. No one comes close to matching the sheer gluttony of the Pork Trifecta, EVO's ode to the porcine gods. Loaded with ham, bacon, and sausage, it's the only pie we know of to inspire its own bumper sticker. For vegetarians, the pistachio pesto pie can't be beat.
This busy neighborhood restaurant blends the best of local produce, fish, and fowl in signature dishes inspired by French fare yet also featuring Southern cuisine at its finest. Come early for Sunday Brunch offering creme brûlée French toast or visit for dinner for shrimp and crab served with bacon, julienne veggies, spinach, pimiento cheese, and spicy Hoppin’ John.
If a trip to Paris isn't in the cards this year, a night here might be the next best thing. Start with a draft cocktail such as the L'Apéro, a mix of Pastis and limeade, then indulge in the beautifully-presented small plates, like deviled eggs stuffed with lobster, salads accented with lavender brie, and caramelized onion-topped burgers. End on a sweet note with apple cake served with cayenne ice cream.
FIG’s dining room is welcoming and unpretentious, keeping the focus squarely on the food and drinks (and the latter is no slouch—FIG's wine program was named most outstanding in the country in 2018 by the James Beard Foundation). The menus are chef Jason Stanhope's daily improvisations, based on the finest ingredients from local farmers and fishermen: rendered bone marrow salsa verde deepens the flavor profile of freshly caught fish, while the veggie plate highlights what's growing this season. End with a Nardini amaro—one of the many fine digestivos on an extensive list.
Some of this neighborhood café’s most tantalizing bowlfuls include Mexican chicken chili with avocado and lime; potato, broccoli, and cheddar; and tomato, tarragon, and crabmeat. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, take advantage of half-price wine. Be sure to check out the eatery's second location in Mount Pleasant.
At this Mount Pleasant outpost of a downtown staple, find a familiar menu of thick soups, creative sammies, and fresh green salads. In the evenings, gourmet entrees such as tri-color tortellini satisfy heartier appetites.
Located on Charleston Harbor, this seafood spot serves up Southern classics with a twist. Try the crispy steak calamari with roasted red pepper rémoulade or the she-crab soup with blue crab roe and sherry. Fleet’s industrial-chic atmosphere, bar, deck, and harbor views make it a favorite for the happy hour cocktail crowd.
At this wine bar nestled in Freshfields Village, patrons can select from 48 bottles in temperature-controlled dispensers: stick in your card, press a button for a taste or half or full glass, and sample as many as you'd like. Those who prefer beer will find 48 craft brews from the Carolinas and Georgia. And because you shouldn't drink on an empty stomach, order the "three pimiento cheese plate," olive tapenade, and a tasty assortment of charcuterie.
This intimate ristorante is off the beaten path but worth seeking out. The small but sophisticated menu features Northern Italian fare, including mouth watering choices like the chocolate espresso-rubbed filet served over whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus, and aged balsamic veal jus.
This sweet spot filled a niche in Avondale, serving seasonal desserts alongside tapas, paninis, coffee drinks, and spirits. Owner and executive pastry chef Jacklyn Story spent seven years as Michelangelo's Kitchen's wedding cake specialist after working at places like Kaminsky's and Normany Farms, and her baking expertise shows in the tarts, cheesecakes, mousses, and more.
This casual eatery tucked on Sam Rittenberg offers reasonably priced soups, salads, sandwiches, and mains including a classic meatloaf, chopped salad, and tuna melt. Plus, there’s a small but yummy dessert selection (the chocolate cake is delish) and a bar.
With its community countertop, staff owners, and straightforward menu featuring croque monsieurs, pâté plates, and Thursday night fondues, G&M (aka Fast & French) provides an authentic bistro experience. Suited downtown business folk squeeze in alongside artsy types for one big, happy family.
Pub lovers revel in Avondale’s top neighborhood bar with its extensive lineup of beer, burgers, and hearty sandwiches. More than meets the eye, Gene’s is sports-lovers central with darts, pool, and shuffleboard, and serves burgers topped with feta, fried eggs, portobellos, avocado, and more, as well as great wings and wraps.
Named for chef Sean Mendes's grandmother, Gillie, this place cooks up rib-sticking recipes just like grandma used to make. Diners order from a meat-n-three menu, picking from proteins such as ribs, salmon cakes, and meatloaf and choosing sides from a list with everything from mac and cheese to lima beans.
With its marble bar, exposed brick walls, and high-backed leather booths, goat.sheep.cow.north's (sister to the downtown fromagerie) vibe is as refined as its boards, which experts assemble daily with pairings of cheese, cured meats, nuts, and jams. Go with a friend for a glass (or two) of wine and a snack.
Upon first arrival, guests here may imagine they've stumbled into a sunny café in Southern France. Owner Perig Goulet cultivates a laid-back, neighborhood vibe at Goulette, serving fare that's more casual and "less Parisian," he says. Menu items include a Niçoise salad as well as entrées of steak, lamb, and rotisserie chicken, all served with Bibb salad and pommes frites.
On your first visit to this cozy but stylish eatery, embrace the theme by ordering the grit flight—which includes smoked gouda, coconut cream, peaches 'n' cream, and pimiento cheese varities—and sample the complimentary corn bread delivered to each table. You'd be wise to select from chef-owner Frank Kline's "Chef's Creations" menu; the sautéed scallops are delicious atop boiled peanut succotash.
Settle in at this eclectic eatery for creative, casual fare with a farm-to-table focus. Executive chefs Michael Karkut and Derek Lathan produce a menu that changes with the local market and includes a number of seafood and vegetarian dishes, as well as a variety of staple entrées like the PEI mussels, blackened salmon, and lamb osso bucco.
The swanky restaurant in the lobby of the Market Pavilion Hotel serves great steaks in luxurious high-backed booths. Think prime filets, strips, and rib eyes, or the 40-ounce prime porterhouse for two. The food’s terrific, the Market Street view is always hopping, and the service is impeccable.
Look no further for classic deli fare. Go for the International Dip, pastrami, bona fide corned beef, or the Reuben that’s been a best-seller since 1969. Make sure to also check out the restaurant’s sister location in West Ashley.
Casual and accommodating is what Grumpy Goat is all about. Bring the kids for Tex-Mex tacos, quesadillas, and "Grumpy fajitas." For the adults, wash it all down with a cold brew and a view of the game from one of the Goat's many televisions.
Savor old-school-style, service, and flavor at this upscale, beloved institution on Upper King. Grab a stool at the bustling bar, or head upstairs for a more intimate dining experience. Either way, indulge in the lump crab cakes, blue cheese wedge salad, and chef Matthew Niessner’s melt-in-your-mouth prime steaks—sauces available but not needed.
Custom-built to convey the style of a classic Charleston fish house, Hank's serves several old-time favorites as well as raw bar selections, seared tuna, and grilled swordfish. Chef Tim Richardson turns fried seafood platters into from-scratch specialties.
This Westside spot, spearheaded by John Schumacher with partner Bill Murray, is known for rustic, veggie-forward fare. “Cabin” is an apt moniker: the interior may be mistaken for a chalet in the Adirondacks. Start with the Forage Board, an assortment of roasted, pickled, pureed, and tempura-fried roots and shoots, then select from entrées like venison chili.
This handsome restaurant has a classy bar and a dining room reminiscent of a members-only clubhouse. Buttermilk-fried oysters and grilled lobster tails are delectable. Don't miss the Carolina shrimp and grits at brunch. The kids' menu is also filled with sure-fire pleasers.
Simplicity is a specialty of the straightforward New American cuisine at High Thyme. You’ll find their delicious roasted chicken and three-cheese lasagna with tomato sauce and fresh herbs alongside seafood offerings such as pan-seared salmon over smoked Gouda grits and roasted haricots verts, with a beet and basil vinaigrette.
HoM is where the heart is in the downtown burger scene. The King Street haunt has burger lovers and ping-pong players flocking. But those without a beef bent can find specialty patties such as lamb, turkey, tofu, and falafel, too. Top that with a fried green tomato and you’ve got a HoM run. (KG) 563 King St., 573-7505.
If you haven't scarfed down some 'cue at Home Team's West Ashley or Sullivan's Island locations yet, but sure to hit up the restaurant's third home on Williaman St., where a bigger kitchen has led to an expanded menu of tacos, daily and seasonal specials, and creative cocktails.
With an emphasis on heirloom ingredients indigenous to the region, chef Travis Grimes re-envisions classic dishes through an elegant, seasonal Lowcountry lens. Duck cassoulet with heirloom peas and pot likker broth and the Carolina Gold rice purloo showcase local purveyors and heritage grains—a hallmark of Husk’s culinary focus. Located in a historic 19th-century house, Husk offers an ever-changing menu, but you’ll want a perennial favorite—skillet cornbread topped with Benton’s bacon crumble—any time of year. If you can't snag a reservation, the bar at Husk is a delightful way to satisfy a pimento cheese fix paired with a fine glass of bourbon.
At this cozy Upper King Street spot, it’s all about the burrata. Well, that and the wood-fired pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients; homemade pastas; and decadent desserts, like the silky almond budino. Chef Michael Holler delivers innovative Italian fare in a sleek space with a craft cocktail program as good as the menu—perfect for happy hour on the side patio.
Reenvisioned Chinese dishes such as salt and pepper octopus (buoyed by a buttermilk wasabi aioli) and Sichuan dry pot (pan-sizzled veg and rice cakes) play harmoniously with kindred East Asian riffs at this Park Circle restaurant by Shuai and Corrie Wang. Enjoy a sake or cocktail with karaage (Japanese fried chicken doused in lemony mayo), or the many seafood-centric rotating dishes in the lively, spirited atmosphere. Walk-in only.
Pamper yourself with a three-course Sunday brunch on Kiawah Island. Boasting such dishes as vanilla bourbon French toast and shrimp and grits with sweet peppers and onions in a sausage gravy, Jasmine Porch is an experience in four-star dining.
At this fast-casual Greek spot, diners order at the counter, selecting a salad, Basmati rice, or pita as a base, then adding protein from a choice of lamb; chicken; meatballs; or addictive, fried-in-house falafel. Down the line, a large selection of spreads and toppings is fair game for dressing the dishes, ranging from crave-worthy red-pepper feta and tzatziki to traditional tabbouleh and chickpea salad.
Though its space in a Mount Pleasant strip mall feels rather pedestrian, Kanpai offers some of the most delicious expressions of creative Asian food in Charleston. To start, chef and owner Sean Park will dress up edamame with pink Himalayan salt or truffles and hot chili oil. His tasty "Wagyu” roll pairs blowtorched fatty beef and avocado with tempura-fried shrimp and a sweet soy glaze, to excellent results. Hot and feathery beignets make an unexected but sweet end to the meal.
Although a little more family-friendly, the James Island counterpart to the popular downtown original offers the same great hot wings, sandwiches, and salads.
This casual, family-friendly operation in Freshfields Village is a favorite for atmosphere and food. Come for specialty pizzas, pastas, and mozzarella that are all made in house—or try a simple salad full of fresh ingredients. The kitchen works with local farmers on John’s Island as well as Wadmalaw Island to provide seasonal, and traditional Italian dishes. No reservations.
Langdon's, a Mount Pleasant fine-dining institution from chef-owner Patrick Owens, thrills the palate with food that is simple yet exquisitely prepared. Start with the goat cheese gnocchi with proscuitto, roasted tomatoes, spinach, and basil, then move onto entrées such as bone-in Berkshire pork chop with smoked tomato and brie grits and big-eye tuna.
Michael Toscano’s Italian osteria offers up memorable brunch, lunch, and dinner meals with standout dishes from start (pork meatballs or the layered beef tartare) to finish (the chocolate gelato). House-milled, hand-rolled pasta makes for an outstanding secondi, so save room. Even the extra virgin olive oil accompanying warm rosemary focaccia is perfectly executed.
Housed in a former auto shop way up north on King Street, this spot has seriously hip decor: artist Becca Barnet designed gold tap handles and seafood-emblazoned tiles; Justin Walling of Charleston Architectural Glass hand-silvered the graphic mirrors. With peel-and-eat shrimp and fried oyster rolls, Leon's is an ideal neighborhood hangout. Don't miss the chicken sandwiches served with shiso cucumber salad.
There’s rarely a moment when this poished joint isn’t packed or without a line of hungry carnivores waiting for ribs, pulled pork, sausage, and the almighty smoked brisket. The latter is owner John Lewis’s specialty—folks from Austin to Charleston know its melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Add a side of green chile corn pudding and an ice-cold cocktail, and you’ll see why this ’cue (and queue) is worth the wait.
It’s hard not to fall for exotic, flavorful Leyla. This quirky Lebanese oasis offers a long list of mezza (small plates), including hummus slathered in a spry bit of olive oil and manteh dumplings filled with a spiced beef paste. Don’t shy away from more adventurous menu items, such as frog legs: Leyla’s most interesting dishes tend to be those that are unfamiliar. Round out your meal with a cup of bitter Lebanese coffee and warm rice pudding spiked with nuts, spices, and coconut.
Before opening Little Jack's, owners Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink took time researching the perfect tavern: records show them noshing at Big Apple tavern mainstays like P.J. Clarke's. It all contributes to a dining experience that feels rather timeless—and Little Jack's fare, including delicious sliders and classic cocktails, follows suit. The burger is the crowned jewel here, so much so it even appears on the dessert menu.
In this inconspicuous restaurant tucked down Long Point Road, Southern is done right. Their twist on mac 'n' cheese? Smoked Gouda and penne. Or try the buttermilk fried chicken with whipped potatoes, collard greens, and a pink peppercorn gravy. With half-price bottles of wine Monday through Wednesday (5-8 p.m.), fresh desserts from Pitt Street's Village Bakery, and an affable staff, it's easy to get lost in a slow evening at the LPG. And for those with a need for speed, the restaurant offers lunch and dinner to go.
Breakfast is served all day at this quirky spot, which means burritos with shrimp, sausage, bacon, or ham alongside cheese, onions, and peppers; homemade biscuits and sausage gravy; and a host of baked goods. Come lunchtime, order the "Bob Barker," a spicy black-bean burger with mango salsa and romaine in a jalapeño-cheddar wrap.
T.J. Lynch, owner of popular Manhattan cocktail bar Mother's Ruin, has opened a beachy outpost on Folly. Just off Center Street, this breezy spot serves seafood ceviche with Dark 'n' Shady cocktails, along with a shrimp roll that defies all expectations.
Magnolias has been serving up culinar arts director Don Drake’s “Uptown/Down South Cuisine” since 1990. Kelly Franz joined the team as executive chef, and guests continue to enjoy Lowcountry fine-dining fare, including bourbon-fried catfish, shrimp and scallops over creamy grits with fried spinach, and buttermilk-fried chichen.
This Ben Sawyer Boulevard stop can be spotted by its signature feature: an outdoor bar fashioned out of a shipping container that serves as an area to mingle and jam to live bands on Friday nights. But the fun atmosphere isn't the only draw at this eatery—the tasty menu includes an eclectic selection of Southern-meets-Thai-inspired fare, including ponzu-chili chicken wings and pork belly sliders in steamed Chinese-style buns.
At Maison, rustic charm and crisp, modern lines, are similar in spirit to the fare. A fleet of French classics are interpreted through a contemporary lens, such as the everything spiced salmon rillette or ramp and lardon tartiflette. The saffron mussles are buoyed by a Provençal bourride-style potato and aioli broth, velvet-smooth and luxe, best sopped up by a hunk of baguette. An elegant wine list and highly quaffable cocktails brighten a rich menu in a chic yet approachable space.
Chef Juan Casselett (Chez Nous) has composed a spirited Spanish menu that ventures beyond conventional tapas. Start with the appetite-rousing Gilda (olive and anchovy skewers). Then choose from the charcuteria selections, like the mojama (salt-cured tuna belly). The star dish is the rossejat negro: tender loops of squid, ink sauce, and fideo noodles, crisped on a pan paella-style, finished with a whorl of garlic aioli. Peruse the charming "market" wall stocked with purchasable, imported Spanish specialty products. Be sure to reserve your seats online, even for the bar.
A killer view of the Ashley River, hit-the-spot breakfasts, lunches, and fresh seafood dinners (featuring satisfying shrimp platters, clam strips, and fresh crab dip) make this beach-town joint—founded some 50 years ago—a favorite among boaters and business folks alike.
When soul food’s all that will do, get to the pink cinder-block dive on Morrison Drive for fried everything and fatback-flavored greens that’ll send you home happy. The service is from the heart, the fare’s tops in its field, and the conversations are priceless. No cards or reservations.
While James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock is no longer leading the kitchen, his culinary expertise was the guiding force behind this 22-seat, 16-course tasting-menu-only spot that remains a destination for the gastronomically adventurous, featuring the talents of executive chef Ben Norton. If you’re into food “experiences,” the price is worth your while.
Charleston Place may not previously have come to mind when choosing a spot to grab a few beers and watch the game, but that all changed with the opening of Meeting at Market, a highbrow sports bar nestled—you guessed it—on the corner of Meeting and Market streets. Upon arrival, settle in at the bar or lounge in one of the back sofa seats and order from an extensive drink list including nearly 10 local brews. You can’t go wrong with the menu’s elevated pub fare, including a smoked fish sampling board, fried confit chicken thighs, and a supremely tender salmon filet à la fish and chips. And for those who aren’t that into the televised activities, wraparound glass windows provide plenty of opportunities for people watching.
The latest addition to Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink’s restaurant group, Melfi’s is a clubby Italian restaurant kitty-corner to their other spots, Leon’s and Little Jack’s Tavern. Melfi’s specializes in simple pasta plates and creative pizzas like the Vinny Vongole, topped with thinly-shaved pancetta and clams, and the Proscuitto Party, topped with hand-pulled mozzarella and blanketed in proscuitto di parma.
With a secret recipe for wood-fired 'cue that goes back to 1939, this local spot is a no-brainer for some of the best pork, ribs, brisket, and burgers around. Throw in the kitchen's decadent sides like handcrafted mac and cheese, fried okra, "BBQ hash," coleslaw, and onion rings, and you've got a recipe for success.
Serving up the chopped pork barbecue just like that of its Mount Pleasant branch—as well as the “favorite cheeseburger” of Emeril Lagasse—this James Island icon is the perfect place to stop for lunch on your way to Folly Beach.
On the Mercantile side at this Cigar Factory joint, diners can purchase a treat from local purveyors; sip on a latte; grab a soda, spread, or sandwich from the to-go fridge; or settle in for a finely crafted meal at the chef’s counter. At Mash, patrons find an extensive whiskey list and small bites.
From a long list of creative margaritas to shrimp tacos, tortas, and Baja bowls, this casual spot on St. Andrews Boulevard offers big South of the Border flavor. A kid’s menu includes Chick-a-dillas, a playful spin on the classic quesadilla with melted jack cheese and chicken, and the whole family should indulge in the tres leches pudding for dessert.
This Sullivan's Island outpost of a West Ashley joint boasts a deck perfect for people-watching. Snack on the Triple Dipper—a trio of smoked chipotle salsa, pico de gallo, and queso with chips—and wash it down with a Tequila Mockingbird cocktail.
A portrait of the 1980s painter hangs above the cash register at this cheerful café and retail market, which offers sandwiches, wraps, salads, and sides ready to take to the beach—think kale tossed with spiced nuts, chickpeas, and pesto; the Bob Ross Beef sandwich on rye; and shareable snacks like the pimento cheese and potato salad. There's also a thoughtfully curated selection of beer, wine, artisan products, and goodies like Lowcountry Kettle chips and Sweeteeth chocolate.
Middleton Place's restaurant serves up she-crab soup, which makes for a lovely lunch after touring Middleton's gardens. The dinner menu sports fancier fare and sustainable seafood dishes that incorporate local catches.
Look for the old-fashioned grain mill framed in the window on Lower King Street to locate this all-day-breakfast restaurant. Inside, both sweet and savory devotees will find dishes that hit the spot: our favorites were the waffles drizzled with sorghum syrup, daily grit bowl (ask for the off-menu unicorn grits), and bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich served on an everything brioche bun.
For a Southern twist on Mexican street-food, head to Minero. The menu ranges from classics, like chilaquiles, to fried catfish tacos with pickled green tomato tartar sauce. Especially impressive is the vast selection of single village mezcals, sure to warm your belly.
Barflies need not suffer bad food when they hit the Moe’s Crosstown Tavern at Hampton Park. Pierogies, fried green tomato BLTs, and bombastic burgers washed down with beer make this eatery a favorite among food and sports-lovers alike.
Like the best of James Island’s restaurants, Mondo’s gives up the goods without any of the fuss of similar cafés found downtown. That said, join the many regulars at this sweet spot for primo pastas and fresh local bounty cooked up simply but with gourmet flair.
Wood-fired pizzas, Italian race car memorabilia, and mod carrot-colored bar stools compose the newly transformed Monza, now run by Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink (of Leon's and Melfi's). The menu has been treated to a tune-up, too. The butter bean salad is now a sunny mix of cherry tomatoes, lemon, and dill, livened with bread crumbs and crème fraîche. Follow that with the Enzo—a proscuitto, baby potato, pistachio pesto, and Parmesan fonduta pizza—and couple your slices with the energetic giardiniera (house pickled veg). Nutella budino and negronis on tap round out this revamped pie shop's second wind.
On the main level, this double-decker restaurant boasts three dining rooms as well as outdoor seating. Look for straight-from-the-sea specials such as the fresh local clams steamed in white wine and herb broth and paired with leeks and prosciutto tossed with linguini. Feeling a bit saltier? Boaters, vacationers, and locals gather on the upper deck for a laid-back, fried-seafood atmosphere. From the casual menu, enjoy standards like seafood tacos and shrimp and oyster baskets.
Occupying a charming Italianate single house with murals, artwork, dim lighting, and intimate spaces, Muse makes a strong case as the city’s most romantic restaurant. Here, chef Joaquin Bustos presents Northern Mediterranean cuisine blending pasta, dates, and Eastern spices with seafood and meats, which creates a happy harmony of flavors.
Although a bit churched-up compared to a roadside rib joint, the ’cue is true: the pork is slowly pit-roasted over hickory, then slathered with an honest Alabama-style tomato-and-vinegar sauce. Freshly cooked collards and made-from-scratch mac ’n’ cheese top the list of sides on an extensive down-home Southern menu that also includes a delicious selection of pies. No reservations.
At NICO, the French-seafood eatery from chef Nico Romo on Shem Creek, you can either go light or all in. Try the raw oysters, a salad, and a chilled glass of rosé from southern France, or indulge in shrimp and periwinkles (sea snails) swimming in a cast-iron skillet of bubbling mashed garlic, herbs, and butter. Be sure to save room for the crème brûlée.
This stylish, high-decibel place is a sushi and sake staple for the neighborhood. You'll need to visit multiple times to try the full range of soups, salads, nigiri and sashimi, entrées, chef's specialties, and makimono. Sushi newbie? Let the expert waitstaff explain the menu and guide you to a new favorite.
If you’re craving a tender prime porterhouse or a succulent New York strip, head to this three-story love song to steak. The super-hungry will salivate over the 36-ounce rib-eye, while those leaving room for dessert might want to try a melt-in-your-mouth filet. Sides are served à la carte, and there’s a delicious appetizer selection.
Described as "backyard dining" and boasting a spacious covered patio, this Mount Pleasant spot owned by Brannon Florie (he's also executive chef at The Granary) offers a satisfying collection of souped-up Southern comfort food. Don't miss extra-crunchy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside hushpuppies stuffed with pimiento cheese or fried chickeb livers served over caramelized onions and stone-ground grits.
Chef Patrick Owens offers pleasing combinations of California-style, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at his Shoppes at Seaside Farms locale. Choose from a menu of charcuterie and cheese options, handcrafted pastas, and satisfying entrées such as seared crispy duck breast with barley, fennel sausage, greens and chile-mustard glaze.
Come for the redneck rolls (pulled pork and pimiento cheese deep fried in an eggroll), stay for the hearty servings and convivial staff. Crab cakes, fried shrimp, oysters, okra, and green tomatoes, along with signature sandwiches, make up the menu at this relaxed, very kid-friendly diner. On weekend mornings, expect a wait for the killer Bloody Marys.
Come lunchtime, Gucci and Godiva shoppers rest their weary selves at this swanky spot on the ground floor of Charleston Place Hotel. But this is no simple lunch. Try the duck confit waffles, perfectly seared scallops, or tile fish to fuel up for more power shopping.
At this local mainstay, meat lovers swoon for the charcuterie plate; it’s almost impossible to choose among pastas such as spinach ricotta ravioli and gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce; and main course offerings include tempting selections like the grilled pork chop with millefiori honey, spices, and crushed almonds. The romantic patio is lovely during nice weather.
Snag a seat at the mid-century-styled bar for happy hour cocktails like the "Don't Haint," made with Holy City Honey Ghost whiskey, or nibble on snacks like the pecan-meal hushpuppies. The real star of Chef Shaun Brian's dinner menu is seafood, such as pan-roasted sumac triggerfish served with creamed cauliflower and roasted beets. For a sweet finish, order the green tomato pie topped with buttermilk ice cream and crunchy toffee.
The view from the top of this high-end hotel in the Market can't be beat, and thankfully the food's just as elegant. The menu features a host of eclectic fare such as shrimp satay, duck confit nachos, Wagyu beef burgers, and several pizza selections.
This Southern-small-plates spot elevates down-home staples like hushpuppies with lemon-dill dip and fried chicken with spicy butter, along with indulgences such as tuna tartare and a tomahawk chop.
With the feel of an old-school raw bar, Pearlz offers peel-and-eat shrimp, tuna tartar, and oyster shooters on the chilled menu that headlines Southern oysters (raw or steamed) backed by classic mignonette or cocktail sauce. The offerings are rounded out by a selection of fresh catches, steaks, burgers, and children's items. No reservations.
Thankfully, time has not changed the luxurious dining experience at the Planter's Inn, where the kitchen delivers classics such as seared foie gras and beef carpaccio, plus many seasonal specialties. Don't miss the restaurant's famous 12-layer coconut cake.
Don't be deterred by the fact that this café is situated inside a laundromat. The quirky all-day joint serves a selection of gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads, sides, and sweets, including frozen custard swirled with Nutella. Perfect for grab-and-go bites like the grilled cheese, made with smoked gouda, green apple, cheddar, and prosciutto.
Owned by chef Brannon Florie and his wife, Renee, this Sullivan's Island newomer has an inviting ambiance. Though seating is limited to a couple high-tops on the front porch and two community tables inside, the menu offers more variety. Opt for the shrimp ceviche or tuna poke, or their lineup of bowls, including steamed rice, noodle, and papaya salad options and your choice of protein. Whether you're craving a cozy place to meet the gals for a post-workout snack or you're in the mood to linger over apps and drinks on date night, Pier 22 fits the bill.
An ode to one of Mexico's gastronomic capitals--Oaxaca, known as "land of the seven moles"--Pink Cactus offers several of the city's vibrant, savory sauces (verde, negro, and a tropical iteration--manchamanteles, meaning "table-cloth stainer") that embolden dishes like seared scallops, duck breast, and a superlative version of chicken enchiladas.
The lively scene at this locals-mostly tavern belies the morose tendencies of its namesake poet. For a south-of-the-border treat, try the mouth-watering mahi-mahi taco or take on Edgar’s Nachos, a multicolored platter of chips, chili, cheeses, guac, salsa, sour cream, scallions, and cilantro, kicked up several notches by jalapeños. For the less adventurous, there are burgers (serious contenders for the best in town) and salads.
Upscale barbecue’s the focus at this East Bay Street spot (a sibling of Poogan's Porch), with all the apps, sides, and entrees you might dream of. Try not to let temptations like cast-iron cornbread and skillet mac and cheese prevent you from sampling the baby kale salad with black-eyed peas, crispy country ham, wild mushrooms, and a Dijon sherry vinaigrette—it’s absolutely crave-worthy. The barbecue offerings, including pulled pork, ribs, and smoked sausage, shine, and executive chef Daniel Doyle says he tested dozens of sauce recipes before committing to the selection now offered on each table.
The setting in this neighborhood bistro is intimate, offering a cozy, European-inspired ambiance with an open kitchen. Plates made with fresh ingredients paired with French wines star on the menu. Split a frog leg tarte or artichoke au gratin to start, then pick from decadent entreés like the clam and mussel cioppino, or the skillet hanger steak with celery root hash.
Reservations come at a premium at R. Kitchen (which only seats between 16 and 20 people at a time), and for good reason. It's $30 for five courses, and while it's affordable, it's also delicious. The menu changes daily; sit at the counter to experience all that executive chef Ross Webb and his team have to offer. Be sure to check out the new location in West Ashley, too.
Choose from Virginia-farmed half shells or a rotating selection of local catches at this Eastside spot. Or browse chef Kevin Kelly's surf-and-turf menu--which includes plates such as "Lambs & Clams," a savory bowl of clams and meat doused in soffrito.
At chef Ben Berryhill’s sleek hot spot offering “South by Southwestern” fare, guests can nosh on crab meat tostaditas on the patio, or enjoy barbecue-spiced shrimp in the elegant dining room or at the bar. After all, it was named one of the “Best Places in America to Have a Beer” by Imbibe magazine--so drink up. Weekend brunch offers to die for breakfast tacos with soft-scrambled eggs and chorizo.
The spare, artful decor will make you forget you’re in a strip mall the moment you walk in the door, and it only gets better. Asian-fusion cuisine crafted from fresh ingredients dominates the menu. Sake done right rounds out a full bar, respectable wine list, and a wide range of bottled beer.
Tucked into a renovated Charleston single house on Huger Street, this pizza and natural wine restaurant is both trendy and cozy, with a menu that balances experimental and comforting flavors. Pies steal the show--we suggest the Wrath of Kahan with spicy pork sausage and medjool dates or the Mayor Quimby clam pie--but desserts like ricotta ice cream with guava sauce are a sweet surprise.
In addition to a huge cocktail list and bottle service, this King Street disco offers solid food as well. Think Wagyu beef sliders, crab salad lettuce wraps, wings, stuffed mushrooms, and even a sushi menu that will keep any partier fueled throughout the night.
In this sunlight-flooded restaurant located at The Vendue hotel, a modern menu takes cues from familiar classics. Start with the chopped salad, made with torn lettuce, roasted pimentos, marinated artichokes, shaved red onion, and green olives, adapted from a recipe that originated at the 1904 World's Fair. Or try the Hearts of Palmetto salad, featuring charred palmetto pickle, avocado mousse, and toasted benne seed vinaigrette. Then opt for the grilled scallops served with mashed sunchokes and charred lemon salsa verde.
Managed by the same folks who own the luxurious Halls Chophouse downtown, this is the place for burgers. It’s convenient to the beach and the pier and serves as a great place to rendezvous for a filling meal. In addition to the array of big, handmade patties, it offers a full menu spanning from the ubiquitous fish tacos to “drunken” chicken and fried shrimp. Live music often graces the patio on warm afternoons, making it the ideal place to fuel up after a long day of playing in the sand.
Birthed from a popular food truck of the same name, this comfortable and casual seafood joint now has permanent digs on Folly Road. The restaurant is noted for its fried- and grilled-to-order fish and shellfish, which stars in tacos (Bam-Bam Shrimp with signature, spicy Sriracha-infused sauce), sandwiches (The Big Easy with fried shrimp and green tomatoes spilling out of a hoagie), and generous baskets (everything from flounder to oysters to calamari). Don’t miss the perfectly delicious she-crab soup.
From his hometown post in Hemingway, South Carolina, Rodney Scott has stoked a far-reaching reputation as a slow-cooked barbecue virtuoso. His talents earned him the prestigious 2018 James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast. We suggest kicking off with a generous hunk of cornbread slathered with honey butter. Then venture into all things porcine, with a whole hog plate. Scott's signature steak sandwich, or the cornmeal-breaded catfish filet, are both worth returning to for seconds and thirds.
Since this former food truck took over the old Sloppy Cow digs on James Island, their basic diner fare has been spot-on. Think bacon and eggs and biscuits and gravy, as well as apps (jalapeño-spiked pimiento cheese dip), sandwiches, “from the grill” items (try the Green Eggs and Hamburger served sunny-side up with a slather of house-smoked jalapeño salsa verde and cilantro mayo), and nightly specials.
This popular high-end steak house serves smartly seasoned and seared prime steaks delivered sizzling in butter on signature 500-degree plates. Opt for the sauteed mushrooms and creamed spinach sides if you're out for an evening of indulgence. While the decor may seem bland and the iPad-bound wine and cocktail menu impersonal, the restaurant makes up for it with an attentive and cordial staff, locally sourced ingredients, and a curiously cool Lowcountry art installation on the ceiling of the Harley-Davidson shop-turned-bar.
Wagener Terrace got a lot tastier with the addition of this casual burger joint and bar. The menu features American, Asian, and Moroccan flavors, with breakfast served all day, every day (we suggest the fried chicken biscuit doused in hot honey).
Though the wait times for a table may be long, the minutes pass quickly at the restaurant's spacious deck bars, which offer unparalleled views of Shem Creek. Once seated, dig into down-home fare like smoked bacon pimiento cheese, crispy pork rinds, fried seafood, and saucy pulled pork sandwiches.
At this no-frills Mexican joint, start with a tasty (read: strong!) margarita and guacamole dip with house-made tortilla chips before indulging in enchiladas poblanos with mole sauce, tamales with verde sauce, or the standout chile rellenos. Be sure to check out the restaurant's other locations in Mount Pleasant and West Ashley.
Fancy dinner and a movie? Just steps away from Mount Pleasant Towne Centre’s Regal Cinemas, Savi boasts arguably the most comprehensive Italian wine selection off the peninsula. The food is no slouch either. The classics are best: cheesy meatballs bathed in spicy pomodoro; bubbling-hot eggplant parmesan; or white clam pizza speckled with garlic confit, pancetta, and Calabrian chili. While you’re at it, treat yourself to the Super Tuscans wine flight, a trio of rare delights.
Islanders and visitors looking for a down-home breakfast or hearty brunch head to this laid-back diner for homemade hash, omelets with fresh-off-the-boat shrimp, eggs Benedict with sweet lump crabmeat, grits, gravy, and biscuits. And that’s all before lunch. No reservations.
Head north of Mount Pleasant to this unassuming gem. Amidst the rooms jam-packed with nods to its former life as a general store, See Wee offers an extensive menu of seafood platters with shrimp, oysters, and flounder, and classic sides such as fried pickles and slow-cooked collards. As for sweets, try the banana pudding or Bourbon pecan pie; and if you're stopping in midday, you can't go wrong with the house-made biscuit.
From food truck to brick-and-mortar beauty, Semilla now sits in the former Lee Lee's Hot Kitchen. The newly pink interior awaits with creative tacos, rice bowls, and decadent snacks. Try the creamy sweet corn farro--a hearty, inventive Southern-style street corn, with Anson Mills grains, charred corn, cotija, and Benton's country ham. Dessert is worth the calories. Splurge on the dark chocolate flan with pepitas and caramel.
A burger joint with options for vegetarians? Yes, it exists. At the Park Circle outpost of Sesame Burgers & Beer, diners can choose from a menu of meat or meatless burgers and sandwiches that can be personalized with toppings like smashed avocado, fried eggs, basil pesto, and even peanut butter. Be sure to stop in the eatery's Mount Pleasant location, too.
From the owners of Five Loaves Café, this lunch and dinner place is not your average burger joint. Diners can pick what goes between the signature sesame brioche buns, choosing from locally sourced meats like elk and turkey, cheeses such as goat and pimiento, and toppings including pickled okra and fig-bacon jam.
This is the place to order New York-style slices and pies. Floppy, foldable thin-crust slices of cheese start at $4, or you can upgrade to pepperoni, white-based, or "grandma-style" for $4.75, plus extra for toppings like pickled veggies and ricotta.
Eclectic in design and menu, this eatery is always happening. Pick from shrimp and grits with house-made sausage and country ham, grilled barbecued tuna topped with fried oysters, or lump crab cakes with fresh cheeses.
Whether you want a small snack, great lunch, or a casual dinner, this centrally located Folly joint will satisfy. Evening highlights include Jack’s Signature Snapper, pan-seared with sautéed vegetables and coconut rice and topped with a tropical fruit rum sauce.
If the thought of tequila flights and Tex-Mex makes your mouth water, SOL is the place to go. This popular eatery serves up carnitas pork tacos, green chile chicken enchiladas, and a selection of wood-fired entrées. Can't make it out to Mount Pleasant? Look out for SOL's new location near downtown's Visitor Center on Meeting Street.
At this "farm and sea to table" restaurant, chef Tres Jackson celebrates local ingredients. We suggest sharing several dishes from the small-plate menu, such as the root vegetable Bolognese with ricotta gnocchi; smoked carrot garganelli pasta; or seared trout with avocado, cucumbers, and pepper oil. End with the impeccable beet crémeux.
Under the guidance of chef Manuel Sequeira, this upscale Upper King Street spot serves up pan-seared Atlantic salmon, split roasted herb chicken, and more. Grab a pre-dinner drink on the rooftop bar with a view of seven of the city’s steeples.
Rest your sandy self on the patio post-Sullivan's Island romp, belly up to the bar, or bring the kids to this spacious pizza joint serving up some of the best pie around (try the Original White or the loaded-up Special).
This is the second location of the Richmond restaurant renowned for its classic Greek fare. Start with any of the meze (shareable small plates) such as the grilled haloumi or keftedes (beef and lamb meatballs). Then opt for the pikelia tasting platter--a tour of five dishes--with souvlaki and spanakopita. The grilled psari (whole fish of the day) is a reliably pleasing main. And remember: everything tastes better with tzatziki.
Brought to life by sommelier Matt Tunstall and Justin Croxall, Stems & Skins offers an inviting and mellow vibe with upscale provisions. Along with an extensive list of exclusively natural wines available by the bottle or glass, patrons can also find a full bar, a selection of international beers, and a menu of Mediterranean-style small bites, funky cheeses, tinned seafood, and desserts.
This local chain has done gangbusters in the Southeast and with good reason. The ribs and pulled pork are finger-lickin’ good, especially doused in one of their many sauces—try the whiskey version. Dine with the crowds or get the goods to go.
Chickpeas are exalted at this tiny but mighty vegetarian cafe. Get the breakfast spread: a sampler of sorts that includes shakshuka (eggs poached in lightly simmered fresh tomatoes), sides of creamy tahini, Israeli salad (embellished with crunchy almonds and seeds), pillowy pitas, and the shop’s namesake dish (made-to-order hummus).
Laid-back Costa Rica meets down-home Americana at the Surf Bar, where locals go to sip margaritas and draft beers while watching surf videos and listening to live music. Look to the daily specials board for fresh catches, but menu items cooked over wood-burning grill, such as the burger, chicken on any of the salads, are great all the time.
Chef Anthony DiBernardo helms this bastion for barbecue located in a renovated car wash. Sold by heaping plate, piled on sandwiches, or by the pound to-go, the meats––pulled pork, turkey, brisket, ribs, and sausage––are cut to order, and you can sauce it all yourself with mustard, vinegar, Carolina Sweet, Alabama white, and jalapeño red sauce. Don't miss the sides (especially the hash and rice and Brunswick stew) and classic desserts like banana pudding.
With a charming outdoor courtyard, this restaurant at the end of Market Street is the perfect stop for a rum cocktail and some Middle Eastern fare. Tabbuli’s tapas can make a delicious pre-dinner appetizer or hearty meal. In addition to falafel, Jerusalem salad, gyros, and baba ghanoush, the menu includes an enticing selection of greens, such as Greek and tahini-dressed salads.
With the same festive feel as its older Folly Beach brother--and a matching menu of addictive tacos, nachos, margaritas, and more--the downtown Taco Boy offers expansive indoor and outdoor spaces that leave plenty of room for family dinners as well as group happy hours. No reservations.
Your favorite downtown dive now has a country cousin on Maybank Highway. There you'll find the same indulgent fare--Mike's Famous Duck Club and duck-fat fries, anyone?--plus mac 'n' cheese; a kids menu; and plenty of drafts, wines, and even craft cocktails on tap.
Boasting waterfront views and rustic but elegant decor, this spot makes a lovely addition to Shem Creek. The drink menu features craft beers and creative cocktails (try the blood orange paloma made with moonshine or the Black & Blue Mule with blueberry and blackberry compote). Helmed by chef Ray England, the kitchen's offerings include rolls served with seaweed butter, farro salad with roasted beets, and fried shrimp glazed with chile honey.
Beer and burger fans will do well to stop into TBonz. Sure it's near the crowded Market, but after a fried pickle plate, robust pork chops, and a couple of ice-cold drafts, you'll be happy you came.
The peninsula’s only bowling alley boasts more than a good time on the lanes. Creative takes on classic dishes, such as the spicy shrimp po'boy and chicken-and-waffles sliders, pair well with a local brew.
Proper fish and chips are served in this spot decorated like a typical British chippy, with a slightly dive-y (in a good way) feel. Despite a tiny menu (battered and fried fish and chips, just fish, just chips, and peas and gravy), the food is spot on: fish comes super crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. The joint just got a brand-new update––moving into roomier digs hear Park Circle and offering an expanded menu including meat pies and craft brews––but the fish and chip recipes remain blessedly the same.
The best of the local chain, “Crab Shacktacular” anchors the Center Street scene. Patio diners are a raucous, mixed lot of families and happy-hour types. Look for a barrel of peanuts, plastic utensils, a raw bar, buckets of steamed oysters, clams, mussels, deviled crab, Frogmore stew, and the requisite fried fare.
Fans of the original café on King Street will be happy to find similar breakfast and lunch items at its swanky sister spot in the Gibbes Museum lobby—like avocado toast drizzled with olive oil and an appetizer selection, as well as new twists on old favorites, such as a ham and cheese sandwich stuffed with spicy pickles. Espresso and tea drinks, smoothies, and wine and beer are available at the counter, providing a bev match for a morning of gallery browsing or an evening visit to the museum during its extended hours on Wednesdays.
Diners dig this oyster house on Upper King and its affordable seafaring menu and charming, teal decor. Bivalve lovers savor “merroir” subtleties like the briny, clean Quonset Points from Narragenset Bay, or the subtly sweet taste Single Lady oysters, locally sourced from Seabrook Island.
Located in the historic James Gregorie House, The Establishment suits its name. The restaurant specializes in simple, polished offerings divided into small plates—such as chilled shrimp and seared scallops with broccoli pistou—and larger mains that vary by the evening. Seafood takes the lead on chef Matt Canter’s menu with artfully prepared cuts of fish and, occasionally, red meat accompanied by bright, seasonal veggies. The fare is light, with richer accents showing up in the details, like brown butter and salsa verde glazing the swordfish, and a splash of citrus and buttery leeks topping spaghetti with Atlantic rock crab.
Chef Chris Stewart uses all-natural meats and local seafood and vegetables from area purveyors and farms for his menu, which changes by season. Entrées such as buttermilk-fried quail and à la carte sides will have you thinking your meal can't get much better—until you dig into the bread pudding with pecans and whiskey cream sauce.
Chef/owner Kevin Johnson’s menu celebrates artisanal local producers year-round in a roomy, handsome Cannonborough space off King Street. A menu categorized by produce, seafood, and meat includes items such as springtime pasta with English peas and lamb bacon, duck breast with pistachios, and seafood pilau with clams and shrimp. A house pickling program also highlights this James Beard award-nominated chef's culinary focus.
Diners enjoy a daily changing menu featuring locally sourced ingredients at this hot spot on King Street, led by chef/partner Jeremiah Bacon. Each entrée is a true star in its own right, from the house-ground burger--topped with aged cheddar and bacon and served with truffle fries--to the tender grilled Halperns' beef deckle.
Fresh fish and vegetarian dishes anchor this quaint café, but there are chicken and seafood options for meat-lovers. Come hungry for heaping portions of flavorful food at this family-friendly eatery. No reservations.
This spot offers subtle nautical touches and an airy feel aided by an open kitchen and plenty of windows. Run by the folks behind Wild Olive, the menu slants local and Italian. Standouts include simple salads, pizzas—such as the Old Danger, featuring pancetta, white sauce, and a runny fried egg—and creamy gelato from Beardcat's sweet shop, located downstairs.
If you're in the pursuit of pure luxury, the Ocean Room is the place. Chef de cuisine Kyle Bowling presents a menu of elegant charm featuring items such as grouper sashimi with edamame, and a 21 day dry-aged, bone-in ribeye that will bring new revelations of what a steak could--and should--be.
This stately oyster hall, built in a 1920's bank, features an ever-evolving seafood menu from executive chef Mike Lata and chef de cuisine Tori Schumacher that includes exclusive oyster varieties and an American caviar service. Go for the crispy oyster sliders; stay for the showstopping seafood tower, which offers a variety of raw and cooked seafood.
Owners Xan McLaughlin and and Karalee Nielsen Fallert deliver a cafe with cheerful touches on a hip corner of Hampton Park. At breakfast, opt for the æbleskiver, sweet Danish popovers with seasonal fruit preserves. The avocado toast is always a light, fresh bet. For lunch, go for the Park Burger with a side of creamy kale.
For an inexpensive meal in style, this throwback Hollywood-esque diner offers patty-melts, huevos rancheros, and grilled cheese with cocktails (the Moscow mules are a must) served in vintage glassware. For King Street revelers, breakfast is served into the wee hours of the morning.
This unassuming sandwich shop does more than just put a protein on two pieces of bread. Think sesame shrimp cozied up inside a deli bun, cu-banh mi with candied pork belly, and a turkey giardiniera. Beers on tap and a wall of board games make this a relaxed spot where you can bring the kids.
For a la carte tacos—including two grouper options—plus burritos, quesadillas, and breakfast dishes, head to this neighborhood eatery that's big on colorful local flavor. Grab a seat at the counter to sip a beer and ponder your many hot sauce options, or take the goods to go.
Located on the picturesque rooftop of the Restoration, The Watch offers wine, cocktails, and beer, as well as a smartly crafted menu, care of head chef Jordan Moore. Indulge in small plates like a lettuce wrap with marinated cucumbers and avocado or rich crab cakes.
Find this out-of-the-way dive--named for a ship stranded in the same spot during Hurricane Hugo--behind the Shem Creek docks. The seafood, all sourced from fresh and local fishermen, is highlighted in favorite dishes like the deviled crab and the fried shrimp, and occasional nods to landlubbers with the Wreak's London broil.
Ken Vedrinski’s Bogard Street hideaway pays homage to his Italian Grandma Volpe. Delicious antipasti--including small plates of vegetables, cheeses, and meats--can be shared tapas-style. House-made pastas and piatti (main courses) include Grandma Volpe’s classic tomato ragù and fresh fish prepared in the chef’s choice.
Looking for a lean and locally grown meat? Then hit up Triangle for Hill Creek Farm's grass-fed beef showcased in burgers ranging from the Plain Jane (lettuce, tomato, and cheese) to the decadent Boss Hog (pimento cheese and caramelized onions). This environmentally-conscious eatery also serves brunch; be sure to try the crab cakes and cinnamon rolls when you stop by.
At Tu, Chef Josh Walker (of Xiao Bao Biscuit) has shifted his roving international inspiration to focus on India and the country's vast regional flavors. Bread service, chaat, and the curries fill the menu with vibrant flavor and color. The vada pav--essentially a potato fritter slider, slathered with sweet and spicy chutneys--is worth a visit alone. Conventional comforts, like the makhani murgh (butter chicken), will satisfy your cravings for the South Asian flavors sparsely represented, yet highly desired, on the peninsula.
More than just a biscuit emporium, this Mount Pleasant eatery offers a variety of open-faced sandwiches with crafted combinations (fried chicken and gravy or shrimp with Thai chili sauce to name a few). Though the namesake baked goods are fluffy and moist on their own, a self-serve jam and butter bar is available for slathering away to your heart's content. Find a friendly staff, a sunlit patio, Bloody Marys and mimosas all in this relaxed and tasty spot.
A party with a view, Vickery’s at Shem Creek offers salads, sandwiches, soups, and entrées, plus many wines by the glass on their short, but not shoddy, list. When the weather's nice, grab a seat on the marsh-facing upper deck, order their classic Cuban black bean cakes, and watch the pelicans catch their own dinner.
From the folks behind the wheel of Neapolitan-style pizza truck Coastal Crust, this rustic-chic coffee shop caters to East Cooper families and foodies alike. Settle inside or outside the charming cottage for a delicious apple cider doughnut, or relax on a picnic bench in the rear yard while the kiddos clamber over an old-school Chevy-turned-jungle-gym. With throwback favorites like cinnamon-bun French toast and grilled cheese (elevated by queso fresco and roasted tomato), fresh salad spins such as kale and quinoa, and a promising toast bar, there's a perk for every patron.
At this home-cooking eatery, pop some fried okra with spicy aïoli while waiting for your country fried steak with mashed potatoes and traditional squash casserole. But if you’re there for dinner, tread lightly with appetizers, because the entrées are big enough for the whole family.
Kitschy cool is the name of the game at this hip West Ashley hang-out. Sip their namesake concoction (a rum punch served on fire) or try a Scorpion Bowl while sampling an eclectic assortment of gourmet tacos, such as barbecue duck confit and baja shrimp.
It may be hard to spot this hidden gem within the streets of Elliotborogh, but it’s worth a stop when you do. Indulge in seasonal pub fare such as "bahn mi" bombers with lemongrass fried chicken served with Hawaiian rolls. The bar offers local beers, cocktails, an evolving wine list, and punch jars.
From the busy vantage point overlooking Shem Creek, executive chef and owner Jimmy Purcell delievers fresh seafood and Lowcountry favorites. Enjoy entrées such as heaping bowls of Prince Edward Island mussels, herb-seared grouper, and a variety of pasta dishes. Save room for the drunken banana dessert--a deconstructed banana split--for a luscious finale.
Expertly balancing the best of several culinary influences--those of France, Italy, and John's Island--chef Jacques Larson incorporates foods gleaned from local farms and waters into fresh, simple salads; delicate pastas; and intricate seafood dishes that sing with the season. Be sure not to pass up pastry chef Kara Corbelle's desserts.
At this welcoming space, the sizzling pizza lineup created by chef-owner Patrick Owens belongs to a variety of Italian-inspired fare. Ingredients like San Danielle prosciuitto show attention to quality. Start with a selection of raw and roasted seafood--try the market ceviche, charred octupus, or a plate of raw oysters--before selecting a wood-fired pie that catches your eye (the goat cheese and smoked duck ham is a winner).
A pizza joint bedecked in little white lights and beer-ad umbrellas, this kicked-back place is a beloved Folly spot for tasty, cheap eats: from pies to subs, calzones to salads. Try the pesto pizza, the white pizza, or let your imagination run wild and create your own.
Imagine your favorite food court had a modern upgrade, and you'll get the vibe at Workshop. Housed in the Pacific Box & Crate development, the space features five rotating food stalls serving a variety of cuisine options that rotate often--anything from tacos to meatballs, sushi to sake--plus a seasonal farmers and crafters market on Saturdays.
Scents of East Asia waft out of this neighborhood spot set in a repurposed gas station. Get a large bowl of mapo dou fu (Sichaun-style tofu in fermented bean broth) or try the okonomiyaki--a cabbage pancake topped with either bacon, pork candy, a farm egg, or all three.
Tucked in the courtyard of the posh Zero George Hotel, this petite eatery’s lush patio feels like a secret garden. Chef Vinson Petrillo serves seasonal dishes, with tasting menu options and curated wine and craft cocktail lists. After dinner, unwind with a nightcap at the quaint bar.
Conveniently located next to the Terrace movie theater, Zia caters to film mavens and the nearby Riverland Terrace neighborhood alike. Classic tortas, enchiladas, and tacos make up the menu with drinks staples such as five varieties of margaritas. Come early, as seating is limited.