Maybe it’s the Southern charm, or the historic buildings. Perhaps it’s the rich history and culture, or the aqua blue beaches with warm waters of the Atlantic. Maybe it’s the fact that things slow down here and like the similar effect of “island time” in Hawaii, you’re on “Southern time” a relaxed pace now. Those are all great reasons to visit South Carolina, but my top reason has to be the incredibly good food that can only come from the South and more specifically – Charleston.
We can all name great food cities in the US; New York, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, but Charleston? Yes! Charleston has become one of the premier cities for great food. Reason enough for foodies from all over the world to have the desire to visit. And with so many restaurants and places to explore, you’re probably asking yourself, Where are the best restaurants in Charleston? or What are the best hotels in Charleston? Below are some must-try recommendations for hotels and restaurants that I personally tried on my most recent trip last month.
Zero Restaurant + Bar
0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401
You can’t stay at Zero George and not dine at the restaurant. Even if you were staying outside of Downtown Charleston, you would need to drive in and visit Zero Restaurant + Bar. The ambience is like no other. You can dine inside the beautifully refurbished Charleston-style home, but you’ll want to sit outside and enjoy the warm Summer night dining al fresco.
Intimate tables are spread out through the open courtyard where soft candlelight glow illuminates the dining area. The staff is attentive, friendly, and professional. You feel as though you have been invited to a supper club in an intimate space. The cocktail program must be one of Charleston’s best kept secrets. Make sure your first round is a “Smoke On The Water” – bourbon, coach di torino, Lairds Applejack brandy, black walnut bitter, and a smoked ice cube – an excellent well balanced cocktail.
Chef Vinson Petrillo and his team create beautiful and flavorful dishes that are prepared with locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The menu changes frequently but whatever you order, it will pair well with one of the many boutique wines or craft cocktails available. The upscale experience in a charming location make this one of the top picks for dining in Charleston.
103 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403
One of you loves modern and contemporary restaurants, the other loves classic, rustic, and charming suppers. Cannon Green gives you the perfect classic-meets-cosmopolitan ambience in Downtown Charleston. The modern take on classic Mediterranean cuisine is the star here and only the freshest available local ingredients are used by Chef Amalia Scatena. The emphasis of farm/ocean-to-table cooking shines through in the flavorful dishes. A must try is Chef’s raviolo – picture a large ravioli with duck egg, spinach, ricotta cheese, brown butter, and garlic chips.
76 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
Husk is everything you picture when you hear someone say Charleston. The space is a refurbished home with a wrap-around porch and black shutters. Right in front on Queen street you can see a horse-drawn carriage taking visitors around downtown. Oh, and the food? Some of the best in town.
Expect Southern style comfort food with an elevated essence here. That means the fried chicken plate, is quite possibly the best fried chicken you’ll ever have. The burger, made with a bacon/beef blend, has been on several “best of” lists. Also, staying true to its Southern roots is an extensive whiskey/bourbon list that includes a lot of rare bottles.
207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
If you’re going to have breakfast/brunch in Charleston, make it Hominy Grill. The quaint little space located in a residential neighborhood has expanded, but even with the extra seats, there’s still a long wait on weekends for this Charleston staple. Your go-to’s will be the housemade banana bread, shrimp & grits, and a sandwich called the Charleston Nasty that consists of two buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken, cheddar, and lots of sausage gravy. A food coma is inevitable.
Wise-Buck Smoked Meats
23 Ann St, Charleston, SC 29403
Wise-Buck Smoked Meats is a new joint serving…well, smoked meats of course. The place is super casual with picnic tables on the patio and several canned and bottled brews. The menu is simple and straightforward, pick from your choice of meats a la cart and add some side dishes like charred zucchini, smoked corn on the cob, or the light yet flavorful potato salad. If you’re craving a sandwich, you can’t go wrong with the Carolina-style pulled pork with broccoli rabe.
1137 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
An extensive craft beer list and a sandwich that has its own fan club? We’re in! Tattooed Moose has two locations and visiting the original dive bar in Downtown is a must. Mike’s Famous Duck Club is a legend and deserves to be in a league of its own. The famous and addicting triple decker is a combination of duck confit, applewood smoked bacon, hickory smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and delicious globs of garlic aioli, all on grilled sweet Hawaiian bread. While you’re at it, grab a side of duck fat fries, they are perfectly crisp and seasoned and the only fitting side to an outstanding sandwich like this.