Oh, Charleston food, where do I start… every meal we had while in South Carolina was amazing. We did our research, asking friends for recommendations on not only places to go, but exactly what to order. Of course we also left room in our schedule — and stomachs — for last minute additions. Here are my best recommendations for where to drink and dine from morning to night in the Holy City.
CALLIE’S HOT LITTLE BISCUIT
I hate to admit this as a Southerner, but I just don’t like biscuits. They’re too bready for my tastes and I would typically never choose to have one for breakfast. However, I heard Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit again and again as a must have while in Charleston, so I added it to the itinerary. It did not disappoint. I was able to order three mini biscuits which meant less of the crumbly bread texture that I avoid and they had plenty of spreads to order – from pimiento cheese to honey. Don’t miss out on the blackberry or the cinnamon biscuits.
Hominy Grill gets a lot of hype. By a lot of hype, I mean lines out the door on a regular basis and a camera crew filming a show on southern food for the Food Network during our visit (they interviewed us!) Is it totally worth the hype? Probably not, but if you can get there on a day when there’s not a line, it’s a solid and reasonably priced classic breakfast in a homey and bright space. Get the Charleston Nasty Biscuit if you’re feeling indulgent.
THE RISE COFFEE BAR
If you’re looking for a morning or afternoon pick me up while strolling around King Street, pop in The Rise Coffee Bar. I had the most refreshing mint iced tea and could have sat all afternoon reading in the window. The barista was one of the friendliest, chattiest people we met all weekend (and that’s saying a lot for the South!) and I was so glad we ventured off the main drag to find this little gem.
LUNCH AND SNACKS
At the risk of offending some, I have to say that I think Husk is overrated. Yes, the space is perfectly appointed, but the food is just not worth the wait or the price, especially given that my cornbread was burnt when I went – shouldn’t that be one thing they never mess up? So all that is to say, next time you’re waiting in line to get into Husk, pop in next door to Poogan’s Porch. It has a similar ambiance to Husk, you’re dining in an old Charleston home, but the food experience is far superior. From pimiento cheese fritters to fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and a fruit chutney to a pimiento cheese BLT, our meal was indulgent, approachable, and delicious.
We stumbled upon Sugar Bakeshop while popping in and out of all the adorable shops on Cannon Street. It had been a while since breakfast and I desperately needed a snack.Was a double chocolate chip cookie the healthiest option? Probably not, but it was mouth-wateringly delicious. So rich, chewy, and chocolatey.
KUDU COFFEE & CRAFT BEER
In need of somewhere that wasn’t so in your face Instagram-worthy, as much of Charleston is, we ended up at Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer. We needed somewhere to chill out and burn an hour before heading to the airport. I got an iced coffee and a croissant, Adam got a beer, and we were able to sit and relax in a local, hipster — but not overwhelmingly so — spot.
THE DARLING OYSTER BAR
I ate dinner at The Darling Oyster Bar last summer when I was in town for a blog conference, and it had been on my list to revisit…mostly because it’s a space so gorgeous that you need to go during the day. We went for happy hour, a move I’d highly recommend. There is a selection of $1 oysters and drink specials. We opted for a dozen oysters, an order of hush puppies, and the punch. I can’t think of a lovelier way to spent a late afternoon during the summer.
First things first, this boutique hotel is absolutely stunning. The entire Zero George property is perfectly southern and refined. You’ll want to spend all day relaxing on the porch with a cocktail in hand. Unfortunately, there was a sudden downpour the evening we visited, though we did have just enough time for a blog shoot on the veranda upstairs. You’ll see that in an outfit post soon! A bit of rain didn’t stop our parade through Charleston, however, and we spent a couple hours in the downstairs bar drinking creative cocktails both from the menu and invented by the bartender on the spot after we gave him an idea of what we were looking to drink that evening. We had a delightful time waiting out the rain, and next time I’m in Charleston, I plan on attending one of the intimate cooking classes that Zero George hosts.
If you’re looking for a tiny restaurant, you’ve found the place. 167 Raw is a narrow room with bar seats and a handful of tables. We popped in here in the middle of a monsoon, so we didn’t have to wait long, but I’ve heard you can wait for hours on a normal night. It definitely has a hip, casual ambiance, and it was perfect for a pre-dinner raw plate and craft beers.
The Ordinary is another restaurant that came highly recommended from almost everyone we spoke with. We ate upstairs, though the bar downstairs had a lively vibe that I’d want to partake in next time I’m in town. Make sure to order the oyster sliders and the steak tartare with crispy oysters, and to drink, you’ll want to savor one of their daiquiris. These aren’t the overly sweet, frozen concoctions you typically encounter.
I ran into a friend in the airport when I arrived in Charleston who recommended we check out Slightly North of Broad, S.N.O.B., for drinks and dessert, so we did just that. The chocolate pot de creme was delicious, yes, as was my bourbon cocktail, but the people watching here exceeded anything else I saw in the city. The bar had its fair share of Charlestonians who had knocked back a few too many that evening, and we couldn’t help but become enthralled in their conversations.
To be honest, FIG was not in my original itinerary. It’s a bit higher end than I was looking for on this trip, and, as a James Beard award winning restaurant, it isn’t always easy to get into. However, at the end of an evening that had taken us through several other spots and many drinks, I figured it was worth a shot to see if there were any bar seats left before they closed. We got lucky and sat down right away. The bar seemed filled with regulars and they advised we get the ricotta and lamb gnocchi. Now, I’ll tell you, you must go, and you must get the gnocchi, too.
So, there you have my recommendations on where to eat and drink in Charleston. Next up, I’ll have my guide on where to shop and where to stay. Also, if there’s anywhere I must go next time I’m in town, let me know! I’m already itching to get back.