My Charleston Eats is arbitrary and based solely on my experiences with one very limited exception. A few of my listings may have no comments and that is because it has been a while since I have visited but the past experiences were all excellent. I will update as I find new favorites or revisit old faves and have new comments about my experience. Some might say there are notable omissions and that is true. That is because the list is based on my experiences and my experiences at some establishments do not warrant being on my list.
Bistronomy by Nico – Casual French Bistro with a spin on many bistro classics. It has only been open a few months and it has already created a fan club. I could be the president of it. I love it that much. Try the Goat Cheese Spring Rolls, the Octopus, or the Pâté en Croûte from the Small Plates or the Bouillabaisse, Truffle Chicken, or the Scallops from the Large Plates.
Felix – This is a French Bistro style bar and restaurant with small plates. I mention the bar because it is half the restaurant and is ALWAYS full of patrons. The French Onion Soup, the Lobster Deviled Eggs, the Steak-Frites… need I go on? Everything is exceptional. If you are hungry and want a burger, get the Raclette Burger. Do not add any condiments; eat it as served. Be prepared to have a food orgasm.
Charleston Drinks: Wine Bar
Bin 152 – Tucked away on Lower King Street, Bin 152 is an oasis surrounded by antique shops and galleries. Forty wines by the glass and over 200 wines by the bottle. Forty different kinds of cheese and charcuterie all served a la carte with their freshly baked bread. Downtown Lower King
Wine & Co. – Nestled into a ground-floor retail space in the Upper Meeting St. apartment building, Elan Midtown is this welcoming, friendly wine bar. The menu is full of wine flights that will expose you to wine styles, varietals, and more that will broaden as well as please your palate.
Upper Meeting St Area
Charleston Eats: Fine Dining
Charleston Grill: Charleston is a tourist/beach town, and most restaurants have a casual, ”come as you are” atmosphere. Their food may be spectacular, but it is by no means a “fine dining” experience. Charleston Grill is the exception; it is top shelf in every way; the food, service, and wine list. This restaurant is in The Charleston Place Hotel, but if you are not staying there, do not let that deter you. Many an occasion is celebrated in this restaurant by locals and tourists alike. Downtown
Charleston Eats: Barbeque
Swig & Swine I Love this place, and every meat I have consumed here has been great. This is BBQ with table service, so no standing in lines, no cafeteria-style, just wait on me and let me eat. You may have to wait for a table, but the bar has lots of interesting beer to keep you busy. West Ashley and Summerville.
Lewis Barbeque This is Texas barbecue, and everything about it IS Texas. By far, the best brisket I have ever had. Service is cafeteria-style. The downside is “it’s cafeteria-style,” the upside is you get to approve your portion. The downside is you will spend a lot more money than you thought. While the food is great, I do not like that you stand in line for food and then stand and wait at the bar to get a drink or vice versa. Heaven forbid, you want another beer. Great food! Not my style of service. But if you like Texas-style you will love this. NoMo District
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ The Scott family is renowned across the South as amazing pitmasters. After years of pleading Charlestonians pleaded, Rodney finally broke away and moved here. It just opened, and there is nearly always a line. I have not waited in the line yet, but I will. But I had to include just because if you stand in line in 90+ degree heat and humidity, it must be fantastic. Besides a low, and slow-cooked pig slathered in sauce. It is impossible to suck.
Charleston Eats: Fried Chicken
Leon’s Fine Poultry and Oyster Shop This is some excellent fried chicken. Period. Oysters Casino is amazing. Kale Salad is great. Never disappointed here. For dessert have some soft serve ice cream because you will not find that anywhere else downtown. Downtown Upper-Upper King
Charleston Eats: Steak
Hall’s Chop House If you want to cry while you eat a steak, order any of the dry-aged steaks. While I have only eaten there a few times for dinner, I dream of the next opportunity to go back. They also do a great Gospel Sunday Brunch with live local gospel singers on the first floor. Reservations far in advance is a must anytime you want to eat here. Downtown – North of Calhoun
Charleston Eats: Italian and Greek
Le Farfalle – This is a modern Italian, New York-influenced restaurant. The chef-owner runs the back of the house and his wife-partner runs the front of the house. I have yet to have any dish there that I did not LOVE. Portions are generous but not over the top. All pasta is made in-house. The wine list pairs with the food very well with some surprising bottles that I would not expect at an Italian Restaurant. Service is on point. I love it that my wine glass never gets close to empty until the end of the meal.
Wild Olive – This is my second favorite Italian restaurant in Charleston. You will have to drive off the peninsula; they are always busy, so a reservation way ahead of time is a must. (Like weeks before you even leave for your vacation). I have yet to have pasta I did not love. If you are going to order an entree, be sure to get the Smashed Potatoes as a side – KILLER!. Johns Island
Laura My new favorite Italian restaurant in the greater Charleston area. You gotta drive to Summerville, but it is so worth the drive. Rustic Italian cuisine inspired by the family dinner table in Italy. Nico does it again. Everything we ate was delicious. Everything he touches is gold. Elevating pasta, Neapolitan pizza, and more.
Charleston Eats: Pizza
EVO Wood-Fired Pizzeria Probably the first wood-fired pizza place in the area. They do it really well, but competition abounds. I still love it; I am just not in that part of town much anymore. Park Circle, North Charleston
Edmund’s Oast A brewpub with lots and lots of brew that also serves great food. Mostly small plates to share but entrees also available.
Charleston Eats: Seafood
167 Raw They call it an Oyster Bar but it is so much more than that. Yes, there are always oysters but also ceviche, poke, a New England Lobster Roll, Po’Boys, and more. There are only 18 seats, and they do not take reservations but buckle up and wait for an opening. 167 is a must-stop if you love well-made, yet straightforward and delicious seafood.
Charleston Eats: Brunch
Hall’s Chop House Yes, they are on here twice because they also do a great Gospel Sunday Brunch with live local gospel singers on the first floor. Reservations far in advance is a must anytime you want to eat here. Downtown – North of Calhoun
Charleston Eats: Bakery
Brown’s Court Bakery – Their housemade savory loaves of bread are fantastic but I go to Brown’s Court for the sweet rolls, amazing, unbelievable, gorgeous sweet rolls including Cinnamon Rolls, Sticky Buns, Schnecken, Kouign Amann, and Monkey Bread.
Charleston Eats: Burgers
39-Rue de Jean The burger at 39 Rue de Jean was the first great burger I ever had…EVER! Like any great burger in South Carolina, if the establishment wants the client to have an option for how its cooked other than well done, they have to grind their own beef. This means that you are more than likely getting some incredible cuts of beef ground into your burger. Maybe it’s because it’s my first or maybe its because of the duck fat-fried pomme frites. Actually no, it is because it is thick and juicy and cooked just the way I like it. The bun is perfection, and the Dijon mustard is the absolute correct mustard to eat on this burger. Others exist, but this is my favorite.
On the Waterfront
Fleet Landing For a city that is surrounded by water, Charleston is bereft with waterfront drinking and dining with one exception: Fleet Landing. The food is good but nothing spectacular unless you get the Crispy Steak Calamari (think calamari french fries) and the Crispy Whole Fried Flounder. So when you want a view of the waterfront, go there. You could also just sit outside at the bar and have a few drinks as that is always fun too.