Where to Eat in Charleston, SC
Headed to Charleston, SC? The Holy City is a mecca of Low Country fare and some of the best dining and restaurants you will find in the South.
Because of its proximity to water and extended growing season, the ingredients, fish and produce are among the most fresh and flavorful you can find.
Restaurants pop up at a dizzying pace so competition is fierce to stay booked and in business through the years. One thing is certain: You will be pushing the limits on your waistband for all the eating and drinking to be done. (Which means you will want to pack some outfit changes in your Hanger Valet to accommodate your growing figure, wink wink.)
After visiting more than 20 times in the last 14 years, Charleston has become our home away from home. In that time we have found some incredible restaurants that are always on our list. Likewise, we always try and fit in a couple of newcomers (and generally avoid the super touristy spots).
For the most part, reservations are recommended at any time of the year, especially if your group is large (5 or more). Due to Covid, reservations are required at many restaurants.
While it is impossible to name favorites, here are a handful that are among our absolute musts when we visit.
Butcher & Bee
Located on King Street, Butcher & Bee is a hive of local flavors, unique flavor profiles and interesting spirits. While they boast an impressive selection of sandwiches, salads and large plates, we never pass up the whipped feta. Thirsty? Butcher & Bee offers cool cocktails, wine by the glass or bottle plus local beers on draft or beyond by the bottle. Whatever you do, don’t miss on grabbing something sweet or grainy from the bakery.
The Obstinate Daughter
Located on Sullivan’s Island, The Obstinate Daughter is a casual raw bar, wood fired pizza and all around Low Country Italian inspired spot. Oysters are offered daily with an interesting take on mignonettes. We never pass up the Anson Mills Farro Piccolo, Peach & Prosciutto or oysters. Fan of gin? Be sure to order The William Moultrie – a signature cocktail of High Wire Hatrick gin (my favorite), cucumber water, key lime, grapefruit and basil and served on tap.
The Palmetto Café
Located inside the Belmond in the heart of downtown Charleston, The Palmetto Café is a serene and upscale casual refuge from the daytime Charleston heat. Giant windows beckon light into the space and an indoor wall fountain offers the sounds of being outside on the garden but with air conditioned temps. The portions are huge and every single dish is as fresh as you can imagine. We’ve never gone wrong with the Yellow Gazpacho, Crab Salad, Palmetto Sampler or Shrimp Tacos. The menu changes seasonally but some items remain eternal like the 21 Burger.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but we have to say The Ordinary is a restaurant we would never think of missing on a trip to the Holy City. Located on upper King and inside an historic bank, The Ordinary serves perhaps some of the best oysters in the city. The wine list and services are equally as impressive. The hot and cold menu changes with the season and always boasts the freshest of catches and bites. Plat du jours never change including a Sunday Fish Fry and Friday Baked Stuffed Lobster among others.
Leon's Oyster Shop
Fried Chicken. Oysters. Champagne. Rose on Tap. Frozen gin & tonics. You might think think this is heaven but actually it is Leon’s Oyster Shop located on way Upper King. Housed inside a former auto garage, the space is super casual and great for a party of 2 or 20 (but be sure to make reservations for parties of 5 or more). Don’t miss the Siam Salad with fried chicken, The Chicken Sandwich, hush puppies, Black Eye Pea Salad. And of course the oysters from the oyster board.
For cocktails. For lunch. For dinner. For brunch. For anything – Husk is a Southern food must do. Located on Queen Street in the heart of downtown Charleston, Husk offers some of the most hearty comfort food presented by the highest of Southern charm. Brunch is our favorite and is so large and filling we generally are full all day. The menu changes often and by the season but at all times is delicious.
Millers All Day
Located on lower King, Millers serves reinvented south brunch food All Day. Start with a Bloody Mary (they have a few to choose from), carafe of mimosa or one of their other fun cocktails (Green Tea Mojito yes please) and pair with the waffles, biscuit sandwiches or bowls. There is a strong grit presence at Millers thanks to the Geechie Boy co-ownership.