Charleston, South Carolina might not be the place your mind jumps to when thinking of the major food hubs in America. But it is home to some of the most delicious restaurants and cafes that can seem overwhelming when you first arrive. Check out these 27 places to get you started, and then you’ll be ready to explore on your own.
1. Rock Shrimp Salad at O-Ku
This salad is the perfect combination of healthy and delicious, and it’s an O-Ku fan-favorite. The Carrot Ginger Vinaigrette is a unique dressing that puts an interesting flavor on this entree that will have you feeling satisfied and just the right level of full.
2. Duck Club with Duck Fat Fries at Tattooed Moose
Their menu says it’s the “best sandwich ever made!” and I can’t disagree: duck confit, applewood smoked bacon and hickory smoked cheddar topped with garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato and red onion all on top of sweet Hawaiian bread…are you drooling yet? Combine it with a side of these fries, and you’ll be in heaven.
3. All Natural Chicken Caesar Salad at Five Loaves Cafe
When your typical Caesar salad meets the classier and more sophisticated version of itself, you get this. It’s everything you want in your classic appetizer or small entree, but a just little bit better.
4. Charred Grilled Oysters at Leon’s Oyster Shop
Try this when you want to spice up your typical oyster dish and you won’t regret it.
5. Pumpkin BBQ Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict at The Rarebit
You would never expect these flavors to taste good together, but they do. It’s also filled with protein and is, therefore, the ideal brunch meal to start your day on the right foot.
6.Okonomiyaki at Xiao Bao Biscuit
What the heck is that big weird word? It means Japanese Cabbage Pancakes. Well, you’re probably still confused because that sounds gross. Somehow, it’s so good, and it’s a lot healthier than your typical pancake. Next time you’re trying to master that no-carb diet, head over to Xiao Bao Biscuit.
7. Lobster Roll at 167 Raw
When you’re wishing you were in Cape Cod or the Hamptons, eating those fresh Lobster Rolls, go to 167 Raw for a close substitute. Just as delicious and right in your backyard.
8. Nachos at FUEL
The nachos at FUEL are perfectly smothered with everything you could ever want. And, for those over 21, the Painkiller is the drink that you want to sip on while you enjoy your nachos.
9. Big Nasty at Hominy Grill
Might be a heart attack in a meal, but it also might just be worth it. It’s drowning in gravy sauce and cheese, and topped with your classic southern Fried Chicken.
10. Shortcakes at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Ten times better than your average slice of cake for only $3. Sign me up.
11. Country Fried Steak and Waffles at Ms. Rose’s Fine Food and Cocktails
If you live in the South (or go to school in the South), you’ve probably tried Chicken & Waffles at some point, but Ms. Rose’s takes a twist by putting fried steak on their waffles, and it’s amazing.
12. Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwich at The Park Cafe
The Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwich is not your typical BEC or Breakfast Burrito. This Sandwich comes with Avocado, Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Spicy Mayo and….half a grapefruit! Got your protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, and dairy all in one sandwich. It’s delicious and will give you the start to your day that you need.
13. Cupcakes at Sugar Bakeshop
Sugar has so many unique cupcakes to choose from. Year-round, they have options such as Almond Chocolate Coconut, Lemon Curd, and Caramel and based on the season, they offer Hazelnut, Peanut Butter, Honey and more. They also sell mini-cupcakes for only $1.75 if you’re trying to save calories and money.
14. Turkey Panini at Circe’s Grotto
This isn’t your average turkey panini: it’s fresh, flavorful, and the perfect lunch. Avocado, cheese, red onion…I’m getting hungry just thinking about it, and you are probably, too.
15. Steak at Halls Chophouse
This is the meal you want to have if you’re trying to be a little fancy and sophisticated for once. It’s cooked to perfection, complemented with a side of loaded mashed potatoes or lobster mac and cheese…you can thank me later.
16. BBQ Shrimp and Grits at 82 Queen
Barbeque shrimp? That’s a new one. And it works.
17. Grilled Cheese & Soup With Blow Torch Nutella Custard at Persimmon Cafe
I don’t think you need any more convincing after looking at this picture – melted deliciousness. Top if off with some custard and call it a perfect Charleston day.
18. Five Spice Pork Tacos at Bon Bahn Mi
These tacos are one-of-a-kind. They’re authentic, they’re flavorful, they’re juicy. And they’re also the perfect size: you only need to eat two in order to be full for hours.
19. Crêpes at Charleston Crêpe Company
These are no ordinary crêpes. They come in all shapes and sizes, and even in the form of a cake. Charleston Crêpe Company literally makes wedding cakes out of crêpes…I’m not kidding.
20. Crab Toast at The Ordinary
You thought you had heard of every new, trendy way to make toast, didn’t you? Well it’s time to add crab toast to your list. It’s delicious, it’s fresh, and it’s not as basic as avocado toast.
21. French Toast at The Rarebit
What do you do when you can’t decide between all of your favorite breakfast options? You order french toast at The Rarebit. French toast + bacon + fruit = everything you could want for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) in one.
22. Oysters at 167 Raw
The oysters here are top notch and a must-try. Every day, they have a different daily selection, so you really know how fresh these oysters are. Split this dish among a group and you’re guaranteed to order seconds.
23. Tuscan Grilled Cheese at Eli’s Table
You don’t have to just trust me on this one because this grilled cheese was voted #1 grilled cheese in the USA. The Tuscan Grilled Cheese isn’t just some slabs of Cheddar oozing with oil – it includes tomatoes and basil too for some extra flavor. It is reason enough to travel to Charleston.
24. Beer Mussels at Closed For Business
Confused by the name of this dish and by the fact that the picture seems to be a bowl of fries? Let me explain. Beer Mussels is a dish unique to Closed For Business that is made up of mussels, beer, bacon, shallots, garlic, fries, aioli. You’ll be drunk, full, and satisfied after eating this one.
25. Fried Mac and Cheese at Cypress
It might be a heart attack in a platter, but oh is it worth it.
26. Vintage Breakfast Sandwich at Vintage Coffee Cafe
This is your ideal breakfast sandwich. It gives you the protein you need to start your day and will have you dreaming about it that night.
27. Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings at Minero
Chicken wings southern style. Actually grilled over a fire like they should be. I could eat a whole plate myself.
Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, meat, fish or vegetarian dishes, there are so many options in Charleston, and this is just the beginning.