As most people know, Charleston is one of the top food cities in the world. But I imagine the majority of people think shrimp and grits, sweet tea, and cornbread is the go-to meal here.

Instead, how about experiencing the totally unexpected with a global tour through Charleston? Whether you are a traveling with friends or family, on a business trip, or are a student, this list of vibrant, affordable eats will be be sure to satisfy your taste buds.

Asian: Co


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Co is located right in the middle of downtown on King Street. I’m sure you have walked past it hundreds of times, and all it looks like is an upscale Asian style bar — wrong. Once you walk in, Charleston is not the first place that comes to mind — it feels like you are in the heart of NYC.

The menu at Co ranges from apps such as dumplings and spring rolls to three sections of bahn mi, noodles, and rice dishes. The simplicity of the food and décor brings this place over the top. With authentic recipes coming out of the kitchen, Co is sure to leave you with bomb Asian cuisine at a bargain price.

#SpoonTip: Go with several friends, share some apps and entrees, and make it a tapas style night.

Mexican: Minero


Photo by Daniel Crumpler

Next global spot is Minero. If Sean Brock doesn’t say enough, then their tacos will. The casual yet sophisticated atmosphere brings out playfulness with pull-out drawers that house your silverware and napkins.

Happy hour is offered Monday-Friday from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, with $5 wings, guac, and queso fundido and many drink specials. They serve six different hand-crafted tacos here, along with other Mexican classics such as chilaquiles, posole, and tortas.

Possibly the best tacos ever? Get to Minero and find out.

#SpoonTip: Shhhhhh. Go early because they do not take reservations.

Italian: Monza


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Arguably the best pizza in town. This rustic and modern pizzeria right in the heart of downtown is the perfect Friday or Saturday night out with your best friends. Not in the mood for pizza? No problem — their menu is filled with legit pastas and salads.

Southern: Jestine’s Kitchen


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As you can see, this place is pretty popular. There is always a line wrapped around the corner of the building. If you want Southern food, then this is your spot to find it — fried chicken (because let’s be honest, you can always handle more fried chicken), mac and cheese, fried okra, the list goes on and on and on. It’s all good, homemade, and delivered to the table with a smile.

Don’t be impatient. Come compare it to your grandma’s home cooking and join the line — you won’t regret it.

Greek: Taziki’s


Photo by Alejandra Tamayo

Who doesn’t love a good gyro? Taziki’s is the place to go grab a quick lunch or light dinner. Fresh ingredients, simply prepared, and get this — it’s healthy. They’ve got something to satisfy everyone. So step outside of your comfort zone and travel to Greece for a real deal experience that you’ll wanna tell all of your friends about.