Top 10 Must-Try Restaurants In Charleston, South Carolina

Virág Gulyás

As the oldest town in South Carolina, Charleston is home to a wealth of cultural dining establishments, each with its own unique history and flavor. From established local legends like Edmund’s Oast and Chez Nous, to up-and-coming restaurants putting new spins on Southern tradition, Charleston’s dining scene is certainly dynamic. Here are the top places to eat in the area.

Courtesy High Cotton

High Cotton Maverick Bar & Grill

The city’s best brunch is without doubt served at High Cotton Maverick Bar & Grill. Luckily you don’t have to hold out for Sunday mornings — step in anytime during the week for fine dining and indulge yourself with excellent steak and seafood dishes while jazz, blues or live gypsy music nourishes the soul. A perfect combination of terrific food and great music is complemented by attentive Southern hospitality. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere with leather chairs and classy ambiance, while sampling from delectable local clam and mussel sharing platters or any of the other dishes from the menu.

High CottonMaverick Bar & Grill, 199 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC, USA,+1 843 724 3815

FIG, standing for the expression ‘Food is Good’, is a venue that is all about eating well and locally. Receiving ingredients from local farms and growers, quality and freshness are the top priorities of FIG. The part-diner, part-bistro setting offers something for all tastes, and while the former was designed in a retro style, the latter has a more elegant vibe. Featuring a short, concise menu lining up seasonally changing five-star options, FIG offers dishes from contemporary American fare to European kitchens. FIG is an intimate, cozy place coupled with an upscale fine dining experience.

FIG, 232 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC,USA,+1 843 805 5900

Courtesy FIG

Husk Restaurant

Located in an old Southern house in Charleston’s most historic neighborhood, Husk Restaurant counts among its assets the James Beard award-winning chef Sean Broc, who has appeared on the acclaimed American TV show The Mind of a Chef. Since opening in 2010, the restaurant has become a favorite among critics and hungry foodies thanks to its imaginative use of Low Country ingredients and its attempts to rediscover the South’s ‘heirloom’ eating traditions. Menus change daily, but with dishes like glazed pig’s ear lettuce wraps, sweet vinegar marinated cucumbers and onions, or cornmeal dusted North Carolina catfish, sweet corn and sausage gumbo, carolina gold rice and charred okra, you’re sure to get a taste of the South.

Husk Restaurant, 76 Queen Street, Charleston, SC, USA, +1 843 577 2500

The Ordinary

The Ordinary, led by chef Mike Lata, is Charleston’s seafood paradise. Considered the best oyster bar in the region, The Ordinary is a must-try place for everyone craving mouth-watering lobster, fish schnitzel, fish stew, fish fry or shellfish tower, just a few of the specialties from the enticing menu. Run by the same operating team as FIG, the concept is similar – supporting local producers and cooking from the freshest ingredients. Housed in a former bank building, guests can enjoy a lively and stunningly refurbished American brasserie.

The Ordinary, 544 King St, Charleston, SC, USA, +1 843 414 7060

1. How Art Thou Café

Cafe, Restaurant, American

How Art Thou Jazz Club & Restaurant, Charleston
Courtesy How Art Thou Cafe
In James Island, just a few minutes drive away from Charleston, lies a little gem that aims to fuse several roles under one roof — cafe, concert venue and art gallery. The ultimate mission of How Art Thou Café was to create a place where artists are encouraged to express their identity freely. Since it is not a restaurant in the fullest sense, the menu mainly features sandwiches, tapas, wraps and salads, with the famous Joshua’s batterito being the house specialty – a wrap of chicken, avocado, black beans and chipotle. Wine and beer-tasting Tuesdays, jazz Fridays and Saturdays, lively brunches on Sundays and art displays all week long make How Art Thou Café the area’s uplifting cultural hot-spot.

2. Two Boroughs Larder

Charcuterie, Restaurant, American

Two Boroughs Larder was opened in 2011 by husband and wife Josh and Heather Keeler, who moved to Charleston from Philadelphia. The once art-focused Josh used this restaurant as his creative outlet and, off the tourist track, Two Boroughs Larder is definitely on Charleston’s list of must-try venues. The venue is famed for its rich, tasty breakfasts and contemporary American-inspired kitchen featuring an outstanding charcuterie platter, mouth-watering burgers and many other fresh dishes, while guaranteeing that vegetarians feel welcome as well. The owners keep a careful eye on the ingredients, using local farms as their primary suppliers. The quiet neighborhood and rustic, wooden interior guarantee relaxing fine dining at very affordable prices.

3. Basil Thai Cuisine

Restaurant, Thai

Voted as Charleston’s best Thai restaurant for multiple years, Basil Thai Cuisine is a charming and welcoming venue in the heart of the city. Created by two brothers who immigrated from Cambodia, the restaurant serves a wide array of terrific, authentic yet refined Thai food. The coconut soup, pad thai and basil duck are among the favorites, but the menu’s noodle rice and curried specialties have offer some delectable options as well. As for drinks, try one of their Thai beers.

Circa 1886 Restaurant

Nestled in Charleston’s historic area in a former carriage house, Circa 1886 Restaurant took its name from neighboring Wentworth Mansion, which was built in 1886. Under the leadership of Chef Marc Collins, Circa 1886 serves up an eclectic menu, blending international tastes with a healthy touch, and though the menu seems rather short at first sight, Circa never disappoints on the creative combination of flavors and delightful presentation. The interior is classic and elegant, with a fireplace and candlelight, making the restaurant the city’s high-end dining establishment.

Circa 1886 Restaurant, 149 Wentworth Street, Charleston, SC, USA, +1 843 853 7828

McCrady’s Restaurant

The McCrady’s name has a long history stretching back to 1778, when the former tavern was opened by Edward McCrady. Until 2006, when new ownership took over and established the current restaurant, the venue was home to such events as a grand 30 course dinner for President George Washington in 1791. Its historical prominence, as well as the reputation of the current chef Sean Brock, elevates McCrady’s to one of Charleston’s finest cultural restaurants. The interior reflects a by-gone era but with modern accents; the fireplaces, brick walls, wooden furniture and archways all set the tone for a pleasant evening. Sit by the long bar or at any of the welcoming tables, McCrady’s meals and impeccable service will make sure you’re comfortable. Serving an American contemporary four to nine course menu, accompanied with over 1,000 wines, McCrady’s brings Charleston heritage in line with modern day foodie innovation.

McCrady’s Restaurant, 2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC, USA, +1 843 577 0025

Courtesy McCrady’s

Wild Olive

Opening its doors in 2009 and certified as South Carolina’s first Green Restaurant in 2013, Wild Olive is an Italian culinary gem. Serving homemade variations of all of Italy’s classic national dishes, Wild Olive follows the local trend of sustainability and active collaboration with local producers. The restaurant attempts to bring authentic Italian culture to a city where the occasional respite from Low Country dining is certainly welcomed by adventurous locals.

Wild Olive, 2867 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC, USA, +1 843 737 4177

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article