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.
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.
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
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, 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
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
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
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