From budget hole-in-the-wall eats to James Beard award-winning five-star restaurants, Charleston is one of the top dining destinations in America. Whether you fancy southern comfort food, dining on the cheap or authentic Lowcountry cuisine, these ten restaurants offer the best food experiences in Charleston.
Magnolias often goes head-to-head with High Cotton in the battle of the Charleston brunches, but ultimately it’s all down to personal taste. Magnolias specializes in southern soul food that stays faithful to the flavor profiles of the Lowcountry whilst bringing in the fine-dining experience, with an eye on marrying high-quality food with tasteful presentation. The menu is true to the south through and through, and its array of beautifully prepared comfort food can warm the heart of any southerner. Fried green tomatoes, grits, apple fritters, collard greens and country fried steak and eggs all make a welcome appearance.
Eating local is at the heart of FIG’s focus on creating a food experience that melds quality flavours with an eye on sustainability. Headed by chef Mike Lata, FIG offers a five-star dining experience in the comfort of a laid-back diner atmosphere. It goes without saying that, in order to bring the freshest ingredients to the table, the menu at FIG changes on a regular basis according to seasonal availability.
Jeremiah Bacon is a Lowcountry native who brings an impressive restaurant resumé with an intimate knowledge of the Charleston food scene to Oak Steakhouse – and it has paid off. Travel + Leisure magazine gave Oak Steakhouse the nod for its ‘Best Steakhouse in America 2013’ list, and Oak is repeatedly listed as one of the best places for steaks in Charleston. You can’t go wrong with steak at Oak; its lesser known specialty, however, is the Oak burger with grilled onions, tomato, bibb lettuce and fontina cheese all piled atop a challah bun and served with a side of hand-cut truffle fries. Juicy and delicious, the burger is one of the best in town.
Oysters are the centerpiece at The Ordinary, chef Mike Lata’s restaurant concept. Housed in a converted former bank building, the seafood hall and oyster bar is one of the top places to visit for Charleston seafood at its best and draws hordes of locals and visitors alike who are united by a shared passion for all things seafood. Oysters are, of course, the highlight. Opt for the raw fresh oysters for a briny starter or dig into an oyster slider. Other seafood delights include The Ordinary’s signature lobster roll, American caviar, an excellent grouper schnitzel or, for the true seafood lover, a shellfish tower that comes in three different sizes.
Xiao Bao Biscuit is Asian fusion at its best. Housed in a former gas station, Xiao Bao Biscuit brings a creative and quirky approach to its food. This restaurant takes the staples of Asian comfort food and the classics of southern comfort food, and joins them together in a perfect union. The results are ‘dishes from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam prepared locally and inspired by kick-ass grandmothers everywhere’ – in Xiao Bao Biscuit’s own words.