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The 10 Best Restaurants in Downtown, Charleston, SC
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The 10 Best Restaurants in Downtown, Charleston, SC

Picture of Richard Tulis
Updated: 9 February 2017
This charming small town is adrift in salty sea air and emits nothing but coastal class. The palm trees conflate with a bustling downtown district, filled with small shops and local cafés. Walk along King Street and become accommodated with a relaxing Southern feel. There is no shortage of 18th century architecture in Charleston, complete with Victorian and Georgian style houses – many of them renovated as some of the restaurants in the American South.
Charleston, South Carolina | © Ken Lund/Flickr
Charleston, South Carolina | © Ken Lund/Flickr
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Halls Chophouse

Juicy steaks & gourmet sides

Well known for its juicy, tender cut steaks, Halls Chophouse provides a menu with plenty of turf to complement its surf. Coming in at number 17 in Yelp’s Top 100 Restaurants of 2015, Halls Chophouse emulates professionalism and possesses a stark reputation. Try a tender, 14-ounce New York strip, a 16-ounce dry aged rib eye, or even the dry aged 26-ounce porterhouse cut depending on the appetite in question. Halls boasts a set of signature sides ranging from gourmet lobster macaroni and cheese to their highly flavorful pepper jack creamed corn skillet.

Price: Fine dining

Opening hours: 4 pm to 2 am

Watch out for: Premier steaks

Address & telephone number: Halls Chophouse, 434 King Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 727 0900

Halls Chophouse Sunday Gospel Brunch | © Susan Lucas Hoffman/Flickr
Halls Chophouse Sunday Gospel Brunch | © Susan Lucas Hoffman/Flickr
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Hominy Grill

Traditional Southern cooking with a twist

Renowned especially for its tantalizing brunches, Hominy Grill emits low country vibes and pleasantly prepared plates from its convenient downtown location. This restaurant has been featured on Food Network for its delicious shrimp and grits and crispy fried green tomatoes. Open since 1996, Hominy’s unique take on traditional southern cooking draws in visitors from far and wide, quite to the pleasure of its sensational chef and owner, Robert Stehling. Try some jalapeño hush-puppies with sorghum butter to kick off the meal; chase it with some slow smoked ribs or even a half fried chicken, complete with country ham gravy and two fresh vegetable plates of your choice.

Price: Mid-range

Opening hours: 7:30 am to 9 pm

Watch out for: Shrimp and grits

Address & telephone number: Hominy Grill, 207 Rutledge Avenue, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 937 0930

Hominy Grill - Big Nasty Biscuit | © Wally Gobetz/Flickr
Hominy Grill – Big Nasty Biscuit | © Wally Gobetz/Flickr
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Coast Bar & Grill

Palm trees & seafood

This downtown spot features a full open-air patio and roomy bar. There are palm trees lining the edifice and original plates lining the menu. The selection presents several seafood style starters such as coast crab soup and fried oyster salad. Continue down to the entrée section in order to encounter the crab encrusted tilapia, which is delicately baked and topped with crab, chives, Parmesan cream, and sautéed green beans. Coast also has a plethora of house specialties, including their delectable lemon baked Carolina crab cakes.

Price: Fine dining

Opening hours: 5:30 pm to 10 pm (11 pm Fri-Sat)

Watch out for: Full open air patio

Address & telephone number: Coast Bar & Grill, 39 John Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 722 8838


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As Southern as it gets

Southern Living calls Husk a result of chef Sean Brock’s ‘sensibility’ and compliments it as the ‘archetype’ of his skills, projected into consumable perfection. The truth is, this restaurant is as Southern as it gets. Everything from the cornbread to the cornmeal, the fried chicken to the fried cabbage – and even the field peas – is packed with the flavor of true comfort food. Since Husk changes its menu twice a day, it is imperative to scan over the supper options meticulously. The restaurant also offers brunch from 10 am to 2:30 pm on Sundays.

Price: Fine dining

Opening hours: 10 am to 2:30 pm 5:30 pm to 10 pm (11 pm Fri-Sat)

Watch out for: Victorian-era edifice

Address & telephone number: Husk, 76 Queen Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 577 2500

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Husk - Heritage Pork | © Wally Gobetz/Flickr
Husk – Heritage Pork | © Wally Gobetz/Flickr
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The Grocery

Farm-to-table approach

Locally paraded by the Charleston City Paper, the Grocery serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday in addition to preparing weekend brunch. The downtown area can be quite crowded, so it’s nice to see parking that is both on-site and complementary here. For those who wish to make a reservation online, take a quick peek at the menu as well. The Grocery derives much of its produce section from only the most local farm sources, and for good reason – the squash salad and Ambrose farm beets are two of the restaurant’s very popular vegetable dishes.

Price: Fine dining

Opening hours: 5 pm to 11 pm

Watch out for: Fried oysters

Address & telephone number: The Grocery, 4 Cannon Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 302 8825

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Smoke BBQ

For smoked…everything

In a June 11th article appearing in Charleston Eater, this brand new joint stole the spotlight. Finally, the successor of Motorbar has assumed its new role on King Street, and it’s off to a hot (or should that be ‘smoky?’) new start. This trendy spot has an affinity for all things smoked. Smoked tomato ketchup, smoke infused rye whiskey… you name it, they smoke it. Smoke BBQ’s Cuban sandwich plate is packed with tender pork and crisp pickles and served on a fluffy, yet slightly toasted bun. Ask about the bar’s locally brewed selection of IPAs while you await your food.

Price: Mid-range

Opening hours: 11 am to 10 pm

Watch out for: Locally brewed draft beers

Address & telephone number: Smoke BBQ, 487 King Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 805 5050

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Fleet Landing

Waterfront setting seafood dining

Where to begin? Perhaps with the waterfront setting? Or how about Fleet Landing’s superb view of the pier? This retired naval building is home to some of the freshest seafood Charleston has to offer. The Carolina crab cakes come with a red pepper sauce and crispy fried onions, the seared shrimp is accompanied by outstanding pimiento cheese grits, and the restaurant’s seaside location even includes a free view of energetically playful dolphins swimming across the coastline. Make sure to plan ahead; Fleet Landing usually requires a reservation.

Price: Mid-range

Opening hours: 11 am to 4 pm 5 pm to 10 pm

Watch out for: Waterfront overlook

Address & telephone number: Fleet Lading, 186 Concord St, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 722 8100

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Ted’s Butcherblock

Meat done right

For anyone beginning to feel a bit seasick, fear not: Ted’s Butcherblock has the cure for any landlubber. Their arsenal of ciabatta paninisGreek style, grilled vegetable, the New Orleans Mortadella and salami – combines with hearty entrée options such as the house smoked brisket, prepared with natural, local beef. Ted’s is also known for its catering abilities, so no matter the occasion (Low-country boils, family reunions, and the like), simply make room for their food truck and watch Ted’s do the rest.

Price: Mid-range

Opening hours: 11 am to 7 pm (9 pm on Friday)

Watch out for: Custom charcuterie

Address & telephone number: Ted’s Butcherblock, 334 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 577 0094

Outside Ted's | © Timmons P/Flickr
Outside Ted’s | © Timmons P/Flickr
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Cru Café

Charleston culinary gem

Coming in at number eight on USA Today’s 10 Best in Charleston, Cru Café garners thick crowds throughout the day, and it has become a challenge for many to get in without at least a little bit of resolve. But boy, is it worth it… this artful powerhouse of a kitchen has been slinging pleasingly crispy fried green tomatoes and brazenly crafted grilled swordfish with butternut squash like no other since its much awaited opening in 2002. Cru also brings fresh soups and salads to the table in order to top off their always popular rotating specials. Situated in an 18th century Charleston-style brick and mortar home, Cru’s layout stands out just as comfortably as its food does.

Price: Mid-range

Opening hours: 11 am to 3 pm, 5 pm to 10 pm

Watch out for: Renovated townhouse setting

Address & telephone number: Cru Café, 18 Pinckney Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 534 2434

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Early Bird Diner

Chicken & waffles

A gleaming staple of Food Network’s ‘On the Road’ series, Early Bird Diner embodies a made-from-scratch ambiance. Don’t let the name fool you – Early Bird serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But this one stop shop’s chicken and waffles plate may be too tempting to resist. The pecan encrusted fried chicken rests atop a cinnamon drizzled, fluffy-as-ever waffle, complete with rich, sweet syrup. Early Bird Diner’s late weekend hours extend to 4 am, and the restaurant’s walls are lined with pieces from local artists in order to adorn the establishment with a true Southern touch.

Price: Budget

Opening hours: 7 am to 10:30 pm (Fri-Sat 4 am)

Watch out for: Chicken and waffles

Address & telephone number: Early Bird Diner, 1644 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 277 2353