Even the beach can get old. Luckily, Charleston County, South Carolina has more to offer – specifically, a charming inlet off the quaint East Cooper River, replete with dockside restaurants, anchored shrimp boats, and a constant, relaxing sea breeze. Escape from overcrowded holiday locales in Charleston with this charming alternate option. Here are 10 of the best restaurants in East Cooper.
Tavern and Table is the perfect pick for drinks and appetizers with friends or a filling family meal. No matter the size of the group, this waterfront establishment overlooks peaceful Shem Creek, just east of the Cooper River. Its wood fired brick oven cranks out tasty flat-breads from open to close, featuring flavors like barbecue pulled pork with smoked Gouda and pickled red onions. Tavern and Table’s house ground burgers, whether turkey or beef, come from a handful of local purveyors.
Family owned and established in 2006 by the Page family, this award-winning restaurant is located directly off the eastern bank of the Cooper River. This Mount Pleasant restaurant regularly updates its event page, hosting live music on Friday nights. The shrimp and grits are a local sensation and are pan-seared and prepared with an irresistible Andouille cream sauce, and come with the choice of a fluffy cornbread muffin or soft buttermilk biscuit.
Juicy burgers, made-from-scratch meatloaf, and barbecue chicken are just a few of the dishes that Boulevard Diner has to offer. Menu choices run far and wide, and the restaurant offers customers an option to create your own custom veggie plate and daily specials year ’round. Owner and restaurateur Sal Parco goes a bit further, however, offering a ‘twist’ to most plates (the meatloaf is ‘Cajun’ style, and the restaurant slings a few Parmesan based dishes like Fettuccini Alfredo with Southern shrimp or chicken), delivering a flavorful mix-up to many customary menu options.
For a delicious lunch on Palm Boulevard, longtime favorite Long Island Café pulls out all of the stops. The Post and Courier, Dining Around Charleston, and The Island Eye all agree – there’s good reason this culinary bastion has been in business since 1986. Its creamy crab soup (served with sherry) and grilled mustard glazed mahi-mahi sandwich (served with arugula, tomato, and a hearty wheat toast bun) are hard lunchtime options to beat. Utilizing local farm produce and seafood, Long Island Café operates as a gem of South Carolina’s beach town landscape.
Serving brunch from Sunday at 11am to 2pm and dinner from 5pm to 9pm on Mondays through Thursdays, the Granary serves premier charcuterie and masterfully prepared comfort dishes. The establishment seats 75 guests and includes a bar and patio along with a robust and developed dinner menu. The butcher plate comes with a selection of house-cured meats hand picked by Executive Chef Brannon Florie, who aptly proves his experience in South Carolina farming and culinary practices.
Dating back to the 1990s, the Mustard Seed has blossomed from a ‘small bistro’ into a highly sought after dining establishment, its cuisine enhanced by a homemade selection of wines and desserts. Focused on offering diners a set of healthy options, the Mustard Seed promotes a myriad of light salads, pasta plates, and handcrafted sandwiches. The Sunday brunch should not be missed, nor should its highly recommended coconut cake. The restaurant has an alternate Charleston area location, situated in St. James, making it an experience it would be inexcusable (even amid bad traffic) to miss out upon.
The Red Drum Restaurant combines experimental interpretations of southern cuisine with Texan style cooking. Live music is the norm here, and a Southwestern flavor works together with upbeat local bands to cap off great evenings for the restaurant’s regulars. Red Drum is open every night for dinner from 5:30 pm to 10 pm, so help yourself to some tortilla soup with traditional garnish or Texan bar nachos to start. Make sure to save room for the ultimate South-to-Southwest combination dish – wood grilled South Carolina quail and Texan venison sausage. Red Drum also comes complete with wood grill burgers and steaks, in addition to its classic flour tortilla taco plates.
Take a large appetite and some friends directly to Poe’s Tavern, a bustling beach spot on Sullivan’s Island for an edgy locale dedicated to the memory of famous author Edgar Allan Poe. The well known American author was quite fond of Charleston, and he – if still alive – would surely frequent this joint for its thick, hearty burgers and beach friendly cocktails. These half-pound, Angus chuck ground beauties are cooked to order and topped with everything from pimiento cheese to thick cut Applewood bacon and in-house ground chili.
This ‘magical garden’ of a restaurant serves up soups, salads, and sandwiches of every taste. The local, farm fresh ingredients can be enjoyed with wine by the glass or bottle, and their fresh brewed blackberry tea is a refreshing experience. Try the Italian Panini as you kick back in the open-air garden, and try to contemplate that the basil mayo spread you’re enjoying was derived straight from the very garden in which you are seated! Served on always fresh, daily made ciabatta bread, The Pickled Palate’s sandwiches are tough to fault.
For a family friendly environment and a hot dog that is ‘out-of-this-world’ according to Food Network, look no further than local favorite, Jack’s Cosmic Dogs. The food is cheap and the portions are hearty. Try the original ‘cosmic dog,’ which is ornate with toppings (sweet potato mustard, blue cheese slaw) and simple but sublime. Top Jack’s fresh, hand-cut French fries with chili, cheddar cheese, ranch, bacon, or even jalapeños. If your stomach is up to the challenge, this restaurant’s shakes and sundaes are quintessential and classic in style.