We first visited Charleston, SC a few years ago, and it quickly became a go-to destination when we needed a quick break from Boston winters! Aside from its history and pastel-colored charm, the city is also a foodie’s dream. I blogged this travel & food guide after our first visit, but four visits later we wanted to share some additional favorites ( ** = my personal can’t-miss spots)!
Everything in this small city is relatively close – we’ve never rented a car while visiting and have gotten by with walking and the occasional Uber. I usually pack skirts with elastic waistbands (perfect for eating your way around town), 2 pairs of skinny jeans (dark blue + white), and light layers like a trench and duster cardigan. Wedges, low block heels or flats are also a must for some uneven sidewalks and cobblestone streets!
Casual + Family-friendly (with plenty of outdoor seating)
Leon’s Fine Poultry and Oysters** ($$)
Fried chicken and seafood, flavorful salads (if you want something lighter), plus a robust drink and champagne list! Their namesake may be poultry and oysters, but our must-try’s are actually their fish sandwich (crispy on the outside, tender on the inside) and Thai-inspired Siam salad, which is an explosion of flavors and textures. Leon’s is less than a 10-min drive outside of downtown Charleston, or we’ve walked from upper King Street and it wasn’t bad.
Lewis Barbecue ($$)
We don’t eat much BBQ since it can be very heavy, but this spot did not disappoint! The brisket, smoked over ~15 hours, was soo flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth good, and the hot sausage link was delicious. You pay for meats by the pound, so for a 2-person sampler, I’d recommend sharing one slice of brisket, 1 hot sausage, maybe 1 rib and then two sides (ask for free bread and extra pickles, of course). Their signature chili corn pudding was good but I would skip the mac & cheese.
For another guy-pleasing spot, cross the street to Edmund’s Oast afterwards for some of South Carolina’s best craft beers (at least according to Nick). Lewis and Edmund’s are a little further out than Leon’s and would require a car or Uber from downtown.
Darling Date Spots
The Darling** ($$)
Elegantly decorated restaurant (those striped emerald couches!) true to its name. Popular for girls night as well as date night. They have an affordable happy hour with fresh oyster and wine specials – what more could one ask for after a day of exploring?
Chez Nous ($$$)
A quaint French restaurant tucked away in a residential neighborhood. There’s several romantic tables for 2 to enjoy a cozy meal and sip on wine. The handwritten menu changes daily and includes just two appetizer and two entree options, so if your plans are flexible, check their Instagram at around 11 AM to see what they’ll be serving that day. The owners also run Bin 152, a wine & charcuterie bar near lower King Street. It would’ve been torturous for my pregnant self to visit, but we bookmarked it for a future trip!
Southern Fare Favorites
If you’re researching a trip to Charleston, chances are you’ve come across Yelp-favorites Husk and Poogan’s Porch. These two restaurants are located in restored Victorian houses next door to each other near King St. Although we prefer getting our southern food fix at the more casual Hominy Grill** (see photo in my first Charleston blog post), it’s worth it to eat at one of the aforementioned two spots if you get balcony seating on a gorgeous day. We loved lunching al fresco while enjoying a gentle breeze and people-watching down below!
Food-wise, Poogan’s Porch ($$, pictured above) serves more traditional southern fare compared to Husk ($$$) which is a little more elevated southern. While we did think Husk food was good (after trying both lunch and dinner), I wouldn’t say it’s a must-visit due to all the other good options in town!
Dave’s Carry Out – top left ($)
A true hole-in-the-wall with two folding tables to eat at, about a 5-min walk out from upper King Street. Don’t expect any ambiance, but do check it out if you’re in the area and have a hankering for yummy, affordable fried seafood or pork chops! The batter on the seafood is light and crispy, and Nick said the pork chop (bone-in, served simply with 2 slices of white bread) reminded him of Hong Kong-style chops. Almost everyone who came in seemed to be a regular.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (second location) – top right ($)
Two locations – we went to the second one inside the historic Charleston City Market before strolling through the market. We got mini biscuits instead of the hefty-looking sandwiches. Our favorite minis include blackberry jam for sweet, and chive & cheese for savory!
Located right on King St, this was a welcome healthy and fresh alternative to the heavier eats. They have poke fish bowls (you can choose zoodles, kale salad, or rice as the base), açaí bowls, and fresh smoothies.
I’ve also updated the custom map from my original blog post with these restaurant locations. Please let us know any of your favorite spots so we can add it to the list for a future visit!