Charleston, SC is one of our favorite destinations, both for relaxation, history and great food. I first traveled there over a decade ago for a wedding and have been coming back every couple years since. We like to stay out by the beach on Isle of Palms (and do lots of eating on Sullivan’s Island, see below) where we have room to spread out and run on the beach. Then, we come in to Charleston for the day and for some meals (it’s a quick drive). Since our travels now include two munchkins, my food recommendations are all family-friendly unless otherwise noted. There is so much to do and see and eat in Charleston, but here are a few of my favorite bites that I would definitely seek out again.
Hominy Grill: A must eat every time, it is relaxed, no muss and fuss, southern food in a quaint neighborhood spot. The staff is friendly, the food is delicious, but don’t forget it’s first come, first served so plan your timing accordingly. I always get the Shrimp and Grits. The grits are creamy and the mushrooms add a delicious savory bite. Biscuits with their homemade jam is a must (but also try the pimento biscuit!). This time we added desserts and I ate the best chocolate pudding I’ve had in my life. Also, the oatmeal cream pies were outstanding.
Husk: Sure, this is a well-known spot but if you pop in for lunch you will have perhaps the best burger of your life. It’s two thin patties with bacon in the meat blend. It is incredible.
Lewis Barbecue – order as much or little meat as you want at this barbecue joint and dine on the expansive back patio space. I loved the homemade sausage and pulled pork the best, the coleslaw isn’t mayo based and was a nice contrast to the meat.
Byrd’s Cookies – If you are down by the market or waiting for a carriage tour, pop in to Byrd’s and fill up a sampler box to try all the flavors of these tiny cookies about the size of a half dollar. Kids LOVED this place.
Le Farfalle – Two words: whipped ricotta. Two more: with honey. And then they serve it with a warm baguette. Yes. Yes. Yes. We went here on a date night and I’d also recommend their take on cacio e pepe as well as the fried chicken piccata.
The Darling Oyster Bar – A seat at the bar was lovely on this adult-only evening outing. The shrimp cocktail was dusted with an Old Bay-like concoction and the homemade tartar and cocktail sauce were delightful. The tartar was a bit salty and I loved it. Also, the star for me was the charred octopus salad with potatoes and romesco.
Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts – I’ve rarely met a donut I didn’t like. That said, I wouldn’t blindly recommend a donut shop. Go. To. Glazed. I was lucky enough to stumble on the shop after our dinner at The Darling Oyster Bar and was happy to find it open 4pm – midnight on Saturday nights. Here is what I was drooling over: The cinnamon sugar twist (which I ultimately got), the raspberry, chocolate with sprinkles and the apple bacon fritter.
Other Charleston spots I wanted to try but ran out of time/stomach capacity: Xiao Bao Biscuit, The Grocery, Leon’s Oyster Shop and Hot Little Biscuit. Also, we wanted to pop into 167 Raw, the Charleston outpost of our fave Nantucket seafood spot, but the line was out the door…obviously.
On Sullivan’s Island, a quick hop from Charleston, we loved The Obstinate Daughter with oysters, inventive pizzas (mine was smothered in ricotta, red onion, sausage, and mustard greens), delicious pasta (I really wanted the ravioli stuffed with celery root, brown butter and apple) and geechie frites, basically polenta fries. Cross the street to family-fun Republic Ice Cream for some of the creamiest old fashioned scoops we’ve had in a long time.
Do you love the food scene in Charleston? Tell me your favorites for my next trip back!