From big-name chefs to down-home favorites, these are Charleston's can't-miss restaurants.
Known for its “imaginative”, “distinctly Southern take” on oysters and “must-try” fried chicken, this “hip” Westside eatery in a converted mechanics’ garage offers a “New Orleans vibe” thanks to “clever, creative” decor, “old-timey flair” and outdoor seating; although it stays “very busy”, the “awesome" staff keeps the drinks and salty bivalves flowing.
This buzzy Westside cafe focuses on vegetables grown on its rooftop garden, as well as regional game and seafood for an American menu of breakfast biscuits, omelets, lunchtime sandwiches and entrees. The renovated historic building features reclaimed wood and eclectic, lodgelike decor, with multiple dining rooms, a small market and coffee bar up front.
New AmericanNorth Morrison Drive
A “gastropub of the highest order”, this North Morrison Drive hangout pairs craft beers brewed on-site, small-batch cocktails, ciders and meads (“you won’t be thirsty”) with an “imaginative” New American menu featuring upscale bar bites, small plates and housemade charcuterie; “knowledgeable” staffers work the “elegant but rustic” dining room, as well as a lush outdoor patio with communal tables.
Locals rave about the “exquisite” oysters, ceviche, lobster rolls and more at this “convivial” Ansonborough seafooder, which doubles as a carry-out fish market; “gleaming white tiles” lend a “New England vibe” (the original's in Nantucket) and the staff is “super-personable”, but “be prepared to wait” for the “limited” seating since rezzies aren’t accepted.
The “wonderfully prepared” seafood (including “life-changing” oysters) “could not be fresher” at this Cannonborough/Elliotborough “hot spot” from chef Mike Lata that’s become a “must-visit” for its “creative dishes, packed with flavor”; the “bright, airy locale” — a converted bank building with “lots of character” — can get “noisy” when full, but the “knowledgeable” staff and “head-turning” shellfish tower, “make up for it.”
Set in Wraggborough’s Dewberry Hotel, this brasserie uses locally sourced ingredients to bring a Southern influence to contemporary French fare. The stylish white-tablecloth space features a caned ceiling, black-and-white tile floors and floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a bar area and views of Marion Square from the dining room and expansive patio.
BarbecueNorth Morrison Drive
Pitmaster John Lewis brings his Texas-style barbecue to this North Morrison Drive joint where the eats include cut-to-order brisket, hot guts (housemade sausage) and ribs, prepped in huge custom-built smokers. The hip counter-serve space features concrete floors, a big bar and plenty of seating both inside and at picnic tables under a massive oak tree on the sprawling patio.
This tiki-themed Ansonborough hangout serves creative takes on Caribbean street food, plus an extensive selection of rum in both classic and elaborate cocktails; ample greenery and colorful, thoughtfully thrown-together decor gives the compact space a laid-back but polished beach vibe.
AmericanThe French Quarter
Chef Sean Brocks' daily changing menu at this 18th-century French Quarter gastropub draws from local farms and fishermen (plus the rooftop garden) for its array of upscale American tavern fare – think blue crab bisque, oysters, steaks and chops; high ceilings and exposed brick walls and arches add to the experience of stepping back in time.
The namesake bivalves share menu space with shrimp, scallops and local seafood in creative dishes like lobster pot pie and oyster spaghetti at this 19th-century King Street storefront. White tile floors, sea-foam green accents and expansive street-facing windows lend a classic feel to the raw bar and airy dining room.