Charleston has become a national food destination, or Foodie town, as I like to call it.
Where else can you find literally dozens of top, world-class restaurants, all within walking distance to each other and in the charming, historic downtown of Charleston?
In 2022 Trip Advisor listed their Top 25 Fine Dining Restaurants of the country and Charleston had 4 of the winners on the survey; more than any other city in the US.
And they didn’t even pick some of our top restaurants.
So, seeing how you all have looked forward to this, ok, both of you, I have made a Charleston Dining Guide for your dining and tasting experiences.
Please keep in mind my dining guide is based on my own experiences dining in downtown Charleston and I probably haven’t tried half of the great restaurants here in town (i.e. Husk, FIG, Circa 1886, Oak Steakhouse, Chubby Fish, Indaco, Brasserie La Banque, 1 George Street~check out their video, the Ordinary, etc.)
BEST FAVORITE RESTAURANT
Their food is exquisite. The menu varied. Service is world-class. And guest focus that makes memories.
No, I’m kidding its really the desserts. 🙂
But whatever ‘it’ is they get it across the board.
I am not ashamed to say, “I love SNOBS!”
BEST BBQ RESTAURANT (S)
Half of the town says Rodney Scott’s (Netflix) Whole Hog BBQ is the best. The other half says Lewis BBQ is the best. And we probably eat at Hometeam more than either of them, due to their multiple locations.
You really can’t go wrong with any of them.
I had something with a ‘marinated steak’ in it and I didn’t want the meal to end.
Blew me away!
BEST RESTAURANT WITH THE BEST VIEW
This rustic fine dining restaurant sits on our inter-coastal waterway, which means it faces west. You can catch a memorable sunset most any night here. Unless you go up to the 3rd floor rooftop bar. Then you may not remember it
BEST PUB FOOD
We stumbled in here after an art walk, not expecting perfection. The Blind Tiger is known as one of the first pirate bars here in town, with a tunnel that runs out of the basement, under the street, and into another establishment. …in case they had to make a getaway.
Not being familiar with the menu I asked the bartender what he recommends.
He said the ‘Truffle Duck sandwich’.
Are you ready?
Sliced duck, creamy brie, sweet onion jam, truffled mayo, arugula, tomato on a grilled sourdough bun.
And their Peanut Butter Pie isn’t too bad either
The original is still the best.
I fell in love with their Amber back in the 90’s. Their Porter is the best around too.
BEST SHE-CRAB SOUP
BEST SHRIMP AND GRITS
Every restaurant in Charleston has Shrimp and Grits on their menu.
Each one does their own interpretation of this southern staple.
I have yet to find the BEST One yet however.
They are all exceptional.
I’ll keep looking!
I stopped in for some to-go food one Friday and was blown away by this place. When I finally got home with my Muse booty I enjoyed the best scallops I have ever.
Possibly the Best thing I have ever tasted.
….After a 25 minute car ride home.
Peninsula Grill was voted the #12 Top Restaurant in the country by Trip Advisor Yet when their culinary writers go to describe it they used two words, ‘Coconut Cake’.
If Charleston is famous for any dessert, its this one. In a place where I dropped over $200 for my anniversary dinner the Trip Advisor summed it up in two words.
A close second for me is the aforementioned Apple Sour Cream Pie at SNOBS.
Possibly the Best thing I ever tasted!
Also, I can’t leave out the Lemon Cake at Muse. When I asked the bartender to recommend their best dessert he said, without hesitation, the Lemon Cake
Fairly famous too.
And my boss’s favorite
Being a ‘dessert family’ we know our way around some decadent finishing touches. Charleston may have better desserts somewhere but these are our Go-To.
Most Fridays last year I would bring some amazing food home from a restaurant downtown that was usually recommended to me by a guest that week.
It is probably how this Dining Guide got it’s legs.
While waiting for the meals to be prepared I usually waited at the bar. So I started my own survey on Best Margaritas in town.
Taco Boy has the best. They won. It had nothing to do with the free margaritas the bartender kept slipping me while I waited.
A close shout-out to my second favorite at the Blind Tiger.
But I paid for those.
BEST VESPER MARTINI
‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’
‘Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?’
‘Certainly monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
‘Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter.
Bond laughed. ‘When I’m … er … concentrating,’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.’
— Casino Royale, Chapter 7: Rouge et Noir
Did you catch that high stakes card game being played at Casino 82 Queen Street?
The reason it is played there is because they make the best Vesper Martinis..
because they have all the right ingredients.
and because they are cool like that.
The Trip Advisor voted Halls Chophouse the 3rd best restaurant in the country BUT voted their Brunch #1.
They have an upbeat gospel group called The Plantation Singers for background entertainment during brunch.
High Cotton does everything top shelf. But the blueberry muffins you get as your premeal bread puts them over the top!
BEST RESTAURANT TO SPOT A CELEBRITY
Bill Murray has a place in Charleston. He is also part owner of our minor league baseball team. There is one restaurant he goes to so often that they actually named his fav sandwich after him.
But, for the sake of Bill’s privacy, I can’t tell you where this place is…
Here is Bill sleeping outside of a French restaurant on Broad Street, called Fast and French.
The name is misleading because it is anything but fast, as Bill can confirm in the photo.
Last winter Chevy Chase was also in town. It looks like he got a job at Canes drive through window.
They were understaffed.
BEST RESTAURANT THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET IN
I send people to FIG who couldn’t get reservations online, telling them to get there 15 minutes before they open or at the end of the night and say you only want to sit at the bar.
The staff laughs as these presumptions.
BEST INCONSPICUOUS RESTAURANT
The Washington Post describes the Muse as being set in a historical home on Charleston’s Society Street, but it is anything but stodgy or stuffy. An eclectic crowd of both locals and tourists pack the Muse restaurant and wine bar regularly for a bowl of Tagliatelle Bolognese or Sea Bass (or Fab Scallops and the Lemon Cake).
Also, for some of the most interesting conversations anywhere sit at their cozy 8 seat bar.
I would say, I was extremely amused at the simplicity and style of the Muse, that is filled with amusing muses, Southern or otherwise, at their bar where even the shyest muse could be drawn into extraordinary conversations for a night time of amusement.
When I was their waiting for my To Go order at their bar I was drawn into a conversation by a local, also sitting there, that owned one of the historic houses on the Battery.
He was looking for a house sitter.
But I couldn’t bring my dog.
BEST RESTAURANT TO FIND BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
Mex Cantina ~ Sullivan’s Island...
We ate here for my daughter’s birthday, getting seated right at the entrance. I was dumbfounded that everyone walking through the door looked like they just walked out of a Tommy Bahamas magazine….and the Young and the Restless. Young, old, male or female, they all were beautiful people dressed in elegantly casual attire.
It is Sullivan’s Island after all.
BEST RESTAURANT AFTER AN ART WALK
Magnoilia’s is in the heart of our French Quarter. So are many of our local Art Galleries.
So why not stop in at the end of the Art Walk, see if you can find a table or seats at the bar, and then enjoy some world class appetizers or craft cocktails? I guess they are art too!
BEST RESTAURANT THAT’S HAUNTED
Ghosts still appear here! Someone told me they saw one last month.
BEST RESTAURANT THAT APPEARS TO BE A BAR
At Stella’s Greek Cuisine they seat you around a horseshoe type bar. I asked the bartender, “why don’t they seat these empty seats at the bar?”
He tells me the seats are reserved because they would rather have a guest in each seat ordering a $60 dinner instead of sitting there nursing a $15 glass wine.
Their Shrimp Ouza may be the Best thing I ever tasted!
MOST FAMOUS RESTAURANT THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE NOT KNOWN WAS IN CHARLESTON
Does anyone watch a show on Netflix called Outer Banks? I watched the first two episodes But the whole show started off at this old rustic bar called the Wreck, supposedly in Outer Banks, North Carolina.
The Netflix series Outer Banks is actually filmed in and around Charleston. It’s just not only Southern Charm.
The Wreck on the TV show is actually Richard and Charlene’s Wreck in Mt Pleasant (as the Geechie restaurant is too) . You would hardly know it to look at it but it is actually open.
Until cast and crew come in for a day of filming.
Rumor has it the Wreck still has the freshest and best fried seafood in town.
If you are an Outer Banks fan you can click Here you can find some other places they film at….for the Outer Banks in North Carolina here in South Carolina.
10 Charleston Spots in Netflix’s Outer Banks That You Can Visit – Explore Charleston Blog
That’s it for now knuckleheads.
I will try to add to this later.
Untill then be kind and smile for one another. It can be contagious!
No mask required!