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6 restaurants to try in Charleston

Planning a trip to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina? What a good idea, because this city, rich in history and culture, does not lack attractions to visit.

And Charleston is also a perfect destination to experience Southern cuisine and fill up on great seafood meals.

With a vibrant culinary scene, a lot of chefs also revisit classic southern dishes with a modern twist. And that’s not to mention the growing farm-to-table movement.

6 best places to eat in Charleston

Whether you’re in the mood for southern cuisine, soul food, hearty BBQ or seafood, there’s something for every budget and taste.

One piece of advice: make sure you make reservations at most places, especially for dinner, to avoid disappointment. Many restaurants also have a “first come, first seated” option at the bar.

Here are 6 restaurants to discover in Charleston, South Carolina.

Frannie & The Fox

Inside the restaurant Frannie & The Fox
Inside the restaurant Frannie & The Fox

Located in the chic Hotel Emeline, Frannie and the Fox boasts Italian-style wood-fired cuisine and a lively atmosphere.

You will immediately feel at ease among the eclectic clientele, made up of tourists and locals alike.

On the menu, there are several dishes to share, including pizzas, pastas, salads and some grilled meat dishes. The menu changes seasonally, but some of the dishes not to be missed are the meatballs and the crab fritters.

Taleggio pizza with burnt honey and pepper at Frannie & The Fox
Taleggio pizza with burnt honey and pepper

But above all, do not miss ordering the Taleggio pizza. Served on a thin crust (a rarity in Charleston we’re told), with burnt honey and pepper, it stole the show.

Frannie & The Fox
181 Church Street – Charleston
Website

Rodney Scott’s BBQ

Rodney Scott's BBQ restaurant
Rodney Scott’s BBQ restaurant

If you’ve been watching Chef’s Table Barbecue, you’ll probably recognize the restaurant of renowned pitmaster and 2018 James Beard Foundation Best Chef of the Southeast America Award recipient, Chef Rodney Scott.

The reason for this success? The whole hog smoked on the BBQ that is served there! Definitely a must order when you visit but the brisket, chicken and ribs don’t give away their place either.

Pork plate at Rodney's Scott

To avoid long lines, arrive a little before or after meal times as Rodney Scott’s BBQ is one of the most popular BBQ restaurants in Charleston.

Rodney Scott’s BBQ
1011 King St – Charleston
Website

Gillie’s Seafood

Interior of Gillie's Seafood Restaurant
Inside the restaurant

Soul food at Gillie’s Seafood. Located on the road leading to McLeod Plantation, this is the kind of small restaurant where you probably wouldn’t stop unless somebody told you to go eat there.

And we confirm you that you must make a stop there, it was one of our favorite meal of all the stay. Inside, the atmosphere is relaxed, the service friendly and attentive and you feel right away at home.

As for the food, the portions are very generous and everything is homemade: fried chicken, cornbread, hush puppies, crab fritters, etc.

The She-crab soup, a crab-based soup with a thick bisque-like broth, was so tasty that we seriously considered ordering it a second time.

And the rest of the meal continued on that path.

Crab fritters, hush puppies, corn bread and crawfish
Crabcakes, Hush Puppies, cornbread et fried crawfish
Seafood Gumbo at Gillie's Seafood restaurant
Gumbo with shrimps and crayfish

Gillie’s Seafood
805 Folly Road – Charleston
Website

Red Drum Restaurant

Inside the restaurant Red Drum
Inside the restaurant Red Drum

This time, let’s cross the Cooper river to go to Mount Pleasant, a small suburb of Charleston.

Why go there? Mount Pleasant is often the preferred option for lodging as there are several chain hotels with less expensive rates than those you’ll find in the historic center. This is also where you should go if you want to visit Magnolia’s Plantation, Isle of Palms and Fort Moultrie.

Mount Pleasant has, in addition to chain restaurants, a few gems like the Red Drum Restaurant.

This restaurant has a warm and lively atmosphere and offers a menu that pays homage to Southern and Texas cuisine.

We find dishes such as the very good crab tostaditas, an excellent pork chop, grilled fish or a steak grilled over a wood fire.

Crab Meat Tostaditas - Red Drum restaurant

Crab Tostaditas
Steak at the restaurant Red Drum

Red Drum Restaurant
803 Coleman Blvd – Mt Pleasant
Website

Shem Creek Crab House

Crab leg and seafood

Still located in Mount Pleasant but on the waterfront this time, we went to the Shem Creek Crab House for a very satisfying meal of crabs, shrimp and mussels covered in garlic butter! It’s perfect after a kayaking activity at Shem Creek or after a walk along the waterfront. Family and relaxed atmosphere.

Shem Creek Crab House
508 Mill St – Mt Pleasant
Website

The Tempest

Inside the restaurant The Tempest
Inside the restaurant The Tempest

For an upscale, festive experience, head to the chic restaurant The Tempest, located in historic downtown Charleston. The decor is a nod to Shakespeare’s work of the same name, with woodwork and stained glass depicting marine scenes.

Fish and seafood are featured, including oysters, ceviche and seafood towers.

Seafood tower - restaurant The Tempest

We finished this fancy meal on a sweet note with the excellent Hummingbird cake and with the digestives, as well as a rose and cigars to take away, offered by the house.

Dessert- Hummingbird cake
Hummingbird cake

The Tempest
32 N Market St Suite C – Charleston
Website

More restaurant suggestions

Need more suggestions? Here are some other restaurants that we did not have time to try but that came highly recommended:

  • Husk: southern cuisine revisited with local ingredients. Voted best new restaurant in the U.S. in 2011 by Bon Appétit magazine.
  • Leon’s Oyster Shop : Located in a restored garage restaurant, it serves grilled oysters, fried chicken and seafood. First come, first served.
  • Magnolia’s: Southern cuisine and brunches.
  • FIG : FIG stands for Food is Good. The chef won the James Beard’s Best Chef award in 2009. Local ingredients as well as sustainable fish and seafood are on the menu that changes seasonnally.
  • Lewis BBQ: Another popular spot serving Texas-style BBQ.


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A portion of the meal costs were covered by Explore Charleston.

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