Hey friends! I wanted to share a round up of some of the best restaurants in Charleston that we discovered while there over the weekend, plus some touristy highlights like where to stay and what to see. I hope those of you planning trips to Charleston in the future will find this post helpful! It’s a long one – settle in. :)
Also, thank you to those of you that shared your recommendations with us beforehand! There were so many good places to eat/things to see and not enough time – but I think we hit a bunch of the best. :) I’ll break the recommendations up into categories – enjoy!
Best Food/Special Occasion Dinner Spot: Husk
When you tell someone you’re going to Charleston, they immediately say: you HAVE to eat at Husk. A combination of great food, a cute ambiance, and amazing reviews in national magazines have set Husk up as THE place to go in Charleston if you’re looking for a nice date night and don’t mind dropping some cash.
Husk serves up local southern-inspired cuisine in a beautiful old house in historic downtown Charleston. We started at their bar, next door, which you don’t need a reservation for and is definitely worth a stop even if you aren’t eating at Husk – it was so cool and cozy! Great drinks, too.
As for dinner in the main house, it was amazing. We both started with a beet and strawberry salad that was so good that even Matt liked the beets!
For my main course, I had the Cornmeal Dusted Catfish with red rice, pepper bacon, heirloom kale, meyer lemon, and chilies. It was amazing – the catfish was crunchy on the outside but not greasy at all, and the sauce that went with the rice was wonderful, too. Husk did a great job getting the southern flavor in without being super heavy/butter-laden.
Matt loved his dinner, too, which was a really creative Striploin with mushrooms, tatsoi, hakurei turnip, shishito peppers, and peanut miso. I tried some – incredible flavor, and again not too heavy or overly spiced. So, so good.
We also tried some of their cornbread, which was savory and super smoky – yum.
Dessert was the only thing that wasn’t quite as good as the rest – we tried the eggnog tres leche with orange marmalade and nutmeg whip. Tasty, but nothing to write home about, unlike the rest of the meal.
Best Brunch: Sunday Gospel Brunch at Halls Chophouse
Many of you recommended Halls Chophouse for a fancy dinner and a great steak, but we decided to check it out on Sunday for their Gospel Brunch (live gospel singers – so fun) as a slightly cheaper alternative that also came recommended. The food was really good (if a bit heavy) and the service was wonderful – REALLY friendly waiters. Plus, they bring you popovers to start – love these!
I had the salmon cakes for my main event, which came with two fried eggs and an arugula salad. The salmon cakes were heavy but delicious – fried and packed with a mixture of salmon, pasta, corn, and who knows what else. Yum! Southern-y goodness.
On our first afternoon in Charleston, right after landing, we hit up Verde for a healthy lunch – we knew we had the Charleston half marathon the next day and didn’t want to go crazy on the heavy southern food until it was over. It is a build your own salad place a lot like Sweetgreen – felt good to get in some veggies!
On Sunday morning, Matt and I were craving green juice after a day of southern-tastic feasting on Saturday, so we hit Whisk Coffee and Juice Bar. They had a great selection of juices/smoothies and a nice salad bar, too – highly recommend!
Matt and I both got the “Ginger Zinger” juice – apple + kale + collards + carrot + orange + ginger + turmeric. Yummy combo!
Rocking my new fave JCrew vest (<- 30% off right now) that I got for Christmas!
Best Southern Comfort Food: Hominy Grill
This was another spot that TONS of people recommended so we knew we had to give it a shot.
Matt and I hit up Hominy Grill for a late lunch after the race on Saturday, and I felt it was my duty while in the south to get Shrimp and Grits and a biscuit. Mission: success! Matt had the ribs, which were intense but delicious. :)
Don’t worry – I also had a salad. This was delicious, too!
Best Ambiance & Off the Beaten Path Hipster Spot: Edmund’s Oast
Edmund’s Oast came recommended to us by some Charleston locals, so we knew it had to be good! We hit it up for dinner on Saturday. We weren’t super hungry since we’d had a really late lunch at Hominy Grill, but we didn’t want to miss out on this spot!
Edmund’s Oast is a bit north of the historic downtown (not walkable), but it was worth the trip. The ambiance was awesome – lively and fun – and check out all the beers they have on tap!
We started with a beer sampling – they offer 4 oz tastes of all the beers which was perfect. The beers were really unique – one was even PB&J flavored!
As for the food, it was great, too! We got a few smaller things and shared since we weren’t starved. Their cornbread and pickled veggies were amazing – and I really loved the smoked trout with house sauerkraut, beets, potatoes, and dill!
Best Runner-Friendly Pre-Race Dinner: Joe Pasta
The night before the Charleston Half Marathon, Matt and I wanted something simple that wouldn’t mess up our stomachs for the race (aka: not heavy southern food). We were pumped to stumble upon Joe Pasta. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to try this place normally – it was a basic pasta joint and pretty crowded/crazy inside – but it was PERFECT for the night before a race because they had a build your own pasta dinner option! We were able to pick our pasta, protein, sauce, and add ins – so perfect. I went for penne with chicken, red sauce, and spinach, mushrooms, black olives, and roasted red peppers. Familiar, basic, and tasty – just what we wanted the night before a race!
Where to Stay
While I’m sure there are a lot of cute B&Bs in Charleston, after some research on TripAdvisor we decided to stay at the Courtyard Marriott Charleston Historic District. It’s a nice hotel walking distance to all the action which was perfect for us, and there’s a little breakfast/coffee spot inside which was useful on our last morning before rushing off to the airport. But what made this hotel really worth recommending was the concierge, Kevin McQuade. There were some advertisements in our room for his (free) concierge services so we decided to pop down and talk to him on our second day of the trip. Wow – what a good decision that was! Not only did he get us a reservation at sold out Husk, but he also gave us a ton of other great restaurant and touristy recommendations. Especially useful was a map of historic downtown with a bunch of cute little alleys called out that we never would have found on our own. We spent most of Sunday walking around following his map and discovered the most beautiful hidden areas of the city. Thank you again, Kevin – you rock!
What to See
Speaking of – here are more pictures of some of the cute spots in historic downtown that we walked to thanks to the map from the concierge! Next time we come to Charleston, I want to venture out to some of the surrounding areas – but for this trip, staying downtown made sense.
The Unitarian Church Graveyard was beautiful and otherwordly – worth a stop. You can find it between 161 1/2 King Street and 163 King Street – walk through an archway of trees to access the graveyard.
There are a bunch of cute alleys worth checking out, too – use Google maps on your phone to find Philadelphia Alley, Stolls Alley, Ropemaker’s Lane, Lodge Alley, and Philadelphia Alley. All are insanely cute and quaint!
Don’t forget to visit The Battery, too – that’s the southernmost area of historic Charleston, along the water. A beautiful park, a nice walking trail along the water, and gorgeous big homes!
Looking to do some shopping? King Street is awesome – tons of cute shops, both local and familiar.
So there you have it! Our Charleston adventures in a nutshell. If you missed our Charleston Half Marathon race recap, check that out, too! One more HUGE thank you to Cabot for covering our race fee, flights, and hotel for this trip. (We paid for our own meals, just FYI.)
Have you ever been to Charleston? Any other recommendations to add to this list? Other restaurants that many recommended to us but that we didn’t have a chance to try were FIG (unfortunately closed until February for renovations), SNOB (Slightly North of Broad), Magnolias (especially for brunch), Five Loaves Café, Poogan’s Porch, The Obstinate Daughter (on Sullivan’s Island), and High Cotton.
Please note that there are affiliate links in this post.