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Best Restaurants in Charleston

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. :)

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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!

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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 charleston review

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.

husk bar charleston

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!

husk charleston review

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.

husk charleston dinner review

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.

husk dinner charleston

We also tried some of their cornbread, which was savory and super smoky – yum.

husk charleston cornbread

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.

husk dessert charleston

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!

halls chophouse sunday gospel brunch

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.

halls chophouse sunday gospel brunch

Best Places for a Light Meal or Healthy Snack: Verde and Whisk

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!

verde charleston

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!

whisk juice bar charleston

Matt and I both got the “Ginger Zinger” juice – apple + kale + collards + carrot + orange + ginger + turmeric. Yummy combo!

whisk juice charlestonRocking 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.

hominy grill charleston

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. :)

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Don’t worry – I also had a salad. This was delicious, too!

hominy grill charleston review

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 charleston

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!

edmund's oast charleston beer

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!

edmund's oast beer

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!

edmunds oast charleston review

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!

joe pasta charleston

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!

charleston stolls alley

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.

charleston library

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.

Unitarian Church graveyard charleston

charleston graveyard

charleston 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!

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charleston alley walking

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!

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the battery charleston

the battery park charleston

Looking to do some shopping? King Street is awesome – tons of cute shops, both local and familiar.

charleston shopping

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.

Comments

  1. 1

    This South Carolina girl loves this post! When I live a little closer, Charleston was often a day trip on a weekends. The best place I’ve eaten there is the Early Bird Dinner. Definitely a hidden gym.

  2. 3

    Looks like a great trip! I’m sad you didn’t get to try SNOB’s, but the other places you went to look amazing. I’m definitely going to keep my eye on their half marathon for next year! It also sounds like a couple we’re good friends with may have their wedding in Charleston!

  3. 4

    OMG!! And you had the Egg Nog Tres Leches!! My hubby and I had that at Husk too!! Glad you had fun!!
    I for sure can’t WAIT to go back!!

  4. 5

    Great recap Anne! I’ve never been but all that tasty goodness makes me want to hop on a plane and check it out for myself :-) Thanks!

  5. 6

    I am so hungry now!! Yum! All those pictures were delish – I can only imagine how amazing it tasted!!!

  6. 7

    This makes me want to go back to Charleston. I second Magnolias. And Hyman’s Seafood is awesome if you want fresh seafood, roll up your sleeves style. We stayed on Folly Island. It was awesome to spend a big day stomping around Charleston and then our evenings on the beach in the surf.

    • 8

      I wish we had made it to Folly Island – sounds lovely! Also just an FYI re: Hyman’s — we heard from a TON of locals that that place wasn’t the best — kind of a tourist trap unfortunately. :(

  7. 9

    What a great trip guide, thank you! Charleston is definitely on the short list to visit, so hopefully we’ll get there soon. :-)

    And as a hotel concierge, I’m glad you took advantage of the one at your hotel! They are a plethora of knowledge and some of the nicest hotel employees. ;-)

  8. 11

    You pretty much hit all the big ones! High Cotton is our favorite and Vendue Inn is our favorite roof top bar along with Grille 225. Both have amazing views of the city. Glad you enjoyed the city! Verde is the best, love them!

  9. 12

    Looks like a lovely place!!!

  10. 13

    We went there in August for our babymoon and loved it! Magnolia’s was great, we weren’t impressed with Poogan’s Porch though and wouldn’t go back. It rained one day so we went to the aquarium and toured the turtle rescue, it was really neat!

    • 14

      I heard mixed reviews on Poogan’s Porch – a lot of people recommended it, but the locals we talked to said it wasn’t worth the hype. Hit or miss I guess!

  11. 15

    OMG – it has been a long time since I was in Charleston and now I’m itching to go back! I loved looking at the pictures – thanks so much for sharing… Wonder if I can find any cornmeal dusted catfish here in Dallas??? :)

  12. 16

    Mmmm… cornbread. Looks like a fun, and tasty, trip!

  13. 17

    Kevin at the Courtyard is awesome.

  14. 19

    So glad you loved it! I ran the battery or bridge almost every day when we lived there. I’m glad you found the bar at Husk- it’s a great spot!

  15. 20

    Next time you are there try Pennisula Grill! One of my favorites that’s not on your list. I spent summers in Charleston then ended up in culinary school down there, such a beautiful city that I absolutely love!

    And you are right about Hyman’s….ick, total tourist trap. There are a hundred places with better seafood. If you want good fried seafood in downtown Charleston then Hank’s is my favorite.

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