This blog post is the third and final in my Charleston, South Carolina food and drink series! I originally published a Charleston coffee shops and cafes guide, followed by a post about the best rooftop bars in Charleston. This one is going to dive into the third and most important category, food! This blog post is split into categories by meal type. Please note that if you’re looking for simple & quick breakfast recommendations, you’ll want to check out my cafe post. This one covers brunch, lunch, and dinner. Grab a snack and let’s get reading about the best places to eat in Charleston, SC.
Best Brunch (and Lunch) In Charleston, SC
Basic Kitchen is super cute and super delicious. The menu is mostly vegan and has a rotating menu. Everything is organic, colorful, fresh, and the atmosphere is… sunny. Check it out next time you’re downtown!
Since I give a sandwich shop recommendation for Sullivan’s below, I have to give another for one of Charleston’s most popular beaches – Folly. Head to Bert’s Market for all things salads, wraps, sandwiches, chips, and the best desserts ever.
Big Bad Breakfast
Big Bad Breakfast (BBB) is your classic breakfast joint in downtown Charleston. It’s a popular spot, so expect a line on weekends. It’s worth the wait though – this place is definitely one of the best brunches in Charleston, SC!
Brown Dog Deli
Brown Dog Deli is the best sandwich shop, and is one of the best lunches in Charleston, SC. They have wraps, paninis, salads, and everything in between. They have seating if you want to sit down but also prep their food fast if you prefer to take out.
Brown Dog Deli has two locations in Charleston – one on Calhoun Street and a second on Broad Street. I recommend trying the Folly Beach crunch wrap – it’s a local staple!
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
This Charleston staple is perfect for grabbing a quick bite. Biscuits are a southern staple, and this place does it best. They serve biscuit sandwiches if you’ve worked up an appetite, but also offer a trio of mini biscuits, perfect for sampling unique flavors.
They have a sweet founding story too. Callie is a local southern woman who used to bake biscuits for loved ones. It wasn’t until her daughter, Carrie, saw the potential for a business opportunity that she launched her first cookbook and began shipping biscuit mix to people’s homes. Now you can find the biscuit mix in stories across the US and two store in Charleston – one on King Street and another in the historic market. Carrie actually came to my MBA class last year as one of our executive speakers, and brought about 200 biscuits with her – perks of going to grad school in the south!
Circe’s Grotto is a panini shop in downtown Charleston. This one is located right behind the College of Charleston’s campus, so it was a popular lunch spot during my MBA year. It’s small, but they have some outdoor seating.
Millers All Day
Miller’s has the best brunch in Charleston, SC in terms of food. Located on the very end of Lower King, it’s ALWAYS busy. That’s because Millers doesn’t take reservations. The trick here is to arrive super early to put your name in, then browse the nearby shops until your name is called. Trust me, the food is worth the wait as this is one of the best places to eat in Charleston, SC.
Located on Sullivan’s Island, Obstinate Daughter is one of my favorite beach-side restaurants in Charleston. I’ve only been for brunch, but I hear dinner here is amazing too. They’re known for their country-chic coastal decor, wood fired pizza, and quality service.
Poogan’s Porch is a historic home in downtown Charleston turned restaurant (this is a trend here), known for its She-crab soup and unique Lowcountry menu. This restaurant is rumored to be haunted by the sisters who used to live here and got its name from the pet dog, Poogan, who used to always roam around the front porch.
Pro-tip: Try the chicken and waffles! This is Poogan’s most popular brunch dish, and Poogan’s is one of the best places to eat in Charleston, SC.
The Co-Op’s main location is on Sullivan’s Island and is the perfect spot to grab a sandwich or salad for the beach. The Co-Op is also super cute – everything here is very pink. They’re known for their frose too… order a flight!
Queen Street Grocery
Funny enough, I’m working on this blog post at Queen Street Grocery right now. This old apothecary turned deli is a MUST as it’s definitely one of the best lunches in Charleston, SC. They are known for their crepes and have a solid menu of both sweet and savory options for customers to enjoy.
The back patio of 82 Queen has to be one of the top restaurants in Charleston, SC for brunch. This historic restaurant has a quirky interior too, but once you walk through the first few rooms of the restaurant, you’ll find an open oasis of a back patio with quaint butterfly chairs, a gazebo, and too many plants to count. Aside from the sweet setting, this restaurant has such good southern comfort food. I recommend the chicken & waffles or the crab benedict for brunch!
Pro-tip: Be sure to book a reservation online and in advance for this restaurant if you plan on adding a meal here to your Charleston itinerary.
Where To Eat Dinner In Charleston, SC
Located right next to the historic market in Charleston, Anson is a high-end, historic restaurant serving classic Lowcountry cuisine. There are multiple historic rooms here and the She-crab soup is amazing.
Blind Tiger Pub
Blind Tiger has to be one of the most charming establishments in Charleston. It serves upscale bar food in an old alehouse dating back to 1803. The back area has a brick-walled courtyard of ruins of the original bar. There’s fire pits back here and TVs to watch games. Blind Tiger is one of the top restaurants in Charleston.
Bowen’s Island Seafood
Located about 5 minutes from Folly Beach, Bowen’s is my favorite local seafood joint and is one of the best places to eat in Charleston, SC. This restaurant is (for lack of better words) a rustic building with counter-service. The seafood platters are AMAZING. I always get the peel & eat shrimp and sit outside on the deck. Try to time your visit here with sunset… it’s stunning.
Butcher & Bee
Butcher & Bee offers a rotating, seasonal menu and has a big emphasis on farm-to-table. They sell their breads in a few shops around town, including the Daily – one of the best coffee shops in Charleston. They’re known for their small, Mediterranean-inspired plates and cocktails.
Church & Union
Previously known as 5Church, Church & Union is a Charleston staple for dinner. Many locals think this place is touristy, but it’s worth it.
As the name suggests, Church & Union is an old church. It has a unique history – it was also a night club at one point! The bar here is grand, so kick off your night with a cocktail! I love the entrees too. Most are huge, so you can definitely share with friends.
Darling Oyster Bar
Charleston is known for a lot of things… its pastel buildings, sandy beaches, nightlife on King, and of course – its oysters. There are a few places to get oysters in town, but one of my favorite places to eat in Charleston has to be the Darling Oyster Bar. The Darling is located right next to my favorite cocktail bar in Charleston, the Belmont, and is super cute. Plus, there’s a raw bar here right in the window – offering a wide selection of oysters and prime people watching on King.
Pro-tip: If you visit Charleston during the winter / early spring months you HAVE to attend an oyster roast. There’s pop-up’s all around the city for them. Not only are they fun social events, most of them are all-you-can-eat!
Felix Cocktails et Cuisine
Felix is a French restaurant and bar located on Upper King. It’s known for its sharing plates inspired by Paris and its wine menu. Try the French Onion soup here – it’s to-die-for.
FIG stands for “Food is Good” and is as good as its name suggests. This restaurant has a daily rotating menu, full of farm-to-table deliciousness. The chefs here are true artists and the service is divine. This is an upper-scale restaurant in Charleston, so I would expect to pay about $50 / per person (including drinks), and reservations are needed in advance.
Pro-tip: This is one of those places where the reservations open up online one month in advance, and they book up fast! If you have a certain date in mind, try to be online exactly one month ahead of time to secure a table – especially for a weekend or special occasion.
Frannie & The Fox
Located in the Emeline hotel, Frannie & The Fox is an Italian eatery known for its wood-fired pizza selection. The back courtyard of this restaurant is a real gem, complete with string lights and a cozy fireplace, making it one of the best places to eat in Charleston, SC.
Fuel should be the obvious choice if you’re looking for a Mexican-Caribbean casual meal. As the name suggests, Fuel used to be a gas station in downtown Charleston. Now it’s a converted gas statio turned bar with a lively back patio.
Gingerline is one of the newest additions to this list. It just opened a few months ago and is a “tropical destination” in downtown Charleston. Its known for its cocktail menu and has a yummy small plate food menu to match. The vibes in here are 12/10.
Hometeam has two locations in Charleston – one in downtown and one on Sullivan’s Island near the beach. I don’t think the food here is as good as Lewis BBQ, but this is a fun spot for watching a big game or drinking with friends.
Located on Upper King, Indaco is a rustic Italian eatery with wood-fired pizzas, hand-crafted pastas, and wines. They have a great happy hour here, but it’s at the bar only.
This higher-end Italian restaurant is a great spot for wine, tasty pasta dishes, and Italian desserts. Le Farfalle is a popular spot in town, so grab a reservation if you can!
Although Charleston is in the south, it’s not exactly known for its BBQ. Lewis, however, should be well-known. This indoor / outdoor spot has the best barbeque in Charleston. It’s casual so you can take it to-go or enjoy the outdoor courtyard area.
Although Oku has the best sushi downtown (*IMO*), Local’s has the best sushi in Mount Pleasant. Local’s is actually a local sports bar and restaurant, but don’t judge a book by its cover. They have an excellent full sushi menu. Go here on Monday’s for their half off rolls deal.
Also located on East Bay Street, Magnolia’s has to be one of my favorite Southern restaurants in Charleston. It’s pretty upscale. I ate here after graduating with my Master’s with my parents but we loved it. The service was impeccable and the food was delicious.
I recently tried Melfi’s pasta and brick-oven pizza and they did NOT disappoint. Melfi’s is a higher-end Italian restaurant on Upper King, so it’s not the most affordable option (prepare to pay around $30 for a pasta dish), but it’s delicious and they have a great wine menu too.
If you’re a sushi lover, this is the place for you. There are a few sushi restaurants in Charleston, including Fuji and Mesu (a Mexican-Japanese combo, weird I know, don’t knock it ‘til you try it), but Oku has the best sushi downtown. They also have a fantastic happy hour on Wednesdays and Fridays. If you are a sushi lover, Oku is one of the best places to eat in Charleston, SC.
Park & Grove
If you’re looking for an eatery closer to Hampton Park on Upper King, look no further than Park & Grove. Park & Grove is a bright, airy cafe serving American food with a global twist, and an emphasis on local ingredients. The menu and interior decor were recently redone here. Additionally, Park & Grove often hosts markets in its front parking lot, so keep an eye on its event list for festivities.
If you’re looking for a BBQ option on East Bay Street, head to Poogan’s Smokehouse. Poogan’s is great for groups because they have platters that are easily shareable. When I went here with friends last year, we were able to choose a few meats / sides and split it all.
Post House Inn
Located in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village, the Post House is one of my favorite restaurants over the bridge! This quaint place was once a historic post office and is now a charming restaurant and B&B. There are a few guest rooms upstairs and a hidden wine cellar in the floorboards of the back dining room! The atmosphere here is amazing.
Saltwater Cowboys is a Shem Creek staple. When I have visitors in Charleston this is always a must-visit. Saltwater has one of the best day drinking scenes in Charleston. It has a huge outdoor deck right on the water, and is a popular spot for boaters to pull up to and enjoy a cocktail or two. There’s often a DJ out here on the weekends. The menu is also really great if you’re just looking for dinner and drinks.
Pro-tip: They do have heat lamps on the back deck in the winter months, but Saltwater Cowboys really comes to life in the summer months.
Stella’s is a high-end Greek / Italian restaurant off King Street serving small, tapas-style Mediteranean-inspired plates, along with hefty pasta dishes. They have a cool bar on the inside for dining in and a back patio for guests to enjoy. Grab reservations here!
Taco Boy is a casual taco joint in Charleston. There’s two locations in Charleston – one in downtown and a second on Folly Beach. I went here a good amount as a grad student for their marg & taco deals. There’s tons of outdoor seating here!
Tavern & Table
Tavern & Table is my go-to restaurant on Shem Creek. It’s not super expensive by any means, but also isn’t as cheap as some of the dive bars along Shem. Tavern has beautiful indoor and outdoor seating, and a delicious southern, BBQ-inspired menu. Try their mac-n-cheese and try to reserve a table on the deck if you can!
Xiao Bao Biscuit
Xiao Bao is an Asian fusion restaurant located on Spring Street and is one of the best Asian restaurants in the city. While the indoor seating is minimal, the outdoor area has tons of picnic tables – perfect for enjoying the family-style menu. Try the cabbage pancake, it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten in the city.
I’ve never been to these restaurants, but they are known for being some of the best, so I couldn’t NOT include them on this list:
- Chubby Fish for seafood
- Hall’s Chophouse for steak
- High Cotton for brunch
- Husk for southern cuisine
- Neon Tiger for the best vegan cuisine
- 167 Raw for oysters
That concludes my list of the best places to eat in Charleston, SC and the 3rd and final post of my Charleston food and drink series! I’ve loved calling Charleston my home the past 1.5 years and hope you enjoy your visit in the city as well.
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