Discover oysters at McCrady's Restaurant. (©Andrew Cebulka)
A visit to Charleston means sampling the best of Lowcountry cuisine.
Seafood is a staple on many a menu, but by no means is the city lacking for other options covering a variety of ethnicities. Quality and value is a constant while venues range from the elegant, historic Charleston dining to a quick shack meal.
Zero George Restaurant and Bar
The lush boutique hotel is the setting for the fine-dining experience at Zero George Restaurant and Bar. Chef Vinson Petrillo prepares dishes with fresh ingredients from nearby farms and the sea while adding herbs and vegetables from the restaurant's own garden.
Have a seat in the dining room or outdoor courtyard and choose the tasting menu or fare such as barbecue king crab, salmon poached in soft butter or the "Nitro Mozzerella Balloon." The Zero George Cooking School led by Petrillo and sous chef Tyler Chavis hosts two-hour seminars focusing on different recipes, techniques and styles.
Head to Spring Street to find items from sandwiches to steak served with Lowcountry flair under the direction of chef Emily Hahn, a "Top Chef" season 14 competitor.
Warehouse—situated in a renovated warehouse, hence the name—serves up items like beer battered cauliflower and brown butter shrimp and crab roll. Wash it down with a "Boozy Milkshake" or opt for a signature cocktail like the "Home Town Tonic," made of Hat Trick Botanical Gin, Luxardo, blood orange, tonic and lime.
Come to Meeting Street to find this local favorite with an unpretentious attitude.
The ever-changing menu is a tribute to the Lowcountry with options including slow baked grey triggerfish and the olive oil poached snowy grouper. Choose from a wide varieties of wine to accompany the meal or let the creative bartenders create something special.
Rodney Scott's BBQ
Rodney Scott opened Rodney Scott's Barbecue on King Street in 2017. Hogs are smoked over coals with a touch of hickory and pecan hardwood for 12 hours, flipped and basted with Rodney's sauce until the flavors are just right. Enjoy spare ribs to the classic sandwich-and-two-sides plate, with a drive-through window for noshing on the go.
You'll need a reservation to get into this tasting-menu-only restaurant helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock.
The 22-seat restaurant provides an intimate setting for sittings at 6:30 and 8:45, Wednesdays through Sunday and the two-hour experience will treat foodies to dishes like eggplant jerky; roast duck, cabbage and chestnut; and chocolate, rooibos and banana.
Husk—another offering from Sean Brock—is all about presenting locally grown ingredients in a spectacular manner, whether it's rare artisanal microbrews or a daily-changing menu to reflect the freshest offerings. Spend time before the meal in the second floor lounge overlooking Queen Street tilting back a classic cocktail.
Brock's executive chef and Lowcountry native Travis Grimes takes Southern ingredients and transforms them into a modern take on cuisine like his deviled eggs with pickled okra and trout roe.
Serving up the best soul food in Charleston for decades, Bertha's Kitchen was named a James Beard Foundation American Classic in 2017 for being a "beloved regional restaurant, distinguished by their timeless appeal."
Served out of a blue building, the must-order dishes include classic fried chicken and fried pork chops plus daily specials like pigs' feet and yams. Lunch begins at 11 am, but be prepared to line up early to beat the crowd.
Mixing and matching is encouraged at The Charleston Grill where cuisine is divided into four categories: lush, pure, cosmopolitan and Southern.
Take in the elegant ambiance and let the live jazz music—played nightly—envelop you while sipping a cocktail. Best-of dishes include seared flounder with buttery grits and shrimp or grilled peach salad with country ham and candied pecans.
Classic Southern specialties have been a cut above at Hominy Grill since 1996 when James Beard Award-winning chef Robert Stehling opened the doors of a converted barbershop.
Get down home classics like Creole cornmeal fried catfish, fried green tomato BLT or daily specials like the grilled swordfish. Breakfast starts at 7:30 am and is open to 9 pm Monday though Saturday and 3 pm on Sunday.
Walk through the Peninsula Grill's notable green door and revel in a rich dining experience.
The elegantly furnished interiors and charming courtyard setting add to a delectable offering of locally sourced menu options. Try oysters baked, smoked or on the half shell; indulge in octopus crudo or she crab soup; and order a seasonal specialty like the pan seared Sunburst Farms Trout.
Slightly North of Broad
S.N.O.B. is a Lowcountry bistro that offers stylish dishes with locally sourced ingredients.
Discover from oyster stew, grass fed beef carpaccio and duck breast. S.N.O.B. offers a number of regionally produced beers and have wine for purchase by the half bottle or glass.
The ever-changing menu is the centerpiece of fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere helmed by executive chef and local Charlestonian Jeremiah Bacon.
Start at 5 pm with the Bacon Happy Hour to get classics like poutine and chicken wings, then stay for a dinner menu that allows Bacon to use his knowledge of the area to bring in the best local ingredients. Watch those ingredients be transformed into favorites like the Mac burger and bone marrow bread pudding among others.
Experience European cuisine in the friendly confines of Chez Nous.
The changing menu—which hones in on local ingredients—is on the restaurant's social media accounts. Chez Nous offers two appetizers, two entreés and two desserts for both lunch and dinner.
Bowens Island Restaurant
This oyster joint and 2006 James Beard Award-winner has been a local institution since 1946.
Just minutes from Folly Beach, the locally harvested oysters brings seafood lovers pulling up to the dock or to the front of the shack for Lowcountry cuisine such as its Frogmore stew—seafood boil—and fried shrimp. Find a seat outside, chow down while drinking an ice-cold beer and revel in the view of the river and islands.
Butcher and Bee
The original dream of Butcher and Bee was to provide gourmet meals between two slices of bread, but it has evolved beyond that.
This Charleston location of the Nashville-based restaurant still has sandwiches but the eclectic, changing menu also offers items like stuffed French toast, bacon wrapped dates and chicken shawarma.
Find everything seafood in a restored bank building on King Street. FIG chef and partner Mike Lata lends his talents to this energetic Southern seafood hall that has an oyster bar and shellfish towers among a large number of hot and cold seafood options.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
Xiao Bao Biscuit promises traditional Asian soul food, inspired by multiple generations from China, Japan, Korean Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam in a contemporary setting. Bring a crowd as dishes are served family style or take an order to go. The website may not reflect the whole breadth of the menu which changes seasonally.