Charleston Restaurants

Charleston is blessed with a bevy of Southern-inflected selections, from barbecue parlors to fish shacks to casual places serving Lowcountry fare like shrimp and grits. If you'd like to try something new, there are plenty of places serving updated, inspired versions of classic dishes. Before you leave, you'll definitely see why Charleston is considered one of the greatest food cities in the world.

The city's dining scene status continues to rise, boosted by a group of James Beard Foundation repeat award winners. Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill, Mike Lata of FIG and The Ordinary, Jason Stanhope of FIG, and Sean Brock of McCrady's and Husk each earned the designation of Best Chef: Southeast, in successive years. The city boasts other prodigious talents, too: Alex Lira of Bar Normandy, Jeremiah Bacon of the Macintosh, Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill, Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca, Jacques Larson of Wild Olive and The Obstinate Daughter, and Josh Walker of Xiao Bao Biscuit. It's the establishment of the New South, circa now.

As for attire, Charleston invites a crisp yet casual atmosphere. Don't forget, it was recognized as the Most Mannerly City in the country by Marjabelle Young Stewart, which means that residents are slow to judge (or, at the least, that they're doing so very quietly). On the whole, the city encourages comfort and unhurried, easy pacing. The result is an idyllic setting in which to enjoy oysters on the half shell and other homegrown delicacies from the land and sea that jointly grant the city its impressive culinary standing.

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  • 1. Chez Nous

    $$$ | Upper King | French

    The menu may be nearly illegible, the space minuscule, and locating the tucked-away location like finding Waldo, but the food is almost always...Read More

  • 2. Chubby Fish

    $$$ | Cannonborough | Seafood

    Bold flavors and local seafood are the hallmarks of this neighborhood café that gets creative with dishes like smoked fish curry and tempura...Read More

  • 3. Edmund's Oast

    $$$ | North Morrison | American

    It's not just what's in the pint glasses at this upscale brewpub that has locals raving. The kitchen's mac-and-peas and pickled shrimp toast...Read More

  • 4. Slightly North of Broad

    $$$ | Downtown Historic District | American

    Affectionately known as S.N.O.B., this former warehouse with atmospheric brick-and-stucco walls has a chef's table that looks directly into...Read More

  • 5. The Grocery

    $$$ | Market | Modern American

    Executive chef and owner Kevin Johnson's outstanding restaurant sits in impressive quarters near the corner of Cannon and King Streets. The...Read More

  • 6. The Ordinary

    $$$ | Upper King | Seafood

    Award-winning chef Mike Lata delivers every possible type of underwater delight here, from local littleneck clams to wahoo carpaccio. The two...Read More

  • 7. The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene

    $$$ | Seafood

    At first glance, the odd name appears to refer to this waterfront restaurant's exterior, topped off with a shabby screened-in porch (in actuality...Read More

  • 8. 39 Rue de Jean

    $$$ | Upper King | French

    Against a backdrop of classic French-bistro style—think gleaming wood, cozy booths, and white-papered tables—Charleston's night owls feast on...Read More

  • 9. 82 Queen

    $$$ | Lower King | American

    This landmark mainstay continues to thrive as an atmospheric, fine-dining establishment. As always, the food has strong Southern leanings, with...Read More

  • 10. Anson

    $$$ | Market | American

    Cuisine at this fine-dining mainstay where nearly a dozen windows afford picturesque views of the passing horse-drawn carriages is traditional...Read More

  • 11. Coast Bar & Grill

    $$$ | Upper King | Seafood

    Off a little alley in a restored indigo warehouse, Coast Bar & Grill has a stripped-down look with exposed brick walls and wood columns...Read More

  • 12. Coda del Pesce

    $$$ | Seafood

    Ken Vedrinski's oceanfront homage to the sea on the Isle of Palms is worth the hike from downtown. The crudo (raw fish) with tangerines, wine...Read More

  • 13. Cru Café

    $$$ | Market | American

    The sunny wraparound porch in an 18th-century house lures people to this eatery from lauded local chef John Zucker, but it's the inventive menu...Read More

  • 14. Goulette Rotisserie & Grill

    $$$ | Cannonborough | French

    Years after shuttering the much beloved La Fourchette, Perig Goulet revived his French bistro setup in a roomier dining room on Rutledge Avenue...Read More

  • 15. Hank's Seafood

    $$$ | Market | Seafood

    This upscale fish house serves such Southern adaptations as Lowcountry bouillabaisse and seafood platters that come with sweet-potato fries...Read More

  • 16. Indaco

    $$$ | Upper King | Italian

    For sophisticated Italian fare in a vibrant (and sometimes boisterous) setting, this hip spot on Upper King is the place. A modern aesthetic...Read More

  • 17. Leyla

    $$$ | College of Charleston Campus | Lebanese

    The fragrance of beef, lamb, and chicken shawarma wafts from the glass front doors of this Lebanese restaurant, bringing the authentic flavors...Read More

  • 18. Muse Restaurant and Wine Bar

    $$$ | Lower King | Mediterranean

    Set in a pale yellow building on Society Street, Muse lays bare Mediterranean stylings in sophisticated, relaxed quarters. The menu offers standout...Read More

  • 19. Old Post Office Restaurant

    $$$ | American

    The old metal cages remain at this converted post office, but instead of mail you'll find Southern-inspired fare like a savory shrimp and grits...Read More

  • 20. Pressley's at the Marina

    $$$ | Seafood

    This relaxed waterfront spot offers up fare from land and sea alike. Start off with hush puppies served with sweet honey butter and a bowl of...Read More

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