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Charleston, SC Suggestions

Charleston, SC Suggestions
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  • Post #121 - September 8th, 2016, 10:46 am
    Post #121 - September 8th, 2016, 10:46 am Post #121 - September 8th, 2016, 10:46 am
    Vitesse98 wrote:OK, visting Charleston with a group in early October, already eating at Husk (while others are hitting Outstanding in the Field). We're working on getting into the Ordinary, but it looks iffy. Anyone have a strong opinion on:

    Fat Hen:


    Harold's Cabin

    Darling Oyster Bar

    We had a really enjoyable brunch at Fat Hen but I've never eaten dinner there. Food was rich and comforting, which is what I like in a brunch.

    I liked The Ordinary but I thought the raw offerings were much more enjoyable than the cooked. Service at the bar before we were seated was unnecessarily snooty.

    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #122 - September 8th, 2016, 3:35 pm
    Post #122 - September 8th, 2016, 3:35 pm Post #122 - September 8th, 2016, 3:35 pm
    I'd long heard good things about this charming Southern city called Charleston. Then one day in the middle of June 2015 a horrendous act happened and with it many a worm came out of the woodwork. Said worms made me uncomfortable with South Carolina as a whole. Though I knew that neither they nor he represented the state as a whole, I wanted nothing to do with a place that still fly's the flag of a loser. Well eventually that flag came down and most everything went back to as normal as a place with so many scars from it's past can be. I started warming up to the idea of checking it out.

    ImageCharleston, SC

    We finally did check out Charleston last May having the chance to do so on a return trip from South Florida which I drove down to for the month. Not visiting a place like this would be dumb as there's so many spots that deserve your business. Charleston might have a checkered past but I sincerely felt that this most recent incident made the city even more unified and stronger. It's not the way you want that to happen but I felt it to be alot less segregated than many Midwestern cities. It doesn't mean that much has changed (See Walter Scott) but there's plenty of good going on here as well.

    ImageMoment of Silence for the Fallen

    The good pretty much starts with the food for those of us that love to eat out. Charleston is one of just a few US cities that can claim it's very own cuisine(s). This alone has long made me intrigued with the city and it's people. To truly experience the city's magical culture you have to check out the Gullah spots that still remain. Gullah Cuisine is the food of the ancestors of people from West Africa brought to Charleston against their will. Stolen for their knowledge of rice preservation in hot and humid areas, these people, like all others, brought their recipes with them. Eventually said recipes were also stolen and came to be identified as Southern cuisine when in fact most all of the food favorites in these parts are linked back to the Gullah people and their culture.

    ImageRavenel Seafood

    This was my first stop planned as we were coming into Charleston through the small town the family seafood shack is named after. Ravenel Seafood is run by a family that's fished these parts for a long, long time. Their shops sits about 30 minutes from Charleston and it reminded me alot of Chicago's old time shrimp shacks. Places like Calumet Fisheries and Hagen's. Just different product.

    ImageMural on the Side

    They do Gullah style food made on-site as well as fresh seafood you can take home. Small space with maybe three booths and such. I was here for the garlic crabs which I immediately ordered upon entry. As I waited, and then waited some more I watched as many of locals came in to pick up their phone orders. After what felt like forever I quickly forgot about the wait as soon as the first whiff of garlic crab started rushing my respiratory system. I was officially in Gullah Country.

    ImageGarlic Crab

    Those that love the garlicky bagged seafood that's taken cities like Chicago by storm will love this dish just as much. Potent amounts of garlic with tons of spices mixed in. All of which goes great with the sweet succulent crab meat awaiting inside each shell. I took Steve Drucker's advice and made sure to have a roll of towels and a few waters to wash our hands down. To go with the crab I got an order of red rice which is one of the most common sides in Low Country cuisine. Just like Mexican Rice there's countless recipes for this dish but the basis of it remains the same. Rice, tomatoes, and pork fat. Who cant get down with that? This would be the best version of this dish I tried on the trip.

    ImageRed Rice

    Helluva first meal and a place I'd highly recommend, you just might want to call your order in ahead. Get what I got and maybe some garlic shrimp to go with it and you should be good. In we rolled to Charleston where it was just about time for Happy Hour, one of our favorite things to do while traveling.

    ImageThe Darling Oyster Bar

    Aside from cocktails, Happy Hours were meant for oysters. Especially in towns where they're abundant. The Darling was said to be a popular HH spot and that it was. Empty early but pretty much packed half-way in. Charleston's space is small and their tourism is big so you can pretty much expect all of the food stops to be popular.

    ImageHappy Hour Oysters

    I forget where they were from but these HH oysters weren't from SC waters but they were still enjoyed with a few fresh punch of the day's. Being towards the end of May the weather was really heating up and this place made some extra refreshing drinks. They were equally good at frying fries as an order of their spuds was definitely the right call. What I liked most about this spot was the design of the place on the inside. In no way is that a knock against the food I just thought it was as nice of a designed restaurant as any I've drank in.

    ImageFantastic Fries

    After some walking around the downtown area it was time for me to refuel. We drove over to Hannibal's which wasn't far at all. This report is all in chronological order so in many cases the places posted before and after each other are relatively close in distance. Though we did have a car so as always I was all over.

    ImageHannibal's Kitchen

    Nice mixed crowd here both taking out and eating in. I wasn't expecting it to double as a bar but that's what it did. There's some seats up front by the cooler of booze and where you place/pick up your order and then some dining booths up in front of all that. I really wanted to try the Gullah favorite known as crab rice which is the literal ingredients of this dish. It's just fresh picked meat from local crabs that's heated and thrown over a bunch of white rice. Simply delicious.

    ImageCrab Rice

    After walking around some more I wanted to get away from the downtown area and eat some seafood somewhere so Roadside Seafood it was. This is a place that's made a common transformation similar to so many other popular dining destinations across the country. It's a food truck turned brick and mortar. Off we rode to James Island for some grub.

    ImageRoadside Seafood

    Located right off the bridge into town and not far from the water is this extra popular laid back spot. It's all about freshly fried seafood and beer. Their fried shrimp is said to be some of the best in Charleston and that's saying something because they take their fried scrimps in these parts as serious as anywhere. I guess I forgot to snap a pic but the basket of shrimp was fantastic. Some of the best you'll ever have. All locally caught and as sweet as the peaches next door in Georgia. Shark Nuggets (local black tip) are another popular (seasonal) bite and I enjoyed some tacos with those.

    ImageShark Nugget Tacos

    That was it for day one. We were pretty full and even more so tired having driven up early morning from South Florida. Rise and Shine. Day two would prove to be equally delicious. I got mine started right away with an early rise and walk over to Callie's for a Hot Little Biscuit.

    ImageCallie's Hot Little Biscuit

    Hidden amongst some other businesses this is a small space that does most of it's business via takeout. There's a few places to stand and eat but most folks are taking their biscuits to go. The menu is equally small with 3 or 4 biscuits choices changing daily. I got a sausage, egg, pimento cheese because that's what you're supposed to do when you're in South Carolina. Although it's something I only recently (last ten years) started eating I happen to love Pimento cheese and that's probably due to fact I love Merkt's cheese spread. Like a char burger with Merkt's this biscuit was a little bit of a mess to eat but man it was deliciously decadent.

    ImageSausage, Egg, Pimento Cheese

    Callie's also has a spot in Atlanta which is the trendy thing to do in the Southern hospitality industry these days. You'll find spots from New Orleans in Nashville, and spots from Charleston in Atlanta and so on. Send some our way! Back to the hotel to pick up the fiance before heading off to a Charleston classic for breakfast.

    ImageHominy Grill

    This place is pretty much a planned stop for any first time visitor to Charleston. They'll search for where to find the best shrimp and grits and most results will point back to here. But what made me want to check it out was the fact that it's a weekly stop for many residents of Charleston. It's one of the city's signature restaurants and loved by most everyone.

    ImageComp'd Boiled Peanuts

    Complimentary boiled peanuts to start. Something I've liked since first trying them and then became addicted to while spending the previous few weeks down in Florida where they had them at my local gas station. Already starting to feel why people love this place.

    ImageGumbo from the daily specials board

    Although I prefer my gumbo made with a deep brown roux this gumbo was still delicious and worth ordering again. The tomato presence made for a Charleston presence as far as style. But what we were really there for are the shrimp and grits. Hominy Grill is most always the answer when one asks "Where can I find the best shrimp and grits in Charleston?" and so it was a no-brainer for a first timer like myself. Best ever? Who knows. Delicious? F-ck yeah. Everything about the product was top shelf from the local ground grits to the local fished shrimp. Plus there was bacon. It might be touristy, but you know what? Pretty much all of Charleston is. There's only so many spots.

    ImageHouse Special Shrimp & Grits

    When it comes to good food we're all one in the same. Fans of it. Some of us are bigger devotees than others and will go anywhere to find it. As mentioned I had a car and was willing to go wherever as long as the place had fans. Off to North Charleston for my next stop.

    ImageBertha's Kitchen

    Bertha's looks like a mixture of a Northwoods Wisconsin Tavern and a New Orleans Snoball Stand. It sits in an old house and has some pretty vibrant colors. I love how all these Gullah spots give their places a unique feel with vibrant colors and art.

    ImageWaiting in line for lunch

    Bertha's does daily menus and on this day they had everything I wanted to try. Although I think all three of the items I tried might be available daily while some other things are not. I post this picture of the lima beans below knowing that it isn't all that photogenic but to remind me and tip to others that it was one of the best sides dishes I ever had anywhere. Deep smokey flavors with the perfect texture that made them just slide right down like soup. Who doesn't love them some home cookin'?

    ImageLima Beans

    I'm guessing most all of it here is good but the two things that I kept seeing mentioned were the fried chicken and okra soup. So those were what I went with and both wound up being delicious. The bird was well seasoned and expertly fried with a still juicy breast which isn't easy to do. Must've been fresh from the fryer because it took some time to cool down. The okra soup was a new one for me and just like so many other soups born out of scraps it was extremely comforting. This is one of those dishes that many in these parts have a recipe for and Bertha's was a winner. It's a dish that's long been synonymous with the city.

    ImageOkra Soup with a Side of Fried Chicken

    'Let Boston rave on pork and beans
    To such a mess I would not stoop;
    Gumbo's the dish for New Orleans,
    But Charleston murmurs, 'okra soup!'
    Charleston News & Courier, Nov. 17, 1914

    ImageCharlie Brown's Seafood

    Sticking in North Charleston I wandered over to this local seafood shack that Steve Drucker mentions upthread. The pic of the fried crab alone was enough to get me there on top of the fact he said a return visit had happened. I didn't get back but I wish I had. Super friendly people, that know how to fry up some crab! I got three of them and couldn't resist so I tore open the bag and ate them on the hood of the car in the 90 degree heat. Use your teeth to crack the shell and then suck all that juicy sweet crab meat out while some cornmeal crusted slurry falls into your mouth with each bite. What a treat. Quick Note: I believe that although described as Hot Jacksonville style Garlic Crab that Steve Drucker had that mixed up with the fried crab we both enjoyed. Charlie Brown's also does garlic crab which is seen up in the first stop of this post.

    ImageFried Crab

    After a walk thru the famous Charleston City Market it was time for some Happy Hour Powered AC. It was a hot ass week and a margarita in a cooled down area was what we needed to refresh ourselves.


    Minero is the Mexican inspired restaurant of well known local chef Sean Brock of Husk. It sits on the second floor of a building on Bay street and like pretty much every other chef driven restaurant in town it's beautifully designed. The cocktails are also well crafted. The original house margarita was on happy hour and it was a damn fine representation of the classic. I always try to check out the taco scene of wherever it is that I'm traveling so despite a nice looking menu we were there to taste the tacos.

    ImageFried Catfish / pickled green tomato tartar, cabbage, red onion

    Just like they do over at Husk they pretty much work with only the best when it comes to ingredients. They took the tortillas very seriously which in my mind is the first thing you need to do when opening one of these chef driven taco spots. Two types of locally produced corn is used as well as one from Mexico. The Green Chorizo with Potato taco was the best chef driven taco I've ever had. Perfectly constructed and full of flavor. I would eat them weekly if I lived anywhere near there. And surprise, surprise, they have a location in Atlanta at the trendy Ponce City Market.

    ImageGreen Chorizo / potato and grilled onion

    After that we started walking down the street and happened to pass a place we hadn't planned on stopping but it was hot and it was Happy Hour so why not.

    ImageAmen Street

    Lots of tourists, many of them over 50, at this place but they have a great happy hour so I'm guessing there was some locals hidden in there as well. I liked these oysters better as they were Ace Blades from Ace Basin, SC and so we were told they were really good at the moment. I concurred.

    ImageHappy Hour Oysters

    Back to the hotel for a little rest and relaxation before dinner. I wanted to do at least a couple nice dinners out and the options in Charleston are excellent. Usually I'll just browse menus and wait until something catches my eye. That was the case with The Grocery. Not to be confused with The Ordinary which is where we walked to at first. Luckily The Grocery wasn't far.

    ImageThe Grocery

    Lively night but we were able to snag a table via reservation over the phone the day before. Menu is seasonal with New American fare with different Southern Accents. I like eating regionally and when I saw a Low Country Seafood Pilau on the menu I wanted to try it out. Made with Carolina Gold Rice (the best), local shrimp, clams, and fried flounder fish this wasn't cheap ($54) but was enough to feed two. If you like a good paella than you'll enjoy a pan of Pilau because they're pretty similar in preparation though a bit different in seasonings. The Carolina Gold Rice is said to be best used in dishes like Paella and Pilau. All of the seafood was prepared to near perfection. I definitely felt like I picked right on this night.

    ImageLow Country Seafood Pilau

    Another day complete. At this point I was really starting to embrace Charleston as a whole. The next morning I woke up and took a ride into Mt. Pleasant to take a look around Boone Hall Farms. Definitely worth a stop if you want to bring back some Carolina Gold Rice, Geechie Boy Grits, and other locally produced stuff. Unfortunately breakfast wasn't ready for another half hour so I wasn't able to eat at their cafeteria. Instead I opted for another Mt. Pleasant breakfast favorite.

    ImagePage's Okra Grill

    Lots of good reviews out there on this place which was in the area so I scooted over for breakfast. Massive space that seemed to be at near capacity. Half the town must've been dining there. I was able to secure a stool at the diner counter and waited around for someone to come and take my order. One of their most popular items ordered is the shrimp and fried grits which is what I went with.

    ImageHouse Baked Biscuit

    I chose the biscuit over toast and that should be a no-brainer. This extra fluffy, and extra brittle biscuit was excellent. if I had wanted to make some sort of sandwich out of it I would've been SOL but as just a biscuit it was near perfect.
    When my order of shrimp and grits came out it wasn't exactly what I was expecting as far as looks. I must've mixed up the description bc I thought there would be fried shrimps when instead it was the grits, along with cheese, that came fried on this plate. It was almost like a fried pie as far as texture. I didn't love that part of the dish but the smoked andouille sausage gravy mixed with local scrimps was 100% southern.

    ImageShrimp & Grits

    After that I went back into the city and did some walking around of Rainbow Row which is a street on the water with lots of colorful, million dollar homes. After that it was off for a snack.

    ImageDave's Carry-Out

    More times than not a quick snack in Charleston is an order of fried shrimps. Dave's was on my radar long before I knew I was coming here so I made sure to clear some time for a stop. This place is a fan favorite for it's fried seafood and soul food takeout. Not much on the inside. Just one table though the hosts are as friendly as any. Some regulars were mixing it up with those behind the counter and Game 1 of the NBA Finals had been the discussion. I saw they had lima beans on the soul food sides menu and made sure to get an order.

    ImageLima Beans

    Again, not pretty, but oh so good. My favorite side on offer at most all of the Gullah joints. The customers talking to the friendly lady behind the counter basically wrote off the Cavs claiming LeBron was done. The lady who I believe said she was the widow of Dave told them "LeBron aint losing again" with so much conviction I should've known to place a call and make a wager. She knew what she was talking about. She also knew how to fry all sorts of love into some locally caught scrimps. Slightly salty but the sweetness of the shrimp still overpowered everything else.

    ImageFried Scrimps over Red Rice

    Seeing as how there was just a small amount of people outside when driving by 167 Raw we decided to have the second part of our lunch there. The Cape Cod style seafood bar has a location here and also one in Nantucket. At the time of our visit this was the city's most popular dinning spot. Most all of our bartenders rec'd it and it always had people waiting outside.

    Image167 Raw

    Small Space so seating is at a premium. I'd guess they can sit about 40 max between inside and out. Seats in the AC were at a premium but seats outside could be had right then and there. So we ate in the sun. Tuna Burger and a Taco of the Day were both good but not anything I would feel an absolute need to return and wait in line for. But if you can get seated right away there's some good stuff going on here. Not cheap but fresh seafood rarely is.

    ImageTuna Burger / Taco of the Day

    Seeing as how it was our last day in town I needed to make sure I got all my must stops out of the way. After some more exploring of the city I rode over to Nana's for some seafood and soul.

    ImageNana's Seafood and Soul

    Most of these Gullah joints do most of their business via takeout. I think this spot had one or two tables but I was just going to nibble on some food so I took it to go. What was supposed to be a nibble or two turned into an all out feast. The days menu didn't feature the legendary garlic crab many of their customers swear by but that might've been a blessing bc instead I got what ended up being the best damn fried pork chops that money can buy.

    ImageFried Pork Chops

    These were super. The coating was heavily spiced, just right, and full of crunch. Yet the meat was somehow juicy and as tender as a pork chop can be. As addicting as each bite was the sides might've been better. I opted for the Low Country classic Rice and Peas dish that goes by Hoppin' John and with that some hot cabbage and a piece of corn bread. I'll tell you what. There's alot of chefs out there that are trying to bring certain food cultures into the mainstream scene but none of them are f-cking with this. I dont care what culinary school you went to or who they worked under. None of them are recreating this. It's not possible. These recipes are all in the family and took generations to perfect. A visit to Charleston with your sous chef just isn't going to do it.

    ImageHoppin' John, Cabbage, Corn Bread

    All full from food we took a stroll around town and stopped into some shops before the lady decided she wanted to relax for a little bit. That left me to do as I please and since I'd wanted to check out Jack's Cosmic Dogs I decided to do so.

    ImageJack's Cosmic Dogs

    This is a colorful little hot dog stand owned by a guy who obviously takes great pride in his craft. It's kind of like a Southern style Hot Doug's I guess. Alton Brown of Food Network Fame put this place on the worldwide food radar when he named the Cosmic Dog the "best thing he ever ate. It was for a show so I know it was a shout-out to one of his many favorites but I was intrigued to try one for myslef. First up an order of perfectly done fries.

    ImageFresh Cut Fries

    The Cosmic Dog isn't the first one listed but it is their most well known. Alton brown isn't their only fan as this place is continuously mentioned for best hot dog in the city. I dont love blue cheese unless it's with buffalo sauce so I wasn't sure how I'd like the blue cheese slaw topped dog but it was damn good. Quality wiener and the slaw worked well with it.

    ImageThe Cosmic Dog

    Well it's about that time. Happy Hour. We rode over to the Edmund's Oast as I wanted to check out their beer scene. They brew quite a few beers on-site and stock those next to some international options.

    ImageEdmund's Oast

    I'm not a big beer geek. I just like a good product. While I cant remember which two house brewed beers I tried they were both very strong yet also refreshing. Even better was this little potato, bacon appetizer off the happy hour menu. We didn't get to check out the dinner menu but this is a place I'd put on my return list.

    ImageHappy Hour Food & Drink

    Onto the next HH. We walked by 492 when strolling down King street. I had remembered seeing their special color changing drink and decided to stop in. Like every other bar/restaurant in town this place was really well designed. It was a great space and the Happy Hour menu was calling our name.


    The menu here is seasonal New American but nothing really stood out to me so we stuck with Happy Hour offerings. The signature drink here is a Pisco Sour that changes colors as you drink it. That's done using butterfly pea flower that's frozen into the ice used in the drink. As it melts the drink changes colors. Not bad actually even if a tad bit sweet.

    ImageDisco Sour

    They love pickling stuff in these parts and they also like to fry stuff up So it's no surprise that they like to fry pickled vegetables and such. Okra gets a bad rap for often being too slimy, and sometimes it is, but pickling okra and preceding to fry it is delicious as I learned from a nice plate off the HH menu.

    ImageFried Pickled Okra

    I wanted to do dinner/sunset at an old SC favorite. Bowens Island is a somewhat off the beaten path place where many folks from around this way have celebrated one thing or another. It has that signature feel of a classic seafood restaurant nestled on the shores of the ocean. This place is all about the immediate surroundings. The restaurant itself has the feel of the cafeteria at a camp in the Northwoods.

    ImageBowens Island Restaurant

    You walk up and place your order and then they come find you when it's ready. There's seating throughout the building and if it's a weekend you can bet most of it will be taken. Which just makes the fact they can find you so impressive. We took some seats on the deck overlooking the river that leads into the ocean. The menu features mostly fried seafood and fresh local steamed oysters when in-season.

    ImageMountain of Oyster Shells overlooking a Sunset

    The fried shrimp is supposed to be fantastic but I was there to try a signature SC dish. Frogmore Stew is what they call a Low Country Boil in these parts. It's a simple one pot seafood dinner that's made with shrimp since that's whats abundant in these parts. Add some potato, corn, and lots of seasoning and you got yourself dinner. The shrimp is obviously the star.

    ImageFrogmore Stew

    I didn't get any of the highly praised fried shrimp at Bowen's Island as we had plans for a meal later that evening once the sun went down. FIG is considered Charleston's original farm to table spot. It's a place that has to be given some credit as far as the city's fine dining boom of the last decade. They've been around here since 2006.


    FIG stands for 'Food is Good' and if all I said was the food here was good I'd probably being selling it short so instead I'll say it's really good. I'm not uncovering any type of gem with this once as FIG is a place many people in search of good meal make it into. The menu is seasonal but one thing that most always remains on it is the signature dish of Ricotta Gnocchi and Lamb Bolognese.

    ImageRicotta Gnocchi and Lamb Bolognese

    I would say that this dish is a must order for any first time visitor such as myself. Everything was above average from the pasta to the sauce. A candidate for one of the best things ate on this trip. No longer on the menu is a zucchini pasta that we decided to order after tasting how good the previous pasta dish was. Once again we were pleased with the product.

    ImageZuchinni Pasta

    That was it for our final full day in town. It was time to head back to the hotel and prepare for the push back to Chicago the following day. But not before I crossed off a few more spots. Early morning on our day of departure we got up and walked the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The 8 lane cable-stayed bridge with twp diamond towers was opened in 2005 and it crosses over the Cooper River, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant, SC. The views are post card material and the structure itself is proof we can still build beautiful things here in America.

    ImageCrossing over Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

    While riding back to the hotel (there's free parking for the bridge on the Mt. Pleasant side). I happened to pass a "farmers market" unlike most others. I saw a sign directing to turn into the lot for fresh caught shrimp directly from the source. Seeing as how I had a cooler and we'd be in Chicago the next day I immediately made the decision to bring some Carolina White back home with me.

    ImageSaturday Morning Shrimp Market

    They had about four different guys selling shrimp caught that morning. All of them from families who've shrimped these waters for at least a couple generations. These really were some of the best shrimp I've ever cooked with. The next two days at home were fantastic as far as dinner goes. I think jumbos without the head were running around $8/lb with the head on's being even cheaper. Time to visit a legend.

    ImageMartha Lou's Kitchen

    Seeing as how Charleston is the Holy City lot's of these spots are closed on Sunday's including Martha Lou's. So make sure you get here before your last day other wise you're out of luck. Most everyone knows the story by now, if not here's the quick rundown. This local treasure was said to be close to closing for good before local chef Sean Brock gave it a ringing endorsement and tourists started flocking here. On my visit it was empty when we got there (around opening) but while waiting for my order it became fully packed. Pretty sure every table was tourists but it was an eclectic mix of people. Old, young. Black, white. Everyone wants a taste of Martha Lou's.

    ImageGiblet Rice, Lima Beans, Collard Greens

    I got the fried chicken dinner (served with three sides) which is on the daily menu each and everyday. If you've never been here before that's what you're here for. Everything about this was phenomenal. The sides were all seasoned in a way only those from down here know how to do while the fried bird itself was some of the best I ever had in that department. Top 5 All-Time in my Fried Chicken Game. She gave it the rarely applied two thumbs up as in lets get another order. We both thought it was that good. Call your order in ahead of time if in a rush as they fry to order. On this day Martha Lou's was magnificent.

    ImagePoultry Gold

    On the way out of town we decided we'd try a chicken sandwich spot that I showed her. Boxcar Betty's has two locations and they serve aforementioned chicken sandwiches with southern style sides.

    ImageBoxcar Betty's

    We got the namesake fried chicken sandwich and a side of fried pickles to go with it. I thought the toppings on this distracted from the chicken itself and the bun wasn't as soft as I would've liked. I guess in this case the fruity slaw was more of a distraction than it was at Jack's Cosmic Dogs. The side of fried pickles were exactly the way I like them.

    ImageBoxcar Betty Chicken Sandwich (Pimiento Cheese, Peach Slaw, House Pickles, Spicy Mayo) with a Side of Fried Pickles

    Near Boxcar Betty's was a Snoball stand and it seemed like the right thing to do. I'll always be down for a frozen treat when the weather is hot and humid. Good stop if you got kids but nothing like those in New Orleans.

    ImageSnoball at Pelican's

    Final Stop! I dont even know if this was on the way out or not but I wanted some scrimps for the road. The original plan was to stop here on the way in but our order at the first stop took so long we decided just to get into town as opposed to further delaying our arrival. That said they didn't have ant soft shells when I called upon arriving but they did on this day when we were leaving.

    ImageFishnet Seafood

    Located in the town of Johns Island this is a local seafood spot where they fry to order or sell it to you fresh. Lots of nice stuff behind the glass but nothing more beautiful than the live soft shell crab. Despite it being the season we didn't see much of it on any menus so i was happy to see it here. They removed the eyes as the poor guy was alive and then dropped him in their seasoning coat and threw him into the deep fryer. He died for a good cause. A little hot sauce and some cheap white bread and you got as fantastic sandwich.

    ImageSoft Shell Crab

    The fried shrimps were just as good. Probably the best I had on this trip and thus some of the best ever. Hard to think of many spots that fry up scrimps in the same league as Charleston. I pity those with a shellfish allergy.

    ImageFried Shrimps and Red Rice

    So I'm happy to say that despite some negative outside perceptions, Charleston is a true All American history, and that means there's both some good and bad. But the good far outweighs the bad these days. Just don't forget to pay your respects to those that paved the way as far as the local cuisine goes.

    ImageSee ya next time...

    Ravenel Seafood
    5925 Savannah Hwy
    Ravenel, SC 29470
    (843) 889-9500

    The Darling Oyster Bar
    513 King St
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 641-0821

    Hannibal's Kitchen
    16 Blake St
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 722-2256

    Roadside Seafood
    807 Folly Rd
    Charleston, SC 29412
    (843) 754-5890

    Callie's Hot Little Biscuit
    476 King St
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 737-5159

    Hominy Grill
    207 Rutledge Ave
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 937-0930

    Bertha's Kitchen
    2332 Meeting Street Rd
    Charleston, SC 29405
    (843) 554-6519

    Charlie Brown's Seafood
    4726 Rivers Ave
    North Charleston, SC 29405
    (843) 747-1999

    153 E Bay St
    Charleston, SC 29401
    (843) 789-2241

    Amen Street
    Rainbow Market, 205 E Bay St
    Charleston, SC 29401
    (843) 853-8600

    The Grocery
    4 Cannon St
    Charleston, SC
    (843) 302-8825

    Page's Okra Grill
    302 Coleman Blvd
    Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
    (843) 881-3333

    Dave's Carry-Out
    42 Morris St # C
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 577-7943

    167 Raw
    289 E Bay St
    Charleston, SC
    (843) 579-4997

    Nana's Seafood and Soul
    176 Line St
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 937-0002

    Jack's Cosmic Dogs
    2805 N Hwy 17
    Mt Pleasant, SC 29466
    (843) 884-7677

    Edmund's Oast
    1081 Morrison Dr
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 727-1145

    492 King St
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 203-6338

    Bowens Island Restaurant
    1870 Bowens Island Rd
    Charleston, SC 29412
    (843) 795-2757

    232 Meeting St
    Charleston, SC 29401
    (843) 805-5900

    Martha Lou's Kitchen
    1068 Morrison Dr
    Charleston, SC 29403
    (843) 577-9583

    Boxcar Betty's
    1922 Savannah Hwy
    Charleston, SC 29407
    (843) 225-7470

    Pelican's SnoBalls
    1723 Ashley River Rd
    Charleston, SC 29407
    (843) 291-7343

    Fishnet Seafood
    3832 Savannah Hwy
    Johns Island, SC 29455
    (843) 571-2423
  • Post #123 - September 9th, 2016, 7:16 am
    Post #123 - September 9th, 2016, 7:16 am Post #123 - September 9th, 2016, 7:16 am
    Great report and beautiful pictures - thanks!!
  • Post #124 - September 9th, 2016, 7:33 am
    Post #124 - September 9th, 2016, 7:33 am Post #124 - September 9th, 2016, 7:33 am
    chunker wrote:Great report and beautiful pictures - thanks!!

    Seriously! The reports and pics in this thread make me want to go right now. It's been quite a while since I've been and I've pretty much missed everything being discussed.
  • Post #125 - September 9th, 2016, 8:15 am
    Post #125 - September 9th, 2016, 8:15 am Post #125 - September 9th, 2016, 8:15 am
    Great stuff, Titus. With this thread active the past couple of days I was already missing Charleston but your post just pushed me into jonesing territory.

    It is most definitely tough balancing one's beliefs with the desire to hit food-rich destinations.

    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #126 - September 9th, 2016, 8:34 am
    Post #126 - September 9th, 2016, 8:34 am Post #126 - September 9th, 2016, 8:34 am
    Fantastic, Da Beef! Thanks for sharing.
  • Post #127 - September 9th, 2016, 9:12 am
    Post #127 - September 9th, 2016, 9:12 am Post #127 - September 9th, 2016, 9:12 am
    Headed back for our annual December trip and this post is going straight into my planning file--thanks Beef!!!!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #128 - September 11th, 2016, 9:57 pm
    Post #128 - September 11th, 2016, 9:57 pm Post #128 - September 11th, 2016, 9:57 pm
    Titus -- great photos and report; perhaps someday you can write the definitive post/book on how you don't weigh 30 stone.
  • Post #129 - September 13th, 2016, 5:47 am
    Post #129 - September 13th, 2016, 5:47 am Post #129 - September 13th, 2016, 5:47 am
    re: Da Beef

    Epic dedication and impeccable choices.

    Preceding a recent week at the beach an hour north of Charleston, we managed to hit the Saturday Farmers Market by noon. The best stands are along King St. EVO Bakery and Normandy Farms for fully crusted loaves. Continue a bit further south and on the right is the best produce stand. But go early--by noon the more in demand items were already sold out. Downtown parking is a bear, it took us 30 minutes to find a spot.

    With after lunch stops pending in Georgetown at Independent Seafood for scamp, triggerfish and shrimp and later a local supermarket for andouille, post market lunch was along the way at Page's Okra Grill. Excellent flounder and eggs and Chicken Livers and eggs. Grits ordinary and decent albeit deep fried home fries. Biscuits estimable and good coffee. It's a big place. They really know how to do what they do and do it quickly.

    DB--you hit just about every spot on my ongoing list (Dave's, Hannibal's, Roadside, Bowen Island). We can't wait to go back Q1 next year when oysters are in season.

    Let me add one more place--Congress restaurant. I know it sounds ridiculous to stay downtown and cross to Mt. Pleasant for dinner, but Congress is well worth the drive. You could then hit Ye Olde Village Cafe for ice cream after.

    Chicago is my spiritual chow home
  • Post #130 - October 2nd, 2016, 8:24 pm
    Post #130 - October 2nd, 2016, 8:24 pm Post #130 - October 2nd, 2016, 8:24 pm
    Charleston in 4 days! Hitting Husk, The Grocery for brunch, maybe a late snack at the Ordinary, some bars TBD. Might even do some tourism between meals. Very excited.
  • Post #131 - October 4th, 2016, 10:35 pm
    Post #131 - October 4th, 2016, 10:35 pm Post #131 - October 4th, 2016, 10:35 pm
    Ha, or maybe we can't go after all. Storm a brewin ...
  • Post #132 - March 8th, 2017, 10:07 am
    Post #132 - March 8th, 2017, 10:07 am Post #132 - March 8th, 2017, 10:07 am
    We just spent a long weekend in Charleston as it gets so many rave reviews in travel literature and this thread was intriguing. Unfortunately I cant really call it a worthy food destination. It's fun to walk around the residential downtown, but the commercial downtown is the same old boring storefronts you see everywhere. The city has basically doubled down on tourism related to reliving a "golden age" of the city and it feels a bit manufactured. The only other industry appears to be art galleries and churches.

    Here are some quick reviews:
    Xiao Bao Biscuit - Completely OK, mostly gets by on the superiority of Asian cuisine (IMO). There signature okonomiyaki is good, but not really an okonomiyaki as it has no eggs or flour and thus not really crispy. I may just be spoiled by options in Chicago.

    Dave's Carry Out - The best part of this place is watching the cook take orders and fry everything with a general insouciance. The actual food is really average fried food, a bit underseasoned without a liberal dose of sauce. The fries were all soggy and not crisp because they dont look double fried and are plated under all the other hot fried food.

    Callie's Hot Little Biscuit - This place is a mess and I would avoid at all costs. The only reason they have lines is their complete inability to produce a simple sandwich quickly. They literally fry one egg at a time. The biscuit for the sandwich was obviously pale, underbaked and doughy, the sausage (not from Callie's) was nicely flavored with sage but had the hard packed quality of a McDonald's patty and the pimento cheese was a poor example of the form. Also the entire sandwich was oversalted. We ate no more than a couple bites before returning to our hotel to partake of the quite good omelettes offered at breakfast.

    Jack's Cosmic Dogs - We were out near Mt Pleasant to view a plantation and stopped in at this place. By the way the public transit in Charleston is horrendous. Tasty dogs and fries, though the blue cheese slaw and sweet potato mustard didn't really taste of their namesakes.

    Boxcar Betty's - Excellent rendition of a fried chicken sandwich and the best fried pickles I have ever eaten. We also ordered a salad as Charleston appears to have a paucity of non-fried vegetables. It was merely adequate.

    Hannibal's Kitchen - This was surprisingly good Lowcountry Gullah food at a great price. Lima bean soup was superb, the crab rice was amazing in its simplicity, especially with a bit of their hot sauce, and the smothered beef liver and onions was like a great steak covered in delicious gravy and sweet onions (and only $3!). The collard greens with pig parts were underwhelming however. I regret not getting any okra soup. For whatever reason, everyone in the restaurant wanted to know our opinion of the food.

    Hannibal's was probably the only unique thing we ate on the trip that I will probably regret never eating again. We also attended a Food and Wine BBQ event, which was fun but not really worth the exorbitant entrance fee. There was a lot of really mediocre BBQ in attendance, though one place convinced me NC vinegar BBQ can be legitimately excellent.
  • Post #133 - August 27th, 2018, 9:37 pm
    Post #133 - August 27th, 2018, 9:37 pm Post #133 - August 27th, 2018, 9:37 pm
    My year to ping!
    Mid Oct trip, 4 day wknd.
    Probably only have a few non-company meals to ourselves, so wanna make them count.
    Sadly, I'm non shellfish (crab/shrimp/lobster) but I will most definitely eat the shit out of fish / clams / oysters / scallops. The Mrs will pick up my slack in the shrimp/crab dept for sure. From thread perusal, it looks like Bowen's would top my wish list (char grilled oysters? I'd like them ALL, please,) along with perhaps Hominy Grill for a proper Shrimp and Grit / She Crab experience for the better half.

    Let's say you had to choose four places ONLY, and had never been to Charleston. What say you? Also, the company meals will probably be at the popular high-ish end local specialty places. I can pretty much guarantee that. Looking for the awesome local joints for when we can escape.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #134 - April 21st, 2019, 5:43 am
    Post #134 - April 21st, 2019, 5:43 am Post #134 - April 21st, 2019, 5:43 am
    These days I'm traveling with two small children so my culinary exploits are often hurried. Still we manged to eat very well in Charleston (and the kids loved that every restaurant offered mac and cheese), with a nod to Da Beef since it seems we hit a lot of same spots.

    Carrigg's Seafood - This was our first stop after landing. It's located in North Charleston near the airport. It's a seafood shack where most people take out prepared, raw seafood for cooking at home. They also offer to cook the meal for you for a modest extra charge. Everything was great, but especially the steamed crabs that are served on a newspaper lined table. The patrons at the restaurant helped us corral the kids while our hands were covered in crab guts. Also I have to mention the fried okra that were crunchy and delicious.

    Bertha's Kitchen - They were recently awarded a Beard Classic award and I can see why. Like a lot of other soul food joints, they do brisk business in take out so it was easy for us to find a table in the back. Though the fried pork chop was tasty, the real highlights were the stewed lima beans and the okra soup. I have no bar for comparison on these dishes that are essential Low Country sides, but damn these side dishes were tasty. I had no idea lima beans could taste this good.

    Hominy Grill - We arrived early so we only to wait about 20 minutes, but as we were leaving, the line was down the street. To my taste, the nasty biscuit was over-rated, nothing special about the biscuit, the gravy, or the fried boneless white meat chicken. The shrimp and grits, though, were a real standout. The shrimp were impeccably plump and garlicky atop a bed of creamy grits. The she crab soup was wonderful as well, though be warned, there's a good splash of uncooked sherry in that bowl. Remarkably, my four year old daughter loved the soup though it's possible she liked it mostly because it's named "she crab". She kept calling it girl crab.

    Dave's Carry Out - This is located near the main tourist district, though the distances in Charleston are a little farther than they appear. Since there's no where to eat at the restaurant I had to drive up and grab the plates to bring back to the hotel. It's not exactly park bench food so I'm not sure what most people do. Like Bertha's, the side dishes outshined the mains (stewed, dry cornish hen and fried salmon). In particular the hoppin john was sensational. The interplay of the black beans and the aromatic spices was magical. I'm under strict orders to try to replicate the dish at home. The stewed rutabagas were also very tasty. I had read that the deviled crab cakes are their specialty, but they weren't on the menu the day I went.

    Hannibal's Kitchen - The vibe at Hannibal's was a little different from the other soul food places. The dining room was large and customers primarily order from a menu rather than by peering over steam trays. Once again the side dishes stole the show. The red rice, laced with bites of smoked sausage, was an excellent accompaniment to the lightly fried flounder. Hannibal's signature is the crab rice and it did not disappoint. The crab is spiced and sauteed and served on top of fluffy white rice. The ratio was perfect such that even the last bites of the plate had a good mix of rice and crab. This place in particular was welcoming of our children. The waitress's son entertained them while we had a relaxing meal. This is a really special place, near the tourist district, with a distinctly local vibe.

    Rodney Scott BBQ - SC is known for their whole hog BBQ and Rodney Scott is among the best known for the style. The original family BBQ shop is a couple hours away in Hemingway, but from what I've read, the Charleston outpost is a worthy contender. We got the ribs and pulled pork, and honestly, the BBQ was very good but not extraordinary. I don't know what I was expecting since the meat was juicy and smoky with a nice chewy bark. I'm thinking my expectations were unrealistically high. I'll be curious to hear from the BBQ experts on this one. Great corn bread though.

    Martha Lou's - Our final stop was a pilgrimage to the most famous fried chicken shop in town. Though this was a little drive up the road, the place was definitely filled with tourists. I wonder why this place is appealing to tourists but Hannibal's, which is closer and more unique, can't get their attention. It's probably for the best because other than the fried chicken I thought the food was not good at all. The sides ranged from decent to terrible (bread pudding was inedible, corn bread was bone dry) and the sweet tea was made from a mix (yuck). The fried chicken though, was as good as they say. Fortunately the recipe is posted all over the place online so I can give it a crack at home rather than trek back to Charleston for a taste.

    Overall, though the city's culinary reputation is largely built on the more upscale Low Country style establishments, we were successful in sampling the local cuisine without straining our kids too much. I'd recommend Charleston to those with young children since most of the activities are outdoors and don't require too much patience.
  • Post #135 - April 21st, 2019, 6:32 am
    Post #135 - April 21st, 2019, 6:32 am Post #135 - April 21st, 2019, 6:32 am
    Turkob -
    Thanks for reporting. My trip in Oct was cancelled due to the hurricane. Rescheduled to end of May. I have to start narrowing down my options. My notes, which I haven't looked at since last fall - sound weird, but I'll get back up to speed:

    Always target:
    She Crab Soup
    Shrimp and grits
    Pilau or Perloo (rice dish)

    Look for Huguenot torte and benne seed wafers.

    Target restaurants:
    Seewee for fried seafood
    Bowen's Island Oyster Roast
    Hominy Grill for Shrimp And Grits
    Slightly North of Broad for Shrimp and Grits
    Sticky Fingers Rib House
    Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #136 - April 23rd, 2019, 10:49 pm
    Post #136 - April 23rd, 2019, 10:49 pm Post #136 - April 23rd, 2019, 10:49 pm
    I was really sorry to read the news that Hominy Grill will be closing at the end of April. Such an iconic Charleston location--first place I ever had shrimp and grits, though I didn't stop with just one visit or just that dish. There is other good food in Charleston, but this is still a real disappointment for those of us who experienced it. ... ll-closing
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan
  • Post #137 - May 29th, 2019, 10:15 am
    Post #137 - May 29th, 2019, 10:15 am Post #137 - May 29th, 2019, 10:15 am
    Ok, re-ping:
    Trip is rescheduled to this wknd. Need a dinner Thursday (me solo) and Friday with the better half. We are staying in Mount Pleasant, which I'm gathering is across the river from downtown Charleston. I'll re-read the thread, but anything noteworthy in the Mt Pleasant area to target? No car, but Uber is our friend. Good food way more important than ambience(I LOVE dives)
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #138 - June 3rd, 2019, 6:29 pm
    Post #138 - June 3rd, 2019, 6:29 pm Post #138 - June 3rd, 2019, 6:29 pm
    Charleston kicks ASS.
    The Co bought out The Grocery for opening night meal. CRAZY. In the limited time we had, in retrospect, we should have eaten there again. The grocery is one of those places where the chef knows exactly wth is on each plate, where it came from, probably cured it or grew it, or both - in house. Everything was balanced like a human actually created it for a human. The house cured olives blew my mind, and that was just part of the first course. I begged one of the servers to scrounge up a small container for me to take away - whatever the charge was. SCORE. Black and green, not even remotely salty - just pure delicious. Woody, even smokey - like no other olives I had before. The courses were plentiful, and bountiful. I'll say that my least favorite was the ribeye. Did you hear that? THE RIBEYE was a letdown. It was cooked perfectly, on the more medium side of medium rare, it was tender, but it just didn't have a big beefy flavor. I'm telling you, the squash salad and potatoes au gratin served alongside were outstanding - better than the ribeye.

    One other course that blew me away: Bone Marrow Brulee. Imagine Bone Marrow whipped into a fluffy, flavored butter. My tablemates were not as impressed as me, citing it to be too much like butter. Guess what I like? Pass it this way, please.

    Grillled peaches with goat cheese. The cheese was heavenly, but the peaches were insanity. PURE crazy peach flavor. Lightly grilled - still had a texture to bite through. Everyone's eyes lit up for that course.

    The house charcuterie plate was also, just plain out mouthwatering. nothing too salty and each meat was jam packed with flavor.

    The fried oyster course, now that i'm fried ersters I ever had. Not by a mile or anything, but still...impossibly crunchy, yet nowhere remotely near overcooked inside. Perfect.

    And then the seafood pilau (pronounced "perloo" there.)
    Two things about that stuff. Best clams I've ever had. Period. I grew up on clams. LOVE clams. Maybe it's just that I haven't had fresh east coast clams in a long time, however, one couple from New Jersey also screamed about how they couldn't believe how good they were. STRONG, DEEP, unmistakable, clam flavor. Briny, then sweet. unreal. The second thing about the pilau - fried Mahi Mahi chunks. Those who know how to fry things would bow down to how this chef fries things. Everyone who had dinner there that night spoke about the fried mahi mahi for three straight days. Just perfectly crunchy, and melt in your mouth fish inside the batter.
    The list of courses (and yes, they were bountiful, we were full after the salad - which was light, but packed with flavor:
    Cornmeal Dusted Oysters, house pickles, deviled egg sauce.
    Burrate Cheese, tomato bread, roasted olives (I guess that's why they were smokey!)
    Duck Liver Mousse, grilled sourdough, watermelon mustarda.
    Roasted Peaches, tasso ham, goat cheese, pecan granola.
    Bone Marrow Brullee, grilled sourdough
    Charcuterie Plate (no description, grrrr.)
    Italian Butter bean Salad
    Low Country Seafood Pilau
    Roasted Bone In Ribeye with Potato Gratin, and Warm squash salad.
    The desserts were banana pudding / chocolate /peanut butter bar. Neither were as extraordinary as the savories, imo. I'd highly suggest making a point to try this place if possible. I wish I went again over our 4 day stay.


    Charleston is filled with great restaurants. I have the feeling, that it's hard to find a bad meal there. We made it to:

    The waitstaff here might be the prettiest people in any restaurant. Holy smokes. Two of the greeters made Beyonce look like...something not as pretty as Beyonce. That's about enuff right there. The food at Magnolia - I wasn't smitten, but it was good, with flaws in each plate.

    Fried Green tomatoes on a bed of grits with gravy, and caramelized peppers.
    Everything on this plate was good, close to great, but the caramelized peppers were really candied, and they were too sweet to be anywhere NEAR this plate. The sweet goo still left its essence when we scraped them off, but, for our palates, those things kinda ruined everything they touched. However, anything they didn't touch was great.

    Collard green /chicken egg roll. RIGHT? How can you NOT? Really good, however the chicken chunks inside were dry as bone. Shame.

    Crab Bisque - wife adored it. Nothing bad to say. Really good.

    Shrimp and spicy sausage with grits. Shrimp were great, the grits were outstanding, the gravy was outstanding, but the sausage was borderline lackluster. Almost like coarse ground pork and beef with just a hint of sage, and nothing else.

    I have a feeling that Magnolia's is an institution for a dress up meal, with pleasantly presented dishes. The food was more on the "OK" side compared to our other meals.

    Home Team (Fiery Ron's) BBQ
    Wings - CRAZY GOOD, but the Alabama White Sauce was bad. I was hoping for something like Saw's white, but Home Team's was a sweet mess. They had a scotch bonnet pepper jam that needs to be smeared on about everything on your plate. I was enamored with it, instantly.

    Fried Mac/Cheese balls - I have a feeling a lot of places in Chucktown has these. I saw them on many menus. I found them blandish in the few places I tried them. Home Team was no exception.

    Pulled pork - sorry, but theirs was a big yawn for me. I actually enjoyed my sides better than the poke. Green Chile Mac/cheese, and the collards were great. Lots of sauces on the table to try, probably about 8 of them. More sizzle than steak here. Quite a few locals recommended this joint, but all of them excitedly added that if we wanted brisket, to hit Lewis BBQ which is right next to Home Team. We were too stuffed to even think about trying Lewis, but we'd skip Home Team and head straight to Lewis next time.

    Leon's Seafood and Chicken.
    This is a local hangout, and I get the feeling that the locals would get pissed if the tourists started showing up at this place. Our fishing charter captain heard one of our party went to Leon's and told us that was his secret place that he never tells anyone about when they ask for recommendations. FRIED CHICKEN, and Grilled oysters here. The chicken is done in kind of a nashville hot way. There's a red slick of sauce, and it is FIRE. The place was busy as hell, and understandably so. Loud, boisterous, plenty of booze flowing, and easy talking, but the food was great. Sides were all fantastic as well. I have a feeling no matter what you order there, you'll be very happy. I mean, we had Tuna poke, cucumber salad, potato gratin grilled oysters, and a two piece white fried. (I never order white meat, but I conceded to the Mrs.) The breast was dripping juicy meat, not just sauce. The poke was high end sushi bar fresh, the oysters were above avg as expected, and the sides were not afterthoughts here. I'd suggest getting here early to avoid crowds and noise, but the food was great. REALLY great.

    Jestine's is perfect. I will fight you if you say it's not. This place reminded me of a long gone diner my parents used to take me to, where everything was silly good, but in a low key diner setting. We had the Sunday special of Shrimp and grits, and fried chicken breast in "milk gravy." I had no idea what milk gravy was, but Jestine's definition is sheer perfection. Jestine's gravy for the shrimp and grits was perfect as well. I wanted to try their fried ouysters, but that would have been overkill. Thier collards were out of this world, and we had a deep fried corn on the cob "special side of the day" as well. It was good, but the greens were better. The fried, boneless chicken breast (again, I would generally never order that) was perfect. Breading was out of this world crunchy, and the meat was dripping juice. The milk gravy coated it all, and it was just perfect. Light and FULL of flavor, not just some cornstarch slurry thickened grease and flavor base that I expect in almost every restaurant. I've come to the conclusion that Charleston takes gravy SERIOUSLY. The grits were over the top rich and creamy goodness with a slick of a brownish gravy that was even better than the milk gravy. Jestine's is no joke, people.

    We didn't get to Bowen's Oyster, or Seewee, but everyone I asked was impressed that I even knew of those places. We just didn't have enough time to get out to them.

    For those visiting - A new hotspot is Hall's Chop House. Quite a few locals told us that this place is a little more expensive than the normal good places about town, but it's still a value because the food is so darn good.

    Also, do whatever it takes to get on a carriage tour. They are almost a bargain, even at full price, which you probably won't even have to pay.

    Byrd's cookies next to the Charleston Market. You need to go. Free samples, self serve, and they have like 10 flavors.

    Callie's Hot Biscuit -
    Only had room to sample the 3 for $5 mini's, and I thought they were delicious. My wife swooned over them, reminding me how lucky I am to have a mama that could routinely whip up a batch of biscuits very similar from scratch, no written recipe needed, two or three times per week. My dad says HIS mom's were way better, when mom is not within earshot.
    We also caught a shit ton of sharks and sting rays fishing in the harbor.
    This is a southern food lover's destination town if you like a tropical setting.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #139 - February 10th, 2020, 1:25 pm
    Post #139 - February 10th, 2020, 1:25 pm Post #139 - February 10th, 2020, 1:25 pm
    Need to plan a nice dinner for 6-10 people in Charleston at the end of March.
    We'll be staying at the Marriott on Lockwood, but can Uber downtown etc.
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #140 - February 10th, 2020, 2:52 pm
    Post #140 - February 10th, 2020, 2:52 pm Post #140 - February 10th, 2020, 2:52 pm
    "Nice" as in, great food and a bit north of casual: Hall's Chophouse.
    "Nice" as in, decent SC food that people dress a little north of casual for, maybe a touch of ingenuity, and a longstanding reputation: Magnolia.

    "Nice" as in, The food is gonna be damn good, but super casual?
    Throw a stone.

    (I'd also recommend The Grocery with every fiber of my being, but it's closed.)

    Everyplace you go, make sure someone at the table orders grits. Do not be hesitant to order any kind of gravy, either. I never look forward to gravy in a restaurant, and usually try to avoid it. I would honestly seek out any gravy on a menu in Chucktown.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #141 - February 18th, 2020, 4:05 pm
    Post #141 - February 18th, 2020, 4:05 pm Post #141 - February 18th, 2020, 4:05 pm
    Thanks, managed to get a reservation for my table for Magnolia's
    I'll be doing a bit more exploring on my own or with my cousin who's a local.
    BTW she also mentioned Magnolia's so I am expecting something yummy.
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #142 - February 18th, 2020, 8:54 pm
    Post #142 - February 18th, 2020, 8:54 pm Post #142 - February 18th, 2020, 8:54 pm
    I don't want to deter you from Magnolia's in any way shape or form. I got the sense that it's definitely a place with history, and the locals dress up to go.

    I also got the sense you could do better, but I tend to like dives with great food more than fancy service and white tablecloths and good food.

    The running theme about the whole city tho - there is great food everywhere. Again, make sure you try grits at every place you go that has them.

    Ymmv, but I'd go to Jestine's again with a bullet point. Leon's would be a close second, but that place was packed solid, and I hink it's packed solid on a daily basis. I'd go at an off time.

    Get grits.
    And Benne Seed Wafers
    And find a BOGO coupon for a carriage tour. Even if you don't (you will) still go on a carriage tour.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.