Dining

From traditional Lowcountry staples to the latest gastronomic trends, the culinary scene in Charleston is ever evolving.

Where are we going to eat? is a complex question in Charleston. There are upward of 200 choices and most are pretty good if not downright fabulous. It’s easy to see why Fodor’s Travel calls Charleston “One of the great food cities in the world.” With new restaurants popping up across the peninsula ever year, it is almost impossible to keep up. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a 28 percent increase in the number of dining and drink establishments in Charleston since 2001. Every time you visit the Holy City, there are a number of new award-winning restaurants in the mix. If you’re lucky enough, you can try them all.

LOWCOUNTRY FAVORITES
For locals and visitors, 82 Queen — the first fine dining restaurant on the peninsula — continues to be the reigning monarch of Southern comfort food. The atmosphere is delightful, with its beautiful outdoor seating creating the perfect place to enjoy their famous Jambalaya, made with shrimp, crawfish, tasso ham and a medley of peppers, served over savory red rice.

Located near the King Street Antique District, at 72 Queen Street, Husk is one of the top eateries in the city. James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock changes the menu daily to deliver the absolute freshest local ingredients. One must-try dish is his personal favorite: fried chicken, which is pan-fried in a combo of five different fats to produce a crisp take on the Southern staple. Also sourcing local ingredients, Virginia’s on King offers traditional Southern flavors and old family recipes. It takes pride in its homemade approach to everything from tomato pie to she-crab soup. On Market Street, Lowcountry Bistro offers seasonal menus that fuse Creole, French and Southern traditions.

Another top spot is Swamp Fox Restaurant & Bar at the historic Francis Marion Hotel on Calhoun and King Streets. Named after Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox serves classic Southern cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As an OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award winner, Chef Phil Gaulin creates distinctive dishes with the freshest local fruits and vegetables, carefully selected at the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square every Saturday.

FRESH SEAFOOD
Charleston juts right out into the harbor. With water hugging the peninsula to the east, west and south, its restaurants offer a veritable smorgasbord of underwater treats. Every day local fishermen take their catch straight to Water’s Edge restaurant on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. It’s the perfect spot to watch dolphins play while savoring a prime local specialty: whole scored crispy flounder. Also in Mount Pleasant, the Fish House offers views of the Charleston skyline, the USS Yorktown and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

At Kiawah Island Golf Resort, The Atlantic Room features sweeping views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the famed Ocean Course. The inspired menu is comprised of what Chef Jonathan Banta calls “the taste of the season.”

Downtown, the best seafood with a lovely view of the harbor is at Fleet Landing. It does not just boast fantastic views, it’s on the water sitting on a reinforced pier. The blackened trigger fish is wonderful, whether as a lunchtime sandwich or as a supper choice. Readers of the Charleston City Paper have voted Hank’s Seafood Restaurant as “Best Seafood Restaurant in Charleston” for 17 straight years. At the corner of Hayne and Church streets, near the Charleston City Market, it offers beautiful presentations including a seared, rare tuna served with every Southerner’s favorite side: fried green tomatoes.

Oysters are indeed the favorite bivalve in the Lowcountry. At Pearlz Oyster Bar on East Bay Street in downtown Charleston, you can get them fried; baked; mixed with pepper vodka in an oyster shooter; or as simple, fresh, raw sliders on the half-shell. In the Upper King District just north of Calhoun, in the alley between John and Hutson Streets, seafood lovers converge on Coast Bar and Grill. Here, seafood classics get the Lowcountry treatment, producing unique and flavorful dishes like shrimp and blue crab manicotti and seafood paella.

INTERNATIONAL FLAVORS
In the 1680s, Huguenots settled in Charleston, and, since then, French cuisine has remained an integral part of the local scene. You’ll feel like you are in Paris when you visit Charleston’s favorite French restaurant: 39 Rue de Jean.

It emanates the characteristics of a late 1800s brasserie, which offered Parisians hearty dishes, handcrafted beers and affordable wines in a vibrant whirl of jubilant socializing. Today, brasseries are much more than just breweries. They remain the social hubs of their neighborhoods, a position 39 Rue de Jean proudly maintains in Charleston.

Chef Sean Brock gives traditional Mexican dishes a Southern spin at Minero. The two unique cuisines are perfectly blended in his Fried Catfish Tacos, Shrimp and Masa Grits and Red Posole with Anson Mills Hominy.

Vincent Chicco’s — named after one of the city’s most famous prohibition-era bootleggers and saloon keepers — presents fine Italian-American cuisine. Enjoy handmade pastas and rich homemade sauces, as well as a robust selection of international wines.

Oysters are indeed the favorite bivalve in the Lowcountry. At Pearlz Oyster Bar on East Bay Street in downtown Charleston, you can get them fried; baked; mixed with pepper vodka in an oyster shooter; or as simple, fresh, raw sliders on the half-shell. In the Upper King District just north of Calhoun, in the alley between John and Hutson Streets, seafood lovers converge on Coast Bar and Grill. Here, seafood classics get the Lowcountry treatment, producing unique and flavorful dishes like shrimp and blue crab manicotti and seafood paella.

SIZZLING STEAKHOUSES
The nationally acclaimed Ruth’s Chris Steak House recently opened its first restaurant in downtown Charleston at the French Quarter Inn. A great addition to the local dining scene, Ruth’s Chris is known for an extensive wine list that matches its fine selection of USDA cuts of prime beef.

Another top spot is Grill 225, located in the Market Pavilion Hotel. Charleston’s first and only 100 percent USDA prime steak house, the steaks are aged 42 to 50 days, ensuring the ultimate in tenderness and flavor.

For Southern fare executed to Relais & Châteaux standards, Peninsula Grill offers one of the best first-class dining experiences. It was named one of the 100 Best Restaurants in America by OpenTable, awarded four stars by Forbes Travel Guide and recognized with an Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator.

Also a Forbes four-star recipient — as well as having received “Best of Award of Excellence” by Wine Spectator and being a AAA four-diamond establishment — The Ocean Room at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is committed to supporting local farmers by utilizing locally sourced beef, seafood, poultry and produce in their seasonally changing menu.

Michael’s on the Alley is a steak house in the proudest tradition, especially on Tomahawk Tuesdays when you can share (or not) a 30-oz. tomahawk bone-in ribeye and a bottle of wine for only $100.

82 Queen

Tucked into downtown Charleston’s historic French Quarter, 82 Queen has been called on as a favorite destination for locals and

Boone Hall Farms Market

Located on the site of an old packing facility, Boone Hall Farms Market specializes in a full line of locally

Fleet Landing

Perched over Charleston Harbor in a 1940s naval building, Fleet Landing is the peninsula’s finest family-friendly “maritime chic” casual seafood

Grill 225/Pavillon Bar

As Charleston’s premier prime steak house, Grill 225 is distinguished by unique top-notch ingredients and a proprietary prime beef aging

Hank’s Seafood Restaurant

When Hank’s Seafood Restaurant opened — with its selection of caught-thatday entrées, warm wood interior, and white dinner jacket-wearing waitstaff

Husk Restaurant

At Husk, James Beard Award–winning Executive Chef Sean Brock and Chef de Cuisine Travis Grimes reinterpret the bounty of the

Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe

Kaminsky’s entices visitors into its cozy atmosphere with a rotating selection of delectable desserts made in-house daily, in addition to

The Kiawah Dining Collection

One resort — More than a dozen restaurants, cafés and lounges. Dining on beautiful Kiawah Island is a feast for

Liberty Tap Room & Grill

Liberty Tap Room & Grill provides patrons with creative twists on traditional American fare, served alongside signature Liberty Ales, unique

Lowcountry Bistro

Located on the bustling Market Street in downtown Charleston, Lowcountry Bistro is known for its farm-to-table dishes, unique Southern cocktails

McCrady’s

“The atmosphere is historic. The cuisine, revolutionary.” Built in 1778 and serving as a charming reprise for Charlestonians after the

Minero

Minero is a casual Mexican eatery located in historic downtown Charleston. Minero offers a collection of affordable dishes inspired by

Pearlz Oyster Bar

Pearlz Oyster Bar is a fun, eclectic restaurant serving the very best in fresh seafood, including an assorted mix of

Peninsula Grill

Peninsula Grill is nestled at the end of a landscaped brick alley illuminated by carriage lanterns located in the very

Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the French Quarter Inn

An iconic American steak house with New Orleans flare, Ruth’s Chris delights steak enthusiasts around the world with their custom-aged,

Swamp Fox Restaurant & Bar Franis Marion Hotel

Casual dining featuring Lowcountry specialties reminiscent of the Old South. Noted for award-winning shrimp ’n’ grits and certified South Carolina

Tbonz Gill & Grill

As the original Homegrown Hospitality Group concept, TBonz Gill & Grill continues to set the standard for serving fresh, quality

Water’s Edge

Cooking is sometimes described as both an art and a science. Water’s Edge believes it’s more of a craft and

492 Restaurant

Located on Historic King Street, 492 showcases the Charleston charm diners are looking for. Guests can enjoy Chef Josh Keeler’s

82 Queen

Tucked into Charleston’s historic French Quarter, 82 Queen has been a favorite destination for locals and visitors for the past

Fish House

Fresh Seafood. Fresh Drinks. Fresh Air. Voted one of the Top 25 Restaurants in Charleston by Charleston Living Magazine (Nov

The Darling

Naming our casual seafood restaurant — which evokes a classic oyster bar — led us time and again to one