Charleston is older than America – it was founded in 1670, and because of that, it retains the beautiful classic architecture of the era, along with a City designed for walking and carriage rides instead of cars. That’s led to a fantastic nightlife culture, with world class restaurants and great bars dotted throughout the city.
In fact, Charleston – along with its sister city of Savannah – is the crown jewel of low country cuisine. The low country, which describes the entire floodplains of the Southeastern United States region, is full of salt marshes and coastal waterways, providing bountiful access to incredible seafood, rice and more. Lowcountry cuisine is characterized by some of these ingredients, creating classic dishes like Shrimp and Grits, Hoppin’ John, Oyster Roasts, Brunswick stew and more.
Part of this rich culinary tradition is buttressed by the Gullah Geechee community. The Gullah Geechee people are the descendants of enslaved Africans who were brought to work on the plantations in the area. The culture of this West and Central African community has remained strong and united, and a number of restaurants in the Charleston area present themselves as Gullah Geechee cuisine, which focuses on rice forward dishes and crops like sorghum, okra and red peas. So the next time you’re visiting the low country, take a stroll around Charleston – aka Geechie City – and discover the flavors of one of the most delicious places in the country!
Looking for the hottest places in Charleston to eat? Here are the 20 best restaurants to visit, no matter what you’re in the mood for. Oh, the places you’ll go!
When it comes to Southern cuisine, Magnolias provides everything to make your taste buds feel at home. With special dishes like Down South Egg rolls, Spicy Buffalo Fried Chicken Cobb Salads, or even a tasty Original Simmons, it’s certain to be a great meal. They’re also just a short walk to the waterfront and inspired the opening of many of the restaurants that have helped to make the waterfront area what it is today! Get more great waterfront restaurants in our guide to The Absolute Best Charleston Restaurants on the Water.
Their menu consists of three essential factors; integrity, flavor, and soul. That’s the Motto over at FIG that you can expect to find. Whether you’re going for the Dinner, Dessert, or Beverage menu, there’s nothing you won’t find in terms of Lowcountry dining. With an excellent Downtown Charleston location, you’ll find locals AND tourists enjoying an incredible meal at FIG. Click here for more great Downtown Charleston restaurants.
Fresh and local ingredients mixed with fine dining, you get the best of both worlds. Whether it’s the presentation of the food or the taste, you will be blown away by what you receive. Try their Shrimp and Grits or their known Southern Medley, there’s more where that came from. You coming for Brunch, Lunch, or a Romantic Dinner?
In the heart of Charleston, New England is present at 167 Raw Oyster Bar. Bringing out fresh seafood inspired by the East Coast; check out their RAW Bar, Tacos, and even their Po Boys. Does it get better than that? They’re on our list of Essential Seafood Restaurants in Charleston – add them to yours for your next visit.
Being one of Charleston’s oldest independent restaurants, the city knows of this original tasty spot. A warm buttermilk biscuit or a bowl of she crab soup hits the spot every time, especially at the unforgettable Poogan’s Porch. Try to snag a spot on the roof, where they have a Stunning Rooftop View of Charleston.
They say, “If it’s not coming from the South, it’s not coming through the door,” and Husk stands on this. Specializing in fresh Southern cooking, the menu goes from Cornmeal Fried Catfish to Confit Potatoes and English Peas. Your stomach will thank you later.
Southern, but influenced by Spanish, French, and Italian cuisine. Mixing the Carolinas with Europe combines for a large range in tastes, flavors, and inspirations. Whether it’s the Lowcountry Frites, Caprese sandwich, or the Miss Carolina pizza, it’s the best of both worlds here.
With a beautiful green courtyard and comfortable set up, Frannie & the Fox brings Italy to Charleston. Using wood-fired ovens, their pizza is top tier, but the flavor doesn’t stop there. Come find your perfect meal for Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner!
Being a classic in the city of Charleston, Darling Oyster Bar strives to bring the sea to the restaurant. Seared Diver Scallops, Raw Oyster Bars, and Fry Baskets.. our mouths are watering! No time to wait, head over now!
Take it easy at the speakeasy, Prohibition provides all the vibes for a dinner night out or even a fun filled brunch. With gems like Street corn, Steaks, and Warm Donuts for Dessert, they got it all covered! Fun’s on them!
With all locally sourced ingredients and flavors, Sorghum & Salt provides food, drink, and even separate Vegan menus. Craving slow roasted shortrib, summer potatoes, or sweet potatoes? Us too, let’s go.
Lowcountry seafood with the best seasonal ingredients, Chubby Fish’ menu changes daily and you could never get tired of going! They have small plates, large plates, and even whole fish. There’s so many possibilities to choose from.
With a modern touch on Southern cuisine, the must tries at Revival are known to “revive” you. From Lip Crab Cakes to Forbidden Shrimp and Grits, our stomachs are already growling for you. What’s the catch of the day?
Bringing Mediterranean cuisine to the South, Stella’s provides the best modern Greek dishes since the 1940’s. You can find Spanakopita, Fried Calamari, and a variety of taste quenching desserts to top it off. Opa!
Located by the City Market in Charleston, there’s no way you can miss Fleet Landing! Being waterfront, not only do you enjoy the food, but the views too. You getting the Baked Spinach Dip, Crispy Steak Calamari, or a Dinner Speciality?
Home to some of the best gourmet comfort food, Cru Cafe is a classic since the 18th century. With a menu full of selections such as Cru Caesar salad, Gourmet Grilled Cheese, and even Shrimp BLTs, what more could you ask for? There’s no way you’re leaving hungry.
With five course testing menus, your tastebuds will go on a journey here. There’s a new menu every night, and you can come taste a different cuisine every time you come. Whether you’re with a party or on an intimate date, R Kitchen will set the tone.
The chef features classics such as fried chicken, their fresh catch, and even Lowcountry tacos. Located in Downtown, you’re in the middle of it all. Are we going for dinner or what because Church and Union is the place to be to eat!
Amping the South with style, that’s what you’ll find at Lenior. Drooling over plates such as K-town patty melts, Grits and Greens, and even Chocolate cheese pies, there’s a lot to go around. Not only is the food good, but make sure to snap a pic too, the decor is beautiful!
They may not have a brick and mortar location, but don’t let the folks at Charleston Carribbean Creole fool you – they make world class, flavorful food that uses the best of hte lowcountry. Come for shrimp po boys, conch fritters and more – stay for the good vibes and great crowd, something you’ll find at all of Charleston’s Best Black Owned restaurants.
Known as The Charleston Steakhouse, Hall’s Chophouse brings only the best of the best USDA Prime steaks. That’s not the only thing on the menu though, you can find seafood, chops, etc. too! Why choose one when you can choose all?