Charleston Culinary Blog

You’re in Good Hands at Lowcountry Bistro
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Sous Chef Ben Martin (left) and Chef Mike Harvey (right)

For fine southern cuisine on Market Street, it doesn’t get any better than Lowcountry Bistro. This quaint little spot in the heart of the city is run by two talented chefs who have taken their culinary creations to the next level with a brand new menu.

Ben Martin and Mike Harvey have collaborated on a menu that manages to be both completely unique while also giving a nod to traditional Charleston dishes.

As the chef de tournant at Lowcountry Bistro, Harvey honors the traditions of Lowcountry cuisine while infusing his dishes with a one-of-a-kind quality. Born in Germany, he grew up in a military family, making his home in cities all around the United States from Hawaii to Vermont. Harvey also has traveled the world and the knowledge he’s gleaned from his travels is reflected in the Lowcountry Bistro menu. After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, he worked in several fine establishments in New York City and Cape Cod.

Harvey’s first job in the Charleston area was at the Cassique Golf Club on Kiawah Island where he started as sous chef and then moved up to chef de cuisine, working alongside Chef Tom Colicchio of “Top Chef” for 10 years. In addition to Lowcountry Bistro, Harvey also works at 82 Queen.

As sous chef, Martin executes the successful menu at Lowcountry Bistro on a regular basis. Born in Coco Beach, Florida, he came to Charleston at age 13. He started his career at the Noisy Oyster in 2010 and then moved onto Amen Street and Peninsula Grill where he learned many classic southern cooking techniques. He began cooking at Lowcountry Bistro soon after it opened and was promoted to sous chef in 2016. He takes pride in the menu he helped to create at Lowcountry Bistro and is devoted to honoring his Lowcountry roots.

With the expertise of these two chefs, Lowcountry Bistro has definitely made a name for itself in Charleston, where the competition is fierce. It isn’t hard to compete, though, with chefs as talented as Martin and Harvey in the kitchen.

Enjoy the new menu at Lowcountry Bistro soon. For reservations, call 843-302-0290 or for more information, visit www.lowcountrybistro.com.

Chef Benjamin Harris Maintains Excellence

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Chef Benjamin Harris values fresh ingredients and appreciates the art of letting food speak for itself. He doesn’t need to add a lot of ingredients that – if cooked the right way – are perfectly capable of standing on their own.

Originally from Greenville, Harris started his culinary career in an oyster bar. He later arrived at Poogan’s Porch as a sous chef, quickly impressing then-Executive Chef Daniel Doyle. Harris was promoted to chef de cuisine, where he and Doyle elevated the menu and created culinary techniques that made them quite popular in Charleston.

After just two years at Poogan’s Porch, which included helping cook an inaugural James Beard House dinner in 2012, Harris left to help open the Republic Garden and Lounge. After successfully opening the Republic, he moved to Raleigh to assist a 15-year-old restaurant gain success in the area with southern-influenced dishes and partnerships with local farmers.

Harris’ career came full circle when he moved back to Charleston in 2016 to accept a position as executive chef of Poogan’s Porch. Harris loves the challenge of maintaining a 40-year history of excellence, while still evolving the menu with innovative dishes.

Make a reservation at Poogan’s Porch so you can sample the talent Harris simply calls his “job” but those of us in Charleston see as his God-given talent. Call 843-577-2337 for reservations.

Steve Stone Stays True to 82 Queen’s Reputation

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82 Queen is not just an address. It’s an experience, a memory and, for many Charleston natives and visitors, a true gem. This restaurant opened in downtown Charleston in 1982, quickly garnering a reputation for excellent cuisine and “must” for those dining in Charleston.

82 Queen is nestled in the heart of the historic French quarter on Queen Street across from the renowned Mills House Hotel and next to Husk Restaurant and Poogan’s Porch. The restaurant itself has a beautiful dining room and picturesque garden courtyard that provides a unique and enjoyable dining experience.

The real star of 82 Queen is the food, and we have Steve Stone to thank for that. The long-time executive chef, Stone worked at the restaurant first from 1991 to 2005 when he left to take over as general manager and executive chef of Boone Hall Farms Market Store and Café. He returned to 82 Queen in 2015, bringing his passion for local, fresh and home-grown food with him. He is the epitome of a true Charlestonian. Born and raised in the Lowcountry, Stone knows the true meaning behind authentic southern cuisine.

Put 82 Queen on your list of restaurants to try or to visit once again. Make sure you order Stone’s fried green tomatoes before diving into either the Carolina crab cakes or the fried oyster and shrimp gumbo for an entrée. It won’t take long for you to taste Stone’s culinary talent.

Call 843-723-7591 for reservations, especially if you want to sit in the garden courtyard.

Emily Hahn is Making Her Way on ‘Top Chef’
TOP CHEF -- Season:14 -- Pictured: Emily Hahn -- (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Bravo)

TOP CHEF — Season:14 — Pictured: Emily Hahn — (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Bravo)

Emily Hahn, executive chef of Warehouse Bar + Kitchen, has been holding her own on Bravo’s current season of “Top Chef“. Rookies of the show, which include Hahn, and veterans of the show compete in competitions each week. And per the Southern way, she shows no worries on her face as she takes on some very challenging competitions each week.

Hahn is no rookie to cooking, however. You could say her specialty is southern food as she has been cooking in the South for 11 years now. She began in Virginia where she worked under the renowned Ed Vasaio. She then made her way to Charleston and worked at FIG under Mike Lata. She got her education at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. She has spent some time in Chile, where worked side-by-side with farmers and developed a deep understanding of using simple food that is fresh and seasonal. She has a side business called Empanada Mamma and is, of course, now the executive chef of Warehouse.

Her cuisine at Warehouse is bright, flavorful and filled with simple ingredients that she takes to another level. She is creative and inventive, as many have seen on “Top Chef.” Young and talented, Hahn was named Rising Star Chef by Food and Wine Magazine, and Eater Charleston named her Chef of the Year. She also appeared on the Food Network’s show, “Chopped“, in 2014.

Visit the Warehouse to taste some of Hahn’s creations. We look forward to seeing how far she goes on the show and in her career. We have high hopes for this one! Go, Emily!

Chef Robert Carter – A Culinary Leader in Charleston

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Chef Robert Carter has been around Charleston’s culinary scene for quite awhile. He is well-known for his work at Peninsula Grill and Rutledge Cab Co. and for inspiring many of the best chefs in Charleston today.

Carter’s first solo venture was opening Barony Tavern, located inside the Renaissance Hotel at Wentworth and King streets. This restaurant has lived up to – and even exceeded – Carter’s high standards.

Our first impression of Barony Tavern is that it’s regal, yet homey, featuring a collection of taxidermy – reflecting both Scottish and stately Southern appeals. An eclectic mix of people frequent the restaurant. Not only do locals enjoy the menu’s fare, but so do the tourists coming from all walks of life. Chef Carter pulled from his extensive resume to create a collection of items that reflect all of the best he has ever created.

His background not only pulls from Charleston, but also Dallas, Key West and Tennessee – and those areas’ culinary flair come together in Carter’s menu. He also connects each classic American dish to Charleston.

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Barony Tavern has something for everyone’s pallet. Call Barony Tavern at 843-297-4246 for reservations. Breakfast is served from 6:30-10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner is from 5:30-9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday).

Sean Brock: A Southern Boy at Heart
Andrea Behrends

Andrea Behrends

Sean Brock grew up in rural Virginia where his family grew its own food. Those early culinary roots fueled Brock’s interest in cooking from all natural ingredients. From an early age, one of his main desires has been to preserve grassroots southern food.

Brock came to Johnson & Wales University in Charleston in the late 1990s. He landed his first job at Peninsula Grill under renowned Chef Robert Carter. A few years later, he returned to Charleston as executive chef of McCrady’s, known to be one of the best restaurants on East Bay Street.

Brock has a farm on Wadmalaw Island and uses much of what he grows himself in his restaurants. He also owns Husk on Queen Street, which is all about the South and the ingredients that make Lowcountry dishes so savory. Brock imparts much of his flavor from cooking “low and slow.”

Brock opened a third restaurant in Charleston – Minero on East Bay Street, which was inspired by Mexican food culture. He’s also extended his food footprint beyond Charleston, opening restaurants in Nashville and Atlanta.

In 2010, Brock was a finalist for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award and in that same year he won the Best Chef Southeast award. He was a finalist in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for the honor of James Beard Outstanding Chef.

Brock appeared on Food Network’sIron Chef” in 2010 and has appeared on Bravo’sTop Chef”, including in the current season that was filmed in Charleston. Brock, too, has been featured in a number of magazines, including GQ and Esquire.

A southern boy at heart, Brock is not only an asset to Charleston, but a legend in his own right. His future is bright, and we look forward to what he’s cooking up next.

Charleston Chefs on ‘Iron Chef’
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Chef Lata, executive chef & owner of The Ordinary and FIG

Iron Chef America” is based upon a Japanese cult sensation that includes a kitchen stadium and a famed secret ingredient. Charleston has been represented three times on this popular show featured on the Food Network. Local chefs who have participated in the competition are Sean Brock of Husk, McCrady’s and Minero; Robert Carter of Barony Tavern; and Mike Lata of FIG and The Ordinary.

Brock competed on “Iron Chef” in 2010 using the secret ingredient of pig lard. According to a blog post on the Husk website, Brock was stunned by that ingredient. As part owner of Husk, McCrady’s and Minero, Brock only serves food that is indigenous to the South. He focuses on the ingredients and how they are grown. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, he was a finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Chef award. Later in 2010, he appeared on “Iron Chef” and even went on to host the show two years later. Make a reservation at any of the three restaurants tied to the Brock name and you will not be disappointed.

Carter, executive chef of Barony Tavern inside The Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel, appeared on “Iron Chef” in 2011. Diners will find American fare featured at Barony Tavern with classic dishes that are distinctly connected to Charleston. The décor is also quite eclectic and regal, but homey as well. The fine dining space is not too intimidating and bringing a date to Barony Tavern is a good way to make a lasting impression.

Lata appeared on “Iron Chef” in 2011, as well. Sparkling wine was the secret ingredient for his episode. At FIG and at The Ordinary, Lata is committed to local farmers, fisherman and purveyors. He has a passion for pure flavor, quality ingredients and has created an atmosphere at FIG and The Ordinary that is approachable and fun. The bars are inviting, and the dining rooms are designed for conversation. Reservations are required at both locations.

Food Network shows like “Iron Chef” are drawn to Charleston’s culinary chefs. The talent in our small city is quite large when it comes to culinary expertise. And, as locals, we have no problem with the attention.

Top Chef Premieres in Charleston

Get ready to set your DVR for 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. The 14th season of “Top Chef” on Bravo premieres in our beautiful city of Charleston. This season will be a little different from seasons past. Eight new chefs from around the country will go up against eight returning chefs.

The returning chefs are:

  • Sam Talbot (Season 2: Los Angeles) – Brooklyn, New York
  • Casey Thompson (Season 3: Miami & Season 8: All-Stars) – Napa Valley, California
  • Amanda Baumgarten (Season 7: Washington, D.C.) – Chicago, Illinois
  • Brooke Williamson (Season 10: Seattle) – Los Angeles, California
  • Sheldon Simeon (Season 10: Seattle) – Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
  • John Tesar (Season 10: Seattle) – Dallas, Texas
  • Shirley Chung (Season 11: New Orleans) – Orange County, California
  • Katsuji Tanabe (Season 12: Boston) – Los Angeles, California

The new chefs are:

  • Annie Pettry – Louisville, Kentucky
  • BJ Smith – Portland, Oregon
  • Emily Hahn – Charleston, South Carolina
  • Gerald Sombright – Marco Island, Florida
  • Jamie Lynch – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Jim Smith – Montgomery, Alabama
  • Silvia Barban – Brooklyn, New York
  • Sylva Senat – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From the new contestant group, both Emily Hahn and Jamie Lynch have ties to Charleston. Hahn works for Warehouse Bar + Kitchen. Lynch works for 5Church Group out of Charlotte, but is involved in the 5Church restaurants in both Atlanta and Charleston.

The winner gets a hefty check of $125,000, so the competition should be stiff. As culinary connoisseurs ourselves, we are looking forward to watching this season in Charleston. As a matter of fact, we started our culinary tours after meeting TV personality Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network and her show “Giada at Home.”  Culinary shows go a long way with us!

Tune in this Thursday and every Thursday at 10 p.m. on Bravo for this season of “Top Chef.”

Top 5 Upper King Street Lunch Spots

historic king street lunch Charleston, SC

Upper King is the locals’ version of Lower King Street — it’s where we brunch, get late-night drinks, go dancing, shop, and grab lunch or dinner. It’s the up-and-coming area, where brand new local spots constantly establish themselves as the new “it” places to eat all the best, fresh grub. and The area includes spots off the beaten track/not on the main drag of Upper King but still mere steps away. Here are a few of our favorites:

Virginia’s on King  – 412 King St.
Not only is Virginia’s a sweet place to sit at the bar and order drinks and apps before or after a show at the Music Farm or Charleston Music Hall, it’s also a great place to have lunch. Specializing in Lowcountry cuisine, you’ll find all the Southern favorites here in this gorgeous room full of exposed brick walls decorated with serene local imagery. During the week, Virginia’s serves breakfast from 7 a.m. til 11 a.m. — think shrimp and asparagus omelet, fried green tomato benedict, fried chicken and eggs, and buttermilk pancakes. Here in the South, we also have supper. Theirs starts at 3 p.m. and features fried pickles, fried chicken livers, pimento cheese, fried okra, tomato pie, and the list goes on and on.

Smoke BBQ – 487 King St.
Smoke BBQ prides itself on serving upscale but down-home cuisine. This one-time food truck serves up live music every night with their nibbles, but get in on the lunch goodies should you find yourself craving barbecue at, say, 1 o’clock. A few of the locals’ faves include the Smoke wings, 16-hour pastrami Reuben sammie, smoked turkey sandwich, and the Cuban sandwich. You can also feast on the meat-and-two brisket plate, where you can also sample savory Southern sides like cheesy grits and slaw.

Artisan Meat Share33 Spring St.
Artisan Meat Share is a relatively new star on the Charleston culinary map of must-haves. Located just a wee walk away from King, Artisan serves up a menu that is a meat lover’s dream selection. Charcuteries are a favorite — something a first-timer should definitely get in on. For sandwiches, we have everything from hot fried chicken biscuits and pastrami sammies to Tuna Nicoise and Porchetta (pork cracklins anyone?) to choose from. Don’t miss the Bun Mi either — it’s their pate, smoked ham, kimchi mayo, carrots, pickles, and cilantro on a steamed bun. There’s so much more — options that will even satisfy the salad or hotdog lover in your crew!

Rue De Jean39 John St.
Rue de Jean is a must, and don’t let the upscale dining room fool you. This place isn’t really as pretentious as it sounds, and there’s something on the menu for every budget. Lunch is the perfect time to sample this long-time fave among locals and return visitors alike. Locals in the know find it hard to pass by menu items like the truffle potato soup, beef tartare, and fried goat cheese salad. There’s also a long list of salads and sandwiches to dine on, like croque monsieur, chicken salad croissant, and beet-cured salmon salad. But to really do it right at Rue, you’ve gotta order from the mussels (or moules) menu: choose from broths like curry, aioli, garlic and basil, bacon blue cheese, and white wine shallot.

The Westendorff  – 114 St. Philip St.
At the Westendorff, brunch happens every single day — if that sounds like your idea of heaven, then you should head to this local gem stat. Entrees every day include buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, escarole hearts, butter lettuce salad with strawberries, and burgers, while brunch-y items include chicken tinga (poached egg, avocado, yellow rice, tortillas) and frisse salad with poached egg, bacon lardons, herbs, and mustard vinaigrette. If we have one last piece of advice here, then it is to order the mac and cheese side with tallegio, Benton’s bacon, and breadcrumbs. Magnifique, we tell thee.

And after you’re done with lunch and have resumed your King Street stroll, don’t miss a treat at Cupcake. It’s at 433 King Street, and … you’re welcome.

5 Charleston Food Trucks worth Stalking on Twitter

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Let’s be honest here — the No. 1 best reason to use Twitter in Charleston is to track down all of the city’s delicious food trucks. Unless you’re at a food truck rodeo (yep, we agree. That IS the best event name ever), you may have to do a little work to find your favorite trucks. But not to worry, we’ve got the 4-1-1 for you on our five favorite local trucks (as hard as it was to narrow down) and where to find them on the go!

Roti Rolls
Around since 2010, Roti Rolls is so amazing it’s gotten an expansion to the Atlanta area as of this year. Specializing in Asian-inspired fare, you can find everything from kimchi and short ribs to curried veg plates and one helluva mac ‘n’ cheese dish. The sauces will make you drool at Roti Rolls, and you can keep an eye out for the truck, aka the Green Machine, on Saturdays at the Charleston Farmer’s Market on Marion Square downtown and on Thursdays this summer at MUSC. You can find their full calendar at eatrotirolls.com or stalk ‘em Twitter-style at twitter.com/RotiRolls.

Autobanh
There’s not enough room on this infinite internet page to express the greatness of this Vietnamese-inspired food truck. Autobanh’s nickname is the Big Purp for its beautifully violet ride, and its menu is full of the most flavorful banh mis, including — our fave — the lemongrass chicken, the crispy fried chicken, and the low ‘n’ slow pork. You can also get those on a bed of lettuce if you can bring yourself to say no to their yummy buns, and if you’re lucky, you may catch ‘em on a day when the dee-lish wonton nachos are on the menu. Even the drinks — Vietnamese iced coffee and Thai iced tea — are worth a stop. The Big Purp’s permanent home is now at the Tin Roof in West Ashley, due to some mechanical failure, but these guys take the show on the road too sans the truck. Stalk ‘em here: twitter.com/AutoBanhTruck

Dashi
Formerly the chef at Prohibition, Stephen Thompson is now making his rounds in the food truck world with Dashi, a fusion of Asian and Latin cuisine. Dashi has taken their love of paella and steamed buns and applied that passion to a rolling restaurant centered on those two precise dishes. “Who knows where it goes from there, but hopefully it will be fun, provocative, and delicious,” says their website. Dashi’s tagline is “put some Sriracha in your sombrero,” so that should give you a taste of the spice that awaits in everything from ramen noodle dishes and tacos to fried rice and Thai wings. Like most of our food trucks in Charleston, Chef Thompson uses local purveyors, like Celestial Hills Farm, Walters Farm, St Jude Farm, and Geechie Boy Farm to make his creations shine.

Outta My Huevos
OK, next to Autobanh, Outta My Huevos truck definitely gets the award for most creative name. These guys can be seen out and about at spots like breweries and special events, but you’ll also catch ‘em every single Saturday at the downtown Charleston Farmer’s Market on Marion Square. If you can get past their huevos rancheros, the star of the menu, you’ll also find everything from fried chicken biscuits to warm veg salads (for those who aren’t feelin’ that heavy Southern breakfast!). Look for the big yellow truck here: twitter.com/OuttaMyHuevos.

The Immortal Lobster
The owners of The Immortal Lobster hail from Maine, so there’s no questioning the authenticity of their glorious lobster rolls. Rolls are served chilled (with mayo) and warm (with butter), plus veggie options are on hand too. Look for the red truck out at local concerts and other special events, or plan your visit by stalking them at twitter.com/lobsterimmortal.

What’s your favorite local food truck?

5 Brunch Destinations Loved by Charleston Locals

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Everyone has Sunday brunch locked down, but what about your Saturday brunch needs? Here are just a few favorites us locals depend on whenever we get full as a tick on brunch goodness.

Marina Variety StoreDowntown
Away from the bustle of Market and East Bay streets is the waterfront solace of the Marina Variety Store. Located at the Charleston City Marina, large windows overlook the marsh and harbor, and it feels like you’ve stepped inside an actual (big) boat. There’s a casual-diner feel to the room, with its big booths with paper place settings that illustrate fun South Carolina facts. Here you’ll rub shoulders with boaters and locals alike and feast on unbelievably cheap seafood dishes, like ’gator and shrimp with grits and peasant gravy or, our personal favorite, crab-stuffed fried green tomatoes and shrimp with grits and eggs. Technically, “brunch” is on Sunday, but you can find the above breakfast items and more on the menu all day, any day of the week.

Hominy GrillDowntown
Hominy Grill is another one that’s a bit off the beaten path. Go here for the cool “Grits are Good for You” mural and stay for the good grub. We love the salmon potato cakes with poached eggs, the Charleston Nasty Biscuit with fried chicken and gravy, and the sauteed shrimp and cheese grits. You can also always find shrimp and avocado salad, cornmeal-crusted bass, and Charleston shrimp curry on their daily specials any ol’ time. Hominy is super relaxed, so you should be too when you arrive — there will likely be a wait. But, it’s worth it.

Farmer’s MarketDowntown
Locals flock to the farmer’s market on Marion Square every Saturday like it’s their job. Here you’ll find a ton of locally made art and jewelry you can take home as souvenirs, plus you’ll find plenty of nibbles. Sip on locally roasted coffee, craft sodas, or iced mint lemonade, and get your brunch on at Tasty Brunch. Eat while watching folks pass by armed with cute pups, fresh flowers, and produce. You can also find yummy breakfast fare at Outta My Huevos, Greek treats at Alexandra the Greek, fruit-and-Nutella or savory crepes at Charleston Crepe Co., Latin and Asian-inspired goodies from Dashi, and New Orleans fare at Cafe Tippeneaux. You can even have a gander at some baked goods made from crickets over at Jiminy Company — seriously!  And don’t leave without a popsicle made from local ingredients at the King of Pops (link) cart — those have saved us on plenty of times on hot Charleston days!

Glass OnionWest Ashley
We know this place serves brunch on Saturday, because we drove there once on a Sunday and left with an empty stomach and some very hurt feelings. Learn from our mistakes, and go to Glass Onion Saturdays from 10 to 3 p.m. for $2.50 mimosas and Blenheim ginger beer juleps + crazy-good tidbits, like deviled eggs, shrimp toast, pig ears, fries-and-bearnaise, and boiled peanuts.  Also on the menu: pimento cheese omelets, sweet potato hash, pork chops with French toast, catfish over chicken-and-sausage gumbo, frittatas with goat-cheese grits, and buttermilk-fried SC quail. They also serve up all the po-boys you could ever imagine.

Tattooed Moose  – Johns Island
Downtown’s Tattooed Moose was such a runaway success that they decided to expand the empire to Johns Island. If what you need on a Saturday morning is a short, peaceful drive, past the marsh, the Stono River, and live oaks galore, then the Moose has got you. There’s tons of space here, on and off the porches, and you can get a drink from either side of the bar — one side is outdoors. Their fried chicken-wing Bloody Mary is something you must see (and sip, and eat) to believe, and the Tepache mimosa (pineapple wine, champagne, pineapple juice) might change your life. For sustenance, we love the Garbage Plate (meat, cheese, eggs, veg on a bed of duck-fat fries with sausage gravy), Meathouse corned beef hash, and the chorizo huevos rancheros, the latter two of which utilizes the Moose’s own Meathouse Butcher Shop (it’s next door!) goods. Oh, and there’s usually some real fine live, local music to backdrop your whole brunch situation, so you’re a winner all around.

Oh my, is it Saturday yet?

6 Fun Happy Hour Spots on Upper King Street

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Drinking tonight before the sun goes down? At the end of a long day of shopping on King Street, you should reward yourself with a strong adult beverage, and we know just where you should go for some delicious deals. Head to Upper King Street to hang with the locals, and let them show you how it’s done in the Holy City.

From $5 Moscow Mules to $2 beers, there are plenty of places to go on Upper King for your fix. Here are just a few of our favorite spots north of Calhoun to down a happy hour drink or three.

1. HoM – 563 King Street

  • $2 domestics, wine $5/glass, $4 well liquor, $6 floats

Yes, you read that right: $6 floats. HoM not only has a wicked ping-pong room in the back, but they also serve vintage sodas — A&W root beer, Birch beer, Cane Cola, Cheerwine, orange soda, cream soda, and sparkling lemonade — over vanilla ice cream. Now add a shot of something strong, and that’s a treat that really floats our boat!

2. Elliotborough Mini Bar – 18 Percy Street

  • $5 glasses of wine, $2.50 Lager

Based in the hipster area of downtown Charleston known as Elliotborough, the Elliotborough Mini Bar really is tiny. Drinks and bites priced at $3-$15 are always on hand here, and you’ll usually be pleasantly welcomed by live local music. Go on a Tuesday to be treated to an eclectic pop-up dinner hosted by a local guest chef.

3. The Macintosh – 479 King Street

  • $5 apps, $5 specialty cocktails, $4 beer, $5 house liquor

The Macintosh is a swank spot to go when you feel like being pampered. Chef Jeremiah Bacon  — yep, that last name is the real deal — hosts a Bacon Happy Hour Mon-Fri 5-7 p.m., with each week featuring a new pork dish like bacon fat popcorn and grilled flatbread with braised pork from the James Beard nominated chef for $5 a pop.

4. Rarebit – 474 King Street

  • $5 Moscow Mules, $4 grilled cheese all day

Rarebit, modeled after cushy 1950s Hollywood diners, is the bar that ushered in the Moscow Mule-in-a-copper-cup craze amongst Charleston imbibers. At Happy Hour, you can grab a Mule for nearly half the price. And if you’re hungry, know that their all-day-and-night $4 grilled cheese sammie is the best deal in town.

5. ACs – 467 King Street

  • $2.25 BoM, $3 house liquor, $4 call liquor, $2 domestics, $2.25 premium domestics, $1.75 drafts, $3.25 draft imports

If you’re in the mood for a low-key dive bar with zero frills, check out local institution AC’s Bar and Grill. Large booths can sit at least six, and the beer of the month is a cheap deal that’s available all the time. You can also try your hand at pool or get your fingers greasy with a large chili cheeseburger and fries.

6. Fish – 442 King Street

  • $4 hand-crafted cocktails and some craft beer, $4 bubbly and house wines, $6 bites

Fish prides itself in its artisan cocktails, which change with the season. Their recent lineup of drinks designed for the summer of 2016 highlight local ingredients and small-batch spirits from local distilleries. One to try: Monkey Business, which infuses white tea with Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky, lemongrass simple syrup, and fresh mint.

6 Sweet Lunch Spots Near the Charleston Market

nicksDon’t y’all go wanderin’ around hungry after a stroll through the market only to get sucked into a place that’s not worth your while. Here are a few of our favorite places to go for lunch, and seeing as how our headquarters are on the market, you can be sure we’re a pretty good source!

Magnolias – 185 East Bay Street
For upscale Southern cuisine, head to Magnolia’s on East Bay Street for lunch. While it’s also a treat to dine at night, a mid-day stop is just as delicious — and you get to pay the lunchtime prices! Some of the Southern staples you can’t go wrong with include: chicken livers, pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, fried mac and cheese (you read that right!), boiled peanut hummus, black-eyed pea salad, and blue crab bisque — and that’s just for starters. You can also grab a burger or a crab cake sandwich or get really onboard with one of their down-south entrees, like shellfish and grits, Lowcountry bouillabaisse, fried flounder, cedar-planked salmon, or blackened catfish. Are you walking there yet? How are you not walking there yet?

Blossom – 171 East Bay Street
Another downtown Charleston staple is Magnolia’s sister restaurant, Blossom. This place really prides itself on its seafood, offering chilled oysters, lump crab tostadas, yellow fin tuna poke, smoked peel-and-eat shrimp, and king crab cocktail on the raw bar. Some other delicious faves include beef carpaccio, chicken wings, baked oysters, and fried artichoke hearts. You’ll also find soups, salads, and sandwiches, plus entrees, like batter-fried chicken, pan-roasted Mahi Mahi, shrimp and grits, and Carolina mountain trout. You may not necessarily need a lunchtime reservation, but if you plan to visit during the spring or summer months, better safe than sorry!

Dixie Supply Co.  – 62 State Street
Dixie Supply is an unsuspecting gem located right by a convenience store on State Street. The menu changes often, and the daily specials are always posted on the website so you can plan your meal in advance. As I write this in on a Saturday morning in May, the menu looks something like this: fried oysters with rice and collard greens, crab cake sandwich, kale, pesto, provolone, and tomato omelet, State Street biscuit, tomato pie, chicken and waffle sandwich, sweet potato bisque, fried green tomato-and-shrimp sandwich, chili, gumbo, banana nut pancakes, and lots more. Need we say more?

Nick’s BBQ – 288 King Street
You can’t leave Charleston without a taste of some ‘cue, especially if you’re not accustomed to a bit of Southern pig on a bun. Nick’s is famous for more than just barbecue, though. Ask any regular, and they’ll tell you the cheddar biscuits are soul-saving and the deviled eggs are a religious experience. You can also choose from chicken tenders and wings, soups, salads, and potatoes, burgers and sammies, and, of course, slap-your-mama-good BBQ. You can indulge in pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey, hot links, and smoked BBQ chicken plates and more. Want a night in at the condo? Order a take-home family dinner, and enjoy a home-cooked meal in your own quarters.

Charleston Crab House  – 41 S. Market Street
For seafood in a super casual, fun atmosphere that’s kid-friendly, head to the Crab House on the market. One look at the menu and it’s clear they’ve left nothing out: burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, crab-a-tizers — you name it. But for a taste of what they do best, have a gander at the Crab House specialties: Broad Street seafood pasta, Carolina platter, fried lobster tails, shrimp and grits, grilled seafood trio, soft-shell blue crabs, crab cakes, and more. There’s also a raw bar, steampots, fried seafood galore, and plenty of meats to satisfy the carnivore in the family. Sit on the rooftop patio to enjoy your grub with a Southern breeze and some good, old-fashioned people-watching.

Lowcountry Bistro – 49 South Market Street
From the owners of the renowned institution of 82 Queen we have the Lowcountry Bistro. And let’s get this out of the way: the Coleman Farms chicken and waffle is a must-have here. The crispy, bone-in chicken takes three days to get to their liking: brined for 24 hours and made into confit before frying it up. Then they place it atop a sweet potato, bacon, and cornbread waffle (ridiculous, right?) with a dollop of pecan butter and a bourbon reduction to finish it off. If you still need more convincing, the bistro also does a great jambalaya, shrimp and grits, reuben, Frogmore stew, Lowcountry paella, mussels, fried green tomato BLT, and, another personal fave, the Carolina Crab Melt: pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, an English muffin, and crab veloute. Dee-lish!

5 Places to Try for Waterfront Dining in Charleston

charleston sc waterfront dining

You can’t come to the Lowcountry without dining on seafood with a view of the water, but where are the best places to turn for food that’s worth your while? We have the answers right here:

Fleet Landing, Downtown
Fleet Landing is one of the only waterfront dining options in downtown Charleston. Sure you can venture to a rooftop or two for great views of the peninsula, but for a more up-close-and-personal experience with the water, you cannot go wrong with Fleet Landing. Grab a salad and a cup of she crab soup for lunch or a Lowcountry Boil for dinner. For cocktails, try the house bloody mary, the John Daly (local Firefly sweet tea vodka with lemonade), or the Charleston Sunset (Double Cross Vodka and Malibu with Peach Schnapps and orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice). Reservations are recommended nights and weekends, and brunch can be had both Saturday and Sunday. And guys? Don’t forget to wear a sleeved shirt at dinnertime.

Charleston Crab House, James Island
For all-things seafood, see Charleston Crab House. Located on James Island, the Crab House not only has a killer view of the Intercoastal Waterway, it also serves up a great selection of fish and shellfish that’s fried, boiled, steamed, raw — you name it. Specialties include seafood pasta, Carolina platter (grilled shrimp, crab cake, crab claws), fried lobster tails, shrimp and grits, fried soft shell crabs, and Lowcountry crab cakes. But there are also plenty of options for salad, burger, sandwich, steak, and chicken lovers. Whatever you do, don’t leave without sipping on a passion fruit tea — trust us.

The Boathouse, Isle of Palms
If you want fine dining with a view of the water, head to The Boathouse at Isle of Palms’ beach inlet — a local institution. Serving up dinner Monday through Friday and brunch on Sundays, the Boathouse specializes in fresh, local seafood. From fried shrimp, oysters, flounder, and scallops to crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, roasted scallops, and parmesan-crusted local fish, there’s plenty of local goodness to go around. Don’t miss out on the super Southern sides, either, like collard greens, grits, okra and tomatoes, and gouda mac and cheese.

Tavern & Table, Shem Creek, Mt. Pleasant
Tavern & Table is a rustic restaurant right on the picturesque Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant that utilizes all of the delicious resources at its fingertips. Local fishermen and farmers help make dishes like fire-roasted oysters, tempura shrimp, mussels, and whole-roasted fish ones that local folks keep coming back for. But T&T serves more than just seafood — carnivores will love the filet of beef, ribeye, rack of lamb, and roast chicken with duck-fat fries. The menu even lists all of their local vendors, which includes everyone from Ambrose Farm and Charleston Coffee Roasters to Palmetto Brewing and High Wire Distilling.

Locklears Beach City Grill, Folly Beach
For lunch, brunch, or dinner with an ocean breeze and a view of the Atlantic, go grab a seat at Locklears on the Folly Beach pier. It’s a laid-back kind of spot with hushpuppies, crab dip, mussels, boiled shrimp, fried calamari, and fried crawfish they lovingly refer to as ‘mud bugs.’ Entrees don’t disappoint (whole Maine lobster, BBQ chicken and shrimp, Folly filet, and steak Locklear are good examples), and sandwiches like the Goat Bell, buttermilk fried chicken, and Beaufort shrimp burger are just a few of Locklear’s more casual staples. Wanna hear the bonus? The Folly pier features live jazz every Sunday at 6 p.m., so you can turn your relaxing day at the beach up a notch.

What’s your favorite waterfront restaurant in the Lowcountry?

5 Charleston Must-Try Desserts

charleston sc top dessertsWhen you come to Charleston, you’ll doubtlessly be tempted with Southern fare like shrimp and grits, she crab soup, and collard greens, but there are also plenty of places to go that will tempt your sweet tooth.

Here are just a few of our favorite desserts and dessert spots located right here in the Holy City:

Cupcake Downsouth

Cupcake opened its doors at 433 King Street back in 2006 and have since expanded its delicious empire to Mt Pleasant (644 Long Point Road) and even to Columbia (1213 Lincoln St.). With over 50 flavors of cupcakes to choose from, we understand why these scratch-made wonders have been all the rage for 10 years and counting. Choose from daily staples, like red velvet, vanilla bean, chocoholic, and the black-and-white, or kick things up a notch with their after-dark series of alcohol-infused cupcakes. They also serve gluten-free, vegan, mini, and mega (six-inch cake iced like a giant cupcake) cupcakes, plus cake pops you can buy by the dozen. Some of Cupcake’s seasonal specialities include Chocolate Bomb, Samoa, French Toast, Banana Pudding, Loco for Coco, and Peachy Keen. For the full cupcake calendar (how wonderful is it that this is a thing?), go to freshcupcakes.com.

Christophe Artisan Chocolatier

You don’t know real beauty until you’ve beheld Christophe’s artisan, hand-painted chocolates. Almost too pretty to eat (almost), this choc boutique, located at 90 Society Street, creates luxury chocolates, chocolate sculptures, and fine chocolate truffles. Made from European chocolate, chocolate treat flavors include everything from star anise to cappuccino cheesecake. So who’s Christophe? A third-generation French chocolatier who grew up in his father’s patisserie in Toulouse. Today, he calls Charleston home, and this city is all the more beautiful for it.

Carmella’s

Carmella’s Cafe and Dessert Bar arrived at 198 East Bay St. in 2014, and it’s filled with delights good enough to get the downtown spot recognition on HGTV and the Cooking Channel. This Charleston treasure serves up dessert cocktails — Chambord margarita anyone? — and sweet eats, like banana foster’s pie, pistachio tarts, cannolis, and gourmet dark chocolate almond brownies. But they’re also known for their delicious organic coffee and savory delights, like cheeseboards and Carmella’s Meatball Sandwich. And if you’re lucky, you may find eggnog mousse on the menu come December!

Sugar Bakeshop

From cupcakes and tarts to cookies, cakes, and pies, Sugar Bakeshop is full of sweetness. The adorable little shop is situated at 59 1/2 Cannon Street, and they serve sugary delights both in-house and made-to-order. For example, year-round, you’ll reliably find cupcake flavors like vanilla blueberry, lemon curd, almond chocolate coconut, caramel, and lime curd, while seasonal finds include peanut butter (June-October), Strawberry (June-August), Honey (April-November), and Pistachio (February-May, Oct-Nov.). Our favorite? We recommend the buttermilk tart any and every day of the year.

The Ultimate Coconut Cake at Peninsula Grill 

This delectable dessert is renowned for several things: impeccable fine-dining service, fat wine glasses full of amazing juice, first-class food, and … their Ultimate Coconut Cake. Yes, this cake is so dee-lish they had to trademark that name, and publications like Martha Stewart Living, the New York Times, and Vogue had to gush over it in print. It debuted on Valentine’s Day, 1997 and has since become a sensation that Bobby Flay called his “all-time favorite dessert.” For real. The Grill serves it by the slice every night to its guests and can also ship whole cakes overnight

What Charleston dessert are you craving now?

Southern Living Weekend in Charleston

southern-living-live

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Southern Living magazine in Charleston during the Southern Living Live Weekend June 10-12. Enjoy events focused on home and garden, food and drink, walking tours and shopping – showcasing Charleston’s many entertainment and cultural offerings.

All events will take place in downtown Charleston and include the Gullah Walking Tour, the Curated Art Walk, a King Street Shopping Event, a dinner series and much more. The Gateway Walk Tour is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, June 11 and is hosted by our very own John LaVerne. This tour will feature a combination of Charleston’s wonderful gates, greenery, graves and ghosts with stops at four of Charleston’s historic cemeteries and their picturesque walkways and secluded gardens.

Join a gardening seminar at Allan Park where you will learn how to make the most of your own garden (lunch will be provided). Learn the art of antiquing with a local historian at the Nathanial Russell House. Southern Living will also provide a Saturday night Biscuits and Jam Outdoor Concert with brews and wine.

The weekend concludes with a Bloody Mary and Biscuits Brunch on Sunday at the Historic Rice Mill.

You won’t want to miss this celebration of Southern Living turning 50. We are so lucky to have this celebration in Charleston through a series of one-of-a-kind experiences hosted by the talented editors and local personalities from Southern Living’s headquarters. Our city’s culinary tastes, grand homes and gardens, eclectic shopping and toe-tapping music scene will be highlighted. Get your tickets now by visiting: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/southern-living-live-charleston-event-weekend-tickets-22471619218

Charleston Wine + Food Comes to Charleston

wine-food-2016March 2 – 6: Charleston Wine + Food is a culinary festival that not only celebrates our city’s excellent food scene but also our renowned culture. The four-day festival features several events each day, starting as early as 9 a.m. and lasting until 11 p.m. Tickets are available for individual events so head online to see which event is most appetizing to you.

Events are held all over the Charleston area – downtown Charleston, Kiawah Island and Bowen’s Island Restaurant near Folly Beach. Tickets range in price from $40 to $750 for the more than 100 events.
Some of the downtown venues include 492, 82 Queen, Fish, Burwell’s, Stars, Circa 1886, Oku and McCrady’s. Culinary participants include Goat Sheep Cow, Drew Hedlund from Fleet Landing, Bob Cook from Artisan Meat Share and Cypress, Firefly Distillery, and Xan McLaughlin from The Park Café – just to name a few.

Many events do sell out with the most popular being the Culinary Village in Marion Square. This is the 10th year of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival and it is definitely a great event for any true foodie. Visit www.charlestonwineandfood.com for more information.

Kicking off the year right!

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Once again it’s time to vote for Bulldog Tours in the Best of Charleston Awards sponsored by the Charleston City Paper. We are up for Best Tour Company in the Attractions and City Living Category. We have won every year since 2010 and we aim to take home the top honors again in 2016! Cast your vote by Feb. 20. You do not have to vote in multiple categories in order for your vote to count. Once a vote is cast it is automatically saved. There is no submit button.

We truly believe we are the city’s best tour company. Check out the top 10 reasons Bulldog Tours is the best tour company in Charleston. We showcase the best of Charleston every day as we give tours to visitors from around the world. It’s our specialty and we take pride in our tours and our tour guides – some of the most experienced in the city.

Check out the video we made if you need more convincing.

If it’s been awhile since you experienced Bulldog’s brand of hospitality, come join us for a free tour night for locals on Monday, Feb. 8. Pick from the Ghost and Graveyard Tour, the Haunted Jail Tour or the Dark Side of Charleston Tour. Locals have to be from Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley counties and must show ID at check-in. The free tours are offered on Feb. 8 only and guests will not be able to reschedule to another night for free. Reservations are required by calling 843-722-8687.

We look forward to another great year and kicking it off with an award and free night for locals sounds great to us!

Shop Downtown Charleston for Your Foodie Friends

Shopping for your foodie friends and family is as easy as, well pie. Downtown Charleston has plenty of options for the culinary craftsmen on your Christmas shopping list. Head to Market Street for a great selection of gifts.

peanut-shopThe Peanut Shop has every nut you can imagine in festive packages of varying sizes. Plus, it’s a treat for you because you can sample every nut in the store while you shop.

market-street-sweetsMarket Street Sweets is definitely Charleston’s sweet spot. This shop’s specialty is pralines, but there are also cookies, peanut brittle, candies and chocolates. Gift boxes are available along with plenty of praline samples.

spice-tea-exchangeThe Spice and Tea Exchange located just off Market Street on Church Street also has a plethora of gift ideas for the food-lovers on your list. As the name suggests, this shop specializes in gourmet spice blends and gourmet teas, boasting more than 75 hand-mixed blends of cooking herbs and seasonings. Don’t forget to check out the selection of fine teas from all around the world and tea accessories. Foodies love the challenge of picking out the right tea to match their meal.

Charleston Cooks is located on East Bay Street near the corner of Cumberland Street. This shop is a bustling kitchen retail shop where culinary equipment and gadgets abound. Not only do they specialize in cooking artistry tools, but they also offer fun-filled cooking classes led by talented instructors. Gift cards for a culinary class would be a great gift for a foodie, but don’t pass up some of the gadgets that will aid in a foodie’s creativity in the kitchen.

pepper-palaceDoes your culinary comrade have a spice for life? Then the Pepper Palace on North Market Street is your go-to shopping spot. Choose from hand-picked gift boxes with various hot sauce flavors or enlist help from the shop employees who can help you pair hot sauces with different flavors of food and meat options. Talk about a HOT gift!

crab-houseFoodie’s will also love a restaurant gift card and there are many to choose from in downtown Charleston. In the Market area alone, there are AW Shucks and Charleston Crab House and on East Bay Street there is McCrady’s, Cypress, Magnolia’s and Slightly North of Broad.

 

Thanksgiving in the South

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Dinnertime in the South is a time for families to come together and break bread, but Thanksgiving takes that daily tradition to a new level. Thanksgiving is the Southern family dinner on overdrive. It’s all the favorites in one place and at one time.

What makes a Southern Thanksgiving? The staple Thanksgiving items are cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans and turkey, of course. Just about any Southern delicacy can be added to any Thanksgiving feast, including deviled eggs, chicken and gumbo, spiced peaches, fruit salad, and southern sweet tea.

For a true Thanksgiving, bring out the turkey fryer. The nice thing about frying a turkey is that it takes much less time to prepare (even though we all know Southerners don’t mind taking their time). For Southerners it is all about savoring every bite and Thanksgiving dinner is one the best days of the year to cook those special dishes.

For a taste of the South, why not add a Southern dish to your Thanksgiving dinner this year? We referenced Deep South Dish for this blog.

New Culinary Tour offered on Upper King Street

virginias-kingWe are excited to announce our new culinary tour called Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street. This tour is part of our repertoire of magnificent culinary tours, including Savor the Flavors of Charleston, the Dessert Tour and the Chef’s Kitchen Tour.

smoke-bbqThis new Upper King Street Tour will incorporate eateries located in this popular area known for its delicious cuisine and varied selection of restaurants and bars. This tour focuses on the culinary history of the city with tastings at each location. Our other Savor the Flavors of Charleston tour focuses on the Market Street and East Bay Street areas.

Victor Social ClubThe tour begins at Virginia’s on King with a tasting of chicken and dumplings and fried green tomatoes. The next stop is Smoke, a barbecue restaurant, where the guitars adorning the walls are basked in warm lighting accents. At Smoke, you can sample pulled pork Cuban-confit chicken wings and smoked potato salad.

cupcakeThen it’s on to Victor’s Social Club, tucked away in Hudson Alley just down from Coast, where we’ll sample house-made bruschetta and collard greens. Of course the last stop is dessert: scrumptious cupcakes from Cupcake on King Street.

This tour is on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-5:30pm; meet at the Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting St. The cost is $60 per person. Please call for reservations as space is limited to 12 people. For more information on the tour, please visit our website at www.culinarytoursofcharleston.com.

And the winner is…

meagan-williams-fleet-landing

We are excited to announce the winner of our Summer 2015 Foodie Photo Contest is Meagan Williams with 311 votes. Her photo was of two wonderful menu options at Fleet Landing. Meagan won a two-night trip to Charleston, tickets for our tours and $100 to Cru Café. She will stay at either the Fulton Lane Inn or the Kings Courtyard Inn.

We are so excited to conclude another great contest and another great summer. Thanks to everyone who participated by sending in pictures of their wonderful meals at some of the best restaurants in Charleston. We also would like to thank everyone who voted for the many pictures posted in the contest’s online photo album. We look forward to another summer photo contest in 2016!

Vote for your favorite foodie photo

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Our Summer Foodie Photo Contest ends at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, and now’s the time to vote for your favorite. We have had so many great entries and now we need more votes. Visit our Facebook page to cast your vote. The lucky person whose photo receives the most “likes” will win a free trip to Charleston for two nights.

Trip includes:

Restrictions for the hotel – Weekdays (Sunday-Thursday) for use on the following dates:

  • June 1-Sept. 17, 2015
  • Nov. 15-Dec. 24, 2015
  • Jan. 3-Feb. 10, 2016
  • Feb. 15-March 1, 2016
  • June 12-Aug. 31, 2016

Also good for any weekend nights from Nov. 20 to Dec. 19, 2015, or Jan. 8 to Feb. 2, 2016.

The winner will be announced at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Vote now for your favorite photo!

Enter into our Foodie Contest!

meagan-williams-fleet-landing

We are still looking for submissions to our 2015 Summer photo contest. This contest has a food-lovers theme to it. We want you all to post pictures of your meals at a restaurant in Charleston for a chance to win a two-night stay in Charleston.

The mouth-watering photos we see on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are just all too good to be true so we want to know where you got the meal by tagging the restaurant and using the hashtag #culinarytoursofCHS.

david-jennings-kaminsky'sContest ends on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. We’ll announce the winner by 5 p.m. Make sure you share your photo with friends and family so they can like it. That’s the only way you will win! Someone’s photo has to get the most likes. The official rules and details are posted below. Now go out to eat and snap those photos!

How it works:

Take a picture of your meal at a downtown Charleston restaurant and tag the restaurant. Post the photo to our Facebook page (Bulldog Tours), or tag @bulldogtours on Twitter or Instagram. Use the hashtag #culinarytoursofCHS.

We’ll move the picture over to our contest album on Facebook and promote the hell out of it so you can start getting likes in that location. Make sure you share your photo from that album with your friends and family.

The picture that gets the most likes will be declared the winner.
Winner receives a two-night trip to Charleston.

Trip includes:

Restrictions for the hotel:

Weekdays (Sunday-Thursday) for use on the following dates:

  • June 1-Sept. 17, 2015
  • Nov. 15-Dec. 24, 2015
  • Jan. 3-Feb. 10, 2016
  • Feb. 15-March 1, 2016
  • June 12-Aug. 31, 2016

Also good for any weekend nights from Nov. 20 to Dec. 19, 2015, or Jan. 8 to Feb. 2, 2016.

The winner will be announced on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, at 5 p.m. Post the photos to the Bulldog Tours Facebook page or tag us on Instagram or Twitter (@bulldogtours). For more information, contact 843-722-8687 or email theresa@bulldogtours.com. This promotion is for a limited time and is in no way sponsored by Facebook. When you upload your photos to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter we will move them to a designated folder on Facebook for the contest to streamline the “likes.” We reserve the right to refuse a photo for any reason. Please make sure you tag Bulldog Tours (@bulldogtours for Instagram and Twitter and/or post to Bulldog Tours on Facebook). Don’t forget to use hashtag #culinarytoursofCHS.

Please upload photos of food only. We are looking for plates of food that are spectacular and mouthwatering and are taken at a restaurant in Charleston, S.C.

Finally a Tasting of Peninsula Grill’s Coconut Cake

peninsula-cake

I have wanted to taste Peninsula Grill’s popular coconut cake for some time now. Recently I decided to take the plunge and order a slice. It was rainy day in downtown Charleston so it seemed like a good excuse for dessert.

The experience was everything I anticipated it to be. Even ordering this slice of heaven was a wonderful experience. As I entered the wrought iron gate in the rain, I couldn’t help but notice the lovely sounds of laughter coming from the restaurant as I approached. When I entered into the restaurant and made my way to the bar, I was met by a delightful bartender and a romantic atmosphere. I ordered the renowned coconut cake and it came quite quickly, looking as beautiful as I imagined. Presentation was definitely a selling point of this 12-layer delectable delight.

But, once I took a bite, the presentation took a quick back seat to the mouth-watering taste of this dessert. The icing was sweet, but not too strong, and the actual cake was definitely worth all the hype. Even the chocolate syrup around the plate was nothing short of wonderful. I had to bring some back to my co-workers so I ordered another one to-go. Their rating was a perfect 10.

Peninsula Grill did it right by creating a dessert that has won many accolades, such as praise from Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart Living and the New York Times (to name just a few). This restaurant has made a name for itself, but even without this delicious dessert, Peninsula Grill is a great place to eat, drink and be merry.

Hamburgers Are a Summer Rage

Dixie Supply Bakery and CafeCooking out and barbecuing are popular summer activities. One way to spice up the classic summertime burger is with new, innovative toppings. We found a burger at Dixie Supply Bakery and Café that is definitely different and delicious. The Dixie Burger is loaded up with bacon, pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes atop an 8-ounce all-natural Certified Angus Beef burger. The burger and toppings are on a white bun and rounded out with lettuce and mayonnaise, all of which are homemade by Kris and Allen Holmes, the owners of Dixie Supply Bakery and Café.

So, when you are out and about this summer trying different hamburgers and exploring the world of burger toppings, don’t forget about the awesome Dixie Burger. Be sure to stop by Dixie Supply Bakery and Café, 62 State St., to try this delicious work of art.

Huguenot Torte: A dessert loved by the Huguenots

hugenot-torte-final

Huguenot Torte originated in the Midwest, but made its way to Charleston thanks to the Huguenots love for it. Originally called “Ozark Pudding,” Charleston’s Huguenot community introduced the dessert into homes and taverns and it soon gained in popularity. In the 1940s a restaurant called Huguenot Tavern served it and became famous for this delicious delicacy. Today, the Huguenot Torte remains one of the most sought-after southern desserts.

See for yourself why this dessert is a southern favorite. Our new dessert tour features Huguenot Torte at Dixie Supply Bakery and Café – the first stop on the tour.

Huguenot Torte Recipe:

Yields: 8 servings

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 35 min

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 
1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 
1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 
1 1/2 cups toasted, chopped pecans, divided
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tart apples (such as Granny Smith apples)
  • Prepared whipped cream

* To toast pecans, spread shelled, whole pecans in a shallow pan and toast in a 275-degree F. oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, beat eggs until very frothy and lemon colored. Add sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice, flour, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt; stir until well combined. Fold in 1 cup toasted pecans and the apples. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is brown and crusty; remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To serve, scoop up into serving bowls (keeping crusty part on top) and garnish with whipped cream and chopped pecans.

Makes 8 servings.

New Dessert Tour Starting April 17

carmella-cannoliWe are so excited add another tour to our repertoire. This tour will focus on the one thing everyone loves: dessert. Charleston is full of magnificent restaurants, all of which serve up some very noteworthy after-dinner delights. We wanted to highlight the place that have delicacies truly worth experiencing when visiting Charleston.

Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier is located at 90 Society St. For anyone who appreciates gourmet chocolate, this stop on the tour is for you. They create luxury chocolates and chocolate sculptures for all occasions. Also available are preservative-free chocolates handmade from premier European chocolate with the freshest ingredients.

Dixie Supply Bakery and Café is no place for dessert amateurs. Located on State Street in the Market area, Dixie is known for its down-home cooking and southern flair. They specialize in recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation so the desserts are second to none. Everything is made from scratch, and the dessert menu is continually changing. Try their large homemade chocolate chip cookies or one of their original pies. Trust us – you’ll fall in love with Dixie’s desserts.

market-street-sweetsMarket Street Sweets is located on one of the busiest corridors in the city. Market Street Sweets specializes in all things desserts, including candy, pralines, cakes and even caramel popcorn. The small shop is quite a wonderland of delicacies and not many leave its doors without a basket (or two) of sweets. They have some of the best pralines so don’t leave Charleston without sampling at least one.

Lastly Carmella’s Dessert Bar can be summed up in one word – yum. Gourmet pastries, gelato, ice cream and Italian ice are front and center when entering their shop off East Bay Street. Pair all that with a dessert cocktail and you will be good to go! From the Peanut Butter Explosion to their Italian Rum Cake you will leave feeling satisfied and maybe a little sweeter (how could you not?).cheese-cake-dessert-tour

So, as you can see, we are very excited about our new dessert tour in more ways than one. Make reservations soon to experience the sweeter side of Charleston. Tours start April 17 and will only be offered on Fridays and Saturdays from 4-6 p.m. Call 843-722-8687 for more information or click here to learn more.

Enjoy a delicious Easter Brunch

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If you want to eat a decadent brunch on Easter look no further than Magnolia’s or Blossom on East Bay Street. With flowery names, both restaurants truly harken springtime. Make reservations now as these restaurants will be busy the entire weekend.

Easter Sunday in downtown Charleston will be filled with women in colorful dresses and big Easter hats – many headed to local restaurants straight from Easter service at one of the many churches in the Holy City.

At Magnolia’s, enjoy country fried steak and eggs, caramelized onion and white cheddar grits, redeye gravy with bourbon-bacon hollandaise. We also love their pigs in a blanket – buffalo chipotle sausage wrapped in orange-buttermilk pancakes, sunny-side up eggs and maple syrup.

blossoms-tableAt Blossom try their chicken and waffles, pecan-fried chicken breast with Vermont maple syrup. The Brioche French Toast is practically to die for, served with fresh strawberries, powdered sugar and Vermont maple syrup.

With elegant furnishings and upscale décor, the atmosphere at both restaurants is quite lovely for an Easter brunch. You can’t go wrong with a reservation for Easter brunch at either location.

Visit www.magnolias-blossom-cypress.com for more information and reservation information.

Charleston Recipes We Recommend

rwr-bags

So many recipes have roots in Charleston (shrimp and grits, anyone?), but as culinary tour experts, there are certainly a few that top our list of favorites. At check-in, we hand out gift bags with each ticket purchase. Inside are several goodies and a few recipes so you can take the taste of Charleston back home. The three we like to highlight are oyster stew, Hoppin’ John and sweet potato casserole. We realize there are many successful twists to these recipes, so select a version that gets your mouth watering. Go on and give them a try!

rwr-oyster-stew rwr-hoppin-johnrwr-sweet-potato