The Darling Oyster Bar Adds More Flair to Upper King
For raw oysters with a touch of class, visit The Darling Oyster Bar on Upper King Street. The building is a restored 115-year-old downtown Charleston home, so it’s both upscale and welcoming. Bask in the coziness of the bar with it’ vast drink menu.
Many seafood restaurants and oysters bars are known for their hustle and bustle, and The Darling is no different. Located in the heart of the Upper King culinary district, this restaurant serves up some of the freshest seafood on the peninsula.
Of course oysters are the star of the show at The Darling, but this restaurant has plenty more on its menu. Try the fried clam strips, creole shrimp or just regular old fried baskets of your choice of shrimp, flounder or oysters. If you want something other than southern seafood, try the fried chicken sandwich or classic hamburger. You really can’t go wrong with anything you order.
The Darling Oyster Bar opened in early 2016, so it’s celebrated a year in the prime foodie real estate of Upper King. It is the brain child of consulting Chef Nathan Thurston and Executive Chef Joe DiMaio – two talents on a long list of brilliant chefs who call Charleston home.
Also, if you are looking for a unique event space, check out The Darling. Your guests will be impressed. For more information visit www.thedarling.com or call 843-641-0821. The Darling is at 513 King St., just across from the Charleston Visitors Center and is open daily starting at 4 p.m.
The Ordinary is Anything But!
If you’re exploring the area known as Upper King, you’ll come across a beautiful old stately building between Woolfe and Spring streets. Once a bank, it now houses The Ordinary, a southern seafood hall and oyster bar.
This restaurant supports local fishermen, crabbers, shrimpers, farmers and producers. The atmosphere is bustling and high-end with friendly service. The cuisine is fresh and the drinks are flowing from the extensive bar.
If The Ordinary has a familiar feel it could be because it has the same owners as FIG with a menu that compares in excellence. Start with sea salt potato chips or jumbo lump blue crab toast. For the main dish, splurge and try the East Coast oysters or a few crispy oyster sliders. Eating at The Ordinary will be an experience you won’t soon forget.
We’re pretty certain you won’t have any leftover food, but you will leave with memories of a good time, great food and delicious drinks that will make you want to come back for more. For reservations, call 843-414-7060.
Food is Good at FIG Downtown
One the Market area’s jewels is definitely FIG. While this area is home to several excellent restaurants, FIG’s reputation is second to none. This small, but cozy neighborhood eatery is located at the corner of Hasell and Meeting streets. It’s a high-end, popular restaurant known for its good food, of course, but also the renowned chef who has his name tied to it. Mike Lata is chef and part owner. He has been on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef” and Bravo’s “Top Chef”, among being featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Southern Living and more. He won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2009.
Lata has the amazing ability to turn the simplest items into gourmet dishes. He is uncomplicated, yet highly creative with a true passion for supporting local fishermen and farmers. He loves pure flavor and quality ingredients.
FIG’s atmosphere is approachable, yet beautiful. For people who simply love food, they will love FIG. Try the pork belly and Carolina gold rice entrée or the Maine diver scallops. Do yourself a favor, start your new year off right by eating at FIG. Call 843-805-5900 for reservations.
5 Church Brings Upscale Class to Market Street
5 Church opened about two years ago on Market Street in downtown Charleston. The building – an old church dating back to the early 1900s – has a rich history. And the architecture is nothing short of spectacular with its large stained glass windows and high ceilings. The entryways are arched, and the interior is a mixture of exposed wood and brick.
The designers of 5 Church took advantage of the beauty of the building and added their own artistic touches that definitely add to the restaurant’s upscale ambiance. Attractive light fixtures adorn the bar and dining room. The mood lighting around the bar attracts people who want to see and be seen.
But, this restaurant’s attractive interior isn’t the only reason you should visit. Choose from an array of cocktails as well as a menu that only someone from “Top Chef” would have helped create. Head Chef Jamie Lynch will be a contestant on the upcoming “Top Chef” season in Charleston. He was academically accredited in New England as a culinary artisan and he developed professional experience at 4-star restaurants, including Le Cirque, Café Boulud and Aureole.
Menu items include a delicious filet mignon or New York strip steak. The lamb burger is also quite tasty. And, make sure you save room for dessert, especially the s’mores trifle.
Their wait staff is not only friendly, but also accommodating with health-conscious requests. They are timely with service and welcoming to all their guests. 5 Church on Market Street is definitely a restaurant that tourists and locals alike will enjoy for the ambiance, the convenient location, delicious drinks and tasty menu options. For more information, visit http://5churchcharleston.com/.
492 Has Taken Upper King Street by Storm
The outside of the building is a beauty in and of itself. Rustic, yet classy, the space occupying 492 King St. is eye-catching and easy to spot from several blocks away. Step inside 492 where the vibrant artwork stands out with energy and zest. Dark brick walls and cozy booths make this restaurant a perfect place for intimate dates and close encounters. The inviting bar and soft lighting beckon as an ideal spot to gather with friends.
492 also has some historic significance. The building dates back to the 1800s when clothiers like Bluestein’s and Leon’s were popular. 492 paid homage to that economic boom with a fabric map of the city in 1902 on the ceiling of the first floor and button wall art in the main dining room. The gates that enclose the courtyard were inspired by Sanborn street maps found while researching the building.
The building had set untouched since Hurricane Hugo in 1989 until Relish Restaurant Group bought it. Much of the building was kept intact. They used historic colors like eating room red and piazza blue. They even used tin – once on the ground-floor ceiling – on the base of the bar. Restoration and preservation were an integral part of the renovation.
The prices are reasonable for the high-end menu selections. Items like beef rib loin, smoke trout pate and Geechie Boy Grit loaf make for southern cuisine with a bit of flare. This restaurant is in high demand so make reservations online or contact them at 843-203-6338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oyster House a great addition to Market Street
What used to be A.W. Shucks is now called the Oyster House on Market. This new and improved seafood restaurant has the look of an upscale establishment, but the prices are more reasonable. The outdoor patio is a great place to grab dinner and watch the world go by on Market Street, especially on breezy summer nights.
Once an old warehouse, the restaurant interior has soaring ceilings, exposed brick walls and original wooden beams. The entire bar, now called O-Bar, has been totally revamped into a trendy meet-up spot for old friends or new ones. There’s even a private dining space available for special occasions.
Of course, the oysters are delicious, but don’t pass up the shrimp and grits, lump crab cakes or Lowcountry shrimp boil. It’s southern seafood at its finest. The Oyster House is by far one of the best restaurants on the Market for not only its extensive menu, but also the atmosphere. The friendly staff knows how to take care of customers and will go above and beyond in service.
Visit the Oyster House at 35 Market St. in downtown Charleston to see the renovations to this fabulous location.
Elevated Barbecue at Smoke on Upper King
Barbecue joints usually bring to mind a pretty relaxed atmosphere, nothing too fancy. Some of the best barbecue restaurants are in remote towns around Charleston and are well known for their great tasting food, but not necessarily their ambiance.
Meet Smoke on Upper King Street. Here you get both: terrific atmosphere combined with outstanding barbecue. Co-owners Roland and Michael Feldman saw a need for a barbecue restaurant on Upper King Street so they stepped up to the plate, so to speak.
The rock n’ roll atmosphere of Smoke BBQ speaks to the edgy, yet up-scale reputation of the other Upper King restaurants that surround Smoke. A plate of barbecue isn’t exactly fancy, so the Feldman brothers didn’t strive to make Smoke something that it wasn’t. Instead, they kept the look casual with a trendy vibe.
Roland, the chef at Smoke, has a degree from Johnson & Wales in Colorado and has worked with James Beard Award-winning Chef Jennifer Jasinski in Denver and Peninsula Grill Chef Graham Dailey. To develop Smoke’s own unique barbecue brand, Roland created a typical smoke shack taste, with extra attention to detail, such as pickling the jalapenos with a special blend of spices and making his own sauerkraut for pastrami sandwiches.
Michael, who runs the front of the house, has experience as a manager at Hyman’s Seafood and operating the Andolini’s franchise.
Smoke has been incredibly popular since opening almost one year ago. The team there has truly taken barbecue to the next level and the elevated experience is one you don’t want to miss. For more information, find Smoke BBQ on Facebook or call 843-805-5050.
Cupcake Offers Sweets and a Great Success Story
If you’ve ever walked by Cupcake Down South on King Street, you likely drooled while staring in the window at the colorful cupcakes in all sorts of flavors. Cupcake is perfect for any time of the day: an early morning sweet treat or delicious dessert after lunch or dinner. Plus, Cupcake can accommodate parties, creating multiple cupcakes to appease party guests’ many dessert desires. Weddings, in fact, are Cupcake’s specialty.
The company’s story is the quintessential small business success story. Owner Kristin Kuhlke Cobb was living in New York City in 2006 when she decided to return to the Holy City to open up a cupcake store. According to the website, she said everyone questioned her decision, except for her father who helped her open the flagship store on King Street. She quickly gained notoriety, attracting the attention of USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, The Ellen Show, Budget Travel Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Fox, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Fast forward a decade and Cupcake Down South is mixing up such flavors as vanilla bean, chocoholic, southern red velvet, carrot cake, lemon squeeze, mint, mudslide, spiked apple pie and the ever popular, chocolate caramel moonshine. So try Cupcake Down South at 433 King St. or try our Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Tour and we’ll stop off at Cupcake at the end of the tour for a sweet sample.
Victor’s Social Club is a hidden gem off John Street
You may not have noticed Victor’s Social Club when passing by Hutson Alley on John Street. This little gem may be tucked away between the Charleston Music Hall and Coast restaurant, but is worth a visit for dinner or even just drinks.
We are excited to announce Victor’s Social Club is now a stop on our Upper King Street Tour. We couldn’t help ourselves and, once you see it, you’ll know why.
As you walk through the doors, you’re greeted by a most inviting bar. Nautical paintings adorn the walls and a circular couch is situated in the middle of the room. Bar tables line the outer part of the room, but the comfort of the couch will call your name.
On our tour, you get to taste bruschetta, artichoke hearts and collard greens. And don’t miss the bar with plenty of beers on tap and an extensive wine selection. If you prefer a cocktail, you can’t go wrong with one of the meticulously mixed drinks.
The atmosphere is probably the best part of Victor’s Social Club. Think of it as upscale New York City meets Southern elegance. Be sure to visit Victor’s Social Club while staying in Charleston, whether while on our Upper King Street Culinary Tour or on your own. It is time well spent!
Ruth’s Chris a great addition to Market Street
Ruth’s Chris is a well-known restaurant, but it’s still relatively new to the Charleston market. Ruth’s Chris took the space at 55 S. Market St. that was formally Tristan below the French Quarter Inn. The renovated space is breathtaking with dark wood finishes throughout, paintings hanging from the ceiling and a beautiful wine cellar in the dining room. Marvel at the spectacular chandelier while enjoying the delicious menu options.
The restaurant is known for its steaks, so you can’t go wrong ordering from the signature steaks and chops menu, but don’t be shy about trying some of the delicious seafood options, such as the salmon filet or shrimp and grits. Check out the special $8 menu items during daily happy hour, including cocktail, wine and beer options.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House has locations all over the South – Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee and now South Carolina. These restaurants have a great reputation and the new location in Charleston’s Market area will not disappoint new diners and those who have been eager to see a Ruth’s Chris join Charleston’s dining scene. It is a welcome addition to the downtown area.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For reservations, call 843-793-4224.
Molly Darcy’s Brings More to the Table than Irish Flair
Molly Darcy’s Traditional Irish Pub and Restaurant (www.mollydarcy.com) is located in the heart of downtown Charleston’s historic district, just off the Market, on East Bay Street. The atmosphere is what you’d expect from a pub – warm, welcoming and a bit rustic. You can hear the bands playing on the patio for several blocks on almost any day of the week. The bar is inviting, especially if you want to watch your favorite sport.
They keep the beer flowing along with a number of delicious menu items. Try the classic burgers. There is nothing like a good hamburger, but there is also nothing like a bad hamburger to ruin your day. If you want to savor a juicy burger in a relaxing ambiance, Molly Darcy’s is the place. Other top-notch menu items include the traditional Irish shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage.
Molly Darcy’s Traditional Irish Pub and Restaurant also has locations in Myrtle Beach and Danbury, Conn. As they say at Molly Darcy’s, “They always come back to Molly Darcy’s.” You will find yourself going back again and again.
Carmella’s Dessert Bar brings up-scale sweets to East Bay
If you’re looking for an after-dinner treat or a dessert cocktail in downtown Charleston, look no further than Carmella’s Dessert Bar on East Bay Street. This relatively new spot is convenient to the hopping nightlife of East Bay and Market streets. Dessert cocktails make a great late night treat or happy hour delight.
The desserts at Carmella’s are nothing short of spectacular. Try the cannoli, award-winning peanut butter explosion, white chocolate mousse or Italian rum cake. Carmella’s even has ice cream, gelato and Italian ice for a hot summer day in Charleston. The staff can suggest wine pairings for each dessert. Who wouldn’t want to end their night at a swanky high-end dessert bar? Not only is the location perfect, but the space itself is quite inviting. Open windows on a beautiful day at Carmella’s makes for a sweet way to spend an evening. The location has a spacious bar and plenty of tables to kick back and relax.
Don’t leave Charleston without tasting the sweets at Carmella’s Dessert Bar.
Don’t leave Charleston without trying Christophe’s
If you appreciate gourmet, then you will appreciate Christophe’s on Society Street. Their premium chocolate blends a deep European history with master artistry. They can create chocolates as gifts, party favors and chocolate sculptures. Christophe’s chocolates are handmade touting the fresh ingredients.
The artisan chocolatier, Christophe, who owns the shop, says that his story of opening this shop in downtown Charleston has everything to do with love. He loves to share his chocolate creations with the world and he came to the US because of love. He is a third generation French chocolatier and studied the delicacy in France. He stayed in the family business mostly, but did come to Canada and the US to work and share his passion for chocolate. He decided to stay in the US after he met his wife in 2009 and together they opened Christophe’s in Charleston.
This chocolate boutique should not be overlooked while visiting Charleston. For those that love gourmet chocolate and desserts, Christophe’s is top-notch. Even for those who do not have a sweet tooth, an appreciation for Christophe’s artistry cannot be denied. Visit the shop at 90 Society Street or call 843-297-8674.
Virginia’s on King Highlights Southern Specialties
If you are looking for good, old-fashioned Lowcountry cuisine combined with the best in Southern traditions, look no further than Virginia’s on King. This restaurant is situated in the heart of bustling King Street, where shopping and dining mix together onto one fantastic corridor. With a restaurant logo depicting a typical Southern plantation amid moss-draped oaks, you know you’re in for good Southern eats. Step inside and you’ll leave the urban feel behind as this restaurant exudes Southern hospitality just like what you’d find in a small town.
The menu is filled with Southern favorites. For breakfast, start with a Country Omelet, try an Oyster Po’ Boy for lunch and, for dinner, don’t pass up the Southern Fried Chicken. Top the whole meal off with key lime pie for dessert. The menu options at Virginia’s on King will definitely give you a taste of the South.
Charleston natives opened this restaurant keen on maintaining Southern traditions and customs. Warren and Virginia Bennett wanted to create an atmosphere that was not only hospitable, but also comforting and family oriented. The couple had six children and family dinners were very important to them. Virginia’s on King represents their family tradition – now shared with anyone who wants to come in and join them. Make a reservation at Virginia’s on King by calling 843-735-5800; it is located at 412 King St.
Fulton Five has great food and great history
A hidden gem in downtown Charleston, Fulton Five, is situated on Fulton Lane, which looks more like a quaint alley, but is indeed a street – a street steeped in history. The building just to the left of the restaurant was an old bordello from 1852 to 1859. Fulton Five honors that historical mark with a painting of a nude woman on the bathroom door. The building that Fulton Five occupies was also a brothel in the mid-1800s. The Fulton Lane area, which was called Beresford Alley back then, was a high-end prostitution area. Many dignitaries and military frequented the area.
Today Fulton Five is an Italian restaurant and wine pairings are its specialty. On any day of the week, go by Fulton Five’s divine bar for drinks and an appetizer or antipasto. A stroll down King Street to Fulton Lane will leave you feeling stately and charmed, making a stop at Fulton Five for a drink will be the perfect way to end the day.
Charleston City Paper has named Fulton Five the most romantic restaurant since 1998. Taking a look inside the lush dining room will entice any couple to fall in love all over again. The menu is strictly Italian. Try the Antipasto Spoleto to start and order the Orecchiette Aragosta as an entrée. You will not be disappointed.
Take it all in at Fulton Five. This restaurant is known by many for its elegant ambiance and deep past. Enjoy a glass of Italian wine as you marvel at the magnificent menu choices. This will be an experience you will not soon forget.
Burwell’s Stands Out
Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill is situated on a quiet corner off Market Street just a short distance from the water and a mere block from East Bay Street. The renovated building with its white exterior and modern finishings is a lovely addition to the hustle and bustle of Market Street. This restaurant is considered fine dining, setting it apart from its Market Street neighbors.
The interior is modern with rugged, yet sophisticated, cypress walls and a warm color palette. Soft lighting accents the bar and dining room with a romantic ambiance. Prime steak is the specialty and it’s cooked over a 1,400-degree stone fire grill. Burwell’s innovative menu is known for its innovative trimmings of protein cuts and hormone-free choices. They choose premium steaks from hand-selected farms that observe the best practices. Not only do they take pride in their meat selections, but they also label their seafood menu options as flawless and even, dare we say, pure perfection. Take their wood-fired, cedar-planked crab cake, for example. At Burwell’s, you’ll be able to taste this Charleston specialty smoked over a natural wood fire.
You’ll see and be seen at Burwell’s. They offer an approachable atmosphere where the guest is the king and queen of the Burwell’s domain. Try the delicious desserts for an after-dinner treat and make sure you try a specialty cocktail (or two).
For more information on Burwell’s, visit www.burwellscharleston.com. Call 843-737-8700 for reservations and information about private dining or event space rental.
Always Setting the Right Mood at Muse
On a quiet side street off the bustling area of Meeting and King, sits Muse, a restaurant that hasn’t received a ton of hype, but is definitely deserving of a high-ranking status among downtown Charleston restaurants. The name accurately reflects the setting – an old home with a villa-like atmosphere reminiscent of the heart of Italy. Muse boasts a wide selection of wine – 100 by the glass to be exact and 500 bottles from producers all around the world. The selections are true to their region and history. The owner is from a family that owned many restaurant establishments and even studied in Italy in college. You can tell that her time abroad inspired what is now Muse on Society Street.
Her exact inspiration comes from a story called the Villa of Mysteries. Muse’s website describes the story like this, “Perched on a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples amongst the ruins of Pompeii emerges the memory of the Villa of Mysteries. The ill-fated Pompeii flourished before Mt. Vesuvius decided to take its toll on her in 79 A.D., as it was a city of sophistication and civility with an eclectic population and style of living. The Villa, a former wine-producing estate, houses one of the most provocative series of frescoes known from the Classical world of the Mediterranean, and the frescoes have been at the center of a dynamic scholarly debate for nearly a century. Because of its mythological imagery, historians, artists, psychoanylists and viticulturalists have all been beguiled by the chamber housing the frescoes since it was uncovered from the rubble in 1908. It very naturally became the inspiration for this restaurant establishment, where one finds a rendering of the past with the present, and where the food, wine and walls meld together as in the Mediterranean tradition.”
As for the chef, Howard LaFour was born in Singapore, but grew up mostly in Lincoln, Nebraska. At age 18, he started a culinary career in New Orleans in the Pere Marque Hotel. After Hurricane Katrina, LaFour stayed and cooked for the relief workers for six months. He then went onto Washington, D.C., before moving to Charleston in 2008 where he landed a job under Craig Diehl as sous chef at Cypress. In 2011 he became the executive chef of Muse.
The menu boasts many Italian favorites. Start with grilled calamari tossed in olive oil, lemon and espelette and basil. Order the 13-ounce rib-eye steak grilled, cut and served with confit fingerling potatoes, grilled French beans and a foie gras butter. Top everything off with a white chocolate croissant pudding with cinnamon anglaise. Wine will be a natural accompaniment to this meal. Just ask the server for recommendations. You’ll leave Muse feeling as relaxed (and as full) as ever. It will be a Charleston experience in an ambiance that is truly European.
Cru Café Is Gourmet at Its Finest
The location may be slightly off the beaten path, but the experience will be quite memorable. Cru Café is nestled in a classic 18th-century Charleston single-style home on Pinckney Street. Since it opened in 2002, the restaurant has consistently ranked high among locals and tourists alike. Le Cordon Bleu graduate Chef John Zucker leads the team at Cru Café. He is known for his gourmet twist on comfort food. He trained under celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Las Vegas and became sous chef for the opening of Canoe, which was nominated as best new restaurant of the year by the James Beard Foundation. Zucker served as a consultant for McCrady’s, 39 Rue de Jean and Fish, all located in downtown Charleston.
Cru Café features something for everyone from its famous four-cheese macaroni to the tasty Thai Seafood Risotto. They have delicious salads, such as the Chinese chicken salad, if you’re in the mood for a lighter affair. If you like fresh air with your meal, grab a seat on their quaint porch. The wine list is varied and rich. Leave room for a dessert that will rival any of your favorite sweet treats.
Make Cru Café your next night out in Charleston.
*Bulldog Tours is offering a $50 gift card to Cru Café included in its two-night stay in Charleston as part of the prize for winning the Charleston Summer Selfie Contest. We are very happy to have partnered with them to offer an amazing opportunity to experience such a wonderful downtown restaurant.
The View Puts Fleet Landing at the Top of the List
Fleet Landing, the only restaurant in downtown Charleston located on the water, has more than just a magnificent view to offer patrons. The contemporary ambiance and delicious menu options also deserve a mention alongside this restaurant’s spectacular location on the harbor.
Try the fried green tomato stack for lunch or the fried oysters with southern comfort barbecue sauce. They also have fried flounder, Charleston shrimp and grits and pan-fried shrimp cakes. If you’re looking for something other than seafood, order up the fried green tomato BLT or the fried chicken platter. You can’t go wrong.
For dinner, start off with the Fleet Landing stuffed hush puppies, which are filled with velouté lobster, rock shrimp, leeks and corn over creole tomato sauce. Then move onto a delicious Black Angus hamburger or Lowcountry seafood pasta, which includes fettuccini, shrimp, scallops, crawfish, mussels, Andouille sausage, asparagus, tomatoes and creole butter sauce.
Fleet Landing’s ambiance is the perfect side dish to your meal. In fact, it could be the main course. The innovative design both inside and out makes this restaurant hard to miss for passersby on Concord Street. The restaurant’s nighttime lighting adds a romantic vibe to this jewel of a restaurant right on the harbor. The modern interior décor includes light fixtures at the bar that give an edgy feel to a restaurant that is definitely nautical in nature. Check out the bright orange wall of life jackets and the nautical star accents.
Fleet Landing is located at 186 Concord St. and is open seven days per week for lunch and dinner. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Dinner is served 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, dinner is served 5-11 p.m. and on Sundays from 5-10 p.m. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended; call 843-722-8100.
AW Shucks is a Staple in Downtown Charleston
AW Shucks has been a favorite restaurant for about 35 years. Since opening its doors in Charleston in 1978 – long before Charleston became such a sought-after tourist destination – locals flocked to the Market Street location for the delicious fried shrimp, steamed oysters, and a cold pitcher of beer. Through all the expansion in the city of Charleston, AW Shucks remained true to its roots of local décor, local food and a local atmosphere where not only tourists can relax and enjoy the ambiance, but “hometowners” can as well. The reasonable prices make AW Shucks a family restaurant.
Chef William T. Condon is a Charleston native with a true passion for Lowcountry cuisine. He started his culinary career at AW Shucks in 1988. He worked there for a while and then left to learn more about his chosen field in other well-known establishments in the Charleston area. He was welcomed back to AW Shucks in 2013 as executive chef. His southern roots show through in the local AW Shucks menu. A New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank referred to Chef Condon in her latest book, “A Chef’s Table Cookbook,” noting, “Executive Chef Billy Condon is a member of one of Charleston restaurant dynasty families.”
While its delicious oyster plates would be the obvious choice at AW Shucks, guests should not pass up ordering the more traditional southern meals, such as sweetgrass shrimp and grits and seafood jambalaya. Lowcountry crab cakes and hand-breaded chicken tenders are also wonderful choices from the AW Shucks menu.
Its reputation in the downtown area coupled with its local ambiance makes AW Shucks a true Charleston culinary destination.
Nick’s on King Street Is All about Barbecue
Nick’s Bar-B-Q on King Street has earned a reputation in Charleston as one of the best barbecue joints in town. Not only has it been there for nine years, but as far as barbecue goes, you just can’t beat it anywhere else on the peninsula. Nick’s Bar-B-Q serves ribs, pork, chicken, brisket and sausage. As they say at Nick’s, “All BBQ has the same three basic ingredients: smoke, meat and time. What makes the difference is the amount, consideration and attention to each part of that recipe.” The barbecue sauce is not too shabby either. They honor great barbecue traditions, using the right ingredients and savoring the moment by taking their sweet time.
Certainly the barbecue at Nick’s is a hot seller on the menu, but don’t discount a salad. They have a chopped veggie salad, a traditional Greek salad, pig in the garden salad, chopped southern salad and the wedge salad deluxe. We also have to mention the sandwiches, including the grilled chicken sandwich, the chicken salad sandwich, the pimento cheese sandwich, the catfish sandwich, the smoked Cuban sandwich and the deluxe turkey sandwich. And don’t leave Nick’s Bar-B-Q without trying their banana pudding.
Nick’s Bar-B-Q is located in the heart of downtown Charleston on King Street near Wentworth Street. The interior is inviting and the bar atmosphere is as friendly as it can be. Stop by for lunch or dinner – you won’t be disappointed!
Down Home Cookin’ at Dixie Supply Bakery and Café
Dixie Supply Bakery and Café is nestled in the heart of downtown’s popular Charleston City Market area on State Street. The atmosphere is small and more like a diner than a fancy restaurant. But, the food, well, that’s a different story. Dixie Supply Bakery and Café may seem simple in appearance, but what shows up on the menu is nothing short of extraordinary southern cuisine. The breakfast sandwiches, biscuits, wraps, stone-ground grits, omelets, stuffed French toast, pancakes and pastries will help you kick-start your day. Lunch includes homemade tomato pie, the classic Dixie Burger and much more. They’ll even customize a boxed lunch for your midday rush.
Most of all, Dixie Supply Bakery and Café is probably known best for its homemade desserts. In fact, the café motto is “Eat dessert first, life is uncertain!” The dessert selection varies, but specialty staples include Banoffee Pie (banana & toffee with whipped cream), Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce and some Carrot Cake Bread Pudding, and Buttermilk Pie. Dixie Supply Bakery and Café can even bake a cake for your wedding.
Dixie Supply Bakery and Café is open 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. seven days a week with dinner served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Breakfast is served all day and they deliver in downtown Charleston. Featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” Dixie Supply Bakery and Café will impress even the most particular foodie.
Blossom Has a Small Atmosphere, But Large Reputation
For a delicious meal in an intimate setting, look no further than Blossom restaurant. Located on East Bay Street, this downtown Charleston restaurant has a reputation that rivals its sister restaurants, Magnolias and Cypress, which are located just next door. Blossom has a cozy, small feel but its reputation and popularity is large. Reservations are most certainly recommended as this restaurant books up quickly. If you can’t get a table, just stop by for drinks at the cozy and inviting bar.
The food served at Blossom is American through and through, with special attention made to the Lowcountry’s best seafood. Clean and simple dishes are served with local ingredients sourced from area fisherman and farmers. Specialties include cornmeal fried oyster salad, cast iron skillet scallops with grits and pan-roasted mahi mahi.
Executive Chef Adam Close studied at Johnson and Wales University. While in school, he worked at Magnolias as a line cook. In 2003, Close headed to Atlanta to pursue his culinary passion, working in an Italian restaurant that helped him develop his knack for highlighting the natural flavors in many different kinds of ingredients with just simple processes. After a few years, Close returned to the Lowcountry because of Charleston’s explosive culinary scene. He is now the executive chef of one of the city’s most popular and well-respected restaurants for not only its commitment to sustainable seafood and local harvests, but also its reputation for serving some of the best dishes in the South.
Blossom is open for lunch Monday through Saturday and serves dinner nightly; brunch is served on Sunday. Check out the private dining facility for parties of 12 to 20 and an additional space for parties of up to 200. Call 843-722-9200 for reservations and more information.
Experience the Talent that is Cypress
Just walking by Cypress is intriguing. From the sidewalk of East Bay Street you can see its colorful ambiance and unique atmosphere. With its beautiful place settings and exceptional bar, Cypress is definitely a restaurant to stop and try at least once. Not to mention the food. Cypress stands out as one of Charleston’s most prestigious restaurants. Chef Craig Deihl is well known in the culinary world at large, not just in Charleston. Deihl was chosen in 2010 as Chef of the Year by the Charleston chapter of the American Culinary Foundation. That same year, he was a semi-finalist for a prestigious James Beard Foundation award for best chef in the Southeast. He was a nominee for the award in 2011 and 2012 and now again in 2013.
Deihl is a founding member of the Butcher’s Guild and, in 2009, Deihl created a charcuterie Artisan Meat Share in which he uses every part of the animal and prepares more than 80 types of charcuterie stored in-house at Cypress.
The menu, which includes such dishes as crisp wasabi tuna with a ginger-garlic glaze and Certified Angus Beef filet of beef with housemade Boursin cheese, is complemented by an impressive wine list. The wines hail from both well-known and small boutique wineries from all over the world.
It isn’t very often that you get to eat at a restaurant backed by so much talent. When you eat at Cypress you are getting the best of both worlds – a spectacular atmosphere and phenomenal food prepared by a remarkable chef.
Carolina’s Continues a Southern Tradition
If you aren’t local, you might not be aware of one of Charleston’s hidden culinary gems, Carolina’s, located a half a block off Rainbow Row on Exchange Street. The building itself dates back to Revolutionary times and the restaurant pays homage to their predecessor, Perdita’s, which opened in 1953.
Carolina’s is known for their contemporary take on traditional Lowcountry cuisine and has been a staple in the rounds of local foodies. They strive to use as many local ingredients as possible, including produce from their own farm and seafood from the local fisheries. Whether it’s a quick bite for lunch or a gourmet meal you’re looking for, Carolina’s will certainly have menu options to please any palate.
Chef Jill Mathias, one of only two female executive chefs in Charleston, hails from the Scandinavian influenced border of North Dakota and Minnesota. She is known for her ability to well-compose a dish with three or four themes intertwined, rather than focusing on one hunk of meat or fish. Within her diversity, lies a clean line of simplicity. She is known for her Pan Seared Scallop with Parsnip Pistachio Mostarda and Onion Gastrique. Looking for something more traditional to Charleston? If so, you can’t leave the restaurant without trying the shrimp and grits!
Carolina’s has been mentioned in the New York Times and Golf Digest, among many other great publications. They have a great happy hour that is offered from 5 to 7pm Monday through Friday. They feature half price glass of wine, $4 house liquor and half price bar menu.
Magnolias Is the Epitome of Southern Charm
Magnolias opened in 1990 as one of the first leaders in the culinary renaissance that was about to change Charleston forever. Today Charleston is known for its amazing restaurants and the uniquely southern cuisine that will complete anyone’s visit to our fair city. Magnolias is definitely one of the restaurants that stands at the forefront of this experience. Magnolias blends traditional ingredients and cooking techniques with modern flair. The presentation is done with great pride and artistic ability. Innovation meets old southern charm in dishes like Shellfish over Grits with sautéed shrimp, sea scallops, lobster, creamy white grits, lobster butter sauce and fried spinach.
Executive Chef Don Drake leads the culinary team at Magnolias. Under Drake, Magnolias has managed to remain at the top of the nation’s list for exceptional Southern food. Drake studied at the Culinary Institute of America and trained under Chef Barry Wine at the critically acclaimed and four-star Quilted Giraffe in New York City. He learned global cooking techniques in London, Australia and Hawaii. Drake integrates his worldly knowledge into the southern Lowcountry cooking that he practices at Magnolias today. The taste is distinctively true to Charleston’s roots, giving Drake his remarkable reputation.
Magnolias has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Charleston Magazine, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Charleston Magazine and countless other big name publications.