82 Wentworth St., Harleston Village
While there's no lack of great restaurants in this city, we long anticipated the opening of Basic Kitchen since we first heard it was in-the-works. Entrepreneurs Kate and Ben Towill, the married duo behind creative design/development company Basic Projects and lauded restaurants The Fat Radish and The Ferry Boat Inn, have created a downtown neighborhood spot that serves local, clean, healthy food (think: wild-caught fish, whole grain bowls, and fresh juices) that still manages to satisfy in that Southern way. In tandem with a stellar menu, the vibe is inviting and relaxed, with custom streamlined furniture punctuating the bright, light-filled historic space. A perfect neighborhood spot for a cozy dinner or killer weekend brunch.
Little Jack’s Tavern
710 King St., Westside
The owners of Leon's decided to relocate their King Street coffee shop, Saint Albans, in favor of opening a new restaurant, Little Jack's, in its place. Little Jack's officially debuted in Charleston in 2016 and it's already proven to be a true throwback neighborhood tavern with dim lights; green and white checkered tablecloths; old-time-y photos of Frank Sinatra, boxing matches, and racing horses; super cold drinks; and an on-point menu. Try the crudité with avocado mousse, the old school gin “Kennel Club” martini, and the Tavern Burger (American cheese, sunchoke relish, sesame bun).
39 Rue de Jean
39 John St., Mazyck-Wraggborough
Just off of King Street, Rue is a charming French restaurant housed in a former two-story brick warehouse, which was built in 1880 as a space for the Charleston Manufacturing Company to store their finished products. Seating here is a mix of tiny high-top tables, cozy booths, and stools lined up at Rue's generously sized bar. The (hearty) lunch menu is especially good, with plats du jour ranging from bouillabaisse, to duck confit, to Creole-style shrimp.
76 Queen St., French Quarter
Hardly a secret, Husk is still a buzzy restaurant even though it's been open since 2010. The kitchen is run by two Southern natives, which shows on the rotating menu that puts local ingredients center stage. (They also do in-house pickling.) The fact that Husk is situated in a thoughtfully restored 1893 Queen Anne house makes it all the more at home in Charleston. Husk's bar, which is next door the restaurant, is very good in its own right, and worth a trip even if you aren't coming here for a meal.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
224 Rutledge Ave., Cannonborough
This adorable cafe-style restaurant serves the best Asian comfort food in Charleston. Xiao Bao is a perfect, casual lunch spot (although they also do dinner Monday through Saturday)—the menu is small and unfussy, but seriously satisfying.
434 King St., Radcliffeborough
One of the most recommended restaurants in Charleston, Halls Chophouse is the place to go in the city for steak. It's also a favorite Sunday brunch spot. Which means you should make a reservation early as Halls books up quickly. After eating here, walk a block down to The Cocktail Club for a handcrafted drink.
232 Meeting St., Ansonborough
Arguably one of the best restaurants downtown, Fig is run by self-taught chef, Mike Lata, who is also the mastermind behind The Ordinary. The restaurant is big on working with local farmers, growers, and purveyors, which is reflected in the seasonal dinner menu here: king mackerel tartare, summer vegetables with porcini, baked black bass with baby fennel, pan roasted ribeye with sherried onion. Come hungry.
289 E. Bay St., Ansonborough
167 Raw’s original location is on Nantucket: Owner Jesse Sandole opened the place after years of running his father’s famous seafood and meat market there. The Charleston outpost is situated in a cozy space (with a cute little outdoor patio) that’s significantly brightened by the subway tiles lining the walls in all directions. The straightforward menu is all about New England dishes like clam chowder, lobster rolls, fish sandwiches, and a serious seafood plate, with a few geographic detours for dishes that emphasize fresh catches, like tacos, ceviche, and poke. It’s relatively new and still pretty hot, so expect to wait if you don’t arrive early—they don’t take reservations.
Butcher & Bee
1085 Morrison Dr., Uptown
Butcher & Bee is a bit out of the way, in a barn-like building that’s covered with aluminum siding and open to the patio via several sliding glass doors. The menu is all about locally (and ethically) sourced ingredients, with a strong emphasis on thick sandwiches and a mezze plate featuring several of the chef’s most popular side dishes like kale slaw, kohlrabi with yogurt, field peas, and bacon wrapped dates. Check the website in advance of your visit, as their events, from cooking classes to pop-up dinners, are said to be excellent. Also good to know: The menu changes daily; check Facebook and Twitter for the most updated versions.
72 Queen St., French Quarter
Named for a dog who stayed at this Victorian home-turned-restaurant after his owners moved away, Poogan's Porch is a Charleston institution. They have a quality 1500-bottle wine cellar, as well as a good selection of wine by the glass, and their fried chicken is a crowd pleaser. Unlike a lot of restaurants in Charleston that just do Sunday brunch, Poogan's does brunch on Saturday, too, and it's really good. Afterward, walk a block south, and meander around the neighborhood, referred to as South of Broad, to see some of Charleston's most stunning antebellum mansions.
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