The Ultimate Foodie Guide to Charleston
Looking for the best local Charleston foodie guide? You came to the right place. Charleston, South Carolina is one of America’s very best cities for food, and one of my favorite places to dine out on some fresh seafood, mouthwatering biscuits, barbecue and fried chicken. But, even if typical Southern fare like shrimp and grits, pimento cheese, or fried chicken isn’t your thing – Charleston’s buzzing restaurant scene has something for absolutely everyone, and it’s no wonder that this southern charm-ed city full of colorful architecture, cobblestone streets, and southern hospitality is a foodie’s dream. With Chucktown’s fresh seafood (you can get oysters pretty much anywhere in the city, and the shrimp are to-die-for), incredible world-famous chefs (Husk, Hominy Grill, and FIG all boast James Beard Award-winning chefs), and new restaurants popping up all the time looking to put their own contemporary spin on the South’s famous cuisine, you can’t go wrong eating in Charleston. Here are my very favorite restaurants in Charleston, for every occasion.
Table of Contents
The Best Coffee Shops in Charleston
This vintage-inspired cafe in the heart of downtown is one of my absolute favorite spots for coffee in Charleston. Their oat milk latte (my order) is DELISH and add in the fact that their baked goods are second-to-none, and they have a wheat-crust quiche with different, and always mouthwatering, fillings every day, and you’ve got yourself an ideal spot for your morning coffee + quick breakfast, or an afternoon break and a pastry.
The Daily is another one of my go-to coffee spots in downtown Charleston. The coffee is delicious, but the FOOD is what makes it ultra-special. Go for breakfast or for lunch – I love their mediterranean-inspired menu. It’s all super fresh, filling, and healthy.
This super-chic coffee bar is located in the Restoration hotel. It’s modern and has an awesome patio that is a good spot to have a meeting with someone in downtown Charleston, or set up your laptop there for the day.
It’s all the way in Mount Pleasant, so a 15 min drive from downtown, but still worth a mention. In addition to delish coffee, Vintage Cafe’s menu has a bunch of great breakfast and lunch bites, tapas in the evening, and an amazing toast bar full of more than just your classic avo toast.
Photo via Carolinas Eater
The Best Fresh Juice Spots & Acai Bowls in Charleston
If you know me, I don’t function without my morning juice. These are by far the best I’ve tried.
This is my go-to spot for the absolute best REAL acai in Charleston. You might see me here, since I go a few times a week! It’s not sugar-packed or sweet, it’s real acai mixed with the freshest berries EVER. Seriously, you’ll dream about these bowls. Tell them that Jetset Christina sent you!
Located pretty far North but worth the morning exercise to get there even if you’re staying in South Charleston. Great healthy vegan eats in Charleston, smoothie bowls, smoothies, savory dishes and more. Big fan of their whole menu, and their seasonal juices.
I love Beech’s acai bowls. If you’re looking for a good acai bowl in downtown Charleston, this is your spot. I much prefer it to Playa Bowls.
Located in Mount Pleasant, but available on Uber Eats, this is one of my go-tos for fresh celery juice in the mornings.
The best Biscuits in Charleston
Craving something a little less healthy for breakfast? I’ve got you!
If you’re walking down King Street past 1am, you’re likely to see a long line out of a small storefront labeled with a simple “HLB”. What started as a local breakfast counter selling world-famous flaky buttermilk biscuits has quickly turned into the best late night around, and pretty much everyone in the city is willing to stand in line for one. Callie’s is the real deal, y’all. They’ve been featured by Saveur, Food & Wine, Southern Living, The New York Times and even Oprah! So whether you want to make your morning with a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast biscuit, or soak up a long night of partying on King Street with their late night, Callie’s is a must-stop on any trip to Charleston.
My order: three hot little biscuits (buttermilk, shortbread and cinnamon), and a bacon, egg and cheddar biscuit sandwich.
Where to Eat Dinner in Charleston
Hands down the best barbecue in Charleston, head to Lewis for Texas-style house-smoked meats served up counter-style in an industrial-hip space with a hopping bar & plenty of outdoor picnic tables. If this spot feels a little like you’re in Austin, Texas, there’s a reason – pit-master Lewis learned his craft in Austin under world-famous Aaron Franklin, and then became the headliner at La Barbecue, a serious contender against Franklin BBQ.
My order: Be sure to go with a group so you can get a little bit of everything. The brisket, pulled pork, and ribs are a must. Their coleslaw is tangy and healthy – which I love, and their mac n’ cheese is anything but healthy but is to-die-for.
For a special occasion, look no further than Sorelle, where Southern Italy meets Southern hospitality in the chicest space in town. The restaurant, bar and market spans two-stories, and is one of the most beautifully-designed restaurants I have ever set foot in! They spared no expense. My favorite is going and sitting at the bar (you have to go EARLY to snag a spot!) since reservations can be tough to snag! My second favorite is on a birthday or anniversary or something special, getting the chef’s tasting menu with the wine pairing – it is OUT OF THIS WORLD good!!!!
This romantic little house-turned restaurant is a MUST on any trip to Charleston. The menu consists of just six rotating dishes each night, but every single one is sooo delicious. I love to sit out on their adorable patio. And the handwritten menus every day are just a DREAM.
Fried chicken and oysters – does it get more Charleston than this? This outdoor and indoor rustic-chic restaurant is a locals favorite hangout for fresh oysters, crispy fried chicken, delicious cocktails, and its cozy patio – Leon’s is a must on any trip to the Holy City… it’s so good you’re going to want to go two times in one weekend.
My order: A frozen G&T, a half dozen of the chef’s choice oysters, a fried chicken sandwich, and the brussels sprouts.
HUSK and The Bar at Husk
James Beard award-winning HUSK features an ever-changing seasonal menu of locally sourced Southern dishes served in a gorgeous restored Victorian-era home. At Husk, there are some hard-and-fast rules about what can go on your plate – if it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door. While supper at the iconic Husk is unbelievable and a destination dining experience for travelers worldwide, it can be hard to get a reservation, and the real locals secret is that the Bar at Husk is just next door and just as good – the bar features a similar ingredient-driven food menu, and a drink menu full of beautiful cocktails and 50+ bourbon choices that will knock you right off your rocking chair.
My order at the Bar at Husk: The burger!!! A glass of chardonnay, and the cheese plate
If you have ONE night in Charleston and are deciding where to eat, this is where I would send you. Creative, flavorful seafood and meats in a hip, buzzing family-run restaurant, Chubby Fish is well regarded as most locals’ favorite restaurant in town. It’s run by a husband-wife chef/manager team who are just wonderful. Don’t be afraid to get adventurous here – Order anything on the menu and you won’t be disappointed. But be aware – that Chubby Fish being the local hotspot it is, coupled with the fact that they don’t accept any reservations, you should definitely expect a wait. WELL worth it, though, trust me on this one.
This tapas spot in the trendy Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood is buzzy, casual, and intimate, feels like you’re in Spain, and the food and wine is SO GOOD. Great spot to meet friends for tapas or for a little date night. Tucked into a court a few blocks from King Street, Spanish-inspired specialties fill the menu, like flavor-packed local shrimp, crudo, an Iberian twist on pigs in a blanket ( you have to order it !) , and the wine list is one of my favorites.
For the best pizza, pasta and Italian in Charleston, and a great date night spot, look no further than Indaco. I’m obsessed with their neopolitan-style pizzas, delish pastas, and their fresh caesar salad (that is authentic zesty caesar dressing, not creamy-mayo-wannabe-caesar!)
THE. BEST. BURGERS!!!! This cozy 1950’s style bistro gives me all the old-school tavern vibes and it is one of the most hyped restaurants in town – for good reason! Same owners as Melfi’s and Leon’s – all three are three of my favorite places in Charleston to eat, you can’t go wrong!
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I love Longboard for their delicious cocktails and food!! This is a great group spot, or brunch spot, on Sullivan’s Island before hitting the beach. But don’t sleep on the dinner menu, too! I had some of the freshest catch of fish the last time I went – it was SO good. It’s family friendly, too!
Via The Longboard Instagram
Come for the Mexican, fresh ingredients, and homemade tortillas, stay for the house-infused Tequila list. Mex1 only uses 100% Agave Tequila and then infuses it in house with delicious things like fresh pineapple, strawberry cucumber, jalapeño and pineapple habanero. The signature Mex 1 margarita uses a combination of fresh lime, lemon and orange juice with just a touch of sugar to balance it out.
Drink-wise, I love the Pineapple Ranch Water, made with house-infused pineapple Tequila, Topo Chico, and served right in the bottle with a lime, sugar (I get it without to make it a skinny), and a salt rim. YUM.
Mex1 has 3 Locations – Sullivan’s Island, West Ashley, Park West. Brunch is every Sunday from 10:30-3pm.
For drinks and a causal brunch, this is your spot. When a bunch of friends and I went to this historical bar, we were expecting a small pub… but walk further into this seemingly neighborhood restaurant and bar and you get to the most beautiful outdoor patio area that truly makes this place the gem it is. It kind of feels like a mix between an old historical English courtyard and a jungle. Their food is great, as are their cocktails.
Check out their Sunday brunch for $3 mimosas, bellinis (my favorite) and Bloody Mary’s until 3pm!
Looking for the locals’s secret best oyster spot in Charleston? You’re going to want to check out 167 Raw, a small, chic neighborhood raw bar and seafood restaurant with some of the best oysters & seafood in town. (they also have some heartier fare like their to-die-for carnitas tacos).
There are no reservations, but you can always grab a drink while you wait.
By the same people who did 167 Raw, this mediterranean-inspired tapas bar is one of my favorite spots to go when people visit us in Charleston. It’s bustling and busy (not a quiet date night spot, but fun with a group!), and the food is great. Their menu places you off the coast enjoying fresh fish, house made cheese, and cold G&T’s! I love the housemade foccacia and the caeesar salad here – it’s one of my favorites in all of Charleston (and I’m picky!). You’ll love the cocktail list, too, and I highly recommend sitting upstairs on the patio if you can! So fun. And, this spot takes reservations (unlike 167 Raw) which is a big win!
via 167 bar website
For a cozy-chic date night or girl’s night out, check out Melfi’s small buzzing Italian bistro, owned by the same owners as Leon’s Oyster Shop! I looove their stratiatella toast appetizer (seriously, I order 2 every time). I will note that the service here could definitely be admittedly better, but I still go for that toast.
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With three locations across the city (in West Ashley, Downtown Charleston, and Sullivans Island), Hometeam barbecue has become more than just a barbecue staple – it’s a Charleston meat empire. Their addictive smoked wings, their delicious pulled pork nachos, and their signature frozen gamechanger cocktails are just what the doctor ordered after a long day on the beach or out exploring Charleston. We went twice in a single trip, and even after that, my boyfriend, (a buffalo wing connoisseur), said “I’d fly back to Charleston just for more of those wings”. So there you have it, folks. Home Team always wins.
This place is so good – I’m talking finger-lickin’ down-home-country-cookin-on-the-cutest-southern-porch-y’all-have-ever-seen good. Fried chicken, biscuits, sweet tea glazed salmon, fried pimento cheese, local seafood, filet mignon …. this menu has everything you could ever want and more that you’d ever thought you’d try (fried alligator salad? Only in the south). Check it out for brunch, lunch or dinner – you won’t be disappointed.
A friend of mine, who writes for Charleston Eater recommended this new gourmet wood-fired pizza and wine spot to me as his very favorite place in town – so I went in with pretty high expectations, all of which were exceeded immediately. The adorable date night hot spot is quickly taking over Charleston’s foodie scene, after just opening a few months ago, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does stepping into the quaint neighborhood restaurant feel like you could be some chic restaurant tucked in an alleyway of Florence, New York City, or San Francisco, but each and every one of their inventive wood-fired pizzas will blow your mind. They’re small which makes them perfect to share amongst a group when you want to try all the different kinds. Make sure to head there on the early side, or be prepared to wait, as it’s a small restaurant (only about 12 tables), and they don’t take reservations (you can sit at the bar, though!).
My order: The Montepulciano wine, the Shabazi pizza, and the Rocco pizza.
Where to eat with kids in Charleston
Navigating where to eat with babies or kids in Charleston is pretty easy – most places in the city are baby-friendly and kid-friendly! But there are definitely some spots that are more so than others. Here are a few of the best restaurants for babies and kids in Charleston.
Edmund’s Oast Brewery
Either location of Edmund’s Oast is baby-friendly and kid-friendly, and we love both, but it’s the Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co location that is the most kid-friendly due to its spacious lawn and outdoor areas that kids love to run around.
This delish tex-mex spot is a family favorite in Charleston! It’s one of the most family friendly restaurants in Charleston, and is located right next to Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co and there’s a big lawn outside to get the zoomies out. And on weekends, you can post up outside while the kids mingle and run around the (shaded) lawn and both Rancho and Edmund’s Oast both have outdoor bars open.
Home Team Barbecue
Home Team is one of our favorite go-to’s in Charleston. The food is delicious and they also offer a kid’s menu including quesadillas, PB&J, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and more.
Islander 71 on Isle of Palms has yard games, kid-friendly trivia nights, live entertainment and a full kids menu featuring mac & cheese, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, fries, peanut butter mini pies and banana pudding!
One of our favorites, Longboard is always ultra-accommodating for my baby boy. We love their poke bowls and fresh seafood, and the cocktails are to-die-for!
Where to get a delicious cheese plate in Charleston
For the most charming (and most DELICIOUS) wine and cheese shop in Charleston, head straight to Goat Sheep Cow. This is the perfect place to pick up a charcuterie board for a dinner party (or just for yourselves), I literally dream about their cheese selection. The charming little shop also has gorgeous two-hundred-year-old brick walls and hand-hewn exposed beams, you guys have to check it out!
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Enjoy eating your way through Charleston! And if you need more Charleston recommendations check out my blog post The Ultimate Jetset Guide to Charleston:
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