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Charleston: moderate $ dinner in historic Charleston neighborhood

  • c

I'm escorting a tour group of northerners to Charleston at the end of March. 2 nights we have dinner on our own.

We are staying at the Mills House hotel at Meeting Street and Queen. We won't have transportation (we're on a motorcoach during the day) so any recommendations should be either walking distance, easy to get to on the DASH or worth a taxi trip.

On our itinerary we will be eating lunch at Poogan's Porch, Middleton Place, Magnolia's, RB's Seafood restaurant in Mt. Pleasant; and a dinner at High Cotton.

So what's your ideas for dinner? I am an adventurous eater, and would like ideas for modest or moderate prices. Others in my group may spend more - but may also eat lightly (our included meals are pretty heavy)

I noticed Sticky Fingers on the Charleston Visitor website. Any good?

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  1. 1
    1 wiener hound

    As to BBQ on the penisula in my opinion it is a no go. I would suggest Momma Brown's in Mt. Pleasant on Coleman Blvd. As to a Mod-Medium priced rest. for supper I would recommend Hominey Grill at the corner of Cannon and Rutledge Both restaurants are accessable by our bus system CARTA for more info contact www.ridecarta.com. Hominey Grill has been written up in NY Times several times. Will the group be going together. If so how many in group? Hominey is small. It is located in a Charleston single house on the first floor to give you some idea of size.

    5 Replies
    1. re: 1 wiener hound

      Thanks for all the responses so far!

      Hotdog, I read your description of Momma Brown's and it sounded fantastic. But I don't think I will be able to get to Mt. Pleasant. Would I? No car, not a lot of time.

      And, BBQ on the penninsula a no-no? Keep in mind I live in NYS, where we actually do have one excellent bbq place - Dinosaur BBQ - but not Carolina style.

      Sooo - is Sticky Fingers awful? average? good?

      No, the group will not be going together. I am escorting 35 people. These 2 evenings are "on your own" but that doesn't mean that folks won't team up together to go out. So the info on Hominy Grill's size is very welcome.

      1. re: CJ Boyer
        1 wiener hound

        There was an article in the local weekly paper about sticky fingers post Katrina and how much their natural gas bill had gone up. For folks from NYS that might not be a problem but here where there are so many other options it would be a major tipping point. I have not eaten at the Downtown SF but have eaten in the Summerville location where I live. S'ville is located 25 miles NW of CHS. On Sundays they have an AYCE Buffet. It includes pulled pork BBQ, BBQ chicken, Cole slaw, Dirty rice, Baked beans, G. beans and desserts are banana pudding and usually a Choc pudding of some kind. You add their bottled sauces to the BBQ. Unfortunately in the South we are tied to our automobiles and public transpotation is not the best. Having said that though the City of Chasleston and Mt. Pleasant have good bus service. Go to www.ridecarta.com this is the local city bus service and I think there is a bus stop very close to the Mills House and Momma B. is located on Coleman Blvd at Center St. in Mt. P. just before you get to the causeway going to Sullivan's Island. You will also get to go across our new beautiful Cooper River bridge. Which is not like the Big Dig in Bean Town. The bridge was under budget and ahead of schedule by a year and a half. Somethings we are faster at.

        PS: If you truly want Eastern Carolina Q both N+S BBQ you need to go to Momma Brown's. South Carolina is a small state but it has three very distinct styles of sauces. Coastal V+P, Midlands Sweet Mustard, Piedmont more tomatoie

        1. re: CJ Boyer
          1 wiener hound

          Check out link below for discussion of BBQ in SC

          1. re: CJ Boyer

            Do not waste a meal in Charleston on Sticky Fingers. This is chain food, it is not representative of Charleston or a particular strain of southern bbq, if that's what you're after. I live in Greenville, SC, where the food choices are nowhere NEAR that of Charleston, and still, i have been to STicky Fingers once. And it is 3 blocks from my office. Does that give you some idea?

            1. re: danna

              I recently had dinner at Sticky Fingers in Charleston. If you are walking Charleston, it's pretty good lunch/dinner BBQ. The pulled pork was just fine, and so were the ribs.

              A few days later, I saw the Sticky Fingers in Greenville, SC & can only say it looked boring -- and heard reviews from locals that match Danna's.

              SF seems to have a half-dozen restaurants -- hardly a chain -- whose quality varies widely. I'd recommend the one in Charleston if you want "pretty good" BBQ that's close and handy.

        2. Go to SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) on East Bay. It is an easy walk from the Mills House -- a straight shot down Queen and turn left on East Bay. It is owned by the same group that owns High Cotton and is right across the street. SNOB is called a Maverick Southern Kitchen -- very sophisticated, yet casual and comfortable. It is also very different than High Cotton, although both are excellent.

          1. l
            Low Country Jon

            For something exotic, try Chai's Tapas Lounge. It's on King Street, a couple of blocks above Marion Square. It's a bit of a walk from where you'll be staying, but it's doable. Chai's serves Asian fusion tapas, very creative and flavorful. Since it's tapas, you can eat light for a reasonable price or splurge if you choose.

            If you want to get something quick and light and very Charleston, try the she crab soup and cheese biscuits at 82 Queen right next door to Mill's House. I wouldn't necessarily recommend them for a full dinner, but their soup is good and their shrimp and grits appetizer is not too bad either.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Low Country Jon

              Ditto for Chai's. We had a graduation party there last week and what a great way to dine. Had a small private area near the bar and Chai set out various courses of tapas. Loved it all. Wonderful lighting and great food. Thank you Chai!

            2. You almost can't go wrong. Every thing you mentioned plus ---
              I enjoy
              Carolina's - Low country with a little Asian touch
              Jestine's - Just good old country/soul/southern/low country
              Melvin's (James's Island and Mount Pleasant)
              Bookstore Cafe for breakfast - don't miss it.
              Cru Cafe - Lunch or Dinner
              Charleson Place for tea
              Many more

              1. Poogan's Porch is literally right out the side door of The Mills House.

                Jestine's Kitchen is excellent low country/soul food and is a short walk down Meeting Street (The Mills House is on the corner of Meeting Street and Queen Street).

                Have an appetizer on the roof of the Market Pavillion. Best views of Charleston in Charleston. If not an appetizer, at least have a cocktail. Even in the dead of winter, it is nice up there because of the heaters and the glass (it is outdoors).

                1. Garibaldi's - in the Market area (5 min. walk from Mills House)and they take reservations. The crispy flounder is OUTSTANDING!We eat there every year when we visit Charleston. They only serve dinner.

                  Poogan's Porch is another of our favorites. Try the fried chicken salad with jalapeno dressing - OUTSTANDING. The she crab soup is one the best we've had anywhere. The buttermilk biscuits are to die for.

                  Another good restaurant for dinner is Hanks. They have great seafood entries.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BJB

                    Poogan's does have truly authentic biscuits!

                  2. I am a Charleston native, I work at a B and B in town, I am a recent graduate of the College of Chas (aka: broke), and furthermore, I am a vegetarian/ light eater. My recommendations for cheaper and lighter/healthier fare than the excellent choices on your itinerary (all of which except Poogan's are wonderful).
                    1. breakfast at Hominy Grill: it's cheaper and you can find more moderately-sized portions. HAVE THE SUNFLOWER SEED BREAD!! Also, if you can find the Bull Street Gourmet, they have great bagels and coffee and a wonderful atmostphere. Too bad you can't get off the peninsula: Bookstore Cafe and the Mustard Seed are also EXCELLENT, moderately priced Charleston restauarants.
                    2. Five Loaves Cafe: has a little bit for everyone and provides tasty, healthy, and wholesome fare. Soups, sandwiches, salads, coffee, and drinks. Half portions and combos available. Look for the Millennium Music on King Street and Calhoun: it's located inside there. The more cozy/ romantic location is on Cannon St.
                    3. Papa Zuzus: mediterranean gyros, wraps, homebaked pizzas. Quick, fast and scrumptious. Plus if you love good, REAL tomatoes, he has the best. Right next door to Millenium on King Street.
                    4. G&M's Fast and French on Broad St. for lunch. They are an local institution with great simple food and wine. It's cheaper at lunch than dinner.
                    5. Sermet's Corner for GREAT food, Awesome atmosphere, GOOD prices, and wonderful crusty bread with special olive oil dip. You can get half portions... the mussel app is wonderful. I've never had a bad time!
                    6. Basil for excellent Thai. Pretty authentic, too (the chef is Cambodian. The service is a little stiff though. Lunch is cheaper than dinner.
                    Have fun and eat lots (then walk lots!)!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: raharris

                      I love Hominy Grill. I think their fried chicken and mashed potatoes are some of the best I've ever had. They bone the breast AND the thigh, so it cooks quickly and is a pleasure to eat with knife and fork in a restaurant.

                      Lovely little spot.

                      1. re: raharris

                        Ditto on Sermet. Always dependable and delicious. Reasonably priced, especially considering the primo King STreet location. Practically everytime I'm in Charleston I go there. It's great for pleasing a wide range of people, like your group.

                        Last month, I took a group of 6 hungry half-marathon runners at about 4 in the afternoon. I had thought the girls would hold out for dinner since we had food after the race...but no, some of them looked like they might be about to kill me and eat me. Luckily Sermet's was open, I was afraid we would have to settle for something lesser at that time of day.

                        The lavendar pork tenderloin is good, the grilled calamari is great, the bread and olive oil is SERIOUSLY worth going there for alone. And the cheapest bottle of Chamgagne on the menu is pretty darn good.

                      2. Forget Sticky Fingers.
                        Bessingers and Melvins are better. I like Melvin's the best. Neither are located on the Penninsula.

                        I liked Jim and Nicks. A small chain out of Birmingham, Alabama. Located on King.(An easy walk from Mills House) Not Carolina style but decent. Certainly better than Sticky Fingers.