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Charleston - Fulton Five or Mercato?

I will be in Charleston next month and was trying to decide between Fulton Five or Mercato for Italian food. Which would you recommend?

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  1. i haven't had either of those, but i would wholeheartedly recommend al di la, if you haven't eaten there already. excellent, authentic, and romantic to boot.

    1. We have not been to Charleston in several years, so I don't have any recent information, but we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Fulton Five.

      1. I've only eaten at Fulton Five but I can tell you that it is in a whole other category that al di la. Al di la is good but Fulton Five is a whole other type of dining experience. It has a very small dining room and probably the most personalized service of any place I've ever been. It also flies under the radar which is always fun.

        1. yeah, i hear you-- like i said, i haven't eaten at either of those places. we really had fun at al di la on our honeymoon, and the food was a big reason for it. and i love their eclectic little wine list.

          3 Replies
          1. re: HeelsSoxHound

            Sweet place for a honeymoon meal, I think. If I'm not mistaken, Al Di La is most definitely in a different category price-wise, from Fulton Five.

            For my next trip to Charleston, I'm debating between Mercado and Sienna for my 2nd night ...first goes to Al Di La.

            1. re: danna

              sienna is awesome, but don't forget the ocean room, danna... you were looking at that too after my honeymoon post! *grin*

              1. re: HeelsSoxHound

                You have a good memory. I really wanted to do the ocean room, but we now have a "girl possee" going down to the race, and at least two of them are completely not in the tax bracket to go to the ocean room. My foodie friend and I have debated kicking in some cash to help them out, but I have decided that would be awkward, plus, I think some people get anxious in restaurants where the food is foreign to them.

                (I had a bad experience a couple of years ago in NY where a friend got overwhelmed by her first experience in the city and had the mother of all anxiety attacks)

                Can you remember if Sienna was significantly less expensive than Ocean Room?

          2. If you haven't been to one of two restaurants, how do you have any idea one "is in a whole different category" than the other? Fulton Five and Al di La are nearly identical in size, and I would have to call service equal between the two - both very good. I haven't been to Mercato yet, but word on the street is that it's great execution of a boring menu. They serve spag and meatballs, hoping tourists won't mind because they name it in Italian. If you're stuck downtown, go to Fulton Five. If you're mobile, the food is at least as good and about a third cheaper at Al di La.

            1. I'm sure you've already made your trip, but if not, I would strongly suggest Fulton Five over Mercato. There is nothing special about Mercato, except the ease of it's location. The pasta tastes as if you boiled a pot of spaghetti and poured a canned sauce over it. Fulton Five is a Charleston staple and an excellent choice for great atmosphere as well as an incredible dining experience.

              1 Reply
              1. re: charlestondiner

                I would beg to differ! yes, although Mercato does have some of the "standards" on the menu, the taste of the pasta itself makes up for it! not to mention the great service i've had there. the bar is second to none with a wonderful wine list. i've eaten at many other italian restaurants across the country, and this one is the tops.