We are spending four nights in Charleston in mid October. The concierge at our hotel has recommended Sienna, Cru Cafe, and 39 Rue de Jean for dinner on three of the nights. We would like something very, very casual the fourth night, as we have evening plans and will be eating fairly early. I'm talking burger, soup, salad, or sandwich type places.
Also, are the three recommendations good? Is there any really good ethnic food--the concierge said Charleston was the wrong city for ethnic. Thanks for any help.
I'd recommend skipping 39 Rue de Jean. Follow this link to read a previous post I wrote about a bad service experience there:
Charleston has some ethnic food finds, but not so much downtown. La Nortena is a great taqueria in North Charleston, and Pho Bac is a good Vietnamese noodle house in Mt. Pleasant. On the peninsula, you might try Cha's for Asian fusion. Though a bit upscale, you can have a lighter dinner there as it is a tapas-style restaurant. Next door is sister restaurant Basil, a Thai place that many people swear by.
We live in Charleston and are serious foodies. All 3 of those are good restaurants, but with so many good places downtown there's no need to go to Daniel Island to Sienna, unless you have a reason. Try SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) on East Bay, Lana or Hominy Grill (both at Cannon & Rutledge), or go to Mt. Pleasant to the lovely Old Village Post House.
If it's Italian you wanted, try Il Cortile on King St.
Rue de Jean is good, but noisy. Ask for a table outside if you want to hear each other (they have heaters if it's cool). Order the mussels pistou. They also have excellent pommes frites (and good burgers)and the nightly specials are great, usually something braised and savory. Rue is very stylish and young, so good people watching.
5 Loaves is a good casual place with lots of Soup/Salad choices. Cru Cafe is a good place for lunch as well as dinner and caters mostly to locals. Nice eclectic menu.
Best burgers downtown are probably at Moe's Tavern, a smoky little neighborhood bar on Rutledge.
As for ethnic: Basil is good Thai, but, again, noisy. Very fun place though with excellent food. Santi's is really good Mexican (also cheap and quick). Otherwise, ethnic downtown is tricky.
Enjoy your visit. Charleston is a beautiful place and a great food town.
I def agree that SNOB is a great meal in Charleston, but if you are looking for something very unique and very casual ask your concierge to give you driving directions to a very charming restaurant in Mt. Pleasant called "the Wreck". It is a sort of "no shirt, no shoes, no problem." the guys cooking are delighful people and the family that owns it couldnt be nicer. It has such a wonderful southern charm. you will feel like you are in the middle of a scene from "Forrest Gump"
For casual, I like Jestine's Kitchen. It's low priced, and I thought the food was very good. This is a grits, greens, sweet tea type of place though. I'm not sure if that's what you are looking for.
Also, I liked 82 Queen. I don't remember it being inexpensive, but I did have the absolute best she-crab soup I have ever had and excellent fried green tomatoes.
Totally agree - not worth the drive to Sienna. Also totally agree with Nachomama - we take all visitors to Slightly North of Broad, just went to Lana - great, think the Village Post House is better for lunch or casual dining outside. Jestine's Kitchen is totally overrated overcooked food - skip it!