Vegetarian in Charleston, SC
I lived in Charleston for 5 years, (I've been gone about a year and a half) and my boyfriend was a vegetarian. One of our favorite places downtown is 5 Loaves cafe (cannon st. location may be a bit of a hike, but there's also one inside of Millenium Music on the corner of King and Calhoun Sts. Get the soup trio and half a sandwich for an amazing lunch that will fill you up but won't leave you feeling sluggish. If you do have a car or transportation, go to Mustard Seed on Maybank Highway or in Mt. Pleasant. Owned by the same folks as 5 loaves and just as delicious.
If the vegetarians eat seafood, you're in luck. A new-ish place that's affordable, delicious and on the water is Fleet's Landing. The only waterfront restaurant in downtown (besides the Marina Variety Store, which is a long walk from the main downtown area).
For an ethnic twist, avoid the prices and crowds at Basil and go to Little Thai Too on King street. HUGE menu with a variety of vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes.
If you go to a southern cookin' place like Jestine's, Hominy Grill or SNOB, they do have veggie plates, but do be sure to ask if they are vegetarian or cooked in fatback/meat, etc.
One more great place to go for variety is Meritage, which is a Tapas restaurant/bar. Local art & music located just north of Market Street on East Bay.
When I first came south, I had a conversation about vegetables with a local cook. I told her I noticed that every vegetable seemed mostly brown, regardless of original color. Darling, she says, I'm a vegetarian. Here In the south, we pride ourselves on good home cooking. Always, she admonished, start your vegetables with a ham hock ....and then cook them for at least an hour to get the flavor.
Moral of the story? Ask with whom your veggies have co-habited!
Just got back from a four-day trip to Charleston that included some great food experiences and some disappointments. I'll try to write up my experiences shortly. For now, I'll take a stab at this question.
Cru Cafe on Pinckney Street (east of Anson) would be a good option. The prices are reasonable and the food is amazing. This cafe sources quality ingredients and prepares then in a way that shows a real respect for the ingredients. My husband and I each began our lunch with a cup of Cream of Zucchini soup. The taste of the vegetable really shone through. I knew I was eating Cream of Zucchini soup instead of something creamy with a green tinge to it. Quite simply the best Cream of any vegetable soup I've tasted. (Since I'm not a vegetarian I can't say whether the soup stock was vegetable or chicken stock.) Still, if you look at the lunch and dinner menus posted their web site, you'll see that they offer salads, small plates, sandwiches, and entrees that are appealing possibilities, as long as you're vegetarian rather than vegan. Lunch seems to offer more options than does dinner. However, I recommend you email the chef and alert him to your upcoming visit. We chatted with the chef and found him to be passionate about his cuisine and about pleasing his customers. I was so struck by his enthusiasm that I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he were to tailor a daily special that would appeal to your group as long as he knows the day you'll be dining there.
Here's the URL www.crucafe.com (The menus are a link from the Restaurant page.)