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Jun 13, 2007 03:31 PM

Charleston - rec for casual dinner near the Market

We'll be making reservations at higher end places for most of our nights in town but could do with a rec. for somewhere casual that we'd be able to get a table mid-evening without too long a wait for the day we arrive.

Any cuisine considered. On the Market - or just off.



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  1. With some trepidation I mention Sticky Fingers -- a short walk from the Market -- only because as a Brit on a Trip, the OP may enjoy ribs or brisket over Thai etc. It's not the ultimate, but will be very American, and different from the higher end places you have planned for the rest of the visit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: birgator

      I think trepidation is correct; due to choices beyond my control I have eaten (notice I do not day "dined") at Sticky Fingers several times over the last 2 years and it has never risen beyond mediocre. However I have never had much of a wait there. Jestine's is just up the street but will likely have a wait and is better than medocre but only marginally so. However since I am not local I don't know anyother places in the area that might meet your criteria that I have dined at - I don't beleive in suggesting places I don't have personal knowledge of.

      1. re: birgator

        I would not recommend Sticky Fingers at all...
        This thread had some great suggestions for more casual dining in Charleston:

        Is Meritage really any good? I've had drinks there, and it had more of a bar/pick-up scene vibe. And even for drinks - I had a bad experience across the board. My red wine was served very warm. Plus, the whole place had a terrible bleach smell. And the palmetto bugs (ie flying roaches) were out in full effect in the outdoor seating area - I don't think they kept it very clean (note: you need more than bleach!) so it was attracting a lot of bugs. I know they are common, but I've never seen them that bad anywhere else in Chas.

        Maybe if they closed for a while they are hopefully under new management?

        Jestine's is a decent choice if you can get in without waiting. I'm not sure it lives up to all the hype though.

      2. Meritage is a fun tapas place just off the market on Bay Street. I always find it to be a nice break from the upscale places (though I do enjoy those, too) and there is something for everyone. I would suggest the fried green tomato stack, the white bean and hearts of palm salad (for lack of better term), and the filet mignon with crab and bleu cheese.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jlwnc

          I second the Meritage recommendation - Lobster mashed potatos served in a martini glass, peanut crusted ribs, dip trio, and spring rolls are all good choices too. It's an easy walk, there's local art on the walls and local music some nights and there's an outdoor eating area, which is not all that common in Charleston.

        2. Sermet's Corner is nice and casual, good , relaxed service, really good bread to start, a great grilled calamari app. I've never waited there. It's on the corner of King and.....???'s north a few blocks of Market street...but still very close.

          2 Replies
          1. re: danna

            Sermet's is at King and Wentworth. Great food, extremely hard seats.

            Just up the block on King Street is Jim n Nick's BBQ, and a block south almost on the corner of Market is Old Towne (very good Greek).

            Cru Cafe, just off the Market on Pickney Street, is an excellent choice. Their duck confit salad creates cravings. It would probably be the hardest to get into.

            1. re: danna

              I'm pretty sure Sermet's Corner is on the corner of King and Wentworth. I've never been there, but I know lots of folks who would second the recommendation.

            2. I agree with the Sermet's Corner and Cru Cafe recommendations. I would stay away from Sticky Fingers, mediocre at best, and Meritage, they were closed for awile and just reopened in the last month and may not have worked the kinks out yet.

              2 Replies
              1. re: lizzy

                Cru Cafe for desert is a good option too, or the Coca Cola cake at Jestine's (truly a souther thing and maybe an acquired taste.) Didn't know Meritage had been closed, good point though. I just think it such a fun place, too.

                1. re: jlwnc

                  I also had no idea Meritage had closed for a while - I've been out of Charleston too long I guess...I hope they get back on their feet, it was SUCH a fun place!

              2. SOCIAL Wine Bar is an exceptional new surprise! I was in a similar quest two weeks ago in Charleston...looking for a casual, good but more of a "drop-in" place. SOCIAL ended up being a highlight of my trip.

                It is located at 188 Easy Bay, next to SNOB, a block off Market. We walked in at 8:00pm on a Thursday evening during Spoletto. We were seated immediately. The dining room was filling up but tables are perfectly placed so you do not feel as if you are sitting on top of other people.

                SOCIAL features everything from innovative pastas to accomplished Asian fusion to brick oven pizzas. I expected casual OK and was truly stunned. The interior is very metro with a nod to exposed historical. We started with Thai shrimp spring rolls (ultra light and perfect flavor balance) and tempura shrimp (large shrimp, flash fried and kissed with black sesame seeds). My husband loved the lobster ravioli (champagne cream sauce, asparagus, roma tomatoes...$18). I thoroughly enjoyed the sesame seared tuna cake on crisp noodle cake ($19). Both entrees were spot-on with flavor profiles, fresh ingredients and a subtle flair. These entrees also represent the high-end of the menu. Pizzas range from $7-$13. Entrees $14-$20. Awesome fresh bread was the perfect carb treat. The open kitchen allowed for us to peer at some of their brick oven pizzas, too. Not surprising, they looked great.

                Though I am not into wine, SOCIAL certainly is. They have an intuitive list and a massive "by the glass" selection.

                I do not like surprises and trying an unreviewed restaurant is VERY out of the norm for me. SOCIAL renewed my faith in good surprises!


                3 Replies
                1. re: powderhound

                  Personally I am not a fan of SNOB. I found the food to be average, but the view there is great! We live here and my two favorite places in the market area are Wild Wings (good cheap, casual place) or Cru Cafe. Cru is actually in an old house and you can see into the kitchen. My neighbor actually makes the cakes for Cru Cafe and they are to die for. She just made us one that tastes just like an orange creamsicle!

                  1. re: peebs

                    Please tell your neighbor kudos on the cakes. They are teriffic, especially the dreamsicle cake. I crave that cake. If she ever shares that recipe with you please post it, I would love to have that recipe. Does she make cakes for anywhere else? Does she own a bakery or does she do this out of her home? How did she get started? I would love to know the details.

                    1. re: lizzy

                      Sticky Fingers isn't horrible, I can attest that Meritage is solid...