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Charleston suggestions, long weekend with the fellas

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Hey all -- coming to charleston for a wed-sun party weekend/annual reunion with group of old friends at the beginning of august. most of us are hounds/foodies, so we need a bunch of suggestions.... i know this is long, and people will likely point me to past posts, but i thought i'd see if you folks were adamant about certain places....i'm happy to post a report when all is said and done...

1) we like to do one fine dining celebration dinner on our weekends. seems by my searching that 'magnolias' is highly touted - i'm coming from chapel hill, nc, and magnolia's menu is not really exciting me. looks delish, of course, but its more of the same for me. however, we do have folks coming from california and new york that may be more excited about revved up southern fare. but do you have any suggestions for something a little more creative/out of the ordinary?

2)point me to your best french bistro -- i've been told there is one SUPERB french restaurant in charleston, but the name escapes me.

3)please tip me off to some the best local joints/shops that i can only find in charleston -- the REAL chowhound joints. ....breakfast, lunch and dinner....southern fare, any ethnic fare, etc. whether it be a cheese shop or a dumpling bar or whatever -- we eat anything and everything. i get very excited about unique items. WE WILL HAVE CARS, AND WILL TRAVEL outside of charleston. not a problem. vacation for me is about food. this particular vacation is also about my best friends -- put them together, and hey, good times

4)SNACKS
a) late night snacks - we're staying on marion square, but we'll be out and about anywhere and everywhere -- who's open late thats worth checking out? and are there any bars that also serve some exciting late night fare?

b) snacks for the hotel -- this is kind of in line with number 3, but i think we have suites with mini kitchens in them. anyway, we like to stock our rooms with food to cook and eat whenever. a couple of us like to flex our culinary muscles and entertain the crew with fun nibbles throughout the weekend. where should we go to stock the rooms, and what kind of snacks should we not miss? any fun local shops?

5) beach food - any fun stuff we should seek out along the beaches? drinks, food, etc

6) bars - we're probably going to wind up wandering around most of them....but we're all 30-ish, and i suppose among the group we like a variety of different things from relaxed to dance clubs....maybe just recommend some of your faves and why. does any bar have a special drink we shouldnt miss?

thanks so much for any help - much obliged. and i'll try my best to report back afterwards...i've heard such great things about charleston and i've never been! looking forward to my visit....

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  1. 1) Magnolias is good and occasionally very good but there are better meals to be had if you are looking for a single fine dinning experience. If you want to live it up millionaire style try Woodland's in Summerville for dinner (or lunch if you want to save $50).

    Downtown also has better options. I really like High Cotton for semi-upscale Southern food. Cordavi and FIG are both fantastic too.
    2)La Frouchet (can't spell French but close, I think) is really wonderful. I like it much better than Rue de Jean, Fast & French (G&M), or Mia's.
    3)Gullah Cuisine in Mount Pleasant is a favorite of mine. Having lived in the South my whole life this is some of the best Southern food I have had. Even my father, who thinks that a fried bologna sandwich (extra thick) is the end-all-be-all, loves this place. The Gullah rice is my personal favorite and I would call ahead to be SURE they are serving it if only going for one visit. Sunday brunch is great but no Sunday liquor license.
    4A)Dave's Seafood Supreme. A staple when I was in college, this fish shack has relocated to finer digs and now has TWO tables. Open from 11PM-4AM (or it used to be, might want to double check) it is your best bet for post drinking munchies. Get there before 1:30AM if you don't want to wait for 30-45 minutes though.
    4B)Ted's Butcher Block, Kennedy's, Saffron, and Bull Street Gourmet. I like Ted's the best for wine, prepared food, and semi-prepared food. Sue is very helpful with wine and Ted usually has something in the smoker that he isn't afraid to let you taste. The prepared foods at Kennedy's makes for a quick $$$ pick nick. Saffron has some cool pantry items and fresh bread. All three of these are within a five minute walk from each other.
    5)Bert's on Folly beach and Poe's on Sullivan's Island. These are the only two beaches you are likely to visit and I would highly recommend avoiding most other eateries in both locations.
    6)Chai's, Coast, A.C.'s, and Raval are all within stumbling distance of each other and at least one of them will be your kind of bar (hopefully). Moe's Crosstown Tavern is one of the best bars ever but it is past the Crosstown and therefore a drive.

    Hope you enjoy our fair city!

    1 Reply
    1. re: CharlestonChow

      I moved from Charleston to Chapel Hill (16 years) back to Charleston. You have received some great suggestions already (though you have a Fast and French in Cary unless it's gone). The above post reply is so good that it includes places I haven't heard of and have now added to my list of places to go, a list that includes McCrady's, which I hear is great. If you get the chance, sign up for a cooking class at Charleston Cooks. They can accommodate 25 people. Check them out online. We had great fun doing this.

      If you're willing to travel try the Crab Pot up 17 close to McClellanville, which is a nice day trip especially if you add in a trip to Bulls Island via the ferry (can check this out online as well).

      Places we like: Carolinas, Fleet Landing, Atlanticville (Sullivan's Island), A Di La (Spelling?), Grill 225 (for steak). Cordavi used to be Vintage which was our all time favorite; we don't like Cordavi as much. It is too formal formal for us. FIG is good, but I have only been there once. There is a tapas place on Folly Beach, on the main corner, that I think you would enjoy, though the heat can be a factor here. I can't remember the name but it's easy to spot. They sell wine and I think some gourmet food items and cigars.

      The bars aren't all that great, but you can get in a nice little ocean-view pub crawl on Isle of Palms in their somewhat-of-a-board-walk area then a short drive for your designated driver to hit a few of the places on Sullivan's Island stopping at the Boat House on Isle of Palms on your way. Actually, drinks at sunset at the Boat House is one of our favorite things to do, mostly for the location especially if the dolphins are playful.

      I hope you have fun in my town, it is both home and my favorite place in the world.

    2. drive for an 45 minutes to bud sweatman's bbq in holly hill. open only friday and saturday, check summer hours may be closed fro july or august. but well worth the drive .....

      1 Reply
      1. re: sadie1

        We just got back from Charleston this evening, after a week out on Sullivan's Island. We generally make it to Charleston about twice a year and would go more than that, if we could. Anyway, our favorite "special occasion" restaurant is the Peninsula Grill. It has become our traditional anniversary spot. I had their boneless "Berkshire" porkchop this time and it was incredible. Their coconut cake alone is worth the trip! Other upscale places we've enjoyed inlcude: Magnolia's, S.N.O.B., Anson, the Old Village Post House (Mt. Pleasant)

        I wanted to try La Fourchette, but ran out of nights to eat out before we got to it. I have read nothing but positive reviews and if it's better than 39 Rue de Jean, then it's very good.

        In Mt. Pleasant, we love the Boulevard Diner. It's housed in a renovated Dairy Queen, but the food is very good. Your Place, also in Mt. Pleasant, has what might arguably be one of the best burgers in the area. The burgers are thick and juicy and the onion rings are hot and crispy.

        On Sulilvan's Island, you have to stop by Poe's Tavern. I love their burgers and their fries, plus the whole laid-back, beachy scene there.

        Oh, and I can't believe I almost left out the Hominy Grill! They have my favorite breakfast in Charleston, although I've been reading good things about the Bookstore Cafe. Hmm...so many restaurants and only three meals per day!