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24 hours in Charleston, S.C.

  • ElSapo Oct 16, 2007 05:45 AM
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I'll be in Charleston, S.C., for about 24 hours - enough time for a few meals, some drinks, and so on. Because of limited time, and because my girlfriend has never seen the city, I don't think we'll be leaving the Downtown/Historic District.

We're not necessarily looking for southern food/soul food specifically. Just some good food. I've read through older threads and saw the NYT's "36 hours in..."

A few questions:

Coast v. Slightly North of Broad? Better meal?

Tropical Toast at Diana's - is this a chain? Is it worth eating here?

Plenty of bars in Charleston, of course. We'll be there on a Friday night - suggestions on a solid place that may not be too crowded?

Many years ago I remember a cafe in Charleston that was dark and relaxed and extremely narrow - shoebox shaped, almost. Any ideas where this was and if it's still around?

After Charleston we're heading to Myrtle Beach - if anyone has thoughts on good cooking or good seafood in the Surfside/Garden City/Myrtle Beach area, I'd love to know.

Thanks...

- Robert

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  1. Coast v. SNOB- Apples/Oranges.. Both very good. Both located near other good restaurants. Coast is close to some very good bars though.

    Dianas is not bad. Have not been there in a long time though.

    Bars close to Coast: AC's, Chai's, Raval, Coast, Rue de Jean.

    Dark, narrow, shoebox could be lots of places but sounds like G&M (Fast & French).

    1. Cru Cafe is excellent (smaller and more intimate) and right off the main drag and you can sit on the porch. SNOB is good, although the service can be spotty. Basil is awesome for Thai. I also recommend FIG. And, if you get a chance, check out O' Hara and Flynn Wine shop on East Bay for happy hour wine-drinking.

      1. My favorites in Charleston: Rue de Jean, FIG and Hank's for seafood. It's hard to find a better b'fast than Josephs and great lunch too. Also love Fast and French on Broad which is about as narrow as it gets. Try the Chinese chicken salad at Cru Cafe. Haven't been to Coast but SNOB is too touristy for me as is High Cotton, Blossom, 84 Queen etc. For seafood in MB the Sea Capt. House is your best choice. The best area for seafood is Muriells Inlet, Lee's Inlet Kitchen or Oliver's Lodge have stood the test of time. Nance's is usually pretty good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Doodad

          I'm bumping this thread for my own selfish reasons :) I, too, will have the same kind of itinierary (24 hours) around December 27th. I'm a Philly hound who is blessed to live in a city of excellent, cheap eats. Can someone comment as to the prices of the places mentioned above? I'm specifically looking for a dinner spot where the entrees top out at $20. I think Basil may fit the bill. I don't require fancy, or overtly Colonial decor. I'm open to all cuisines. Thank you.

          1. re: croutonpiggy

            Never had anything better than the Pad Thai and chicken coconut soup at Basil. Lovely food, and amazing to watch it being made.

        2. I would definitely choose SNOB over coast. Coast is decent just not that good in my opinion. Can be a fun bar though. I like the bar atmosphere by coast better but they are only 10 minutes at most apart. I like the bars that charlestonchow suggested but AC's is much different than the rest, what kind of place are you looking for?

          in reponse to croutonpiggy yes basil would fit the bill for a place under 20 and the food is great. Coast I believe is also similar in mid teens but I can't comment on SNOB but I think it is about the same possibly a tad more? Good Luck. By the way at all 3 there is almost definitely something over 20 but for the most part they fit the bill.

          1. I second Joesph's for breakfast.

            Robert -- If money's no object, Grill 225 is great for steak. The same hotel also has a good rooftop bar (Pavillion Bar). Both are at the corner of East Bay and Market. I haven't been to, but have heard good things about FIG and Hank's (a favorite of my family, who lives in Charleston).

            Crouton -- Fleet's Landing is a good, affordable lunch (with nice water views). They have a bar, too. If you don't mind tapas, Meritage has much to offer including a decent wine list. If you have a rental car, you might want to cross the bridge and go to Mt. Pleasant, where things are a little more budget friendly. The Wreck is a dive with good seafood. Boulevard Diner does the Southern/comfort food thing well. It just depends on what you want, I guess.

            1. Thanks for all the replies. The trip turned out really well, with lots of good and some great food.

              We wound up eating at SNOB, Magnolia, Jim 'n Nick's BBQ, City Lights Coffee and Social.

              SNOB - Probably the best meal we had there. We went for a late dinner - the filet was cooked perfectly, the shrimp and grits was lighter than you'd expect (especially seeming close to a gumbo, with sausage and ham added), and the strawberry shortcake was really interesting with a cornmeal cake for a different texture. Also good - crab cakes and the oyseter stew.

              Magnolia - Went for lunch so it was certainly more casual, but a pretty good meal also. The house-made potato chips were completely overwhelmed by blue cheese, but this was the only dish we had that truly missed the mark. The shellfish and grits was completely different than SNOB's - much more rich and creamy, so it was interesting to see that difference. SNOB's was really lighter and cripser than I'd thought it would be, Magnolia was much heavier and decadent. Parm-crusted flounder was excellent, but the apple cinnamon cake for dessert may have been a little too sweet.

              City Lights Coffee - We stopped in for coffee and found the place inviting and friendly, and owner is an ex-resident of Carrboro, N.C. (where we just moved). Nice, friendy, casual cafe.

              Jim 'n Nick's BBQ - a regional chain, yes, but not bad. The grilled catfish sandwich had some great flavor and the brisket and pulled pork were pretty good.

              Social - People warned that this wine bar was relatively mediocre, and I think that's accurate. The bartender was very helpfup, perhaps too helpful, and he warned that the wine list tilted away from California-style high-alcohol wines and more towards old world construction. That's fine, though I do like Zins. The Cab-Merlot flight was a little under-whelming. We also ordered the truffled risotto balls, which were fried perfectly but had little flavor other than the deep-fried goodness. Ah well. Nice location and atmosphere. I'd give it another shot.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ElSapo

                Is City Lights the tiny little place near the touristy area? Amazing espresso, just amazing, and such a lovely guy running the place, the owner I guess. Just a swell person. Great experience.

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  Charleston's "touristy area" is pretty big, but that does sound like the place.