I'll be in Charleston for a weekend (Jan 5-6), and I need some good recs from fellow 'hounds. I'm flying in and staying downtown, so I will be on foot. I'm staying at the Fulton Lane Inn on King. I looking for a couple of inexpensive places and a couple of more expensive places (nothing outrageous), focusing on seafood and regional cuisine. I'm with a couple of guys, so I'm looking for a fun atmosphere over a romantic one. I'd also appreciate any recs for bars/clubs for a couple of young single guys. Thanks.
I just came home from a great Charleston trip a few weeks ago. I had a great meal at FIG, that's my number one rec. right now, it's all about regional cusine. Sermet's Corner is a great casual, less expensive place. Both of those should be convenient for you. Hank's is always an upbeat atmosphere. Although not fantastic/creative, the food has always been solid for me there, except for the traditional fried items which I found disappointing. One other spot I have enjoyed in the past is Il Cortile de Re. It was my choice for Italian until I discovered Al Di La, but since you must walk you can't do Al di La.
Inexpensive and downtown don't go together. I would put Josephs as the only pick for breakfast (cheap and great!). Any of the ones on East Bay are winners. Magnolias, Cypress (Chef Craig is a personal friend) and Blossom get top marks. Hanks has a terrific Raw Bar, and is probably the best place for the fried platter. Fig is a culinary surprise, with chef Mike Latta, using the best in local seafood. SNOB is also one that should not be missed. Tsunami's for Sushi, Garabaldi's on Market for Crispy flounder. The fish is scored to the bone and the crispy outside keeps the tender meat moist and is glazed with an apricot shallot sauce. Attempt by others to duplicate it have enhanced its legendary status.
I love the crispy flounder. I don't think Garibaldi's gets nearly the accolades it deserves. Something about it's location and long-standing popularity with tourists, plus the very boring regular menu ....i think these things are off-putting to foodies. But if you order off the "specials" board...well, I have never had anything but an excelent experience at Garibaldi's.
Funny how we so completely disagree on the fried things at Hanks. Also, I have not been to Blossom since around 2000, but I really hated it and because of that have avoided Magnolia and Cypress because of the common ownership. Perhaps I've been hasty, but Charleston has SO many things to try!
Sermet is pretty cheap, isn't it?
BTW, Cru Cafe was good for lunch...I can't remember the prices. It might be a little girly/romantic, but it's hard to avoid goregeous/romantic settings in Charleston ;-)
If you look for my post with something about burning calories after Kiawah Half, you'll find my recent reviews.
For the being with the crowd places definately - Basil, Chai - (upper King area) but not too crazy of a walk. Raval or Torch for night too in the same area. This area is the "hipper" part of the area - not so traditional southern - seafood I would try Hank's (stay away from the tourist traps!) Good southern try Jestine's for lunch
To be flat out honest with you I would get in your car and drive across the bridge to Mt Pleasant where you will find The Wreck, (http://www.wreckrc.com/menu.html). It's a little hard to find but it's the best seafood I've ever had in Charleston. It's a basic dive and you circle what you want on the menu and give it to your server however, you arent paying some over pretentious chef's salary. Just good simple fresh seafood. Although it's a little touristy I'd also try Sticky Fingers BBQ downtown on Meeting Street, the ribs fall of the bone and their chicken wings are out of this world. Good luck and I hope you enjoy Charleston. It's a beautiful city.
I forgot something. If you'd like to go to a true locals bar try Uncle John's. I believe it's on East Bay. Don't be intimidated by the bras hanging from the ceiling. This is a great dive bar and the prices are not as crazy as some of the clubs down in the market area.