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Best Food with Views in Charleston?

I'm a single Connecticut foodie who has recently moved to Johns Island. I'm looking forward to experiencing many of the great restaurants that Charleston has to offer. So far I've been to SNOB, Fat Hen & Social, all of which I've liked. I have many single friends coming over the next few weeks. Which restaurants are must go-to for both the scene and great food, where we could perhaps eat at the bar/community table and chat with the locals? Also, my visitors all want a chance to see the amazing marsh and water views, yet still have good food. (I've been to Charleston Crab house on James Island twice now, which has great views but just okay food IMHO.) Where would you recommend?

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. You can have good food, or you can have a good view. Very rarely do you find both. I'd recommend drinks at one of the many rooftop bars in Charleston, then head somewhere else for great food.

    One of the few places I can think of that might have both is the Wreck in Mt. Pleasant. Not a bar/clubby atmosphere at all - it's a super casual place - but you can sit outside and have a before-dinner beer or glass of wine, watch the sunset on Shem Creek, and then head inside for some really good seafood.

    1. For breakfast or lunch, go to the Marina Variety Store Restaurant at the City Marina on Lockwood Blvd. Not only is it one of the best breakfasts in town (and an excellent lunch) it is right on the Ashley River -- we have seen otters, dolphins, bald eagles (along with all the more common beautiful low country bird life) while eating. Food has a definite low country flair. Dinner is not their strong suit.

      Mimi's, on Harborview Road on James Island, also is pretty good food with a beautiful marsh view.

      The various Shem Creek restaurants in Mt. Pleasant have a great view (the dolphins know where to get an easy meal), but none of the food is really noteworthy.

      Bowen's Island is worth it for the view, experience and the food (there is lots on here about it). Head down Folly Road towards the beach and if you hit the Folly River you have gone too far.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DavidA

        Mimi's food is god-awful, they can't even fry anything correctly. Go for a drink or breakfast, otherwise avoid. The view is very nice though.

        1. re: mle17

          I haven't been to Mimi's in a while... and it was for breakfast. So, I will stick by the good view and not defend the food!

      2. Fleet Landing downtown has a pretty good view of the harbor- California Dreaming ( a chain) also has a good view of the Ashley River. Food at both is okay- nothing special.

        4 Replies
        1. re: rayddd

          I'm sorry but the food at California Dreaming is downright awful...On the other hand, I find Fleet Landing to be at the very least decent. It has a wonderful view of the Cooper River, the bridge and Patriot's Point. Plus if it is nice enough you can sit outside.

          I will second Bowen's Island, it serves no frills fried seafood. It's a great place to have some food, grab a beer, sit on the dock, put up your feet and watch the sunset.

          The Wreck in Mt. Pleasant is another fried seafood place with good food and views. It's on Shem Creek.

          I will also second the Marina Variety Store, but I have only been for breakfast.

          There is The Boathouse at Breach Inlet, located in IOP. I've never been, but I have heard good things, and I know they are supposed to have great views from their upper deck.

          If you are looking for community tables and locals, I can think of three places all of which are located in the historic district. Hank's serves upscale seafood, Cru Cafe is excellent comfort food with a twist and Fast & French casual food and the entire place is made up of many communal tables.

          1. re: lizzy

            I agree with everything lizzy said (do NOT go to California Dreaming) -- which is, of course, agreeing with myself in a bunch of cases :) Fast & French is always a pleasure.

            1. re: lizzy

              We go to Boathouse at Breechs every year during our vacation with 2-3 other couples. In 8 years it is the ONLY place we have repeated every year. The food is not cutting edge or terribly creative but the total experience is a great value. The view of the marshes and creeks are great, the drinks are good, the dinners have a choice of some good southern style side dishes (grits and collards are tasty), and the service has always been spot on.

              Don't miss a sunset cocktail at the crow's nest bar.

              1. re: lizzy

                Fleet Landing is horrible. I've given it two chances and they both sucked.

                The only place that has good food with a view is the rooftop of the Market Pavillion but it is very expensive and I think they only serve appetizers. You also aren't likely to find too many locals there.

                The most local place I can think of is Poe's on Sullivan's Island off season.

                Love Hanks.

            2. There is a hotel at the end of the market on the right hand side if you are faceing the water. It is across from a official looking government building. It has a roof top bar that is MOST AWESOME!!! I think it is a greatest view in the area. Sorry I don't know the name.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JB BANNISTER

                Which is the rooftop of the Market Pavillion.

              2. Well, it's not much for the view, but the food is absolutely fabulous! Highly highly recommended, and a teriffic local crowd. It's called Fez, it's a French-Moroccan restaurant. Teriffic food, good prices, and great atmosphere. Not a big place, so you will probably need a reservation. It's on James Island, on Maybank Highway.
                www.leclubfez.com. Ate there with girlfriends a few weeks ago. We all raved!

                1. Thanks everyone, I can't wait to try the places mentioned in the posts. As an update, this weekend we went for lunch to Fleet Landing and Water's Edge in Mt Pleasant and sat outside at both (one of our plans had been to go to Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island but it was packed to the gills). The views were great at both and the food was average (with the exception of the shrimp, sausage & grits at Fleet...my friend had never tried this dish before and loved it!). We went to Fat Hen on Saturday night and had mussels, salmon bearnaise, pork shank and pork chop special...everyone loved their meals, but unfortunately no views, so I guess I need to reluctantly accept Suzy Q's view that it's an either/or situation.