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Jul 30, 2009 09:44 AM

Places not to be missed in a visit to NC, SC, GA

That about says it all. First time visiting. Aside from BBQ, what else are these areas known for? And where can I get the best of them (whether its a trailer on the side of the road or a 5 star).

I imagine seafood is one of them, but I'll let the locals weigh in on this.


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  1. Where are you going to be in each? This is a fairly sizable swath of ground.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Naco

      I'll be travelling all 3 states over a week. Starting from Charlotte, NC, then making a loop that will go SE towards Charleston, then continue down the coast til Savannah, GA and then back up towards Charlotte passing through as far west as Augusta.

      1. re: remdog99

        So Charleston's most well known dish is shrimp and usually involves pan gravy, bacon and sometimes bell pepper/shallots/etc

        I strongly recommend
        hominy grill
        poogans porch
        (all in the historic district)

        on the way to Charleston from the north I would highly recommend visiting the shrimping village of mcclellanville visit the crab pot off of highway 17...also south of mcclellanville is a restaurant called sewee grill....that also a great taste of lowcountry seafood.

        if you happen to in charleston on a saturday morning check out the farmers market...john island's tomatoes are out of this world...

        hope you enjoy your trip

        1. re: remdog99

          Are you taking 77 straight to Charleston from Charlotte, or heading east first. A couple rec's in charlotte are Mac's Speedshop for smoked meats, southern sides and great beer selection and Cantina (some number, like 1567) for nuevo latino cuisine and fantastic tequila/Mezcal offerings. There are many other good restaurants which have been posted in Charlotte threads if you're looking for white tablecloth options.

          In Charleston, I love Fig, Peninsula grill, McCrady's for dinner. I have been less wowed by Hominy Grill, SNOB, and Magnolia's. Brunch/lunch at Poogans Porch and Gullah Cuisine (just north of charleston, but worh the visit). Outside of Charleston there is the Woodlands in Summerville for excellent formal dining, just be prepared to spend some money.

          If you're heading east in NC let me know and I'll fill you in on my home turf

      2. I'm keen to know this as well. We're doing a 10-day road trip, starting in Washington DC and driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway. We're definitely stopping in Charlottesville, Charleston and Savannah - the rest is pretty fluid!

        11 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          hmmm....the blue ridge parkway is a loooong way from Charleston and Savannah. Are you doing a loop? Maybe come down the parkway, then back up I-95? or vice versa? knowing your complete route would help get recs narrowed down. :) (just a note - there isn't much ON the parkway, but lots of places you can deviate off of it to get to)

          1. re: Scirocco

            We are starting in Washington DC (three nights) and then renting a car and driving down Skyline Drive to Charlotteville. Then meandering down the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping en route, maybe in Floyd County so we can take in some bluegrass, or Galax or Mount Airy for the vineyards. Still doing research at the moment. Then on to Asheville before heading off to Charleston. And then Savannah. We have ten days. We're then getting the overnight train to NYC.

            Oh, and I'm a Brit and have never been to this area before. So maybe I'm being overoptimistic in terms of distances. But I think it's doable.

            1. re: greedygirl

              I highly recommend Shelton Vineyards in NC (close to Mt. Airy). They make some nice wines, and their restaurant is good too.

              1. re: bbqdawg

                That's one of the places on my radar. And they happen to have a concert on the night we'd be there (19th September).

              2. re: greedygirl

                Aunt Bea's BBQ in Mount Airy does really excellent Lexington style barbecue. You should try it if you're going to be in town.

            2. re: greedygirl

              Greedygirl, Charlottesville followed by a meandering stroll to Blowing Rock, NC....many fine dining options...then on to Asheville. Then head straight down to Charleston with some of the finest food the South has to offer.

              1. re: Windsor

                We've actually decided to go to Staunton, VA rather than Charlottesville. I want to see how Americans do Shakespeare!

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Don't know if you've seen the documentary Food Inc., but the organic farmer they interviewed is located in Staunton VA. Polyfacefarms. He has a shop on premise where he sells his grass fed beef, pork and free-range chickens, etc. I am headed that way this week and would love to visit.


                2. re: Windsor

                  I recommend staying a night at Peaks of Otter Lodge (about 86 miles from Staunton on the Parkway) and then at the Mount Pisgah Lodge (in the mountains on the Parkway near to Asheville)
                  Have fun

                  1. re: sendumdown

                    I also highly recommend the Pisgah Inn on the parkway. One of our fav places to stay. Food is good, not great, but the location is killer.


                3. re: greedygirl

                  Not to be missed:

                  (real cider)





                  (apple butter


                  These are all places to visit as much to enjoy the wares.

                  If you make it to Savannah, the Pirate House is an institution. I'm not saying it is cutting edge, most institutions are not, but it is still there.

                4. Snappy Lunch in Mt. Airy NC (next to Floyd's Barber Shop) for their famous pork chop sandwich.
                  Sweatman's (BBQ) in Holly Hill, SC (on way to/from Charleston)--unique--only weekends.
                  Mrs. Wilke's in Savannah--family dining--line down the sidewalk confirms popularity.
                  Many great places in Charleston--I'll let the locals and experts brief you further :-)
                  Boiled peanuts are one regional specialty down there.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: KyMikey

                    Man, my drive is filling up fast with stops along the way for good food! keep em coming folks! I've narrowed my path down a bit now, so its gonna be:
                    Charlotte-Savannah-Hilton Head-Charleston-Myrtle Beach-Columbia-Charlotte over 8 days. ANy more recommendations of food not to be missed--and heck, throw in some local sites not to be missed (preferably not too touristy) too!

                    1. re: remdog99

                      >throw in some local sites not to be missed (preferably not too touristy) too!

                      Since you'll be riding by you should take a little (1/2 mile) side trip out to Pawleys Island. Go in on the south causeway come out on the north causeway. Settled in the 1700s. Quaint and rustic.


                      1. re: remdog99

                        Hilton Head? I live here and recommend Riviera Oaks on New Orleans Road. Amazing interior, good bar and excellent food. Also, Il Carpaccio in Pineland Station for thin crust, wood fired pizza.

                        I drive two hours and stay overnight just to have dinner at McCrady's in Charleston.

                        1. re: remdog99

                          It would be a shame to go to Hilton Head and not visit the Sea Shack, an island institution. Lots of fried local shrimp, fish, etc. and hushpuppies and sweet potato cornbread.

                          Another interesting food find in HHI is Flamingo House of Doughnuts. They make custom made to order doughnuts that are delicious. It's located near the Harris Teeter at the entrance to Sea Pines.

                      2. Currently one of the best restaurants in the US is the Town House Grill in Chilhowie, Va. It is just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the far southwest corner of Virginia. If you can make it there you really should.


                        1. I'm gonna give you the lowdown on places that LOCALS love, and that we who tour down in Charleston and Savannah so much that we now feel like locals, love as well. These are places that the guidebooks won't necessarily hit up, and if they do, it's because locals hold it in such high esteem that the books had no choice but to list them. I just came back from a week vacationing down in Charleston and Savannah mainly for the culinary experience, and from our dozen or so visits to that area, here's my A-list:

                          Charleston area:
                          1) Tomato Shed Cafe - attached to a farmer's market, this is a real locals' place serving the best simple Southern cuisine with fresh veggies straight from the market. Best crabcake I've had in my life - chock full of crab with little "filler". Tomato pie as a veggie side to die for. Excellent pink crowder peas, limas, collards, etc.


                          2) Hominy Grill - the guy won "Best Chef in the Southeast" this past year despite having "simple" cuisine for a reason. It's my favorite casual restaurant in Charleston. He uses local ingredients, and all the seafood is local too (and usually on the sustainable list from the SC Aquarium guidance). I like the triggerfish and grouper preparations. He also does a shrimp boil that is killer. Southern sides are also wonderful - some of the best collards I've had. Knockout squash casserole. Save room for the chocolate pudding or buttermilk pie.


                          3) The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene - my favorite casual fried seafood place in the country, and this comes from having spent 15+ years along the Florida Gulf Coast (where the fried seafood platter was arguably born). It's a hole-in-the-wall off the main touristy drag, but the idyllic nature of the setting cannot be beat.


                          4) The "five-star" places - Charleston is one of the best foodie cities in the country in my opinion (close behind SF, NYC, Chicago, Vegas, and New Orleans). Our favorites of the "upscale" genre are Trattoria Lucca (some of the best Italian food I've ever had), FIG (Lowcountry-style cuisine done using fresh, local ingredients). You'll also find solid arguments for Charleston Grill, Peninsula Grill, Circa 1886, Tristan, Cypress, Blossom, Carolina's, La Fourchette, and SNOB. Google them and see what suits your tastes and interests on any given day.

                          5) Dave's Carryout - if you want a quick place to get a fried shrimp platter near downtown Charleston, this place stays open 'til about 3 or 4 a.m. It's simple but righteous. It's amazing how such a random unassuming place does shrimp better than I could get in a million years here in inland North Carolina.

                          42 Morris St., Charleston, SC

                          Between Charleston and Savannah:

                          Sgt. White's Diner, Beaufort, NC - this place is crazy good, and the guy has massive props. for Southern food and sides. He's getting up there in age and has been trying to sell, but the smile on his face is grander than ever. Definitely try to catch this place before it's no more.

                          1908 Boundary St., Beaufort, SC

                          Savannah -
                          1) Wilkes Boarding House - I was vacationing in Charleston this past week, but drove to Savannah JUST to have lunch here. It's totally worth it. Best grandma's cooking-style Southern food I've had IN MY LIFE (except that one time at a S. Georgia family's grandma Thanksgiving dinner about 15 years ago). Only open from 11-2 on weekdays, and be prepared to stand in line for about an hour. But once you're seated, you're at a table seating 6-10 people, family style, with about 20-25 bowls of food already laid out in front of you. They don't cut corners. Each dish is at worst good and at best ethereal. and most are ethereal.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mikeh

                            These are fantastic tips, thank you. It turns out we are staying on the same street as Mrs Wilkes, so this is a must, I think.

                            As luck would have it, we'll be in Savannah during the jazz festival and there are jamming sessions on the Friday and Saturday night at a place called Blowin' Smoke. Anyone know if it's any good for BBQ there, because if so we'll definitely be going for the jazz. :-)