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List of things to eat/food experiences to have in South Carolina

I am trying to compile a list of dishes or places to eat at and food experiences to have in South Carolina. I want to include everything from the cheap (food truck/pastry/etc) to the $100 chef tasting. I am not just interested in restaurant meals, but I am also interested in any kind of experience that involves food in any way...underground restaurants, festivals. Starting in August and over the next year, I will start tasting and writing about these South Carolina dishes and experiences.

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  1. Wow! Tall order. You'll get lots of various opinions here.

    Dishs: shrimp and grits (try it everywhere-it's always different),
    Frogmore Stew, aka Lowcountry Boil, aka Beaufort Stew
    Country Captain,
    Purloo
    Hobotee (if you can find it)
    Oyster roast on Sullivans during the winter months

    There many restaurants in Charleston. You may want to look through and see what looks good to you. I recommend Bowen's, Seewee, SNOB, Carolina's, FIG, Hank's, Aluette's, any of Sal's places, Gullah Cuisine for starters. I like lots of others too but now I am hungry and have to go fix supper.

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    Seewee Restaurant
    4804 N Highway 17, Awendaw, SC 29429

    10 Replies
    1. re: Sue in Mt P

      I wish I knew a restaurant that served hobotee--any recs, Sue? For that matter, where to find purloo outside of red rice and hoppin' john? It seems like most places I've visited that claim to serve purloo, like Hominy Grill and Glass Onion, are actually serving faux-purloo where all the ingredients are cooked separately from the rice and then served on top of it.

      The Low Country has an absolutely amazing collection of historic cookbooks that document the region's foodways for the last two centuries. My biggest gripe about our otherwise great restaurant scene is how few of these wonderful old recipes ever see the light of day.

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      Hominy Grill
      207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

      Glass Onion
      1219 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407

      1. re: Low Country Jon

        Jon, I SO agree. Gullah Cuisine has a dish called Gullah rice that's purloo-ish and really good.

        Sorry, the only hobotee I ever had I made. I'm not sure it would appeal to the sophisticated masses. I could be wrong. They are scarfing up shrimp and grits.

        I love all those old cookbooks.

        1. re: Low Country Jon

          We've not found good purloo either. At home, we make the Caribbean version (rice dish) called pelau. In South Carolina you call it purloo, in Louisiana you call it jamablaya, in Trinidad you call it pelau. Different ingredients, but the same basic premis.

          1. re: JayL

            I have never seen the word "purloo". Is that an old time reference to perleau, pilau and perloe which is all I have seen in SC. I checked all of my local cook books (church, garden clubs etc) as well as the SC Cookbook.

              1. re: NCHS Traveling Lunch Bunch

                Yes, it's the same. Purloo is spelled how it's pronounced around here. I don't think it's the correct spelling.

                1. re: JayL

                  We call it Chicken Bog further up the SC Coast. As far as cookbooks, get a copy of Charleston Reciepts. It is the oldest Junior League cookbook in the nation.

                  1. re: BlueHerons

                    not exactly fine chow but in columbia there is the local chain"lizard's thicket that was a mainstay for many of us going to the lutheran seminary there... all kinds of good stuff there

                2. re: NCHS Traveling Lunch Bunch

                  I believe the proper spelling is prioleau...or something close to that.

                  1. re: JayL

                    No prioleau is a football players name...lol
                    Chicken Bog , Pileau, pilau, poilu, or purloo...there are plenty!
                    In the Myrtle Beach area it is Chicken Bog....in the Georgetown area it is purloo.

          2. She Crab Soup, Crab Cakes, Shrimp and Grit's, Shrimp Pasta, Grilled Fresh Atlantic Fish, Crab Cake Sandwich, Fried Seafood Platters, Soft Shell Crab Fried or Sauteed, Oyster Stew, Shrimp and Crab Bisque and Shrimp Creole.

            1. Our group travels the state for lunch so we are always looking for an interesting place to visit. I am looking forward to your postings. I think our favorite, or at least the most visited is the Edgefield Grille in Edgefield. The Farmer's Shed in Lexington was last months stop and we enjoyed the food. We are always looking for suggestions of unique places to go for lunch in South Carolina. We have traveled from Agusta to Florence; Folly Beach to Spartanburg...

              4 Replies
              1. re: NCHS Traveling Lunch Bunch

                Do you have a price range you aim at? 181 Palmer is lunch restuarant at Culinary Institute of Charleston, and you get 3 course meal for $15
                http://www.tridenttech.edu/culinary_i...

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                181 Palmer
                66 Columbus Street (Culinary Institute of Charleston), Charleston, SC 29403

                1. re: NCHS Traveling Lunch Bunch

                  Pawley's Front Porch in Columbia is a true SC restaurant in total.

                  Pawley's Front Porch @ 827 Harden St., Columbia, SC 803 - 771 - 8001.
                  http://www.pawleys5pts.com/

                  1. re: NCHS Traveling Lunch Bunch

                    I have heard that the restaurant, Stone Soup, is very, very good. I think it is in Greenville, not too far from Spartanburg.

                    1. re: theoreticalphenogroup14

                      Stone Soup is in Landrum (Spartanburg County). It's a charming little place. For such a small town, Landrum has several good places: Twigs, Stone Soup, Z's.

                  2. Thank you for the suggestions so far. Keep them coming.

                    To clarify...I am interested in any and all food as long as it is in South Carolina and something that you think is an amazing food experience...it does not just have to be traditional SC food...though I do appreciate food that is local.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kerouac_taco

                      181 is a great deal.

                      You might enjoy Guerilla Cuisine.
                      http://www.guerrillacuisine.com/

                      Martha Lou's in Charleston is also a local favorite.

                      Truthfully, I avoid the festival stuff in Charleston. A few are the Blessings of the Fleets in Spring and the Lowcountry Oyster Festival during oyster season at Boone Hall. They are usually so crowded I don't have any fun. Now if you can get yourself on a shrimp boat during one of the Blessings, you'll have a great time.

                    2. Here in Charleston we're fortunate to have restaurants whose menu is supplied almost exclusively by local farmers, fishermen, shrimpers, etc., but here are the real gems: EVO http://evopizza.com/menu , The Glass Onion http://www.ilovetheglassonion.com/dai... and FIG http://eatatfig.com/menus. Go to any of these if you want an amazing and distinctive experience of SC food. I don't know whether the topic of beer falls into the realm of your project, but there is a small, family-owned brewery here called Coast http://www.coastbrewing.com that is producing, I mean, such fantastic beers--some of the best I've ever tasted. May be worth looking into(?). Also, I don't know for sure, but I've heard there's an under-the-radar taco truck on John's Island that is producing crazy-good, authentic-style tacos and Mexican fare. I think it's still kind of a locals' secret spot. Can anyone confirm this?

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                      Glass Onion
                      1219 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: franc11276

                        Not just South Carolina, but a southern dish in general, fried pickles and fried green tomatoes. Shrimp from Shem Creek outside of Charleston, fresh from the boat.

                        1. Chicken Bog, Carolina Muddle, boiled peanuts, Palmetto Cheese from Pawley's Island, tomato pie

                          1. Here's a list of some really cool restaurants that I've enjoyed (mostly in out the way spots):

                            McCabe's BBQ in Manning--in the opinion of many who are in the know this is the best BBQ in the state
                            Miller's Bread Basket--a Mennonite restaurant in Blackville...just an interesting place with really good country food
                            The Foolish Frog--a relatively new restaurant on St. Helena Island...extremely good food in an incredible location. You can visit the Penn Center while you're there.

                            And my #1 can't miss...

                            Marshside Mama's on Daufuskie Island--This is probably the coolest combination of incredible food, incredible atmosphere, and incredible location that I know of. They cook really fresh seafood but its nothing fancy. Unless you're staying on Daufuskie you can only get there by boat. They have a dock right on the marsh where you can tie up and go in for lunch. The building is concrete block and screen walls with lots of ceiling fans and box fans inside to help keep everyone cool. They also have bands on weekend nights. It's just the coolest place that I know of. I can't imagine writing a book about interesting food experiences in SC without including it.

                            -----
                            Marshside Mama's Cafe
                            County Lndg, Daufuskie Island, SC 29915

                            1. What about Gullah Grubs on St. Helena Island. Does anyone have any up to date information on the quality of food there or the facilities. It looks nice. I love country food.

                              Gullah Grubs @ 877 Sea Island Parkway (Route. 21) St. Helena Island, SC 843 - 838 - 3841.
                              http://www.gullahgrubs.com/Welcome.html

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Littleman

                                Bar-B-Q Hash -seems to be unique to SC.

                                -----
                                Bar-B-Q
                                3870 E First St, Blue Ridge, GA 30513

                                1. re: Littleman

                                  I live in Beaufort, and Gullah Grub--no "S"--is v good. The owner, Bill Green, is the huntmaster at Middleton and a true Renaissance man.

                                2. Okay, I suppose someone has to fire the first shot--SC barbecue! I'm not a big fan of SC's mustard-based sauce, although I will eat it if that's all I have. The best I can figure, a long, long time ago some guy from SC once went to a real barbecue restaurant in eastern NC. In awe that such a meal had been placed before him, he ate his fill of the sent-from-heaven meat. Later he proceeded to drink heavily, and as is often the result of too much intake, he ends up hugging the toilet before passing out in a stupor.

                                  Upon returning home, he set out to replicate the wonderful meal he'd had in NC. Problem was his recollection of the whole evening was naturally very hazy--about all he could remember was having a fantastic meal, and seeing yellowish goop on a porcelain dish. So when he tried to make the stuff, he tried to get the same look and taste that was lodged in his fuzzy memory. And that's how SC barbecue came to look and taste like throw-up. :)

                                  So anyway, the mustard-based fans will have to give you recs on the best places to get that swill. Amazingly though, there is a really good barbecue restaurant in SC. Staunton's Barbecue, located a few miles north of Bennettsville near the NC line, is a place everyone should experience. It is truly a dive, with furnishings and decor that look like they've been there since the 1950's. The food is great, the portions are huge, and the prices are cheap. Their barbecue has a unique peppery flavor, and none of that awful yellow stuff that should never be anywhere near a pig. They also have fly-in service...a small-plane runway in the field just across the street!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: arbyunc

                                    I concur! As a NC born and bred girl I can't eat mustard on my pork sammich. Staunton's is the best.

                                    1. re: arbyunc

                                      Your limited exposure to SC Q is showing. There's some excellent vinegar based BBQ here. You just need to look for it. McCabe's in Manning. Scott's very near Hemingway. Moree's near Andrews. There's more around. But these are my favorites. As a matter of fact, Scott's was featured in the NY Times a year or so ago. Not that that means a helluva lot. But they were able to find some.

                                      (not a reply to you, Sue)

                                      1. re: Cpt Wafer

                                        ^ Duly noted. I'll try them when I'm down that way. :)

                                    2. I just got back from a short trip to Columbia, SC and had a chance to re-visit Shealy's Barbecue in Batesburg-Leesville. The food is still heavenly and plentiful (it's one of the cleanest, best kept buffets I've ever seen.) They keep both eastern NC style bbq and the SC mustard based on the bar, but the secret is their fried chicken. It is something to write home about. And if you're smart, you'll ask the staff for a bowl of pulley bones--it's the wishbone with the thickest parts of the breast still attached (and breaded and fried.) Delicious. The vegetable sides are your traditional choices, done in the traditional way--the green beans are mushy, but so good! They also have liver nips, fried chicken livers, mac & cheese, bbq hash, thinly sliced breaded and fried pork chops, and cornbread and rolls. And then there is a salad bar, and a dessert bar with home made puddings and usually two kinds of cobbler/slump. And a soft serve ice cream machine. Lunchtime buffet costs only $9.05, which might be more than you'd usually pay for lunch, but boy, you won't be needing dinner by the time you're finished.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sisterbeer

                                        +1 for Shealy's. If you leave them hungry, it's your own darned fault.

                                      2. I'm a big fan of the Boone Hall oyster festival. Usually the last Sunday in January.

                                        Yes, it is crowded but go early and bring your oyster knife and a chair.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BlueHerons

                                          I've got to throw my $0.02 in for Oysters. I've been to more Oyster Roasts, both private and festival, than I can count and the best I'm aware of is right in my home town of Manning. The Junior Chamber of Commerce puts it on every year and it is really a fantastic event. You sit down (or stand up) at a table and they bring you good hot oysters for as long as you can eat them. They usually do a Beaufort Stew and BBQ as well and all the cold beer you can drink. It is usually in the latter part of February (generally the weekend after Valentines Day. It is a fantastic community event.

                                        2. Get a shrimp burger from The Shrimp Shack on hwy 21, St. Helena island (near Beaufort), right across from Gay Fish Company. They only take cash, so go prepared.

                                          -----
                                          Shrimp Shack
                                          1925 Sea Island Pkwy, Saint Helena Island, SC 29920

                                          1. McCrady's can fit several of your bills. The bar snack menu is a celebration of everything fresh and local. Recently I had heirloom tomato sandwiches and pimento goat cheese sandwiches, as well as some wonderful housemade charcuterie. I also had the absolute best fine dining experience of my life there. It was fourteen courses of mind-blowing awesomeness that left all the Michelin-starred places I've been to in the dust.

                                            Right now there is a food truck called "Hello My Name Is BBQ" on Savannah Highway across from the Coburg cow in the Lowcountry Scooters parking lot. They have very good NC style bbq, which is too vinegary for my taste, but it is an excellent example of that style. I don't know how long they'll be there, look them up on Facebook and ask.

                                            You might also want to check out Boulevard Diner in Mt. Pleasant. They serve a lot of old Southern classics at reasonable prices. We used to go frequently but now they're so popular we just don't bother.

                                            -----
                                            McCrady's Restaurant
                                            2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC 29401

                                            Boulevard Diner
                                            409 W Coleman Blvd, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

                                            1. If you are truly adventurous, I'd say you MUST experience two places: Bowen's Island (south of downtown Charleston, near Folly Beach) for seafood, and Scott's BBQ (at Brunson's Crossroads, near Hemingway).

                                              www.bowensislandrestaurant.com

                                              www.thescottsbbq.com/

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: UrDaddy

                                                How about some stuff in the Greenville area....anyone?

                                                1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                  spartanburgs got the beacon, greer has a great oyster house, the peddler is a greenville cheesy but classic steak house.

                                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                    spartanburgs got the beacon, greer has a great oyster house, the peddler is a greenville cheesy but classic steak house. Grits n groceries near belton brings um in from many miles away. Villa Novella in Central uses local fair in new italian classics. B&B BBQ in six mile has good spicy Q and bacon chilli cheeseburger, slap yo moma. Fried chicken in walhalla at the steak house. Urdaddy is right on about bowen island and the hot fish club in merrels inlet is worthy and cool, also everyone loves skins hot dogs, don't get it myself but a sc classic

                                                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                      Great burgers at Northgate Soda Shop @ 918 North Main St., Greenville, SC 864 - 235 - 6770.

                                                      Good BBQ at Henry's Smokehouse.

                                                      Henry's Smokehouse @ 240 Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greenville, SC 864 - 232 - 7774.
                                                      http://www.henryssmokehouse.com/conta...

                                                      -----
                                                      Henry's Smokehouse
                                                      240 Wade Hampton Blvd, Greenville, SC 29609

                                                      1. re: UrDaddy

                                                        Bowen's Island is certainly the experience if you want overpriced, mediocre seafood. The only place I've ever been that the cole slaw for your uber-expensive seafood platter comes in a 1oz portion cup..........one ounce........are they serious?

                                                        I'd never recommend this place to anyone (unless of course I don't like them).

                                                      2. I know I've already put in a plug for one Manning event (the J.C.'s Oyster Roast) but it made me think of a second one. Lots of places do a "taste" style event...the Taste of Charleston, Taste of Columbia, etc. Clarendon County's is by far the best. Rather than a bunch of restaurants, the food is almost entirely provided by the community. It is held in a reception hall with an indoor and outdoor space. Inside there is every type of dessert and appetizer you can imagine. All of it is made by local cooks and the variety is absolutely incredible. There are probably 344-400 different items inside.
                                                        Outside you have tents set up with locals, generally the men, cooking any kind of meat you can imagine. Lots of wild game like venison, duck, and, of course, lots of BBQ. Rather than have tickets that you exchange for tastes once you are in you can taste as much as you want. They also serve wine and beer can usually be located without too much difficulty.
                                                        It is one of the best local events that I'm aware of and I would highly recommend it. It is generally held sometime in May. It is put on by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce so they'll have the date set after Christmas for anyone who is interested. It sells out every year so get tickets early.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: GrillMaster

                                                          You should try hash and rice so you can know that South Carolinians have no business ever making BBQ. It is very similar to sawdust on rice, but they all think it's wonderful

                                                          1. re: sarge

                                                            Sarge,
                                                            You're just showing your ignorance with statements like that. Sorry, I was showing mine on last post.

                                                        2. How about Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Garden City area. CA hound taking Mom to visit relatives in SC.

                                                          1. There are 2 underground supper clubs in the Lowcountry that are a MUST:
                                                            www.guerrillacuisine.com
                                                            www.limeincharleston.com

                                                            also-some of our lowcountry farms have dinners: Legare Farms and Joseph Fields on Johns Island, Thornhill north of Mt Pleasant

                                                            Lowcountry Local First is a good place to look for local stuff and there is also a Slow Foods chapter in Charleston.

                                                            1. And my vote for BBQ is Po Pigs on Edisto Island