HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >


Charleston, SC - inexpensive meals

  • j

Heading for Charleston on Tuesday. We have plenty of info on fine dining restaurants but I am having trouble finding places that are both good and moderately priced. We will be doing some of both. This is our first trip so I would appreciate any advice on where to find some good food at moderate prices. We will be mostly in old (touristy) Charleston. Also, I understand there are a lot of street food vendors in Charleston. Can that be a good option? Thanks in advance for your help.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What is moderate or inexpensive to you? Also, what kind of food are you looking for, seafood, southern, etc? Are you looking for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner? This will help me with some suggestions for you.

    I'm not sure who told you about street food, but the only street food I can think of are the flavored ice vendors.

    1. Dixie Supply and Bakery serves good lowcountry country cuisine for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week. Blind Tiger Pub has outstanding burgers. Boulevard Diner serves great country food and Dave's Carryout is very good inexpensive lowcountry dishes to go. Eat in the park. Sweetwater Cafe has outstanding breakfast and lunch. Three Little Birds and Toast serve good breakfast and lunch food. Bon Appetit.

      Dixie Supply and Bakery @ 62 State St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 722 - 5650.
      Blind Tiger Pub @ 38 Broad St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 577 - 0088.
      Boulevard Diner @ 1978 Maybank Hwy., Charleston, SC 843 - 795 - 8983.
      Dave's Carryout @ 42 Morris St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 577 - 7943.
      Sweetwater Cafe @ 137 Market St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 723 - 7121.
      Three Little Birds Cafe @ 65 Windermere Blvd., Charleston, SC 843 - 225 - 3065.
      Toast Restaurant @ 155 Meeting St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 534 - 0043.

      1. Great recs. Also look at the Mustard Seed, Long Point Grill, Page's Okra Grill, all in Mt P.

        And we must not leave out the great Seewee!

        Seewee Restaurant
        4804 N Highway 17, Awendaw, SC 29429

        1. Thanks so much. I have looked at the websites and menus and these are just the kind of places I had in mind. Great recs!

          1. Sermet downtown is a bit more reasonable than other places in the historic district, and tasty. You could do something like Cru Cafe which is moderately priced at lunch, and then have a more laid-back meal on Folly for dinner. Because you'll still be stuffed from Cru ;-)

            I've never seen any street food in downtown, but on Folly, right next to Bert's Market (a really cool place that you should check out) is a crepe stand that looked good, although I didn't get around to trying it.

            1. Just got back Saturday from a three-day Charleston food trip and here's our read:

              Drove down from Wilmington NC. Didn’t make MAMA BROWN’S in extreme south Mt Pleasant until 2:45. Out of ribs, catfish and bread pudding but the dark, vinegary pulled pork was fabulous – didn’t need a drop of so-so sauce. Sweet, tender chunks of yam literally melted off the tongue and down the throat. Small, reddish-brown southern field peas sitting in their own delicious juice – we’d have had more but there was too much other food to ‘test’. The sweet, cakey cornbread was an eye-roller, each piece so fragile it unfailingly fell apart going hand to mouth – too sweet for my wife but I could have made a meal of just this, the yams and the field peas ... and of course the pulled pork.. Big, southern-cooked green beans are my idea of heaven, but Moma’s were surprisingly bland – just this day maybe? The barely-warm macaroni and cheese was probably spectacular when hot but hours after the lunch rush it was gummy and grainy, as was the now-rubbery fried okra – what you get when your late to the buffet. The meat loaf, dark gravy and lumpy mashed potatoes were average – good but nothing other buffets don’t do just as well. Mamas is one of those places where snobs never go and slobs die early with smiles on their faces. Us? We'll come back for lunch or dinner, when the place is running full tilt and has ribs, catfish and bread pudding. Comments anybody on Moma’s ribs??

              Breakfast at the VILLAGE BAKERY in Mt Pleasant, a tiny, under-the-radar hangout at the end of a narrow residential street, boasting a secret little atmosphere plus oven-fresh cinnamon buns (sticky and iced), fresh house coffee, local newspapers and nary a tourist. The pimento cheese sandwiches are said to be out of this world but it was way too early to do lunch things.

              Lunch at the HOMINY GRILL was superb, as was the busy-yet-calm ambiance. The raved-about she crab soup was creamy, full of flavor and full of crab. My super-tender sauteed chicken livers came with a subtle, fascinating, white sauce, and my wife and I both found the okra & tomatoes the tastiest we’ve ever had. Finished the meal with mooth-as-silk buttermilk pie and loosely-constrtucted pecan pie, both setting our eyes to rolling again.

              Breakfast at the iconic BOULEVARD DINER was good, tho my huge crab-and-swiss omelet had, believe it or not, too much crab and too little flavor. Wife’s hash browns and eggs were fine, and adding slices of orange, pineapple, and honeydew to both plates was a nice touch ... but breakfast isn’t a fair test. We’ll have to do dinner here next visit.

              After a short wait we were seated for lunch at a cozy little table for two in cozy little CRU CAFE. The whole kitchen is under your nose along and the Chef is always moving: on the phone, checking the food, chatting-up the customers at his two small counters,18-or-so small tables and even those waiting to be seated. No need to gush over particular dishes here – the dreamy, satisfied faces at every table were testiment to the food – actually got you thinking maybe you should have ordered THAT rather than the really-delicious THIS sitting in front of you. The fare is good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nofuss

                Well done! nofuss, "great minds think alike" (My Grandmother Blanche Pickens).

                Do go back to the Village Bakery for lunch. The shrimp salad is the best. I mean, really, the dock is close.

                Lunch at Boulevard is better than breakfast, only IMHO. I like breakfast at Page's, only because I like grits without cheese.

                I love Cru and Hominy too. Thanks for the great report.

                Village Bakery Cafe
                125 Pitt St, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

              2. I live in downtown Charleston, and good and inexpensive are somewhat mutually exclusive, but it can be found. Jim'N'Nicks is a chain and not authentic bbq, but the food is still very good and prices are cheap, and the menu is far more than bbq. Everything is made from scratch. Dixie Supply is a great lunch spot. If you want to eat gourmet on the cheap, get the express lunch at SNOB. You get the entree of the day, soup or salad, and drink for $10. It's an absolute steal for the quality of food and environment. Basil is great thai that is more moderately priced than cheap but worth it food a nice dinner. I think Hominy Grill is overrated but it is worth a trip.

                Hominy Grill
                207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

                1. Took a day trip to Charleston last Thursday. I head down there 3-4 times a year, and was shocked at the number of fantastic, low to mid-range options out there now. Be sure to read the Charleston City Paper online for the best local reviews, but stick with the editor's picks. Sometimes their readers choice awards go to chain spots. Also be sure to check out the happy hour specials. Charleston is full of fab happy hours.

                  We were surprised to find a great selection of bar snacks at McCrady's. The head chef won a James Beard award this year for best chef in the Southeast. The dining room menu is pretty pricey, apps are in the $12-17 range; entrees in the upper $20s to mid $30s. If you sit in the cozy bar, you can order off the dining room menu, but my advice is to choose a handful of the bar snacks, which range between $3-$8.

                  We also loved Closed for Business on Upper King Street...great food menu and a magnificent selection of craft beers. Coolest atmosphere in town. Around the corner is the Macaroon Boutique, if you are into macaroons, these are supposed to be perfect. We missed a couple of spots that sound awesome, Taco Boy (Charleston) and 17 North (Mt. Pleasant). I would advise against the newly opened W.O.K. We made the mistake of being drawn to the atmosphere and concept, minimalist sleek design your own bowl of noodles or offbeat sushi, but the food is truly mediocre. No body or flavor. I wasn't feelin' it.

                  Have a blast!

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

                  Taco Boy
                  15 Center St, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Victus Populi

                    Hey Victus, the Charleston Taco Boy is excellent. It can be quite the scene though, so be prepared. I like the salsa trio and the baja taco.

                    Closed for Business is great, but I miss the old whateveritwas that was there before. Sorry, it's been a long week. Maybe Littleman can help me out . It's owned by the same group that owns Poe's. THAT should be your next stop!

                    17 North has a great $20 menu-app, entree, and dessert. It's SO worth the trip.

                    Taco Boy
                    15 Center St, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                    17 North
                    3563 N Hwy 17, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464