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Looking for Some Guidance in Charleston, SC

My husband and I will be in Charleston, SC the Wednesday-Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. We have plans with family on Thursday, but are looking for suggestions for dinners and lunches. Doesn't have to be formal, but the food needs to be really good. Looking for food that is of the region. We're staying in the historic district, but will have a car. We'll probably visit Folly Beach, so ideas for there are good too. Any thoughts? Any help is greatly appreciated.

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  1. What about Mt. Pleasant. In Charleston I would go to High Cotton for lunch and Magnolia's for dinner. The best restaurant in Charleston is Charleston Grill. Peninsula Grill is close. McCrady's is right in there too. Go to Hominy or Jestine's for good breakfast and some low country specials.

    High Cotton Maverick Bar and Grill @ 199 East Bay St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 724 - 3815.
    http://www.mavericksouthernkitchens.c...
    Magnolia's @ 185 E Bay St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 577 - 7771.
    http://magnolias-blossom-cypress.com/
    Charleston Grill @ 224 King St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 577 - 4522.
    http://www.charlestongrill.com/#home
    Peninsula Grill @ 112 North Market St., Charleston, SC 843 - 723 - 0700.
    http://www.peninsulagrill.com/
    McCrady's @ 2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC. 843 - 577 - 0025.
    http://www.mccradysrestaurant.com/
    Hominy Grill @ 207 Rutledge Ave., Charleston, SC. 843 - 937 - 0930.
    http://hominygrill.com/
    Jestine's Kitchen @ 251 Meeting St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 722 - 7224.
    http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overv...

    On Folly Beach you should not leave without going to Bowen's Island for dinner only.

    Bowen's Island Restaurant @ 1870 Bowen's Island Rd., Charleston, SC. 843 - 795 - 2757.
    http://www.bowensislandrestaurant.com/

    1. For more places outside of the downtown area:

      Glass Onion in West Ashley - definitely check them out especially if you like "alternative" meats like liver and sweetbreads. Their fries are incredible. Bring zocor.

      Fat Hen - Johns Island. One of my very favorite places - the kitchen is so incredibly consistent. I've probably eaten half their menu and all the entrees have been spot on and only a couple of appetizers didn't work for me. Their french onion soup is superlative in my mind. Good spot for brunch on the weekend.

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      Fat Hen
      3140 Maybank Hwy, Johns Island, SC 29455

      Glass Onion
      1219 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407

      1. Al Di La is the best real Italian food in the Southeast, far as I can tell. Just over the bridge in West Ashley.

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        Al Di La
        25 Magnolia Rd, Charleston, SC 29407

        5 Replies
        1. re: uptown jimmy

          I'll put a plug in for Lucca and Mercato if you're looking for Italian.

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          Mercato
          102 N. Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401

          1. re: uptown jimmy

            Is Al Di La as good now after their former chef/owner left in February 2008 to move to the Yadkin Valley of NC? As far as I'm concerned, the chef IS the restaurant, so I'm wondering whether the "new" Al Di La is still as worthwhile?

            For the record, Trattoria Lucca is probably my favorite Italian experience in the country. We don't even have a place of such quality in the SF Bay Area. But, as Littleman points out, ParisKat should really take advantage of the Lowcountry cuisine offerings. A french touch combined with indigenous techniques and local seafood. It's one of my favorite genres of cuisine, period.

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            Al Di La
            25 Magnolia Rd, Charleston, SC 29407

            Trattoria Lucca
            41 Bogard St, Charleston, SC 29403

            1. re: mikeh

              Do you know where the former chef/owner moved to in NC. We have heard of a resturant
              in Elkin NC called 21 and main that was ? started by someone from Charleston. They have recieved great reviews

              1. re: vein1

                You made me curious and I googled: the chef at 21 and Main is not the Al di La chef.

                Info on John Marshall here:
                http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/ch...

              2. re: mikeh

                mikeh,

                Have you tried "Chiaroscuro" in S.F.? We went there recently and it was fabulous. We are very particular about our Italian food and this was wonderful.

              1. re: ParisKat

                Sushi in Charleston. You must be French. My wife is too. The food in Paris is outstanding but you go to SC for low country not sushi. You get sushi at home. You can't get fresh seafood inspired low country cuisine at home. I can get soul food at home but I go to Charleston for low country.

                1. re: ParisKat

                  This is low country...................

                   
                  1. re: ParisKat

                    I like Anson for fine dining for dinner. Blossom and Carolina's are fine dining for lunch or dinner. The Sunday brunch at Blossom and Carolina's is great. The raw bar at Boathouse is good.

                    Anson Restaurant @ 12 Anson St., Charleston, SC 843 - 577 - 0551.
                    http://www.ansonrestaurant.com/
                    Blossom @ 171 East Bay St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 722 - 9200.
                    http://www.magnolias-blossom-cypress....
                    Carolina's Restaurant @ 10 Exchange St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 724 - 3800.
                    http://www.carolinasrestaurant.com/
                    Boathouse Restaurant @ 549 East Bay St., Charleston, SC. 843 - 577 - 7171.
                    http://www.boathouserestaurants.com/

                    1. re: Littleman

                      You might want to check your Boathouse listing. I believe the only location now is the original one on Breach Inlet out on the Isle of Palms. Fire destroyed the one closer in.

                      1. re: Littleman

                        We had a terrible lunch at Blossom. Would absolutely not recommend. High Cotton is great. Check out the Pavilion Bar on the roof top of their hotel. It's fun! 39 Rue De Jean is amazing, you will love it.

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                        39 Rue De Jean
                        39 John St, Charleston, SC 29403

                    2. Seconding the suggestion of Hominy Grill on Rutledge, but be warned, it will be crowded. Mia Pomodori, also on Rutledge, is an adorable little Italian pizza joint with a few tables and excellent quality.

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                      Hominy Grill
                      207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Iscah

                        Agreed. Anytime I'm in Charleston, I make it a point to go to Hominy Grill for lunch. It's my favorite "meat and three" in the city. I like that they source a lot of local products. One of my "desert island" meals is the Hominy Grill lineup of local triggerfish with sides of collards, squash casserole, and limas, a block of cornbread, and buttermilk pie for dessert. oh yes.

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                        Hominy Grill
                        207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

                      2. I would add FIG in downtown Charleston (chef Mike Lata) to your list. Won the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Southeast a year ago (McCrady's won it this year and Hominy Grill two years prior - see, Charleston has amazing cuisine). FIG employs lowcountry techniques combined with a hyperlocal product. He gets the cream of the crop from local farms and fishermen.

                        FIG @.232 Meeting Street Charleston, SC 843-805-5900

                        http://www.eatatfig.com/

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                        Hominy Grill
                        207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

                        Fig Restaurant
                        232 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: mikeh

                          Without a doubt Trattoria Lucca is the outstanding restaurant in Charleston regardless of Mike Lata and Sean Brock winning the James Beard award. Ken Vendrinski is an amazing chef and he also using excellent products.

                          Both times I have visited Fig I thought the appetizers were really good but the entrees so-so.
                          Sean Brock uses lots of foam which I am not impressed with although the ambiance of the restaurant is great. The presentation is creative and food is good.

                          -----
                          Trattoria Lucca
                          41 Bogard St, Charleston, SC 29403

                          1. re: plufmud

                            Sean Brock is the chef at McCradys and yes he is fond of experimenting with "molecular gastronomy." I love the bar at McCradys - what a great space with brick arches.

                            Mike Lata is the chef at FIG. The food is more "straightforward" than McCradys and the ambiance is casually refined.

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

                            1. re: uptown jimmy

                              uptown jimmy, I thought so too until I went recently. It was outstanding.

                              Such great recs! I do agree with Littleman-you can get great Italian and sushi in many places. Eat lowcountry when you visit.

                          2. Charleston Grill, the restaurant in Charleston Place Hotel, is my favorite for a really nice meal. They have a delicious tasting menu and the dining room is usually filled with lively jazz music. It's probably my favorite dining experience in the city.

                            Since you'll be here for Thanksgiving, you may also want to check out 3.14 Pies. They're a new artisan bakery in town that focuses exclusively on pie. I had their Maple Pumpkin Mascarpone and Cran-Peary Crumb pies at an event recently and they were amazing. They don't have a retail spot but you can pre-order whole pies 48-hours in advance. I've already placed my turkey day order!

                            -----
                            Charleston Grill
                            224 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

                            1. Lots of great ideas here, but nobody has made any recs for Folly though. My favorite is the Lost Dog Cafe...for breakfast or lunch as they close at 3 o'clock. I prefer the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill, but there are lots of great things on the menu. I love the She Crab soup, breakfast burrito, Huevos Rancheros (also great at Hominy), and biscuits with sausage gravy.

                              Note to diners, the place is packed on weekends and leashed dogs are welcome (though their owners must dine with them outside of the patios). I haven't been since my own dear basset, Morley Safer, passed but it's only because I would be too sad. We loved the place; they give doggie biscuits and clean water bowls to pooches.

                              -----
                              Hominy Grill
                              207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

                              Lost Dog Cafe
                              106 W Huron Ave, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: South Carolina Girl

                                Don't forget Taco Boy!

                                Sorry about Morley Safer.

                                -----
                                Taco Boy
                                15 Center St, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                                1. re: Sue in Mt P

                                  Thanks Sue. I changed my pic to give Morley some face time on Chow, lol.
                                  I never went to Taco Boy, but I'm headed home soon (I live in Toronto now) so I'll give it a go.

                                  -----
                                  Taco Boy
                                  15 Center St, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                                  1. re: South Carolina Girl

                                    He's darlin.

                                    Get the Baja tacos. And ditch your coat, lol!

                                    -----
                                    Bajas
                                    385 Highway 29 N, Newnan, GA 30263

                              2. Go to Folly Beach and go to Bowen's Island Restaurant for dinner only for a great time. Rita's Grill has great burgers and a big outdoor patio to watch the world go by. Locklear's and Loggerhead's are both fun dining for lunch or dinner with outdoor seating.

                                Bowen's Island Restaurant @ 1870 Bowen's Island Rd., Charleston, SC. 843 - 795 - 2757.
                                http://www.bowensislandrestaurant.com/
                                Rita's Grill @ 2 Center St., Folly Beach, SC 843 - 633 - 5330.
                                Locklear's Beach City Grill @ 101 East Arctic Avenue, Folly Beach, SC 843 - 588 - 6412.
                                Loggerhead's Beach Grill @ 123 West Ashley Avenue, Folly Beach, SC 843 - 588 - 2365.

                                -----
                                Rita's Grill
                                1250 N Hill St, Griffin, GA 30223

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Littleman

                                  And be prepared for that old man at Bowen's to be rude as hell...it's supposedly part of the "ambiance"

                                  1. re: South Carolina Girl

                                    Also be prepared for mediocre food and minuscule portions.

                                    I guess alot of people think it's "cool" to eat in a place made entirely of unfinished plywood. I don't mind that sort of stuff either...and I'd think it was cool too, but I really need good food to go along with it.

                                    They actually have the audacity to serve cole slaw in a 1 ounce plastic cup. I couldn't believe it. The price I paid for that platter of "ho-hum" seafood and all you're going to give me is 1oz of slaw?!? I just can't figure how folks around here accept things like that and praise a place for it?

                                    1. re: JayL

                                      You are about to talk me out of ever visiting Bowen's again. If you get to Mississippi don't let anyone talk you out of going to Doe's Eat Place. It's a shack but they cook some fine steaks.

                                       
                                      1. re: Littleman

                                        Doe's...I actually think I've heard of that somewhere before.

                                        I don't mind eating from a 'shack'. Believe me...I'm as redneck as they come (raised between two hills of tobacco). But I also don't buy into all the crap some people believe around Charleston...I expect a certain amount of quality when I put money on the table.

                                        I do not like Bowen's Island, nor do I like SeeWee Restaurant in Awendaw. Most folks around here will disagree with me on both accounts, but I don't get all the hype. Both are mediocre and charge way too much.

                                        I'd love to try Doe's for steaks. What do they serve? My fiance used to be a medium-well, fillet kind of girl...until she started eating the medium-rare ribeyes I would cook her up. Now all she wants is ribeye.

                                        1. re: JayL

                                          Jay L..........Doe's was started in a shack on the wrong side of town in Greenville, MS in 1941. It was started by a guy named Doe Signa. His father had moved to Greenville, MS in 1903 and opened a grocery store. The 1927 flood put him out of business so Doe started making whiskey and opened a juke joint in the old grocery store. His wife started making tamales. They still operate in the same old building with a few additions. The sink has been leaking in the Men's Room for so long the enamel is worn off. The floors have cracks and none of the furniture matches. You start with tamales, fried shrimp and meat balls for appetizers. The salad is outstanding. You can order a filet, t bone or strip. They cut their own meat so I usually order a T Bone for two. They bring the meat to the table for you to look at before it's cooked. Three of the ladies have been working there over 40 years each. They sold a few franchises mostly in AR but they only have two family stores. Don't leave MS without going to Doe's. I was born in a shack in some cotton fields.

                                          Doe's Eat Place @ 502 Nelson St., Greenville, MS 662 - 334 - 3315.
                                          http://www.doeseatplace.com/

                                          1. re: Littleman

                                            Julia Reed writes a lot about Doe's. If you've never read her stories do so!

                                            http://www.paperbackswap.com/Ham-Bisc...

                                    2. re: South Carolina Girl

                                      SC Girl. What's the best place to dine on Folly's now. Thanks.

                                      1. re: Littleman

                                        I don't really think of Folly Beach as a destination for eating/dining, Littleman. Go to hang on the beach, surf at the "washout" or hike out to Morris Island Lighthouse, etc. It is a very casual place with hints still of what the SC coast was like in the 50s and 60s. The hurricanes haven't taken everything and it's not yet completely filled with mega-mansion summer "cottages."

                                        That being said though my favorite place on Folly is The Lost Dog Cafe (see post above). For years in the 70s and 80s the Sand Bar was a great dinner spot. It closed then reopened in 2009 under new ownership, but I'm afraid I just learned it closed for good in September. I do like the Crab Shack though there is nothing fancy about there food. It's good ole basic fried samplers, crab legs, oysters, and cold beer. Locklear's at Folly Pier is nice, a bit more upscale, with a great covered deck.There is also a wine bar with a roof top patio, but I must profess I haven't been. And Sue (see above) recommends Taco Boy.

                                        http://www.follybeach.com/restaurants...

                                        -----
                                        Lost Dog Cafe
                                        106 W Huron Ave, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                                        Taco Boy
                                        15 Center St, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                                  2. We had a terrific meal at McCrady's a few years ago..3 almost to the day. My guess is that Chef Brock is still putting out great food

                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/61246842...

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

                                    1. High Cotton is one of my favorite places to eat! I would agree with the first posters suggestions though, all that were mentioned are phenominal places. McGrady's also recently recieved the James Beard award 2010 and it lives up to every hype. If you want oysters though, there is a place downtown called Pearlz that has the freshest, best tasting and biggest varieties of oysters EVER!! LOVE IT!!!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nicoleb341

                                        I second Pearlz on East Bay. Great oyster selection.

                                      2. If you have any question regarding M'Crady's google up Chuckeats.

                                        1. Sean Brock is opening a new restaurant on Queen St. called Husk it is supposed to open next week. I saw a video on Eater.com. He's is making everything in house and only using local. he said the menu may change daily, depending on what they get locally. I hope to go when we come for our yearly 2 weeks in January at Folly. Taco Boy is great. We stay at Folly so it's nice for a quick meal. there is a nice little bakery called Sugars near Hominy. My husband and I own a bakery in St. Louis so we are always checking bakeries out.

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                                          Taco Boy
                                          15 Center St, Folly Beach, SC 29439

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: baker b

                                            Then you need to try Macaroon on John St (near Rue de Jean). Unbelievable.

                                            Husk had a soft opening and is getting good reviews. Amazing they opened so quickly. I walked by Saturday and the floors weren't in yet.