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Chow recs needed for trip to Charleston, Savannah, and Hilton Head

Planning vacation to Charleston (2 days), Savannah (2 days) and 6 days in Hilton Head. Will need recommendations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for college student and mother. Student is not adventerous eater, except for sushi. Looking for lots of Southern, lowcountry, seafood, and Italian places. Try to keep dinner to $50-75 for 2 courses plus wine for 2 people. Willing to splurge if restaurant is AMAZING. We will try dives if the food is good or even food trucks, if recommended. Will be staying in Historic Districts in Chalreston & Savannah and near Coligny Plaza in HH.

We will be driving down I-77/I-26 to Charleston and down Rt. 17 to Savannah, HH. Any recs along the way for BBQ, seafood or unique breakfast, lunch would also be appreciated. Thanks y'all!

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  1. I think you're in luck, at least in Charleston, because so many good places have some basics for your student as well as more adventurous stuff. Like Cru Cafe, they make a sinfully rich mac and cheese...but you could also get some beautiful fish w/ local/seasonal vegetables.

    I don't know anything about savannah, and it's been many years since I was in Hilton Head, but I tend to think you should do your splurge dinners in Charleston...food there is head and shoulders above Hilton Head, last time i checked. I like Fig and Cru for lowcountry and seafood. Al di La or Wild Olive for Italian. Sermet's corner is a nice lunch.

    Tip: Walk north on King Street toward Calhoun (and past). College of Charleston girls will abound. Your student will feel right at home. If your student is male, he may particularly enjoy it...these girls are all beautiful. We were down there last year during parent's weekend, and it appears their mothers are all beautiful too. Not sure if it's an entrance requirement or what ;-)

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    Wild Olive
    2867 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC 29455

    4 Replies
    1. re: danna

      Thanks D! Funny you should mention it, but DD has good friend at College of Charleston and she recommended Hominy Grill. She wil be meeting us there one day for breakfast or lunch, not sure yet.

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      Hominy Grill
      207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        Hominy is another example of a place where you could get some really plain food, or some more entertaining items. You probably need reservations. If I were you, I'd try to make it "brunch". I don't think you can eat 3 meals in a day, if one of those meals is at Hominy Grill.

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        Hominy Grill
        207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

      2. re: danna

        I live in the Charleston area. The Fat Hen on Johns Island is great! Hank's Seafood, Husk, Poogan's Porch, Slightly North of Broad, so many great restaurants in Charleston . Since you are staying at Coligny Plaza on HHI, you must eat at The Sea Shack! It's great! Rachel Ray made a stop there on $40 a day!

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        Fat Hen
        3140 Maybank Hwy, Johns Island, SC 29455

        Poogan's Porch
        72 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401

        Slightly North of Broad
        192 East Bay St., Charleston, SC 29401

        Hank's Seafood Restaurant
        10 Hayne Street, Charleston, SC 29401

        Sea Shack
        6 Executive Park Rd, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

        1. re: mollysmomma

          Ditto The Fat Hen -- wonderful!

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          Fat Hen
          3140 Maybank Hwy, Johns Island, SC 29455

      3. On your way from Charleston to Savannah you can cover Southern, Lowcountry and BBQ all in one place at Duke's BBQ in Ridgeland. Hwy 17 merges with I-95 at Point South and exits at Ridgeland about 12 miles later. Go through town toward Hardeeville/Savannah and it is on your left. From there continue on 17 to Savannah.

        It's a serve- yourself buffet with BBQ, fried chicken, hash and rice, vegetables and desserts. Open Thursday through Saturday. Same kind of food as Mrs. Wilkes or Paula Deen's without the wait or crowds or fame. Around $10 per person.

        If your student likes pizza be sure to hit Vinnie Van Go-Go's at City Market. Cash only.

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        Vinnie Van Go-Go's
        317 W Bryan St, Savannah, GA 31401

        Paula Deen's Restaurant
        102 W Congress St, Savannah, GA 31401

        2 Replies
        1. re: savdoug

          I just tried Jack's Cafe in Charleston, very near College of Charleston and inhabited by a number of good looking people (and some more regular people too.) Super cheap for breakfast and real diner-type food -- great hash browns for example and the bacon biscuit was excellent! it's on George Street near King.

          1. re: savdoug

            I've eaten at the Duke's in Walterboro and it's great. Think it's the same ownership but I Ridgeland's may be easier to get to off highway. In additition to items mentioned above, a very good mac n cheese..and save room for dessert. Prices are crazy low. Super seniors, like my 82 yo mother costs only $6.

            Real treat!

            In Charleston, I really enjoyed McCrady's .

            On Hilton Head, I like Roast Fish and Cornbread, Amigos Cafe on Pope Ave..a short walk from Coligny. Chicken salad, carnitas and anything with fried oysters is great.. Casual Mex, order at counter.

            Second Dale J's recs on HH Italian. MA is more priceyand worth it..iIl Carpaccio..very well priced.

          2. Three HHI Italian restaurants:

            Michael Anthony's (south island) is very popular, deservedly so.

            Mulberry Street Trattoria is, when going off island, the first left after the Moss Creek light.

            Il Carpaccio (mid island) is always good and popular. Excellent thin crust, wood oven pizza.

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            Mulberry Street
            1476 Fording Island Rd, Bluffton, SC 29910

            1. I was in Charleston and HHI last year. Favorite restaurants were SNOB and Dye's (HHI).

              You can see my reviews of the area here (pages 2-4):
              http://www.yelp.com/user_details?user...

              2 Replies
              1. re: dfwgal63

                Very good reviews. You have a good style.

                I have one question, though....who visits Charleston and goes to a Thai restaurant? :-)

              2. In Charleston, you should get out to Gullah Cuisine for the lunch buffet. It's on Hwy 17 in Mt. Pleasant. Also, good in Mt. Pleasant is Boulevard Diner and Page's Okra...something. Maybe Cafe. The Wreck in Mt. Pleasant is kind of hard to find without a GPS but worth it. Great ambiance on Shem Creek. I'm not as familiar with the places, new or old, on Sullivan's Island but they seem to get good reviews on Yelp, etc. and the ambiance is good.

                In Savannah, you must get to Masada Cafe at the United House of Prayer for All People. You read that right. You'll love it and, trust me, you'll be the only out of towners there. Also in Savannah, the Sweet Potato Kitchen.

                There's a great post in some of the "looking for good places to eat along I-95" threads in this forum that lists lots of out of the way places in the low country.

                There was an article in Saveur magazine about some of the soul food restaurants in North Charleston that I subsequently found online. I didn't get to try any on our last trip but definitely will in the future. You'll certainly not be bumping elbows with tourists or surbanites in North Charleston.

                The places downtown C'ton and S'nah are great but you and 10,000 other tourists already know that. Get to some of the out of the way places, some of which the suburbanites don't get to (My niece's Savannah in-laws didn't even know about Masada Cafe.), and you'll both get some really good food and be able to impress even the locals with your foodie knowledge.

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                Boulevard Diner
                1978 Maybank Hwy, Charleston, SC 29412

                Gullah Cuisine
                1717 U.S.1717 U.S. 17, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464