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Feb 16, 2012 06:07 AM

A few Charleston questions

Hi all - had a few questions for the Charleston experts on the board.

Heading down to Charleston this weekend and will be in town for basically 36 hours. I'll be there with 3 friends (coming from New York City) and I'm hoping to get them out to one of the more acclaimed restaurants in Charleston for one dinner (they are not really 'food' guys). I had been looking at McGrady's, Husk, Fig, Cypress and a few others in that range but having trouble pick one. I think we would be more comfortable at something on the more casual end but still with high end food...does McGrady's fit that bill? If not would you recommend something different? We are all in our mid 20s so if anything is particularly stuffy I would like to avoid it.

Also, if you think there is anything else in Charleston (be it food or anything else worth visiting/seeing) I would really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I like all of those. None are stuffy. FIG is probably my favorite.

    This weekend will be crowded:

    So try to book something now. You may have to go with whichever place can accommodate you. Have fun.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sue in Mt P

      None stuffy, but McCrady's would be the MOST formal of the ones you mention. FIG also my favorite. I would suggest FIG for dinner and Husk for brunch.

        1. re: Mlieb737

          please don't forget to come back and give us your reviews. Looks like you're going to have warm but rainy weather, so maybe if you're the hearty type you can score seats on patios that others would refuse. The upper porch at Husk is sweet. Charleston is a walking city so so pack raingear.

          I once ate 9 times on a 27 hour visit to NYC. I think I still carry at least an extra pound as a souvenier.

    2. BTW, there are lots of things to do here, but Chowhound is just about the food.

      5 Replies
        1. re: Mlieb737

          Sure. If those are booked look at Anson, . The bars on Upper King might be fun for your age group as well. Closed for Business is fun. And Taco Boy, up on Huger Street, is really fun.

          1. re: Sue in Mt P

            Great, will definitely check out Anson. Menu looks very good. Thanks again for all the tips

            1. re: Mlieb737

              Their shrimp and grits are at the top of my list. And I am a S&G snob :)

              1. re: Sue in Mt P

                cant wait to have some real shrimp and grits...

      1. Any thoughts on Slightly North of Broad?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mlieb737

          It's great as well. I haven't been there in a year but it is very popular. And small. Go ahead and reserve somewhere quickly.

        2. I've been perusing the boards on IOP and Charleston. We'll be staying in IOP for a week in August with our families including our parents. Grandparents have offered to watch the kids as we overtired mom's and dad's get out for a night or two. Any recommendations for a nice lounge/bar that makes great cocktails in Charleston? Looking for a nice location with comfy seating that isn't loud or overly crowded. Also, a restaurant on IOP that offers some later dining options (after the kids are in bed 8:30-9ish)

          11 Replies
          1. re: amsquires

            For the cocktails try the Gin Joint or Social . I have to tell you, though, most places in the HD will be full of people. Same goes for the beaches so make reservations. Huck's and Boathouse on IOP are both nice, but I like Atlanticville on Sullivans best.

            1. re: Sue in Mt P

              I agree with Sue in Mt P-those three places (Hucks, Atlanticville and Boathouse) are worth the visit without traveling across the bridge..and Sullivans Island is definitely a place to visit.

              1. re: Sue in Mt P

                We will be on IOP mid August traveling with 5 kiddos 18 months - 7 years...we will be early to dinner 5:00-5:30ish. Are there any restaurants you'd recommend that have foodie-ish worthy food AND a relaxed atmosphere for the kids to meander while waiting for dinner. The kids don't require a typical "kids menu" and my 4 year old in particular has a palette that makes his mommy proud. Reservations will be tricky with this crowd. We are open to all the surrounding areas to IOP, Sullivans Island, Historic District. I have read many of your restaurant recommendations on the boards but the kid factor is crucial. Thank you!!

                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    Thanks, I missed a couple of those. First time to the area and even looking at the maps I have trouble judging distance. Most of the restaurants I have read about are in HD, Mt. Pleasant, St. Johns and Sullivans. Short drives from 10th on IOP? I am dreaming that FIG and Fat Hen are within walking la la...

                    1. re: amsquires

                      I'm guessing you mean Johns Island. FIG and Fat Hen are not in walking distance from IOP. Hucks, Sea Biscuit, and Acme are. The restaurants on Sullivans are about a ten minute drive from 10th.

                      People actually raise families here and well behaved children are welcomed at all the restaurants recommended except for maybe McCrady's.

                      IOP is about 30 minutes from the HD and at least 45 to Johns Island. Driving.

                      1. re: Sue in Mt P

                        Sue always gives excellent food advice....but apparently she drives slow ;-)

                        Check the menu at Hucks. It's been a couple of years since I was there, but then it was good...WAY better than should be expected of a place with an ocean view. It will be a pleasant (and extremely short) walk there. Atmosphere seemed fine for kids to me.

                        IOP is an easy drive to the HD. I think it's faster to go through Sullivans Island and to the bridge via coleman Blvd rather than Hwy 17. Check your map to see what I mean. 17 can back up. Would you agree, Sue? are you still in town?

                        The biggest table at FIG seats might want to hurry and see if you can get that one. It's on the edge of the bar area. I think it would be good for the kiddies.

                        EVO pizza is another great casual spot on the right side of downtown. Take a look online. Even though it's pizza, they always have a great salad of local veg.

                        1. re: danna

                          El. Oh. El. I'm still here. Packing my life stinks.

                          I drive fast now that I have what looks like a cop car. Others drive slow, and with all the construction on 17 getting anywhere is a nightmare.

                          I totally agree with the Sullivans to Mt P to the HD. The drawbridge opens at the top of every hour so factor that into any plans.

                          I love Huck's. I need to go there one more time. And EVO is great but small.

                          Also Page's Okra Grill is a local favorite. I've been there twice recently, once for breakfast , once for lunch. Really good food, and a bargain.

                          1. re: Sue in Mt P

                            Thanks for all the great recommendations and direction advice. I didn't mean to insinuate charleston restaurants don't receive children well. I like to take the kids to a place that has something else to see while waiting for their meal such as a fish tank or outdoor area.

                            We will be celebrating my dads birthday and would like to order a special
                            Birthday cake. Any recommendations - nothing too extravagant but some place that has a good vanilla cake and can maybe decorate to look like a race car? I am not
                            A fan of Publix cakes though I have friends
                            That love them...I can always do a whole foods cake

                            1. re: amsquires

                              We just returned from our trip to Isle of Palms and the surrounding areas. The food was a memorable experience and helped make this wonderful destination a sure spot for future vacations.

                              Our first night out (adults only): we stopped at The Gin Joint for cocktails. It was a small, dimly lit bar with excellent service and fabulous cocktails. I am not a Gin drinker but these cocktails were an education (not all gin tastes like pine trees) and elegant served in a Coupe Glass that reminded me of my mother's antique glassware. My favorite cocktail was the Paper Dragon. The appetizer menu looked interesting and I’d love to go back to try the food.

                              We had dinner at FIG in Charleston. It was our group’s favorite meal of the week. Between the three of us we had - Steak Tartare, Chicken Liver Pate and White Shrimp Remoulade appetizers. The steak tartare was my favorite. We enjoyed seafood entrees which were all perfectly cooked and paired with delicious sauces. The potato puree was decadent.

                              Lunch at Page’s Okra Grill was really delicious and had a homey atmosphere. I had the Fried Chicken which was the best chicken I have ever had. I imagine the secret is this brining technique that I have never been willing to try. I will try it now. So juicy and flavorful inside and crispy (not greasy at all) outside. How is that possible for fried chicken?

                              Lunch on IOP at Coconut Joe’s was great for the kids and had a decent margarita for my taste. All the “kid’s meals” came with a sand dollar. The coconut shrimp was ok. I enjoyed the soup which was a combination of Jambalaya and Gumbo.

                              Lunch at Husk was great! She Crab Soup was very good but the Scallop BLT Salad was beyond delicious. Lightly grilled romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, crisp bacon and perfectly cooked and seasoned scallops. Topped off with a Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette. The Orange-Hibiscus-Rose Margarita was tasty. My son had the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with a Field Greens Salad with an apple vinaigrette. He devoured it all! My husband and father had the Black and Blue Burgers and thought they were great. Wish we tried it earlier in our trip because we certainly would have gone back.

                              We stopped for a late lunch at JB’s Smokeshack on John’s Island. We ordered the buffet but wished we would have tried some of the items on the menu. Again the Fried Chicken was delicious (brining again, I imagine)

                              Dinner at Anson for the adults. It was just easier to put them to bed early with Grandma and Grandpa and venture out on the town. They were exhausted from all the beach and pool activities. The dinner was very good but not when compared to FIG. I started with the Pork Belly which I have always wanted to try. The table thought it was delicious but it was just too rich for my taste. I enjoyed the Whole Fried Flounder with a side of Roasted Beets, Cherries and Goat Cheese. My brother-in-law thoroughly enjoyed the Bone-In Ribeye which looked like a force to be reckoned with - a huge, juicy piece of beautiful meat. My sister enjoyed the special appetizer that the chef created for a James Beard event - Smoked Salmon, Sliced Potato, Cucumber and a Creme Fraiche + Dill Sauce. Light and delicious. Pecan Pie for dessert was good.

                              We went to Mt. Pleasant Seafood a few times. First for the shrimp (frozen from Florida and SC) and then for two whole red snapper that we baked in salt. The Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market on Tuesday afternoon was wonderful. I picked up some of the most delicious berries, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh corn. We also stopped at the New York Meat Market which my mom said was incredible. She picked up some gorgeous ribeye’s that we grilled. A much better selection than the local Publix grocery stores.

                              We made several trips to the Kudzu Bakery in Mt. Pleasant. Oh. My. Goodness. We ordered a Brown Sugar Peach Cake for my father’s birthday. It was out of this world delicious. I must find a recipe. Not one crumb left. They do run out by the end of the day so we stopped in the morning on our way to Charleston and purchased baguettes, buttermilk bread, some frozen items for the kid’s like pigs in a blanket, homemade soups and pastas then came back on our way back to IOP to pick them up. The buttermilk bread made delicious french toast. We also had some Oatmeal Coconut Cookies, Muffins and Pastries one morning. We would have loved to try the Key Lime Tart with Dark Chocolate Crust. I bought a Peach Pie but sadly didn’t get to have a piece before it was devoured.

                              We tried Eli’s Table for Saturday morning breakfast. As we passed Toast we were glad we did not have our hearts set on their breakfast. There must have been 25 people waiting outside at 9:00 and also at 10:00. Eli’s Table had the best breakfast grits ever but unfortunately the smoked salmon benedict didn’t impress me. Cold smoked salmon with a delicate poached egg on top...the egg turned cold really quickly.

                              I love to take a vacation that offers a variety of wonderful restaurants. Food is my reason to travel. This area was great and I can’t wait to get back and taste

                              1. re: amsquires

                                Wow! Well done. You did it all just right. I love my Mt. P Farmer's Market. Thanks for taking the time to write such an expansive report.