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Sep 23, 2012 11:48 AM

Find me local Charleston eats & southern cuisine

I'm headong to Charleston for vacation / food adventure next week & I was disappointed in the blogs I have read so far, the information was ok & not much more. I'm a little new to Chowhound so maybe I didnt look in the right places. Charleston has a reputation for great southern food, soul food & low country cooking, etc & I'm not getting the info I need to make my 4 days in Charleston outstanding. I'm from NJ, New York City is my life support. I'm a foodie, a use-to-be chef, and well traveled for my income level. I'll be in Charleston for 4 nights & I really need tips on where to get some great local quisine. Seafood, shrimp & grits, pork, biscuits & gravey, BBQ and what ever else you can "dish" out. From high end to low end just let me hear what you have to say..... and tips on where to avoid are also welcome.

Thanks use guys & hope to be saying y'all when I leave.

Here is what I have come up with so far from Chow Hound, I'm out to buy Zaggats right now & hope to see some responses when I return:

Hominy Grillshrimp & grits (but the picture I saw had mushrooms??)
Charleston Grill - for dinner
High Cotton - Sunday Brunch
McGrady's - all around excellent
FIG - 2nd to McGrady's
SNOB - I was here 15 years ago & I had a great 3 course $20 lunch. Is it still good?
Fish net - take out only.
Early Bird - DDD chicken & waffles. Although invented here in NYC its not popular.

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  1. Hominy Grill - excellent choice. They use the Bill Neal recipe for shrimp and grits (invented at Crooks Corner in Chapel Hill, NC), found here:

    Yes, it contains mushrooms and it should. This is the gold-standard shrimp and grits recipe. Please also note that for lunch, Hominy Grill offers one of the best meat-and-three experiences in South Carolina. We're talking local triggerfish or snapper and other "comfort" dishes, served with a bunch of veggie side dish offerings like collards and squash casserole. Their buttermilk pie and chocolate pudding are also amazing, award-winning desserts.

    Charleston Grill, High Cotton and SNOB - I'd skip all of those. Heyday was about 10-15 years ago for these and they are geared more towards tourists or expense account dining. Substitute in The Grocery, Oak Steakhose, The Mcintosh and/or Red Drum Gastropub for chefs that are currently at the top of their game.

    McCrady's (with a "C") - great choice. FIG - totally different from McCrady's - FIG is one of the best farm/sea-to-table restaurants in the country (if I could only eat at one Charleston restaurant, it'd be FIG), whereas McCrady's is about, yes, using fresh and local ingredients but is more "upscale" and experimental. I'd do both.

    Fishnet - a bit of a drive. If you want a great takeout place doing locally-sourced seafood, do Dave's Carryout in downtown Charleston instead.

    Chicken & waffles - the only people who think chicken & waffles is a southern thing are people who don't live in the south. It's not popular down here either. Wouldn't waste a meal on it.

    BBQ - you're not going to find good BBQ in Charleston. The closest top quality pits are McCabe's in Manning, SC and Scott's BBQ in Hemingway, SC, each of which is a 2 hour drive.

    Finally, instead of buying Zagat's, you're going to get a LOT more reliable and up-to-date information from this one locally-produced guide at the following link:

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikeh

      ditto everything mikeh said. (which is unusual for me)

    2. mikeh knows his stuff. I agree with all of that. However, I like the shrimp and grits at Atlanticville (on Sullivans), and Anson much better than Hominy. You might want to check out those websites.

      I agree about Grocery, the 'Tosh and Red Drum. I would add 2 Boroughs Larder and Butcher and Bee.

      FIG is sublime. I've been numerous times and never been disappointed. DO make a reservation. It gets crowded. I like it better than McCrady's. McCrady's is art on a plate. Very creative, unusual and delicious, ut if you have a hearty appetite you'll spend some bucks.

      I am born and raised in the South and I have never had chicken and waffles. I'd rather have bacon and something for breakfast.

      The biscuits and gravy are good at Page's in Mt Pleasant. You also might want to go out to Seewee, on 17 north of Mt Pleasant. There's lots of construction between the bridge and the Seewee but it's worth it.

      1. I have spent everyday in Charleston at MUSC the last three weeks and my husband and I have walked down to Hominay Grill a few times to get some air and a bite...The shrimp and grit are very good but oh my get the Big Nasty~ it is so good. The pilau is also a lovely take on a lowcountry classic. The buttermilk pie taste like my grannys did...yum....but OMG the choc pudding is heaven.
        Big fan of bucther and bee
        seewee is 16 miles out and worth it...i would even

        6 Replies
        1. re: LaLa

          Gosh, hope you're okay. That Big Nasty is great. I also like the cocktails with Cheerwine and SunDrop.

          1. re: Sue in Mt P

            I had a baby and he was born a little over 9 weeks early but he is doing great and hopefully will get to come home soon. :)
            I have had that cheerwine cocktail very good.
            I forgot to mention the best time...the tomato is sooo goood!

            1. re: LaLa

              Well, I hope Baby LaLa gets to go home soon.

              That tomato pudding reminds me of my grandmother's scalloped tomatoes.

              And I really think the OP won't have any trouble finding local or Southern food in Charleston. Not sure what the problem is with the boards.

              1. re: Sue in Mt P

                Thank you for all the commentary, I will be researching all locations & most likely make reservations at FIG, which sounds like the fine dining establishment I am looking for to celebrate my anniversary. Shrimp & grits love & can't wait to try all the variations, I'll be happy with mediocre shrimp & grits hahaha! (by the way I had great BBQ shrimp & grits at the Ruby Slipper in New Orleans last year for breakfast, had it twice! Perfect cheese grits with light BBQ sauce on local Louisiana shrimp.) How about seafood, is Charleston a seafood town. I've got the fishnet on my radar but is there anywhere to spread out news paper & throw a pile seafood on the table & crack open some crabs, clams, etc? These types of establishments have been disappearing from my area, guess we ate up the supply + years pollution = slow recovery that can't keep up with demand. Barnegate Bay ran out crabs years ago, at least what I have seen is not what I remember when I was young.

                And how about desserts & bakeries? I use to be a pastry cook, sweets & excellent breads are my thing, especially chocolate. Do any of these restaurants have pastry chef? And are there any bakeries to start my day with coffee & croissant(or whatever the local fair is?)

                Thanks for the BBQ tip, I'll save those tastebudds for Raleigh which is where we will be for the 2nd 1/2 of my vacation. We already got a tour guide, my wife's sister & husband, & there's enough TV coverage to get me around. But once again I'm always open to tips but would really like to keep this forum focused on Charleston.

                1. re: TheBaconator

                  Ah, yeah, Charleston is a seafood town since it IS on the coast. If you see wreckfish or triggerfish as a special get it. Any of the nicer restaurants will have excellent desserts and that includes FIG. Look at the menu and see a sample.

                  Look at Bowen's Island on Folly Road and see if it fits your criteria.

                  I never go to bakeries in the HD so I can't help you with breakfast. There ARE some places that get good reviews. Toast is one, Dixie Supply is another. And Hominy Grill, of course, has the Big Nasty.

                  1. re: Sue in Mt P

                    As far as bakeries go, Glazed is an amazing doughnut place on King St. Like them on Facebook and you can see their daily menu, but they make amazing and unusual doughnuts, like the Purple Goat, which is a blissful combination of triple berry goat cheese filling and lavender glaze. Yum!

                    I also love WildFlour on Spring St. for their cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, but those are only available on Sundays and you have to get there early or there will be a line out the door!

                    Macaroon Boutique has excellent macaroons and lovely croissants, especially the chocolate filled croissants.

                    So glad that I'm heading to CHS in 1.5 weeks! :)