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Help for 4 days in Charleston

I'll be coming from Boston the first full weekend of June, visited many years ago and have wanted to go back for a while. I'm on my own (unless a friend happens to come up from FL) so I need places with good bar seating. I've read a lot of helpful posts and certainly won't be at a lost for higher end. Anson, Cru, Cypress/Magnolia's/Blossom, FIG, Grocery, Halls Chophouse, Hank's, Hominy Grill, Husk, The Ordinary, MacIntosh, McCrady's, Peninsula Grill, Rutledge Cab Co, Snob, Tristan. All of these sounds good but are some more comfortable/easy to grab a seat than others for a gal on her own? Don't want a menu where most entrees are >$30 (but I'll probably be eating apps).

Also looking for the funky places, the equivalent of Clover Grill in New Orleans or Corner Bistro in NY. Good burgers, grilled hot dogs, fried chicken, stuff like that. I've got Glazed Donuts on my list but if there are mom & pop shops around, let me know. Should I try the coca cola cake at Jestine's?

In addition, where are the rock bars/dives? Is there a club with live (rock) music? Staying on Spring St. and will not have a car. Thanks for your help and if anyone wants to split some of this fattening food with me, let me know.

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  1. I am from the NE originally and I can say that Charleston is kind of the opposite of "dive bar". I'll be paying close attention to see if you get any suggestions. The closest thing I've come across in the HD is The Blind Tiger. Oh, and they have great burgers too.

    That said, I recommend you hit up the bar at Husk and we have always enjoyed oysters and various things that swim at Pearlz Oyster Bar. SNOB has a good bar scene too. I love Cru and although it doesn't have a "real" booze bar, it has a counter-like bar that serves as a chef's table. You can dine there and watch the back-of-the-house action.

    If you can find your way to the mom & pop corner grocery store Burbages(157 Broad St.), I recommend it. It's kind of a glimpse back in time. They have quality house-made pimento cheese, great deli sandwiches or a pulled pork sandwich and a Cheerwine then head over that way.

    I'm sure you'll get some more good feedback. Enjoy your trip!

    5 Replies
    1. re: lynnlato

      A very short cab ride (or a long walk) would get you to the Tattooed Moose for something very casual and a bit more funky.


      1. re: ToothTooth

        ToothTooth I love your screen name!

        And you are right. Tattooed Moose has a great duck sandwich, a nice beer selection, and a fun late night bar scene.

        1. re: ToothTooth

          Good to know! It's going on the list for my visit next month. Great website, by the way.

          1. re: lynnlato

            We've been to Charleston a couple of times recently. Always a great time. For late night when Mrs CHM runs out of energy and curls up with a book, I head to Blind Tiger. Always a good band and relaxed atmosphere within walking distance of our hotel.

            1. re: chileheadmike

              Yea, I like the place. Even during the day it's a cool spot to stop by for a burger and a beer. The bartenders we've had have always been friendly and like you said, it has a nice relaxed atmosphere.

      2. Anson, Cypress and Tristan all have very nice bars. So does High Cotton. Walk along Upper King Street. There are lots of fun bars there, but you'll see lots of college students. The bar at Husk is interesting as well.

        Will you have a car? If so, the Voodoo Lounge West Ashley is fun. You could also go to Poe's on Sullivan's for a burger.

        If you haven't ever had Coca Cola cake, you should certainly try it. The fried chicken at Jestine's is good too.

        I urge you to go to FIG. It's really worth it.

        1. Highlights from our recent visit:
          Xiao Bao Biscuit-oriental fusion (bar seating)
          Two Boroughs Larder (bar seating)
          Both those should be walkable from Spring St, following two are on E Bay:
          The Gin Joint (bar seating, limited food menu-the BEST bar!)
          Green Door-the most eclectic menu I've seen in CHS
          Also did Macintosh, Ordinary, and repeat at Husk (that easily eclipses anything else....at a price of course).

          1. Just came back from Charleston on Monday (stayed 4 days and 3 nights). What a great town!!!!! Did most of the touristy things ; the market , the slave museum, Fort Sumter Monument, the Edmonston- Alston House, etc. Enough about that now for the resturants. Had dinner at 39 Rue de Jean, had the escargot very tiny and HARD but the sauce was great, the onion soup was delicious but loaded with too much bread and the filet of sole meuniere was very good , the atmosphere and service was terrific. The next night we had dinner at Hanks (at 9 p.m. was still packed) the mussels in white sauce was the best I ever had, had a salad with grilled shrimp which was very good and oyster stew which was $14 and was well worth the price; it was loaded with oysters and had a terrific broth. The next night we went to McCradys the quality was very good but the portions left a lot to be desired(rediciously small- a joke) and NOT worth $65 price fix . The thing that turned me off the most was the staff that took the reservation days in advance and said there was a 5:30 AND a 9:15 opened. Reclucently took the 9:15. The day of the reservation we happened to be in the vicinity at 5;00 to see where the restaurant was located and stopped in to see if they had a bar and asked if possibly there was a cancellation; the hostess said there was not she could either take us now or 8;45. we chose the 8:45. When we arrived at our appointed time the main room was half empty and the hostess took us to a back room which had 3 tables occupied I asked if we could sit in the main dining room she said no and walked away. All in all the front staff needs better training and the food leaves a lot to be desired; STAY AWAY!!!. 2 other places that I would like to mention are East Bay Meeting House(on East Bay Stree) for a drink (it's a bar and coffee house) great atmosphere, great drinks and friendly service. Also for lunch we went to CO (a noodle bar- on King Street) it had to be the best noodle soup that I ever had the broth had a roasted chicken flavor the portion and the $9 price was the best all around. Living in New York and frequently going to Momofuku (noodle bar). CO has them beat by a long shot. If I had stayed in Charleston longer I would definitely eaten there everyday.

            3 Replies
            1. re: victoria060

              I respectfully disagree - McCrady's was phenomenal in every regard. I went as a young, casually dressed solo diner and was treated like a king. I can't comment on the 4-course option since I had the tasting menu, but I left feeling extremely satiated. I also received a complete tour of the restaurant courtesy of my server.

              I also had dinner at Co on a separate occasion. The noodles were good, but nowhere near the level of an actual noodle house. The pork buns were just OK. An average pan-Asian restaurant, but saying they're vastly superior to Momofuku must be a joke.

              1. re: cocobinga

                I RESPECT YOUR opinion of McCrady's but my dining experience was not as phenomenal as yours (for the price we paid I wish is was). I believe those writing a review of a restaurant should be able to comment whether their experience was GOOD or BAD and just taken in that way.Example: I can go to some of my favorite restaurants a dozen times with no complaints and the time I recommend it to a friend or take someone there it can be a total bomb; but that's just the way it turns out sometimes. Thanks.

                1. re: cocobinga

                  Still get tickled ...stay away and mcCradys in the same sentence ...hilarious
                  I believe she said the same thing about blue hill!!!!

                  I find sometimes when I click someone's profile and every single post is a complaint ...that tells me all I need to know!

              2. Thanks for the various comments. I just read the 30th birthday thread which helps with thoughts too except I won't be eating full dinners. Keeping in mind that I'm just one gal who can't eat *that* much (and doesn't drink so much in general), I'm trying to figure out the best plan of attack. I know everyone loves FIG but its menu doesn't grab me the way a lot of the others do. $5 oyster slider at the Ordinary and crispy shortbreads from The Grocery are on the list and I have to have a souffle at Cypress one nite (those 3 restaurants on E. Bay sound great to me). I'd like to go during happy hour for a nice cocktail and good bar bite at places that make sense (SNOB, Pearlz, Macintosh?) then back out later for round two when it's hopefully easy to grab a seat at the bar. Lunch will usually be picking up random things while walking around altho the duck club sandwich at Tattooed Moose sounds great or something at Jestine's. And Poogan's Porch came recommended. I might have one real breakfast during the 4 days.

                I'm also still looking for the rock bar/club. Anything? Probably further out that I'd need a car for?

                Whatever, I'll figure it out but if you thought to yourself "I know exactly how this girl thinks" and had a plan, that would be great. Thx.

                1 Reply
                1. Both gathering more info and narrowing things down as my arrival date approaches. Do people like Early Bird Diner? A couple record stores are in that general direction and it seemed like it might be good (then I saw it was on DDD which is neither a plus or minus for me). Fried green tomato BLT sounds good. Also the BBQ place Bessinger's sounded ok.

                  Gathering happy hour info and I see that Hall's is supposed to have one but can't find details, does anyone know? Any of these HH better than others? Pearlz, East Bay Mtg House, Caviar & Bananas, Snob, Gin Joint, Macintosh, Grocery, Cocktail Club and Social Wine Bar?

                  Last, if you were bringing an easy to carry snack/meal for the flight back, what would it be? Or is there something good at the airport? Thanks again.

                  1. My daughter and her gang like AC's on King as divish bar that has a great happy hour and that does alt/punkish music.They have a big college crowd as it gets later.Also there is a great Doughnut spot on King called Glazed that everybody loves.

                    Charleston is not a BBQ town, and even then Bessingers is not the best.

                    1. A report of the eats around town. Lots of happy hour stops and few full meals.

                      Thurs: Checked into the crappy but awesomely located Days Inn around 3:00 and walked down Market St. where I was drawn in by the nice looking desserts at Kaminsky's. Got a good slice of banana cream pie, graham cracker crust could have been a little better. Eventually sat at the bar of Pearlz for some plump, nicely fried oysters and a sparkling wine for only $3. Met nice folks from the Boston neighborhood next to mine. Then I walked over to Macintosh for the infamous bacon happy hour. Went with a non HH Allagash and their bacon item was pork confit with a soft egg, kimche something and grilled bread for $5 I think. Ended later at Cypress with a grand marnier soufflé which had caught my eye while researching. Very light, very nice, cool room.

                      Fri. started with a bacon maple donut at Glazed. It was Natl Donut Day so I got a free iced coffee (alas I had to pay for the t-shirt). Very friendly, good donut just wish they had more cake style options. After riding the bus to hit the record stores out by the mall, I stopped for a fried green tomato BLT at the Early Bird Diner. I really didn't want a full meal but this sounded so good and was indeed tasty, came with a side so I chose their mac n cheese which was very good too, $8.95 I think. Back to King St. and stopped at Jim and Nick's BBQ to try their famous cheese biscuit which they were kind enough to give me for free since I only wanted one. Happy hour was a basic cocktail at Blossom, booze choices weren't so exciting and I wasn't in the mood for their food offer of fried calamari. Went across the street to Social for another sparkling wine deal and got some jasmine rice balls. Nicely done but too sweet for my taste. The fun part was that the girl next to me knew the same Boston band people. I left to do the Fri. art walk, saw a few nice things. Decided on Amen St. to watch the Bruins game where I had excellent she crab soup w/ grilled bread. I think this was my favorite "meal" of the trip. She made me a good cucumber Pimms cup and being from Providence, was interested in the game too.

                      Sat.: Walked thru the farmer's mkt and grabbed a beignet at the New Orleans cart, yum and only $1. Ginger iced tea from the Brunch guys was excellent. After a trip to Ft Sumter, I got a crabcake sandwich w/ cole slaw for $12 at Magnolia's. Another nice room. Walked down to the Battery then down King and ended up at High Cotton which has a happy hour from 4-7 every day. The drink was tequila, watermelon, mint and habanero, fun and only $5. I stopped by the food truck festival that evening but ended up eating at the bar of Virginia's on King to watch more hockey. Two people from Boston worked there so we talked Bruins, etc. Really was just eating to try as many places as possible and went with an app of pork and corn fritters w spicy BBQ sauce for $7.95. It was fine, not too exciting. Tried to get a drink at Husk and Fig but the bars were too crowded.

                      Sun. was an early lunch at Poogan's Porch where the bartender and manager were fun. A friend had recommended their fried chicken so I got that WAY earlier than I ever would with a side of mashed potato and greens ($12). Kind of surprised it was only chicken breast but nicely done. That evening I went out with the former Boston gal and we started at the Stars rooftop then to the Cocktail Club which was very quiet and very cool. Lots of fun drinks on their menu. We went over to Closed for Business to split the famous pork slap sandwich, $11 w/ fries. Messy but good. Then down the street to Hom where we heard the burgers were really good. We split one with bacon and pimento cheese. The best part is they have ping pong tables.

                      Mon.: I got breakfast at Toast at my hotel, some open faced omelet with grits and a biscuit. Seemed like the southern way to go. Brought back a vanilla scone from Whisk, delicious, and a duck confit sandwich and chewy cherry almond bar from Caviar & Bananas. Sorry I didn't get to more of the duck sandwiches I saw on menus.

                      So made a good dent for 4 days on my own. Glad to be back in the colder north tho.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Joanie

                        Thanks for giving us the detailed report. I've been swamped at work lately, sorrry I didn't reply. You really got a lot done! Except for Kaminskys (which I don't care for), your Thursday experience sounds perfect! What could be better than fried oysters and Champagne?

                        Glad you enjoyed Charleston.