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Low Country Road Trip

We're driving from Savannah to Charleston via Beaufort over 10 days in late March/early April. Please give me some recommendations for good, honest, local food. Not a fan of fine dining unless it's really exceptional.

I've looked at past discussions and got a good sense for what's available. What are your favourites?



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  1. Bowens Island in Charleston for steamed Oysters. Fig or McGradys in Charleston for great food/fine dining
    A drink or 3 on the roof top of the Market Pavilion in Charleston as the sun sets.

    No idea about Beaufort.

    1. Do you want to stay in close proximity to downtown CHS or drive out, and maybe into some more seedy neighborhoods, for good, honest local food?

      Bowens Island for oysters? Only if you want to pay double for the same you get elsewhere. We never go to that place, but alot of people do like it.

      Between Bluffton & Beaufort on 170, around Okatie, is Palmetto Smokehouse. Pretty tasty bbq.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JayL

        Thanks for the feedback.

        We'll be driving around, doing some day trips from each location and don't mind going to whatever neighborhood has good food.

      2. Hal are you Canadian? If so you need to absorb all the lowcountry you can get.Yes FIG and McCrady's are two of Charleston's best, but the are similar to other very good spots anywhere in North America.

        I'd focus on spots like SeeWee, Martha Lou's, Ernie's, Charlie Brown's, Dave's and certainly places Like Hank's and Hominy.

        Charleston is an interesting place.I remember in about 1970 when I was a kid a local cop chastised my family for being tourists on Cannon street very close to sundown.He told us we were north of Broad,and we needed to be somewhere else.Over the years that imaginary line migrated up to Calhoun, and I suppose is now at Spring Street.Our daughter took us to a good new Asian place right across From Ernie's on Spring.

        I have mixed feelings about whats going on.We are pretty seriousy looking at buying a small single house up there somewhere.Cleaning things up is fine, but allowing Charleston to become something like Williamsburg VA can't happen.

        22 Replies
        1. re: mollybelle

          I'm from Toronto.

          Thanks for the restaurant recommendations, just what I'm looking for.

          Toronto (or any large North American city) has dozens of very good restaurants with $30-40 "New American" entrees, but I can get that stuff at home. We want to try the local favourites. Doesn't have to be southern food either, because we may want a change. I've got Chai Pani in Asheville bookmarked.

          1. re: hal2010

            I forgot to mention that sometime in April The softshell crab season begins an lasts maybe a month.An old New England lobsterman I know who moved south almost tears up when talking about his first softshell experience.I think he said "the heavens parted and the angels sang".Also, if you are going to be traveling around that much, you need to hit one good BBQ joint.Give us an updated travel plan later and we can try to help out.


            1. re: mollybelle

              SeeWee would be perfect.
              I also agree with Hominy Grill and would also add Pages okra grill.

              1. re: mollybelle

                Thanks everyone. Here's our itinerary:

                Frankfort KY 1 night
                Asheville 1 night
                Savannah 3 nights
                Beaufort 3 nights
                Charleston 4 nights
                Morgantown 1 night

                We're leaving Toronto on the 16th of March, returning on the 29th.

                1. re: hal2010

                  Just one opinion...but 3 nights in Beaufort may be extremely boring for you. I'd do 2 nights and slip en extra night in for Asheville, Savannah, or Charleston.

                  1. re: JayL

                    Agreed. I'd use the extra night for Asheville. One night is not enough!

                    1. re: JayL

                      I agree about Beaufort. I was stationed there. 1.5 days is enough.

                    2. re: hal2010

                      Asheville needs to be Seven Sows or the Admiral.

                      1. re: JB BANNISTER

                        Thanks. We're arriving late and leaving early from Beaufort so we have 2 full days and one will just be relaxing mid-trip. Asheville was an afterthought and we'll have to make the most of our one night. Maybe we can arrive early and leave late. Or maybe we can add an extra day there.....started with 10 days, now we're at 13, might be three weeks by the time we're done.

                        Seven Sows looks great!

                        Where's the best Fried Chicken on our route?

                        1. re: hal2010

                          Seven Sows is cooking fried chicken at the South Beach Food and Wine festival. It must be good.

                      2. re: hal2010

                        Why Frankfort, ky? If I was in my beloved Ky in April I would be one place...Kenneland in Lexington. Second choice would be Boone Tavern in Berea.

                        1. re: LaLa

                          Frankfort is a 9 hour drive from Toronto, which is about all I want to do in a day. The next day we plan to drive through horse country and around the south of Lexington.

                          Thanks to everyone for the travel tips but I fear the mods may step in to remind us this isn't Tripadvisor. I've got travel inquiries going on at a couple of other sites.

                          1. re: hal2010

                            Makes sense, I guess...Frankfort is not a destination by any means and Lexington is so close I just didn't understand why anyone would stop there.

                            1. re: hal2010

                              We drove to Toronto from Charleston a couple years ago. Straight through on the way up. We did switch driving duties a few times between the two of us. It was about 18 hours if I remember.

                              Got there and my wife's sister had curried goat belly hot & waiting. Worth the trip right there! LoL

                        2. re: mollybelle

                          Hey Rob,

                          I'll be driving through the area next week and am interested in the same food as hal described. Couple days in Charleston, couple days in Asheville. I understand Asheville isn't a BBQ city. Any recs for bbq? Should I plan a day to visit another city for that, or just stop there on the drive between charleston and Asheville?

                          We have time to travel to more places, just don't want to get too far away as we have to travel back to Sarasota.

                          1. re: szw

                            Very good bbq in Asheville at 12 Bones. If you have time, Scott's in Hemingway, SC is worth the detour as you travel between Charleston and Asheville.

                            1. re: szw

                              I've not been to 12 bones.It may be great, but I have a hard time trusting BBQ that's not out in the sticks.

                              McCabe's and Scott's are both great.McCabe's is an easy detour, Scott's is further.Google Hemingway Sc and Manning SC.Both places have been discussed extensively on CH.

                              1. re: mollybelle

                                You should at least try it before you dis it.

                          2. re: hal2010

                            Hey hal.

                            I'm from Toronto and am planning a "lowcountry" list of places to go as well. Stuff we don't get in Toronto...

                            We are stationed in florida for vacation and we have a car and are planning 2 days in charleston, probably a couple days in Ashevile. After that, not sure where to go. Thanks for sharing your itinerary. Do you have a list of places in each of those cities that you'd mind sharing?

                            BTW we are planning on starting our road trip around Fri Jan 24 and driving straight to charleston and starting from there.

                            1. re: szw

                              Still a lot of research to do but here's what I have so far:

                              Luella's BBQ
                              Chai Pani
                              Seven Sows

                              Hominy Grill
                              Dave's Carry-out

                                1. re: szw

                                  If you guys go to Dave's, make sure and get the butter beans.If you are going up or down I-26, please consider a short detour up I-95 to McCabe's BBQ. They have great vinegar sauce, great fried chicken and sides.

                        3. Do NOT miss Hominy Grill in Charleston. The wait is worth it, trust me. It's nothing fancy but it's the best food I've had in the Southeast period. Enjoy!

                          1. What ever you do, do not miss, IMO, the best Italian restaurant in SC. Griffin Market in downtown Beaufort. Perfect food and a million dollar wine collection. Truly memorable.

                            1. We did a similar trip but for the most part we cooked at "home" and had wonderful seafood daily. Of the few meals we ate out, brunch at Poogan's Porch in in Charleston was our favorite.

                              1. We just came back from a quick overnight in Ashville...We had well crafted drinks at Chai Pani/MG Road, excellent small plates at both Rhubarb (Southern focused) and Curate (Spanish focused) and a really swell breakfast at Sunny Point Cafe...all highly recommended.

                                1. Cooper's Country Store is worth a trip. It is a little further NW from Charleston but sounds like a good fit.


                                  1. Is Tybee Island on the coast east of Savannah worth a trip? If so, where to eat?

                                    1. We leave on Saturday. Have breakfast included at all accommodations except Charleston

                                      Reserved: Seven Sows
                                      On the list: Chai Pani, Rhubarb, Luella

                                      Reserved: Pink House, will also definitely hit Crystal Beer Parlour.
                                      On the list: Johnny Harris, Masada, Sandfly, Sundae

                                      Reserved: Griffin Market
                                      On the list: Emily's, Suwan Thai, Sweetgrass, Big Joes

                                      Reserved: nothing yet
                                      On the list: Hominy Grill, Xiao Bao Biscuit, Seewees, Eli's table, Glass Onion, Taco Boy, Ernie's, Daves.

                                      What would be our best selection for seafood in Charleston? Breakwater? The Ordinary?

                                      Have we missed anything exceptional? We are looking for good, honest food. Not fans of fine dining unless it's really great. $150 for 2 is our max dinner budget including a couple of beers for me and a glass of wine for my wife.

                                      Thanks. looking forward to a delicious trip.


                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: hal2010

                                        marina variety store for breakfast in Charleston.A week ago I had spectacular fried oysters and perfect eggs all with the great view for dinner food prices.Fried seafood for breakfast is wonderful!

                                        1. re: hal2010

                                          Skip SeeWees, Eli's Table, and Taco Boy. Your other choices are ok; however you should include the Ordinary. Hit Xiao Bao for lunch. Two Borrows Ladder is a great dinner spot and Twenty Six Divine is a hidden gem for lunch. Park Cafe is new and they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.If you like sweets, you must try Christophe's on Society and King.

                                          1. re: hal2010

                                            You'd better check if Ernie's is even still in business. See this article from November 2013:


                                          2. On the road. Now in Beaufort, heading to Charleston tomorrow.

                                            Briefly - the casual local places have been great. Let down by all of the places we reserved. Seven Sows, Pink House and especially Griffin Market.

                                            I'll post more when we get home.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: hal2010

                                              Butcher and Bee in Charleston should be on your list. Can't wait to read your reviews.

                                              1. re: hal2010

                                                In Charleston go to Hominy Grill and Jestine's Kitchen. Both great, non-pretentious and relatively low priced.

                                                1. re: hal2010

                                                  where have you booked in Charleston?

                                                  1. re: veganhater

                                                    Have been to Husk, The Grocery, Cru Cafe, Glazed Donuts and Southeast Brew Co. The Grocery was our best meal yet.

                                                2. We were in Charleston/Hilton Head & Savannah last summer and are planning a return trip to Charleston this summer as well. We had only spent 5 days in Charleston and felt like we only scratched the surface. It also turned-out to be our favorite city.

                                                  We self-catered and ended-up only eating out once, at Jestine's and it was a huge disappointment. It is a completely charming place, the service is fantastic but the food was mediocre to us.

                                                  I had the fried green tomato salad and it was pitiful by any standards. My husband had the fried chicken which was scalding hot and bone-dry.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: corj

                                                    Don't take this wrong, but if you spent five days in Charleston and the only place you made it to was Jestine's, then you rode to town on the culinary short bus!

                                                    1. re: corj

                                                      Yes i was disappointed there too. for the life of me i don't get why its got the rep., seems really uneven.

                                                      so maybe just go to Martha Lou's and, for $$, Husk or Glass Onion (on Chicken Night). Get the fried chicken at each one and let us know what you think.

                                                      Tomato Shed tomato pie?