Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®
Exploring the Best of Charleston's Food Scene
When describing Charleston’s remarkable culinary scene, some critics follow their praise with "for a city its size." The truth, however, is that no such disclaimer is necessary. Charleston is home to world-famous chefs, as well as restaurants that have been preparing time-tested recipes for generations. This is a city that celebrates both haute cuisine and Lowcountry fare.

John Clifford of International Travel Management, a member of AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council, has designed an itinerary for anyone interested in tasting all the flavors of Charleston. Stops along the way include many of the city’s leading restaurants as well as shops and markets that offer other opportunities to learn about Charleston’s rich culinary offerings.
  • Original charleston food day 1.jpg?1474826811?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Day 1
    Arrive in Charleston
    Your base in Charleston will be either a suite at Belmond Charleston Place, the city’s grand dame, or a room at one of the new boutique contemporary options, The Spectator Hotel.

    The Belmond Charleston Place has long been one of the city’s most acclaimed hotels, an elegant favorite in the heart of the historic district. With recent renovations to its guest rooms and chef Michelle Weaver, one of Charleston’s culinary stars, at the helm of the award-winning Charleston Grill, the hotel is not resting on its laurels.

    The Spectator Hotel is newer to the scene, having opened in 2015, but it’s already been recognized as one of the city’s most appealing contemporary options. The interiors are a stylish interpretation on 1920s style, and rooms have private patios with views of the French Quarter—one of Charleston’s oldest neighborhoods—or the historic St Philip’s Church.

    After you’re settled take in a local walk along King Street with its antiques and home goods stores as well as inviting cafés. Enjoy lunch in the casual setting of a 100-year-old building at Kitchen 208, featuring fresh ingredients and a whimsical menu.

    Round out your afternoon with a rickshaw tour of the antebellum homes and Charleston’s riverfront, before a stroll along East Bay Street.

    Start the evening with cocktails at the Spectator Hotel’s popular cocktail lounge before dinner at the Charleston Grill at the Belmond Charleston Place. John recommends the seared flounder with crab or, even better, commit to Chef Michelle Weaver’s six-course Tasting Menu and you won’t be disappointed.
  • Original charleston food day 2.jpg?1474827729?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Day 2
    A Plantation Visit and Dining Around Town
    Today you can live out your Scarlett & Rhett fantasies, while also learning about the Lowcountry’s culinary past with a visit to Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens in Mount Pleasant. This estate is located on 738 acres and was founded in 1681 as a cotton plantation; it has more recently appeared in films including Gone With The Wind and North and South. The plantation has been growing its own produce for three centuries, and you’ll find it for sale—along with the plantation’s jams, jellies, and sauces—at the nearby Boone Hall Farms Market.

    Head back to town for lunch at the Ordinary, famous for its seafood and oyster bar. From ceviche starters to main courses like whole baked porgy with sweet corn, chanterelles, and fresh dug potatoes, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable meal made with the freshest fish possible.

    After fueling up at lunch, spend some time exploring White Point Gardens overlooking the harbor and Cooper River. The lush park is filled with war relics and monuments and has stunning views of Fort Sumter. End your stroll at Waterfront Park and view the dolphins from relaxing porch swings.

    This evening’s dinner is at the celebrated 82 Queen, where Lowcountry specialties like fried green tomatoes, she-crab soup, and barbecued shrimp and grits are served in three 300-year-old buildings around a courtyard shaded by a magnolia tree. Leave room for the restaurant’s famous bourbon pecan pie.
  • Original charleston food day 3.jpg?1474828062?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Day 3
    A Chefs’ Tour of Charleston
    Start your final day with the Chefs’ Kitchen Tour with Culinary Tours Of Charleston. You’ll go behind the scenes, and into the kitchens, with some of the chefs who have led the city’s culinary renaissance. On this three-hour tour, you’ll walk and dine—learning from top chefs as you eat your way through town, ending with artisanal pastries and coffee.

    Grab lunch today at one of Caviar & Bananas' two locations (51 George and 188 Meeting, in the City Market Great Hall). The café sells soups, salads, and sandwiches, and you’ll also want to explore the gourmet market for local and imported ingredients you’ll want to take home with you.  

    This afternoon you may enjoy a visit to the Charleston Museum or the Gibbes Museum of Art, the gardens at Middleton Place or a stroll along Folly Beach.

    Your last-but-certainly-not-least dinner will unfold at celebrated FIG over suckling pig confit and perfectly plated pastas. The restaurant’s name is an acronym for “food is good,” and when James Beard award-winner Mike Lata opened it in 2003 it permanently changed the city’s restaurant scene. Described as the godfather of Charleston’s restaurants, FIG has inspired countless young chefs.
  • Original charleston food day 4.jpg?1474828301?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Day 4
    Market Day
    Between early April and the end of November, the Saturday Farmers Market kicks off at 8 a.m. at Marion Square and makes a satisfying final stop on your culinary adventure. In addition to checking out the produce from area farms, fresh baked muffins, pastries, and coffee are available for a light breakfast. It’s also a good place to buy preserves and other food gifts for friends, or to stock your own pantry so that you can still enjoy the flavors of Charleston long after you return to your own kitchen