The Best Biscuits, Sweets, and Desserts in Charleston
Visiting Charleston without conducting a personal biscuit survey? Not recommended. Leaving town without indulging in a slice of the Peninsula Grill’s coconut pie? Borderline crazy. This city, known for its history and gracious charm, can also put ridiculously decadent carbohydrates on its list of attractions.
476 1/2 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Whether it’s for breakfast, brunch, or a late eat after a night of revelry on King Street, owner Carrie Morey whips her mother’s recipe of the freshly baked, handmade Southern staples inside this counter-serve bake shop. Consisting of flour, butter, cream cheese, and buttermilk, biscuits come in sweet and savory flavors such as cheese and chive, country ham, blackberry, and black pepper bacon. For a more substantial meal, specials like fried chicken and pickle, and pimento cheese sandwiches are available. You’ll definitely stand in line at this sunny little counter-only shop, but here’s an insider tip: You can order ahead on the Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit app.
481 King Street
It’s always hard to choose between the selections at Glazed Gourmet, because the menu of fancy flavors is always changing. If you don’t order today, will you ever get the chance again? The big chocolate-filled Black and White? The apple bacon fritter? Or maybe a honey bun... Always on the menu and always recommended is a cup of chai latte.
479 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Charleston, South Carolina ranks in my book as one of America’s top food cities. I recently stopped by The Macintosh to try their much-raved about brunch. Chef Jeremiah Bacon (yes, real last name) turns out heart-stopping dishes like rabbit hash, spicy grilled chorizo with Anson Mills grits, and something called the “Mac Attack” which includes pork belly bone marrow bread pudding and a poached egg. Chef Bacon’s Southern riff on the classic Mexican breakfast dish huevos rancheros includes refried Sea Island red beans, cheese curd, and lots of tender pork confit. It pairs perfectly with a Bloody Mary (or two).
6768, 252 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Come to this neighborhood corner establishment for the seafood, but don’t overlook the beef tartare, complemented by radish, nori, and ranch (and don’t be ashamed to order two if you’re with a party of three or more). Pricing is akin to the Ordinary, without that big brother’s fancy full experience, but it’s worth a visit for treats like tempura blowfish tails—bone-in adult lollypops of crispy, savory flavor, with lemon and spicy mayo on the side. Unconventional entrees like the smoked fish curry (amberjack one week, mackerel the next) with pumpkin and peanuts and hints of citrus, make each bite a pleasant and surprising adventure of textures and tastes. The tiny dining room gets packed quickly on weekends, and the residential setting means they still haven’t acquired a liquor license a year in, but the flavor is worth any sacrifice. The small but excellent wine list includes creative sparkling varietals, and the restaurant is one of a few places in town to serve Life Raft Treats desserts—don’t leave without a waffle-flavored ice cream in the shape of a small chicken leg, coated in toasted corn flakes, wrapping a frozen cream-filled chocolate wafer.
112 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
The Peninsula Grill is located in the Planters Inn hotel on often-boisterous Market Street, but the restaurant couldn’t be more peaceful. Guests are seated on a lovely green and cobbled courtyard or inside a hushed and romantic dining room. Enjoy the classic seafood-forward menu—lobster three ways (ravioli, tempura, and sauteed in butter) is a favorite, if rich, starter, as is the she-crab soup. For main courses, the ultratender pan-roasted sea scallops in lobster broth draw raves from regulars, but save room for the Ultimate Coconut Cake, one of the most famous desserts in Charleston—so beloved that it can be shipped overnight, if you get a sudden craving.
59.5 cannon st
The success of this tiny bakery, open on Cannon Street since 2007, rings like a harbinger of the change to the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood over the last decade. Two New York architects fled the big city to make cupcakes in a local nook. They’re not propped up by alcohol sales, and until the last few years, they were well off the Upper King Street walking route of most tourists. But they’ve thrived, due to a commitment to local farm-raised ingredients and uncompromising baked-daily cooking. Daily specials like Thursday’s Lady Baltimore cake sell out quickly, but don’t fret—there are plenty of cookies and cupcakes on hand until close (6 p.m. on weekdays). Although seating is limited inside—six can squeeze together, at best—you won’t be blamed for devouring the lovely confections on the spot. Go ahead and spoil your dinner with a chocolate bourbon pecan tart; even in a city full of food, it may be the best thing you eat all day.
120 King St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Greg Johnsman is well known in Charleston kitchens for his Geechie Boy Grits, which he mills on Edisto Island and ships around the world. A partnership with Nathan Thurston, who launched Stars on Upper King, lured Johnsman into the restaurant business. Their breakfast-all-day joint was a rare opening on Lower King when it debuted in early 2018. There’s no need to wait until the weekend for brunch—Millers’s Southern-focused kitchen dishes out biscuits and gravy, waffles doused in caramel and sorghum, and a towering bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on brioche until 3 p.m. every weekday. It’s also one of the few spots in town where Hoppin’ John is on the regular menu, a local heritage dish that features Carolina Gold rice and Sea Island red peas, bolstered by a corn muffin. The small assortment of grocery items makes for excellent take-home gifts: a jar of hot pickled okra, hickory syrup, or their trademark grits.