The Best Restaurants in Charleston
Collected by AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
A city built on seafood and rice, Charleston remains focused on its abundance of local fish and produce, especially as its restaurant scene continues to boom. This once sleepy Southern town is now an international dining destination.
2332 Meeting Street Rd, Charleston, SC 29405, USA
Bertha’s simple decor and classic Southern home cooking are what make this restaurant a Charleston staple. Choose your meat—from fried chicken to pork chops—then add three sides, cornbread, and a sweet tea for a full meal.
1870 Bowens Island Rd, Charleston, SC 29412, USA
Bowens Island Restaurant has existed in one form or another since 1946. The original building, covered in Sharpie messages scrawled by diners over the years, burned to the ground in 2006. Owner Robert Barber rebuilt it...
229 St Philip St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
In the South, it's quite easy to eat bacon at every meal—it shows up in everything from the Bloody Marys to the brussels sprouts. After several days in Charleston, however, you might need a break from all that meat. Thankfully, the crew...
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,...
6 Payne Ct, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Everyone seems to be talking about Chez Nous and, frankly, it’s easy to see why. A meal here feels like dining at your most fashionable friend’s place. The restaurant is tucked away from the main drag in a beautiful Charleston single...
1081 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
This cavernous brewpub has a wide-open kitchen, a long bar, tall communal tables, and a patio shaded by live oaks. If you can, grab a seat at the chef’s counter and watch the team spread creamy aïoli on locally made rye...
98 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Gaulart & Maliclet (or as most locals call it, Fast and French) opened up in 1984 and it's been an institution ever since. I started tippling Orangina there as a pre-teen and still try to stop by every visit south (though now I go for the...
1219 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407, USA
This sweet restaurant in West Ashley serves up all the Southern classics, from fried green tomatoes to pimento cheese and grits, but makes everything with local ingredients. The grits come from nearby Edisto Island, and much of the produce is...
207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
For those seeking a true taste of Charleston, it’s hard to recommend anywhere better than Hominy Grill. You’ll likely have to wait for a table, but just grab a drink in the front courtyard until it’s your turn to sit. Meals...
76 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
At this Charleston hit, James Beard Award–winning chef Sean Brock reinterprets traditional Southern dishes with a steadfast commitment to local and regional ingredients—the restaurant even has its own garden. Constantly changing, the...
34 Center St, Charleston, SC 29412, USA
This tarot-themed bar and restaurant is the perfect fit for Folly Beach: unpretentious, fun, and friendly. Their beer list runs the gamut from basic to craft, and the creative food menu takes inspiration from Thai, Indian, and Japanese cuisine.
698 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Leon’s is a meticulously renovated former auto-body shop that's now famous for oysters and fried chicken. Don’t overlook chef Ari Kolender’s shrimp roll, though—lightly dressed with horseradish mayo, it’s served...
464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
It seems criminal that what many consider the best barbecue in Charleston comes from a Texas pit-master, but such is the nature of a global food scene in a thriving culinary city. John Lewis arrived in town with focus and intention, constructing...
710 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
When local restaurateurs Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink shut down Saint Alban, Charleston was distraught. They had something different in mind for the space, however, and replaced their airy, all-day café with a cozy steak house straight out of...
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,...
1068 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
This tiny, pink soul food restaurant is a great spot to visit for fried chicken, fried pork chops, and, for the adventurous, fried chitterlings. Don’t let all that deliciousness keep you from trying the stand-out veggies, though, which range...
2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
The restaurant where Sean Brock got his start, McCrady’s has a long history as a neighborhood watering hole and pub that goes all the way back to the 1700s. In 2016, however, the cozy building, with its brick interior and homey bar, got a...
544 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
A two-story dining room with an always-packed raw bar, The Ordinary serves some of the South’s best seafood. Here, chef Mike Lata dishes up must-try options like a seafood tower, crab toast, fish chowder, and triggerfish with fingerling...
112 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Peninsula Grill is located in the Planters Inn, right on often-boisterous Market Street, but the restaurant couldn't be more peaceful with seating on a green and lovely cobbled courtyard or inside a hushed formal dining room. Enjoy the fresh fish,...
616 Meeting St A, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Spero focuses on small plates made with local, seasonal produce. The restaurant’s unpretentious vibe belies its sophisticated menu, for which most everything is crafted on-site—including the delicious bread (order the bread-and-butter...
2063 Middle St, Sullivan's Island, SC 29482, USA
Just blocks from the beach, the Obstinate Daughter focuses on Italian favorites and local food, with a heavy dose of seafood appropriate to its Sullivan’s Island location. The space is nautical without feeling cheesy, featuring walls covered...
730 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Despite its refined food and atmosphere, the Park Cafe is really a neighborhood spot at heart. It opens up at 7 a.m. on weekdays, dishing out top-notch coffee and avocado toast, and stays open into the evening with great cocktails and a diverse...
5760, 41 Bogard St # A, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
This unassuming building in a quiet, mostly residential neighborhood is serving up some of Charleston's best Italian. Trattoria Lucca, which opened up in 2008, is known for its pasta, made fresh in house daily. The restaurant's chef and owner, Ken...
224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
XBB, as locals call it, occupies a remodeled and brightly furnished former gas station in the Elliotborough neighborhood. Catering to its surfer clientele with Nicaraguan beer, the spot also offers a constantly changing menu of authentic Asian...
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