Charleston Restaurant Favorites

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I first discovered Charleston over fifteen years ago when I planned a family vacation going up the east coast from Florida to South Carolina. The goal: discover new and different places. What I never expected was to fall head over heels in love with one of those places that, as it turns out, is a mere four hours from my home. Be still my heart! Over time, what seemed to be a small city, relatively unknown by the masses, exploded in popularity! Hotel prices skyrocketed and, all of a sudden, there was a need for reservations for everything! From boat tours to restaurants to hotels. You could no longer arrive randomly and still get a room to sleep in at night. Planning had to happen at least a week in advance. Of course, none of that deterred my love for the beautiful coastal city. I loved that I could play in the water during the day and eat well at night. Nothing makes a coastal trip as worth it as having a variety of things of which to see and do.

Over the next month, I'm going to take you on an adventure, exploring what makes Charleston an awesome place to visit. I'll share awesome museums and places to visit, great hotels, where to get the best food, and so much more! If you don't know much about Charleston, this will be your chance to learn! :)

Today I'm beginning with a few of my favorite restaurants…

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1. Toast!: A carafe of mimosa for a cheap price? Delicious breakfast in downtown Charleston? Yes, please. But awake early. If you don't, you will be waiting in a long line that you won't get out of until lunch time. If that. Toast is popular, which is telling. You won't walk away hungry. :)

2. Marina Variety Store: Where do the locals go for food and a view? Well, you can always tell when you stumble upon a restaurant with a bunch of old folks who are conversing about how they never manage to make it to the Isle of Palms or Folly Beach which are a mere 30 minutes away from this not quite downtown Charleston location. :) In fact, the majority of the people at this establishment seemed to know each other – another good sign. Justin and I ordered a hearty breakfast that included one of my favorites – fried green tomatoes. However, if you're more into seafood, this is also the place to go, especially for breakfast. Choices on the menu include crab cake benedict, Lowcountry shrimp and grits, crab and cheese omelet, Georgia style hash browns (with corned beef hash and hollandaise sauce), and Hawaiian french bread toast. So, something for everyone. :) With a view of the marina to boot!

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3. FIG (Food Is Good): Do you have the OpenTable app on your phone? Is your trip more than 28 days away? If so, set an alarm for exactly 28 days out from your trip, so that you can make reservations at this fancy-but-amazing restaurant. FIG is no ordinary restaurant. The chefs serve only the best foods and change the menu up nearly every day. The menu can be complicated and hard to read for somebody who doesn't have much experience in the culinary industry, but the waiters and waitresses are quick to offer help and break down exactly what you will be getting. My favorites – the ricotta gnocchi with lamb bolognese (and I never eat lamb!), the cheese platter, and the yukon gold potato purée. (We only ever get sides and appetizers, but they are so worth it!) While you will pay a lot for the food you get, the food you get will be some of the best you've ever had. No doubt about it. :)

4. SNOB (Slightly North of Broad): This is one of our favorite restaurants in Charleston. No matter what we order, we always seem to get something absolutely amazing. The lovely chandeliers hanging from the ceilings provide atmosphere making the restaurant an enjoyable location for vacation and business diners alike. If you sit in the back of the restaurant, you can watch the chefs cook or, if you sit toward the front of the restaurant, you can look out onto the busy streets of Charleston. You can expect to find locally sourced vegetables, cheeses, and fish at this restaurant. My favorite dish here is the vegetable plate wherein the vegetables served are changed up daily based on what is seasonally available and being served with other plates on the menu.

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5. Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar: A favorite place in the city to get drinks and watch the sunset, the view is absolutely astounding! Unfortunately, the food is expensive here, so you may only want to consider this location for before or after dinner drinks and the view. Nevertheless, it is a must. Walk yourself through the Market Pavilion Hotel restaurant to the elevators and head straight to the top which lets out at the rooftop bar and pool. Find a seat towards the back of the bar for the best sunset views or sit near the front to see the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and the Cooper River. If you go too early, especially in the summer, even the umbrellas won't be able to keep the heat from beating down upon you; aim to arrive later in the evening … or, if you are staying at the hotel, take a swim in the pool to cool off. What better way to spend a summer day than by the pool with a strawberry daiquiri in hand? ;)

+ Coconut Joe's Beach Grill: Located on Sullivan's Island at the Isle of Palms, Coconut Joe's isn't really known for their food … and is pretty much a tourist trap. But a fun tourist trap! If you are looking for heartstopping deliciousness (or even healthy goodness), this isn't the place for you. Coconut Joe's is about simple food (think fried food or chips and dip + frozen alcoholic drinks and American beer) and a view. Coconut Joe's is where you go after a walk on the beach or swim in the ocean. Shirts and shoes are required though. And most summer nights, they invite local bands to put on a show for beachgoers. Definitely a fun experience for all :)

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This list of restaurants in the Charleston vicinity is only the beginning of the goodness you will find there. Over the next few weeks, I will continue to break up the restaurants in Charleston and tell you where else you can go to get some of the best meals the city has to offer. Of course, my lists will in no way ever be complete as I have many, many more restaurants that I need to visit in Charleston; in the meantime, I thought I would share what I know.

Here's what to expect in the coming weeks during my Charleston series (restaurants and other):

June 6: King St. Shopping
June 7: Must-Sees
June 8: Wordless Wednesday
June 9: Hampton Inn Historic District Hotel Review
June 10: Charleston Restaurant Views

June 13: City Market Shopping
June 14: Beaches
June 15: Wordless Wednesday
June 16: Holiday Inn Riverside Review
June 17: Breakfast in Charleston

June 20: Art Galleries
June 21: Plantations & Gardens
June 22: Wordless Wednesday
June 23: Embassy Suites North Charleston/Airport Hotel Review
June 24: Dinner in Charleston

June 27: Final Cut (Repost)
June 28: Historic Houses
June 29: Wordless Wednesday
June 30: Charleston: 48 Hr. Itinerary

If you've ever been to Charleston, SC, have you been to any of the restaurants I listed in today's post? If you haven't been to Charleston, do any of these restaurants pique your interest? What types of places do you like to eat at when you are on vacation?


  1. I'll keep this in mind if I ever make it to the east coast.

    1. You should! Although I'm working my way through the coastal beaches from this post, so I'll be sure to let you know (through the blog or otherwise) if I discover better (prettier? more interesting?) places to visit.

  2. I've heard about FIG and SNOB, and I really wanted to try them out when we there in March, but we didn't have enough time. I guess that means that I need another trip to Charleston!

    1. Definitely! FIG and SNOB are my favorite, but I'm looking forward to (eventually) trying Husk and Poogan's Porch like you mentioned from your travels! Husk made it into a book of restaurants that chefs recommend, so I know it must be amazing! :)

  3. Sounds fun! I've always wanted to go to Charleston, but it just never worked out. Courtney - Maui Jungalow


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