I firmly believe that people who visit Charleston, South Carolina do so for one of three reasons: 1. They’re avid watchers of Southern Charm, 2. They want to see all the historical landmarks like Rainbow Row, or 3. They want to eat delicious Southern food.
Charleston has so many restaurants and bars that you could visit each year and never be able to try every single place. We did a lot of research online beforehand to ensure we hit up a few of the tourist spots, a few smaller unknown places, and that the places we chose were near our hotel or other activities (we didn’t have a car with us so we needed most things to be within walking distance or a short Uber ride).
While I’m sure this isn’t the best list or the most exhaustive list of where to eat in Charleston (and locals may even tell me that these are all tourist spots and to GTFO), it’s where we ate and what we liked.
Best Places to Eat Breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina
Part of the draw of Poogan’s Porch is — you guess it — the porch. We got there early enough for brunch that we got a spot on the porch (next to a couple with a cute dog, nonetheless!) Speaking of dogs, the name Poogan comes from the neighborhood dog of the previous owners of the home.
The menu is fairly small, but definitely has something for everyone (and I say that as a pickier eater). I got the brioche French toast and a mimosa, both of which were amazing.
This cute little cafe has a HUGE menu! I was overwhelmed with all the options, but opted for the Churro French toast. Again. I guess I was on a French toast kick this vacation.
Best Places to Eat Lunch in Charleston, South Carolina
Callie’s has a cult-like following, and for good reason. We visited during off hours (not right around breakfast or lunch time, but more for a snack), and it was bumpin’. We visited the Upper King location (they have 2 locations in Charleston alone). I got the BLT biscuit sandwich and a mint iced tea (I can’t resist a good flavored tea).
82 Queen was where we had our first lunch in Charleston (and actually, I think, our first meal after arriving). We chose this restaurant as they are known for their Lowcountry cuisine with favorites like their award-winning she crab soup. We split the soup as an appetizer, I got the fried flounder BLT (I was in the mood for fish), and James got the jambalaya. We sat indoors — the interior is gorgeous.
Best Places to Eat Dinner in Charleston, South Carolina
Since we visited Charleston, Lowcountry Bistro sadly has closed, and a new restaurant has moved in. But we really loved our food, drinks, and the service at Lowcountry Bistro. If I remember correctly, I got the crab cakes and James got shrimp and grits. Both of our drinks were from their specialty cocktail menu, and were delicious.
As of publishing time, Jestine’s Kitchen has closed and ceased operations, but I wanted to include this regardless. This night, we didn’t have dinner plans/reservations since we weren’t sure of the timing of the day’s events, so we walked into Jestine’s Kitchen since it was close. Jestine’s food is based off of southern home cooking. I got blackened chicken (super spicy, in a good way), and all meals came with an appetizer of their homemade pickles (delicious!) The interior is decorated with a huge salt and pepper shaker collection, some of which I photographed above.
Magnolia’s is a tourist must-stop, so we had to visit for dinner. And while some tourist-y places don’t live up to the hype, I thought Magnolia’s did. I got the buttermilk fried chicken, which is one of their staples (and you can’t visit Charleston without trying some fried chicken).
Best Places for Dessert in Charleston, South Carolina
If I’m on vacation and there’s a place with the word “candy” or “chocolate” in it, I’m going inside. Savannah’s Candy Kitchen has every candy imaginable, from old-time favorites to Southern staples like pralines (pictured above). You can see some of the candy being made right in front of you, too, which was fun for all the kids (and me).
Peace Pie makes ice cream sandwiches, but not the typical ones you may think of. Peace pie ice cream sandwiches comprise of two shortbread cookies with ice cream and pie fillings inside. Some of the popular flavors include pumpkin pie, key lime pie, blueberry cobbler, and more.
Best Places to Grab a Drink in Charleston, South Carolina
This hotel has a rooftop bar that was recommended to me multiple times by locals (you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to visit the rooftop bar). It has great views of the city and a nice drink menu. Above is a sweet tea martini and a margarita.