Charleston, South Carolina: Keys to an Unmatched Culinary Scene
- South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is a culinary capital. So what are its secrets?
First: an abundance of fresh, local ingredients that inspire rich culinary traditions and delicious signature dishes. Second: award-winning chefs – inspired, if not attracted by, that abundance and tradition – who have established landmark restaurants in the city. Finally, the expanding offering of craft beverages pairs beautifully with Charleston’s can’t-miss cuisine. Here’s how to experience that unmatched tastes of Charleston:
Fresh, Local Ingredients
At many Charleston restaurants, menus and chalkboards note local suppliers with whom chefs have developed close relationships. Dave Belanger, nicknamed “Clammer Dave,” sustainably farms cultured clams and harvests oysters by hand in local waters, providing gourmet shellfish to some of the city’s top restaurants. Fishmonger Mark Marhefka does the same, supplying fresh catches from golden tile to vermillion snapper. Local grains, produce and dairy shine here, too: In the signature Low Country dish, shrimp and grits, fresh caught shrimp might top organic South Carolina grits; a salad might be composed of farmer’s beets and goat cheese from a local creamery.
Hominy Grill presents Southern classics with a Charleston flourish, such as Shrimp and Grits, with a side of peanuts and sweet tea.
Award-winning Chefs, Landmark Restaurants
The prestigious James Beard Foundation has awarded a number of Charleston chefs whose restaurants you shouldn’t miss. Sean Brock changes the menu at Husk daily to showcase ingredients from Belanger’s oysters on the half shell (dressed with local buttermilk) to Marhefka’s amberjack, accented with shiitake. At FIG, Mike Lata serves grass-fed meatballs with spaetzle of native Jimmy Red Corn, a sweet, vibrant red variety. At The Ordinary, Lata’s lively seafood hall, the day’s fresh catch becomes the nightly special, whether that’s a traditional Southern fish fry or a spicy Caribbean fish stew. At Hominy Grill, Robert Stehling presents beloved Southern tastes with Charleston flair: Imagine beignets studded with okra and shrimp.
For a sumptuous overview, reserve a culinary walking tour with Charleston Culinary Tours or Culinary Tours of Charleston. Both offer several options to help you explore different foodie neighborhoods around the city.
Chef Sean Brock changes the menu daily at his antebellum Charleston restaurant, Husk.
A locally crafted beverage is always a nice touch – whether before, after or with your dinner. For a local brew, relax in the tap room of Palmetto Brewing Company. Their four flagship beers, including the classic Charleston Lager, are always on tap, alongside special releases. For cocktails artfully blended with local, seasonal ingredients, hit The Gin Joint. Or, head to Stars Rooftop. The beverage menu is extensive, and the views of Upper King Street from this stylish rooftop are unforgettable.
Craft cocktails, garnished with sprigs of fresh mint and berries, are served before, during and after meals.
Getting to South Carolina is easy via direct and connecting flights to several gateway airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia, and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.