I get asked often: “Whats your favorite restaurant” or “Whats new around town that I should check out?” My favorites change often, but there are usually a few spots that consistently remain on the top of my list. It’s always hard to choose just one or two places…it depends on the occasion, the day, the weather and my current mood. It also depends if I’m eating solo or hanging out with a group of friends or if my mini me is in tow. So, to answer this common question, last summer I wrote the blog article: “My Top 10 Places To Eat In Charleston, Right Now.” It was well received and so I decided to follow it up 2-3 weeks later with: “My Top 10 Cocktails.” I decided to make it a quarterly/seasonal installment on the blog. This may be one of favorite things to do so far…its a lot of fun and gives me a real job assignment and excuse to find and define my favorites! There are 3 places on this list that were featured last summer-they are identified with a ( * ) next to them. If you come across a place(s) on this list that you haven’t been to before, I hope you will check them out!
Charleston Food Writer
1). 492 (located at: 492 King St, Charleston, SC 29403). 843-203-6338
THIS IS MY #1 MOST FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT IN CHARLESTON, RIGHT NOW!!! I first visited the newly opened restaurant about 6 months ago…and I liked it…alot. I initially fell in love with the cocktails, the super cool patio and later ventured into exploring the food. I LOVED it! Everything about it. I released an article a few months ago called: “492 Its Really Something Extraordinary.” To better understand the restaurant and its concept, I would highly recommend reading it and then visit asap and eat some of the best food that Charleston has to offer! The menu is innovative and changes often, really showcasing the best produce and protein available. Chef Whiting has an amazing perspective of food and his team is extremely talented! A FEW FAVS: Pumpkin Custard, Strozzapreti Pasta, Lemon-Chickpea Salad, Farro Salad.
2). The OBSTINATE DAUGHTER (located at: 2063 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482).
Where do I start? This place has one of the most kick ass oyster selections in town and the most amazing custom-made mignonettes for each oyster they carry. You will not find anything in town that even comes close to comparing! The pasta/pizzas/sauces/vegetables/brunch menu/dinner menu/ice creams, they are-all-AMAZING! And that carrot cake…I actually dream about that cake (it’s so good)! The kitchen puts out consistently good food…every single visit! The place is HOT! Make a reservation if you can, but if you can’t then go and try to snag a seat at the bar…it is always worth the wait! I want to give an extra big thanks to this restaurant and Chef Will Fincher for helping me to put together my article: “Oysters On The Half Shell 101: A guide for Beginners.” They are so ridiculously talented, friendly and just simply: good people who make killer great food! A FEW FAVS: O/D Skillet, Capers Blades Oysters, Geechie Frites.
3). *INDACO* (526 King St, Charleston, SC 29403). 843- 727-1228
There are 2 places that I go to eat almost every single week. This is one of them. This is my staple place that I know I can count on, every single visit for a fun atmosphere, interesting and delicious food (new seasonal items and staple favorites), good service and typically I will be thinking about the food still the next morning. I can walk in there dressed up for a date, go in after work in jeans, take my mini-me for an early dinner, grab happy hour at the bar, go by myself or go with a big group of friends…it is my everything place. It’s hard to find a spot that literally fits every kind of occasion…but this place somehow achieves that and I LOVE THEM FOR IT! Anyone that follows my instagram is fully aware how much I enjoy this place…because my page is covered with pics of their food-they are awesome! A FEW FAVS: Brussel Sprout Pizza, Charred Broccoli, Pickled Shrimp, Rotolo Manzo.
4). ARTISAN MEAT SHARE (33 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403). 843-641-7299
I have just recently found this awesome spot after hearing many praises and accolades-and I’m a huge fan! I literally felt transported back to Europe with the meat and cheese plates! Anytime good food can do that, expect to start seeing me there (often)! I really appreciate the variety, quality and attention to detail that they put into their food. I also really like that they carry local products (like Red Clay Hot Sauce-love that stuff) and offer holiday food specials and a variety of gift ideas for meat and cheese lovers! They are open for lunch and dinner-check them out! A FEW FAVS: Motherboard (meat board), Local Bean Salad, Antipasti Salad, also they have a great kids menu!
5). *XIAO BAO BISCUIT* (224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29401.)
XBB…is always my fav spot for Asian cuisine. They have a variety of Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Thai dishes. I love their daily specials which are always exciting and interesting! It’s great to be able to order several plates and share with friends or devour them all by myself (these are the perfect size plates and bites for both occasions). I love food that has some heat, some spice, some zip and some heart…they have it all! Also its the kind of place that you never know who you are going to spot hanging out there…mabye a celebrity, maybe run into a friend, maybe meet someone new and exciting that just blows you away with their awesomeness (I am lucky enough to have had all of these experiences)! A FAV MUST ORDER ITEM: OKONOMIYAKI (aka: the cabbage pancake. Please order 2 of these with an add on topping of the Pork Candy) you’ll thank me later!
6). THE OCEAN ROOM at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island (1 Sanctuary Beach Dr, Kiawah Island, SC 29455). 843-768-6253
I have always loved dining at The Ocean Room, but it has been awhile since I last visited. They are a special place, for special dinners and perhaps I need to make more excuses for such outings in my life. I went out to Kiawah several weeks ago to photograph a dish for a blog series I was working on that Chef Rheinwald participated in. I decided if I was going to make the hike out that way then I really ought to enjoy a bite to eat while on the island. I am so glad that I did..wow! It was…EXCELLENT! That one word describes the entire experience. I asked the Chef what his personal favorite dish on the menu was and he shared that it was: The Broiled Pork Chop, Sweet Potato Puree, Salad of Fall Greens, Spiced Pecans, Pickled Muscadines, Toasted Fluff. I never had a dish that tasted more like Autumn than this one (which is the reason, it’s on this list). It was Thanksgiving, the flavors of fall, the warmth of home and so much more…all in one plate! It was EXCELLENT! I can’t wait to go back! My suggestion to you, is that you should make an excuse for a special dinner out-it really is such a treat and you deserve it!
7). 39 RUE DE JEAN (39 John St, Charleston, SC 29403). 843-722-8881
Rue de Jean and I have had a very close love affair for about a decade. I don’t care what anyone ever says about any other bowl of mussels in town..they have the best, now and forever. This was my original solo dining spot, then became my favorite date spot (what could be more romantic that sitting on their patio for a long late lunch, nibbling on mussels and pommes frites while drinking a Kir Royal)? This place has made me extremely happy for over 10 years…thats saying something! It is consistently, all around a good experience. A FEW FAVS: The Mussels, Braised Beef Sandwich, Escargot.
8). *167 RAW* (289 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401). 843-579-4997
BEST RAW BAR EVER! I love seafood. I mean real deal seafood (of course fried stuff has a place in my heart, but I’m talking about the good stuff…seared tuna, oysters on the half shell, constantly changing varieties of ceviche). This is the other place I literally eat at once a week (to be honest-sometimes twice). They are my spot for a quick-lunch, an easy post work dinner, carry out for when I’m in a hurry and stop in spot for a quick bite. The no non-sense atmosphere and approach to food is refreshing. The quality of the of the fish is top-notch and they do a great job of really showcasing that. They are pretty popular so you may have to wait a little while to grab a seat…but they are worth the wait and every blasted penny you’re gonna spend there, they are the best! A FEW FAVS: Seared Tuna Taco, Guacamole and Chips, daily ceviche specials, an array of tasty New England Oysters (especially those Moon Stones and Nantucket Salts) and the Lobster Roll.
9). ZERO GEORGE CAFE + BAR (0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401). 843-817-7900
I like to have a few hidden, off the beaten path, tucked away corners that I keep just to myself and don’t really like to share kind of spots. Zero George St. is one of the places. I love them, I want them to do well, but I don’t want them being so busy that I have a hard time getting in (b/c they are so good and the secret is out). Well, they are great and I eat there often, so they need to be on the list. The outdoor patio is intimate, lovely and one of the most charming spots in town. I love having a cocktail or a nice glass of wine and cheese plate on the veranda, or a little night cap at the bar. The food is some of the most intriguing in Charleston and absolutely devine! There was no way that I couldn’t include them, though I contemplated it out of my own selfishness. Everything about the food and setting is fantastic. A FEW FAVS: The Lamb Belly, Deviled Eggs and the Tres Leches.
10). LEON’S (698 King St, Charleston, SC 29403). 843-531-6500
This is probably my most favorite fun spot. The atmosphere is really laid back, cool, fun and upbeat. I love the roll away wall that opens the dining room to the patio…such a fun feature. I have eaten and enjoyed just about everything on the menu…which is awesome and also makes it difficult when its time to order-b/c I want it all! LOL. I really appreciate that the menu has options that span from price savvy to high quality, expensive selections! This is a great spot for wanting tasty food and coming as you are! A FEW FAVS: Lettuce Wraps, Oysters Casino, 2-Piece Fried Chicken, Charred Radicchio.