The food scene in Charleston rocks. Sorry we couldn’t come up with a better way of saying that. It really does rock. Everything and everywhere we ate- we knew the food and ingredients were absolutely fresh. We’ve already given you Ten Reasons to visit Charleston so here is a list of some of the places we enjoyed and hope that some of you are able to include these in your travels too!
As always, we apologize in advance for the horrible phone photos. Please do note that they are no indication of the quality of food we had in Charleston. 🙂
Closed For Business
A great bar on King Street- fuel yourselves up at this eclectic bar. It apparently has more than 40 beers on the tap- so all you beer lovers you know where to go. For a quick drink and appetizer we give this place 4 stars.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
This place has got to be the highlight of our trip. Great food and great service at this old-gas-station- converted- to-a-restaurant one of a kind place. They have a limited menu with food from Thailand, Japan, China, Vietnam and Taiwan. They serve outstanding Asian fusion food that is hard to find all in one place in any city we’ve been to. A small place, always packed with people. This is truly a hidden gem- literally. They don’t have a sign or a board and a GPS and lots of people waiting is the only way to know you’ve arrived. If we could, we would give it all the stars in the world to it! 🙂 We had an assortment of appetizers for dinner and absolutely loved it. We had Jiao Zi which was is dumpling with pork, ginger & a chili bean sauce and comes from China; Som Tam which is a spicy green papaya salad and comes from Thailand; Yam Pia which is a salad of smoked fish, eggplant, shallot, chili, fish sauce & lime and comes from Thailand; Banh He which is a chive and coconut crepe with bean sprouts, herbs, spicy nuoc cham dipping sauce and comes from Vietnam. Xiao Bao Biscuit is slightly expensive for small portions but so worth the experience, variety and quality. CB rating: 5 stars
So after having spent an afternoon at the beach, we were back in downtown strolling around aimlessly. We looked up Monza and read it had great Neapolitan pizza’s. We knew were having dinner here. This place, btw, is right next to Closed For Business. We got a cute little table right by the window and got onto the menu immediately. The pizza’s are named after race car drivers and has some really interesting combination of ingredients. The portions were big so we stuck to an appetizer for which we had the Sausage and Peppers and a Fangio pizza for the mains. Monza is an absolute must go for anyone visiting Charleston- some of the best pizza we have ever had. CB rating: 5 stars
We went past this breakfast/ brunch/ lunch place way too many times on Meeting Street to not go in and eat. So for brunch one day we headed to Toast. We were lucky enough to arrive right before peak time and got a table immediately. It was also a rainy day so was perfect timing. You should expect the typical eggs, grits and toast sort of menu but surely with a twist. I had the House Speciality Omelet which is an open-faced omelet topped with grilled zucchini, mushrooms and pepper jack cheese with a side of home-fries and Nikhil had the Corned Beef Hash and Eggs with a side of grits and toast. Toast gets 4.5 stars.
We had heard all about this “open until 2 am” dessert place. On most evenings by the time we finished walking around the city and dinner we had little to no space for dessert. But we couldn’t leave without having a quick bite here. We went there a couple of nights just to have a look at the place from the outside since we couldn’t stuff ourselves more. So after dinner one evening, we walked to Kaminsky’s and ordered a Chocolate Raspberry Cake to go. We build some appetite on our way to the hotel and gobbled it up soon thereafter. It was all worth the hype. Sorry folks, no pictures- we ate it all in no time.
We love Thai food and managed to find a great find in Charleston too. The restaurant has a great vibe and an open kitchen where you can see the food being made. The beauty about Thai food is the freshness and it’s difficult to go wrong with fresh food. We did think the food could be a tad bit more spicy but the freshness and flavor more than made for it. It was a week night so was less busy than usual and we were well attended. We had the Tom Kha Gai which is basically sliced chicken cooked in coconut milk with galangal roots, lime leaves, lemon grass, button mushrooms, cilantro and scallions. The presentation was what we were most excited about. You’ll know why. We had the Nam Sod which were lettuce wraps for the appetizer and since the portions were pretty huge we just had the Ginger Chicken for the main course which was served with plain white rice. Basil gets 4.5 stars.
Lost Dog Café
This is another gem and an absolute must go. Located in the Folly Beach area, very close to the beach itself and has a “shack” like feel to it. We stopped by in the afternoon for a late-ish lunch at around 1.30. Note that it shuts at 3 pm- we think that everyone runs off to the beach after that. 🙂 When we entered we very distracted with the interiors, the pictures on the walls and absolutely excited to have found the place. But then we realized we were pretty hungry and went right into the menu. I had a hot tea with a Spicy Thai Wrap with grilled chicken, shredded cabbage mix and spicy peanut sauce which came with a side of a super awesome summer salad. Nikhil had a Blackened Salmon BLT Wrap which was a beautifully grilled blackened salmon, fried green tomatoes, crumbled bacon, romaine and cajun mayo. Their portions are huge but we were pretty hungry yet greedy so we packed an orange cranberry muffin for the way.
Lost Dog Café surely gets 5 stars from the CBs.
Manny’s Mediterranean Café
We had our last meal here right before we left Charleston and it was super. A nice little café tucked into a side street along the busy King Street. Fresh, quick and comfort Mediterranean food. They have huge menu with great Greek food. We settled for the Falafel with a side of pita and roasted Greek Chicken. If you are looking for a quick and “different” bite do go in to Manny’s for a lunch.
We were pretty excited to be here especially after having read the reviews and having to try Southern food. But then we didn’t order their Fried Chicken and that is the mistake that we did- we think. We had already had our dose of fried chicken a day before so didn’t have the appetite for it. We had the Jes’s meatloaf sandwich with a side of fried okra and slaw and the house special corn bread. The sandwich was just about ok but the gravy that came with it was like nothing that we’ve had before- it was that good. We also had their banana pie and it was heavenly to say the least. Sorry we have no pictures ‘coz we ate it all and then realized we didn’t click it. CB Rating: 3.5 stars
This does not deserve a mention but we wanted to tell you to not go here. This was one of Guy Fieri’s recommendations from Diners, Drive-ins & Dives and we have to admit we were so let down. It’s in the middle of nowhere which is fine but then the food was a big disappointment. The ambience was good and the place was quite full too. We had read good reviews on some good food websites too but when the food arrived it didn’t match up our expectations. We would ask you to ignore those raving reviews of the place.
Other recommended places we couldn’t go to but would love to on our next trip and food allergies permitting:
Two Boroughs Larder
Butcher & bee
Extra virgin Oven
Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island
Sesame Burgers and Beer
Saffron Cake and Bakery
High Cotton Bar
Bakehouse Bakery Cafe
So that got Charleston covered. Since we drove down to Charleston from Cincinnati we spent two nights in Asheville as well. You’ll be surprised what a hidden treasure Asheville is – great night life full of pubs, bars, lounges and fantastic restaurants (mostly on Biltmore Avenue and Wall Street). Here is a list of the places we went to and not one bad experience:
Tupelo Honey Café– Great breakfast place that has a gluten free menu as well; always has a 30 minute waiting but well worth it.
Doc Chey’s– Pan Asian cuisine; fresh & flavorful food.
Early Girl Eatery– Another great breakfast place; be prepared for at least a 20 minute waiting.
Chai Pani– A terrific Indian restaurant with fantastic food. We have not had such amazing Indian food in a really long time. From Indian street food to proper meals- a must go.