Where to dine in Charleston, SC
These are the restaurants we recommend to our guests. We have dined in all of them. There are a lot of them, presenting a dilemma for a short stay! You may notice some well known Charleston restaurants do not appear in this list. It is possible we have not yet dined there, but more likely that we were unimpressed.
630 King Street
As the Upper King Street dining and nightlife scene marches steadily Northward, Barsa is still an easy walk from Charlotte Street Cottage. This very pleasant tapas bar and restaurant boasts a nice outdoor dining area for those beautiful Fall and Spring evenings. They have excellent paella, an affordable and palatable wine list and a large full bar. The food is excellent - we prefer the indoor ambience of this spot after sundown. An 11 block walk.
224 Meeting Street
Located in the Charleston Place Hotel, this beautiful restaurant features intimate fine dining for that special dinner when you want everything just right. More formal dining with attentive expert service, a top notch menu and great wines. 8 block walk.
1075 East Montague Ave in North Charleston
This wood fired pizzeria in North Charleston is the concept of two chefs who met while working at our favorite Charleston restaurant, FIG. Popular since opening in 2007, EVO presents perfect pizzas hot from the wood oven they built themselves. Ingredients are varied and aways fresh. There are also excellent salads, snack plates and great desserts. Located in the Park Circle area of N. Charleston, it is an easy drive and you won’t be disappointed
186 Concord Street
Believe it or not, in a city surrounded by water, this is the only restaurant where you get decent food while looking out over water! Fleet Landing specializes in seafood and does a pretty good job. Large and busy but not hectic, you can go with a large party or just the two of you. Small tables are outside directly over the water where you can watch the pelicans working harder than you for a meal and you might see dolphins if you are lucky. A mix of local fare and standards, and kids and lunch menus. Great happy hour to end the day. An 8 block walk.
Goat. Sheep. Cow.
106 Church Street
Speaking of taking it up a notch - Goat Sheep Cow raises the bar in Charleston for artisinal foods. Importing cheeses from all over the world, the selection rivals that seen in any major metropolitan area. Knowledgeable owners share their passion for great cheese, wine and charcuterie with you, and you will be glad you stopped in on the way back from walking the battery or touring the Nathaniel Russell House. Grab a ride on the free DASH shuttle if you are headed on a dedicated trip. Worth the effort! 13 block walk.
Market Pavilion Bar
225 East Bay Street
Located on top of the Market Pavilion Hotel, the Pavilion Bar offers fabulous views of downtown Charleston with the harbor as a backdrop. Great place to have lunch on a warm Spring day or to have a cocktail as the sun goes down, the food is OK but the bar has great cocktails that you can enjoy outside under an umbrella. Popular early evening spot to meet your friends. 8 block walk.
479 King Street
Another upper King Street establishment with a nice bar and good food. New American cuisine with a Southern twist, you will find something you like here. It can be a bit noisy as it is a very trendy/hip hangout. Nonetheless, we have plenty of guests report having a great meal here. They have Sunday brunch as well.
Rue De Jean
39 John Street
We send many of our guests here to start their vacation. Only a three block walk from Charlotte Street Cottage, this French bistro offers a spacious comfortable dining room, a great bar and a varied menu for an easy dinner after a long flight or drive. Great mussels, a plat du jours and great frites.
1081 Morrison Drive
A self described beer pub and perhaps best described as a beer hall (it is a big and often noisy space), it is named after an 18th century Charleston brewer. And beer they have - lots of them, on tap as well as tons of bottled/canned choices. They have a full bar and the kitchen turns out a variety of delicious dishes with seafood, meats, vegetables, etc. Excellent charcuterie and cheese plates, the menu changes as ingredients present themselves. A 5 minute drive, 1.8 miles.
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd in Mount Pleasant
Located just across the bridge in Mt. Pleasant, Bacco offers simple Italian fare in a no frills space. All their pasta is home made and they have a great happy hour at the bar where an excellent martini can be enjoyed. We go there repeatedly for the octopus salad, which is consistently delicious, better than some we’ve had at upscale downtown restaurants, and reasonably priced. Ask about specials, they are usually indeed special.
6 Payne Court
When our favorite French Bistro, La Fourchette, closed we were sad indeed. Imagine our delight when the owners of Bin 152 opened Chez Nous in our neighborhood! In their own words: “We are a pint-sized, convivial, neighborhood restaurant . . . which features food & wine from Southern France, Northern Italy & Northern Spain. We offer a daily changing menu of local ingredients . . . which consists of 2 appetizers, 2 entrees & 2 desserts.” Charming old Charleston house with lovely outdoor table for those warm evenings. A 9 block walk.
232 Meeting Street
When we want to take it up a notch, you'll find us at Fig. This is our favorite. Emphasis on fresh, quality local ingredients artfully prepared and presented. Created by Chef Mike Lata but you owe your meal to Executive Chef Jason Stanhope, who directs the kitchen lovingly and skillfully. The menu varies with the seasons to take advantage of what the local farmers and fishermen have to offer. Get a reservation before you come - they fill early - and plan on a longer evening to savor the flavors. A 6 block walk.
159 Market Street
Authentically French, this new café offers breakfast and lunch as well as delicious pastries and bread. They make great crépes, delicious quiches, sandwiches and frequent specials. The croissants and other pastries are wonderful - you will want to bring some home! Closed Sunday.
434 King Street
Now an established presence on upper King, this is straightforward Steakhouse fare. Food is well prepared and you get exceptionally attentive service at this family run restaurant. Nice bar, and often features a live pianist.
For something a little different, come for the Sunday gospel brunch (music, not sermon!) A 4 block walk.
45 John Street
Draw straws to see who gets to stay in their jammies and make the coffee while one of you hops on the bike to ride the 4 blocks to this wonderful authentic French bakery. Get a couple of the croissants, maybe an almond pastry, a small tart for later and a baguette to go with that cheese in the fridge. When you get back, close your eyes and imagine you are on a Paris sidewalk. Your tastebuds will conspire to make you believe the fantasy. This is the real deal. Be careful. You may find yourself here daily.
526 King Street
Modern Italian fare in a brand new modern space on Upper King means this place is hopping. The food is interesting, inventive and, most importantly, delicious. Lively bar and a long group table back by the kitchen means lots of options. Outdoor dining area as well. Highly recommended. A 7 block walk.
112 North Market Street
All you need to know: this is the only Relais & Châteaux member hotel and restaurant in downtown Charleston. That means a consistently high level of service. Located in the Planters Inn on the North end of the Market, this is probably the most beautiful dining room in Charleston. Excellent for a special occasion, a quiet and elegant dining experience will be yours along with an extensive and high quality wine list. Listen to the servers´ recommendations; they know what they are doing, and by all means save room for the signature desserts. 8 blocks away.
Dave's Carry Out
42 Morris Street
If you would like to see what the real Charleston cuisine is like, and/or you want to bring something back to the cottage and eat lunch on the patio in the sun, check out Dave’s. The little store front is actually a step up from their old location on Rutledge. Much happier with their new landlord, they turn out basic but delicious platters of fried fish and shrimp, fish sandwiches, wings and other lowcountry southern cooking. Open Tuesday - Saturday, with lunch specials through Friday, this is the real deal. We love the shrimp and fish platter with fries. 7 Block Walk.
Butcher & Bee
1085 Morrison Drive
Known for serving great sandwiches for lunch daily, they now also serve dinner nightly and have brunch on Saturday & Sunday, when the place is hopping. Chef Chelsey Conrad changes up the chalkboard menu daily and continues the growing trend of high quality locally sourced ingredients driving the menu choices. You can get beer and wine or they encourage BYOB. 1.9 miles.
18 Pinckney Street
We love this place and keep going back for their excellent food and pleasant ambience. Tucked on a small street near the market, it is in a wonderful old Charleston row house and when the weather's nice you can eat on the porch. Great spot for lunch while you're out walking the downtown area - excellent burger. Go back for dinner - everything on the small menu is good. 8 block walk.
3140 Maybank Highway in Johns Island
Located on Johns Island, Fat Hen would be a great place to have an early dinner or lunch on the way to or from one of the plantations. Their web site says it best: “Main dishes center around innovative French classics with Lowcountry flourishes, sourced from the finest local produce farmers.” This restaurant is well worth the 20 minute drive from downtown.
698 King Street
Located in a former corner service station from which it takes its name, Leon's offers a down home menu boasting a master New Orleans oyster shucker, great fried chicken and terrific seafood. Cool easy atmosphere with an outdoor area, and lots of good beers on tap and bottled. A 15 block walk, drive or take a cab.
778 South Shelmore Blvd in Mount Pleasant
You have to drive over the impressive Ravenel Bridge to visit Langdon's for dinner but it is worth the 10 minute drive. Having a pleasant modern upscale decors with a great bar in front, the dining room is comfortable and stylish. The menu is eclectic and everything is good. They have a good assortment of excellently prepared seafood and meats with tantalizing appetizers and salads. Service is great and the wine list has a nice variety of good wine that is
reasonably priced. Specials are usually hard to resist. Look at the web site in the lower left corner - there is a link for a map to get there.
544 King Street
The second Downtown Charleston restaurant from Mike Latta of FIG fame, the Ordinary shows the same attention to detail for your dining experience as you would expect at FIG. Located in an old bank building, the atmosphere is lively and the food is excellent, as is the service. Emphasis is on seafood including a great oyster bar. They have a crisp clean approach to presentation and the knowledgeable staff will help pair excellent wines with your menu choices. An 8 block walk.
730 Rutledge Ave
This uptown establishment has quickly become one of our favorites. Casual and comfortable, the food fits right in with the trend of the best Charleston restaurants serving simply but well prepared dishes using locally sourced high quality ingredients. They open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a wide variety of offerings to suit everyone. A 5 minute drive or cab ride.
192 East Bay Street
A popular spot on “restaurant row“ in the heart of the action, SNOB delivers consistently good fare with a southern touch for lunch and dinner. If you've been out all day and need to eat NOW before you walk back to Charlotte Street, bet on this pick to welcome you out of the madness and give you a solid dining experience. A 9 block walk.