Over the past decade, Charleston, South Carolina has become one of the most popular places in the entire world to visit. One of the many reasons for this trend is the burgeoning food scene. While you can still find plenty of good old-fashioned southern comfort food in this coastal gem, you also have access to an ever-growing variety of international cuisines. Keep reading to find out which restaurants you should try when visiting Charleston.

Rodney Scott’s BBQ

A visit to the South would not be complete without trying some of the phenomenal BBQ found there. One of the staples of BBQ in Charleston is this restaurant headed up by legendary pitmaster Rodney Scott. He was the recipient of the James Beard 2018 Best Chef award and it was truly well deserved. The smoked whole hog you can get here is nothing short of heavenly.


You will need to make reservations well in advance if you wish to dine at Husk, but your preparation will be rewarded with delectable flavors. Sean Brock’s vision for this hot restaurant involved using only ingredients sourced in the South. The result is an authentic farm-to-table experience with a rotating menu that changes daily.

Food Is Good (FIG)

Food Is Good is another restaurant that collaborates with local fishermen and farmers, preparing seafood and produce for meals that define the word “fresh.” This eatery is also the recipient of the prestigious James Beard award.

Slightly North of Broad (SNOB)

Do not let the acronym of this downtown restaurant put you off. It is merely a witty play on words. During the colonial times, the part of town where aristocracy resided was south of Broad Street.  It’s only fitting then, that a restaurant located slightly north of Broad Street would take a recall history with a playful name.  This relaxing establishment serves affordable farm-to-table dishes infused with Southern and French techniques. The standout shrimp and grits here are among the best in the city.

High Cotton
Just down the street from SNOB is High Cotton, a fine dining restaurant that is open for brunch as well as dinner. While High Cotton is upscale, the atmosphere is welcoming. You will find excellent praline souffle here along with tasty seafood.

Hall’s Chophouse

Owned by the same family as High Cotton, Hall’s Chophouse is a longtime fixture on the Charleston food scene. The Hall family makes hospitality its top priority. It is not unusual for one of the two Hall brothers to greet guests as they enter the establishment. Do not miss out on the prime steak martini, a delectable combination of filet mignon, house whipped potatoes and peppercorn brandy sauce.

Bowens Island Restaurant

Located a short drive from downtown, this restaurant is among the most beloved in the area. It may not look impressive, but the fresh fried shrimp, Frogmore stew and roasted oysters served here are out of this world. Plus, the view of the marsh during your meal cannot be beat.

The Macintosh

If you appreciate exquisitely prepared meat, you must check out this downtown eatery. The Macintosh has become known for its version of Deckle, the tastiest part of the rib eye. In addition to Deckle, the Mac burger, bone marrow bread pudding and seafood charcuterie are also excellent choices.

Peninsula Grill
Opening in 1997, the Peninsula Grill is a favorite among local and tourists alike.  This fine dining restaurant is truly an experience whether dining inside or out.  Inside is a large handpainted mural and a variety of 19th century paintings creating a classic yet elegant dining room.  Outside palmetto trees, brick pathways, tea lights and carriage lanterns provide a romantic and chic environment in the heart of Charleston’s historic district.  Be sure to try the 12 layer Ultimate Coconut Cake® which is a Peninsula Grill specialty dessert.  It’s best served with champagne.

Charleston Grill
For impeccable French and southern inspired cuisine combined with world-class dining the Charleston Grill is among the best restaurants in the city.  Be sure to try the crab cake which consists of shrimp, tomato, shallot, dill with a lime juice and olive oil vinaigrette.  Or sample the halibut served over summer vegetables with a lemon juice, chicken au jus and butter sauce.  For a more hearty dinner, the grilled Colorado lamb is an excellent choice.

Perhaps the most publicized restaurant in Charleston, and for good reason, is Magnolias.  It’s been featured on the Food Network, in Food and Wine Magazine, Town and Country Magazine, USA Today, Haute Living, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, CNN Travel, and many, many more. Recognized as one of the best restaurants for innovative southern cuisine with inspired flavor combinations and creative presentation, Magnolias serves up mouthwatering food.  This fine dining establishment combines flavorful combinations such as seared scallops with apple and bacon brandied cream; southern eggs rolls with collard greens, chicken, tasso ham, chicken, red pepper puree and peach chutney; and pan roasted duck with wine sauce.

Saltwater Cowboys on Shem Creek
Just outside Charleston, in Mount Pleasant, you’ll find a relaxing, and casual atmosphere with some of the most beautiful and scenic views of outside of the city.  Here you can enjoy great food while enjoying shrimp boats, tranquil and colorful sunsets, and dolphins.

Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan Island
A favorite local hangout during the summer months, Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan Island.  The history behind the tavern’s name is that famous writer, Edgar Allan Poe lived on the island briefly while stationed there as a solider.  Located just a few blocks from the beach, this oceanfront tavern serves a variety of fish tacos, salads, Poe inspired burgers and fries – and of course cool, chilled beer from both local and national breweries.  It’s a perfect place for casual dining – flip flops welcomed!

Charleston is a destination that offers visitors plenty to do, see and eat. You will be sure to find restaurants that delight all of your senses, especially your taste buds!

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Michael Richardson
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