10 Classic Charleston Restaurants

Charleston might be home to one of the most buzzed about about culinary scenes in the country, but let’s not forget the forerunners—the restaurants that paved the way for so many others. So, if you’re seeking a taste of how it all began in the Holy City, here are 10 restaurants you can’t miss.

Discreetly tucked away in the chic boutique hotel Zero George, this jewel box of a restaurant—whose food is prepared in an even tinier kitchen by chef Vinson Petrillo—offers a refreshingly unique type of fine dining experience. The ever-rotating prix fixe menu is full of whimsical surprises—think mozzarella balloons and baby radishes in edible soil—and the service is professional, yet warm. When the weather’s fine, nab a seat in the picturesque courtyard.

0 George Street, 843-817-7900, zerorestaurantcharleston.com

Since 2003, chef Mike Lata has delivered on the acronym of the restaurant’s name: Food is Good. The creative menu changes frequently—many credit this casual corner bistro with pioneering the farm-to-table movement in Charleston—but the Fish Stew Provençal is a beloved mainstay. It’s presented in a charming Le Creuset cocotte, and brims with sweet, locally caught seafood and Carolina gold rice. Save room for the luscious Butterscotch Pot de Crème.

232 Meeting Street, 843-805-5900, eatatfig.com

A grand dame of the local dining scene, this is where locals gather for a more refined dining experience. Fittingly, the menu features indulgent fare such as Oysters Rockefeller, seared foie gras, and roasted duck breast. End the evening on a sweet note with a slice of the legendary (and heavenly) 12-layer coconut cake. Gentlemen, take note: though jackets aren’t required, they’re certainly encouraged.

112 N Market Street, 843-723-0700, peninsulagrill.com

Locals affectionally refer to this downtown staple as SNOB for short, but the ambiance and cuisine is thoroughly approachable. Though the specialty is low country cuisine, as evidenced by the popular shrimp and grits and seafood okra stew, the kitchen partners with area purveyors for original creations, including a peach salad finished with burrata, and Heritage Farms pork chop glazed with apricot.

192 E Bay Street, 843-723-3424, snobcharleston.com

Opened in 1996, this casual, low-key eatery—it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—is where chef and owner Robert Stehling doles out hearty fan favorites like okra and shrimp beignets, catfish po-boys, and arguably the best fried chicken in town. To this day, lines form early so be prepared to wait, especially during weekend brunch.

207 Rutledge Avenue, 843-937-0930, hominygrill.com

Chef Sean Brock is one of the South’s most recognized chefs, and many credit this restaurant for putting him on the culinary map. Though crowds still flood the main dining room, bypass them and beeline to the adjacent Bar at Husk, where the menu is brief, but smart. The famed Husk Cheeseburger, stuffed with two bacon-infused patties, American cheese, and house pickles, is an absolute must.

76 Queen Street, 843-577-2500, huskrestaurant.com

From the team that introduced FIG comes this seafood-centric spot housed in a 1920s bank building. Beyond standard raw bar offerings of oysters and clams, you’ll also find imaginative bites like smoked amberjack pâté, yogurt-dressed shrimp salad, and the best-selling crispy oyster sliders with house made Hawaiian buns. (Tip: the best seats in the house are at the long, lively bar.)

544 King Street, 843-414-7060, eattheordinary.com

On the ground floor of Belmond Charleston Place is where you’ll find acclaimed chef Michelle Weaver’s culinary love letter to the South. The service is polished, yet personal, and Weaver’s imaginative menu is broken down into four categories: pure, lush, cosmopolitan, and southern. In short? There’s something for every palate. Nightly jazz simply rounds out the elegant vibe.

224 King Street, 843-577-4522, charlestongrill.com

Despite its size, this family-owned operation consistently turns out spot-on steaks, spirited cocktails, and cheerful service night after night. It’s terrific for all occasions, from celebrating anniversaries to happy hours. If you’re not in the mood to splurge, the bar menu thoughtfully includes hearty snacks (including burgers and steak nachos) at wallet-friendly prices.

434 King Street, 843-727-0090, hallschophouse.com

The warm design of the space—think exposed wood beams and ceilings, Robin egg blue dining chairs, and mirror-lined walls—set the tone for an equally convivial, hearty meal. Sunday brunch is an especially popular affair, serving up stick-to-your ribs plates of country fried steak, sausage biscuit bread pudding, and banana pudding stuffed french toast.

185 E Bay Street, 843-577-7771, magnoliascharleston.com

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