One of the most appealing things about Charleston is the food scene. It is very much a happening thing. There are an insane number of restaurants and the trend, like in many other places, is all about local products. This translates to lots of shrimp and crab, fresh produce and, of course, barbecue. In advance of my recent visit, other than a culinary tour for my first afternoon, I didn’t make any reservations for meals preferring instead to be spontaneous. See? I’m working on that, friends.
Here are my five favorite meals:
- Breakfast at Hen and the Goat.* I found this place on Yelp and it sounded promising. What it actually was, though, was fantastic. It’s one of those places where you order at the counter and take a number to your table for food delivery. I ordered the Bill Murray – 2 eggs, ham, salsa, with cheese grits subbed for the home fries and a side of avocado because a girl needs her vegetables. The eggs were scrambled soft as requested and the grits were the best I’ve ever had – creamy, cheesy with zero grittiness. The ham was a tad salty for my taste, so I left some on the plate and rewarded myself with a cinnamon roll which was So Damn Good. Charleston and I were off to a good start.
- Next up – another breakfast out. This meal was my reward for an 11 mile bike ride to Folly Beach. Lost Dog Cafe had been recommended by my AirBandB host and I’ve got to say, he’s got good taste. The place was popping when I arrived but I nabbed a seat at the bar and was well taken care of. I had a half order of biscuits with sausage gravy and a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit. It was simple food, well prepared and exactly what I wanted. Well, almost exactly. I really wanted to try one of their heralded cinnamon rolls, you know, for scientific reasons, but I just couldn’t justify consuming another baked good. I should have eaten it – I still had an 11 mile bike ride home!
- One of my goals was to eat seafood and my friend Dora, from Fin, had spoken highly of 167 Raw on East Bay. The wait for a seat for one was about 45 minutes, but the time passed quickly with a nice Cremant and social fellow waiters. I was eventually seated next to another solo diner, Natalie from Brooklyn, and we spent a really nice hour or so chatting and slurping. I completely enjoyed my array of oysters, a second glass of wine and the conversation.
- S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad) had been recommended by a number of people and I can understand why. It’s a pretty spot in an old warehouse with a nice bar, open kitchen and lots of windows facing the bustling street. I made my way here for a light dinner (an appetizer and a salad) at the bar and thought the food was really good. My single complaint was the attractive, yet highly impractical presentation of my crab, shrimp, avocado, heirloom tomato cocktail. Eating it delicately at the bar was a pain in the ass. Maybe I should have requested a fish fork? I don’t know, I just wanted to dump it all onto a plate. Call me a cretin.
- When the chef you work for tells you to go to a barbecue spot, you go. That’s how I found myself at Swig & Swine, a place that takes bar-b-q to a new level. The menu was a little intimidating with the meats sold by the half pound, but I took a minute and determined that ordering a brisket sandwich without bread was my best move. In place of bread, I added a second side selecting mac and cheese and cole slaw to accompany my beef. Damn, this place was fantastic. It was easily the tastiest, most tender brisket I’ve ever had and the sides were equally memorable. Their beer and bourbon selections were pretty impressive, too. I love a place that takes their work seriously, but retains a sense of humor and this spot definitely did that with their t-shirts proclaiming that they’ve been “Horrifying vegetarians since 2013.” Cool spot.
*This was the only place I made it to twice. Here’s the avocado toast (with an added fried egg or two) I thoroughly enjoyed when I stopped in for my second meal. Isn’t it beautiful?