Hey all, I’m going to Charleston for the first time in a few weeks. Are the classics still worth hitting? It seems like I’ve been hearing about Husk, Fig, and McCradys for years. How about the Grocery?

Would love some advice. Thanks in advance!

Hi! Can you share your suggestions (musts and don’t bothers)? Did you go to Savannah as well?

Warrior: It’s been a few years, but I have good memories of The Ordinary in Charleston and Husk in Savannah. I thought these were genuinely good food cities and even preferred them to New Orleans.


Thanks! Those were actually the first couple of spots I’d booked. Now I’m looking for the rest :).

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Ugh fwiw and I’m hesitant to say this, I found the ordinary to be exactly that: ordinary.

I had a pretty stunning meal at McCrady’s but that was when Sean Brock was still in charge. I had fun at Leon’s—lots of fun with fried chicken and oysters.

Otherwise, Rodney Scott’s is worth trying. Can’t speak to the current rendition of Husk.


Just thought I’d bump this up as I have a trip looming next month. Has anyone tried some of the newer hits in town like Vern’s or Sorelle?

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Grew up there, go back multiple times a year, family still there. It’s a fun place to eat/visit!

Will update with a detailed list shortly but out of curiosity anything specific you’re looking for?

Nice! We have no agenda really. We’re visiting from LA and really enjoy all things southern plus seafood. I think we’re planning for one high end meal (eyes set on FIG) with more casual places the rest of the way - Rodeny Scott, Edmund Oast etc.

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Cool! Charleston is a great place to eat and visit, though it’s become a bit sanitized and Disneyfied for those of us that grew up there. I know everyone everywhere complains of gentrification, but this is a very Charleston nostalgia, romanticizing a lost past that probably wasn’t all that glorious.

Anyway, long post, here’s where I’d think about eating…

Soul Food Etc:
Bertha’s - This is an essential Charleston experience, a classic meat and three with some gullah influences. Almost akin to Jewish delis in various New York neighborhoods, there used to be places like this in every majority African American area. With development and the displacement of folks to North Charleston and the suburbs, few remain (RIP Martha Lou’s, Ernie’s).

Okra soup is a must, red rice is classic Charleston and related to jollof rice. I prefer the macaroni here to other soul food places, and if you can get them to drop it fresh, the fried chicken is quite good. Another quintessential and under the radar Charleston dish is limas and neck bones. And though it’s an acquired taste, I love the turkey wings.

Hannibal’s - Crab rice for breakfast. This is a Bourdain spot. I don’t think the non-breakfast food is on Bertha’s level, but some people disagree.

If you’re really trying to get deep in the soul food game, other places to check out are My Three Sons and Workmen’s Cafe.

Though South Carolina has a cool bbq tradition with lots of regional variety, Charleston wasn’t really a bbq town until quite recently, the last 5-10 years really.

For SC style bbq I straight up do not like Rodney Scott’s, though I always stop when home for the cracklins, banana pudding, and a smoked ribeye sandwich. He seems like a great dude and does everything the right way (whole hog, wood), but I find the bbq a bit dry, and dislike that he pre-dresses it with a vinegar based sauce. This is a controversial opinion. Some people love it. You prob should go I guess.

Lewis BBQ is great, though Texas style. Fatty brisket and corn pudding and queso. Delicious, very heavy.

If you’re looking for a small adventure, Sweatman’s (45 minutes outside Charleston, only open Friday - Sunday, call) is a time machine. The bbq is good, they separate the meat into white and dark, and if you get there early enough they’ll have ribs from the whole hogs.

Other bbq spots are Home Team, Swig and Swine, Bessinger’s.

As you know, this is the other essential Charleston thing. Guessing you’ll miss soft shell season by a few weeks, local oysters will be over I think, shrimp are fine, and maybe you’ll get shad roe.

Chubby Fish - my favorite upscale seafood spot. No reservations, but can put your name down and then walk to Baba’s on Cannon and have a drink.

The Ordinary has fallen off a bit. I still think it’s possible to get a good snack there, raw bar and maybe parker house rolls.

The 167 Complex aka Raw, Sushi etc - These places are good and popular with locals, often a long wait. Skews maybe a little less Southern than some of the other seafood places.

Leon’s - Another controversial opinion… I don’t love this place. Mainly the fry batter. If you’ve ever been to Found Oyster in LA (I live in LA too), same batter. Ari Kollender is from Charleston, was the opening chef at Leon’s.

Bowen’s Island - Another Charleston institution, an oyster roast (and fried seafood) in restaurant form. But if they’re not steaming local oysters, I’d maybe skip.

The Wreck - Hole in the wall fried seafood institution. Some people think it’s overrated, portions have gotten smaller, I still love it. But it’s pretty much exclusively fried seafood (and boiled peanuts) on paper plates on Shem Creek.

Dave’s Carryout - this is a soul food lunch spot downtown, but quite good fried shrimp.

Nana’s Seafood - a soul food spot specializing in fried seafood and garlic crabs. Believe they closed their brick and mortar and only do a truck.

Ravenel Seafood - this place specializes in garlic crabs, basically fried blue crabs doused in garlic butter to go. I don’t always seek this out but it’s a thing!

FIG - I’ve always loved my meals here. It’s not always the most inventive place in the world (protein and starch ) but the execution and ingredient quality is great. For me FIG and Chubby Fish are the two must go upscale restaurants.

There’s a whole category of place I’d stop into for raw bar and maybe fries/snacks, The Darling, Rappahanock, Amen St., Pearlz. Not sure one is necessarily better than the next.

Upscale/Other Restaurants Etc:

Haven’t been to the Grocery recently. People say it’s still good. I always found Husk hit or miss and preferred lunch/brunch to dinner. Vern’s I haven’t been but hear good things! Sorelle is very hard to get a rez, not sure I’d spend a meal on this when visiting, same for Chez Nous, which some people love. Melfi’s, Renzo, Butcher and Bee, Farfelle, Pink Bellies, Malika, King BBQ/Jackrabbit Filly, Cold Shoulder, Xiao Bao, Beautiful South also fall into this category. And popups like Co Hog, 2 Nixons Ramen, Mansueta’s, Nixtate. I live in LA too, some of these are good, some underwhelming but overall think you’ll be disappointed or find they’re not worth the opportunity cost vs more quintessential Charleston food. Unless you need a break lol.

For biscuits and shit like that I do like both Callie’s and Handy and Hot (haven’t been to Lenoir but mabye it’s good). Brown’s Court is also a good bakery, and I like Second State and Sightsee for coffee. And Holey City actually has good bagels if something goes wrong and you need a bagel in Charleston.

Also, if BJ Dennis or Amethyst Ganaway are doing pop ups, definitely seek those out. And if for any reason you find yourself cooking, Abundant Seafood is a great local fish market, dock to dish or whatever.

Enjoy! this is the best time of year to visit, and let me know if you want recs on historical stuff or bars/cocktails!


Smashing list! I’m keeping my fingers crossed we can still get softies when we arrive (May20~). With a two year old now in tow we’ll happily take a little bit of Disneyfication. It was a coin flip between a return trip back to NOLA or Charleston but we settled on something more laid back/compact.

Taking a second look it looks like we’re probably not going to squeeze in Italian (plenty of top notch options in LA) or hip Asian spots. We’ll report back!

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Excited you’ll get to check out my hometown and eat some Lowcountry food. And beyond food, it’s a beautiful place to stroll around with a rich, complex, interesting history.

I used to work with the chef/owner of Vern’s, Dano. He had a stint in LA and his now wife was the GM of Animal for awhile. One of the most talented chefs I’ve ever met and all around good guy. Was the CDC at McCrady’s under Sean Brock before he came to Los Angeles.
Please report back if you eat there. Would love to hear about it.


Finally made my way to Vern’s during a trip to Charleston. Definitely liked, wasn’t blown away but would go back. This was the menu.

Highlights were charred sourdough (we got two), escargot, gnochetti and campanelli. All those were stellar. The mains, solid and well executed, were a little boring in conception and compared to the rest of the menu.

Vibe is fun, bustling neighborhood restaurant. And the desserts were great, really elegant and composed, subtle with the sugar.

*I ate at FIG this trip as well. Preferred Vern’s slightly, though both suffer from boring mains, protein with starch formula.

Also we were one of the last tables and noticed the kitchen celebrating a cook’s birthday after service. Small sample but employees seemed to like working there.

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Appreciate the report back!

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I am going to be heading to Charleston for work for a couple of months. Any good suggestions for butchers or grocery stores?

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Good question.

There are the usual suspect Southern chain grocery stores: Publix, Harris Teeter, Piggly Wiggly, and also Whole Foods.

Butchers to check out are Ted’s Butcherblock, NY Butcher, Burbage Meats.

The Veggie Bin is a small, locally owned shop downtown with vegetables and local dry goods, grits etc. H&L is an Asian grocery in North Charleston. El Molino is a Mexican market with two locations I think. And there are farmer’s markets to check out.

Burying the lede here but if you eat seafood, that’s something unique to Charleston and fresh/local. Abundant Seafood has great stuff. They sell when the boat comes in off Shem Creek. Follow on Instagram.

Also Cudaco on James Island.

*You may be there for Shad roe season. And softshells.

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This is awesome information. I plan on eating a ton of seafood so Abundant will be a staple for me.

Many thanks!

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No prob, happy to help!

Lemme know if you need any food recs. Or historical sites/tourist stuff.

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Restaurant wise I have a pretty solid list going including what you have mentioned. If you have any recs aside from Sweatman’s that are driving distance I would love to hear them.My main hobby is finding new food and I am happy to spend half a day driving to try something interesting. I am also interested in any breweries that might be good. Oh and country hams, I definitely want to eat some.

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I’ll add to this list in the next few days, but I’d swap out Sweatman’s for McCabe’s. Heard that Sweatman’s sold, and McCabe’s, not much farther from Charleston, is supposed to be the real deal.

You could probably trek out to the original Scott’s, though I’m not a huge fan of Rodney Scott’s in Charleston.

There are also some seafood things down towards Beaufort. I’ll circle back.

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