Always known for its charm and quaint cobblestone streets, Charleston's tourism industry supports a thriving food & bev culture. A burgeoning creative class and less touristy upper peninusula is pushing the city's gastronomic boundaries.
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A knowledgable wait staff, sentence-stopping, craving-inducing gnocchi and enough wine & olives to gladden the hearts of Spaniards and Italians alike. Ditch the dining room, and hole up in the softly-lit side bar.
Eat and drink in a funky retro warehouse play pen for adults. Feed quarters to old-school video games, skee ball, pinball and air hockey ... or put on your Lebowski face and bowl on one of eight deluxe lanes.
A mellow vibe and expertly concocted cocktails make The Belmont one of the best places in Charleston to lounge with a tasty drink in your hand.
Find yourself stuck near The Market overwhelmed by hoardes of tourists? Run for Big John's, one of Charleston's best dive bars!
The classy yet relaxed atmosphere at Bin 152 pairs well with its copious selection of fine wines. If you're hungry, try some cheese and charcuterie.
Looking for a real cappuccino on the lower peninsula? The coffee at Black Tap is the best in Charleston. Study, read, nibble on tasty pastry or just hang out in the modern, wood-enveloped cafe.
There are surprisingly few restaurants that provide a true Lowcountry experience. Get right down on the marsh at Bowen's Island. Look down on a tidal creek while sipping beer on the back deck. Or go to town on some oysters and fried fish.
Open 11-3 and again from 11-3, nosh on some unapologetically carnivorous fare. Craving bone marrow? You might just find roasted bone marrow on the menu ... or a pop-up kitchen or butcher serving.
Coast brews some of Charleston's best suds. From a subtle kolsch to beers infused with more hops than LeBron, you really can't go wrong with Coast. Find it on tap or visit the brewery (hours limited).
If you find yourself east of the Cooper craving caffeine or a good sandwich, head over to Collective Coffee Co. The gorgeous and surprising decor contrasts its shopping center location like an oasis smack in the middle of Mt. Pleasant.
Hidden away on St. Philip St. just north of Spring St., D'Al's serves awesome, old-school pizza you'll want anytime from lunch ... to late evening on the way home from a night out. It's some damn good pizza.
The best pizza in town. Local and regional ingredients. Killer salads. Amazing appetizers. The ingredients change almost daily. Great beer selection. Can't go wrong!
French Broad Street. Conversation seating at the communal Fast & French puts you cheek to jowl with Charlestonians who favor this spot. Bottomless French press for breakfast, chilled cucumber soup, croque baguette for lunch and fondue for dinner or dessert.
A perennial favorite of locals and only the most adventurous of tourists — thank goodness — get here early. If you don't, the brunch is still worth the wait.
Hands down one of the best meals you can have in Charleston. Sourcing locally, the John's Island tomato tarte tatin will make you weep.
There is a line for a reason. Sandwiches piled high, inventive soups and half-price wine on Wednesday & Saturday nights. Grab a booth, or try your luck at the communal table in the back. The tomato tarragon crab soup is a winner.
I'm ambivalent about Red's. The food is terrible. The drinks are okay — as in, I get a Yuengling and enjoy the view. But Charleston, for all its waterways and coastline, has only a handful of waterfront restaurants. If you can't make it to Bowen's Island, head to Red's for dolphins and sunset on Shem Creek.
Somewhere between the Christmas tree lights glowing behind stained church glass and kitchy, curated decorations around the small stage next to the bar, a seedy and sinful soul inhabits the austere, industrial corpse of what was once the Olde Charleston Forge.
This recent addition to the upper peninsula's Wagener Terrace neighborhood is a locals spot with a great vibe indoors and out, friendly staff and amazing bar food. Perfect spot for a burger and a beer or just to enjoy the weather at a laid back pseudo-diner.
Authentic Mexican food. I go for two things: the chicken mole and traditional tacos as simple as it gets: meat — try the pastor! —, cilantro and onion on a fresh tortilla. Make that three things: the margaritas at Santi's are the real deal.