Charleston is one of those Crown jewel cities of Southern cuisine and it’s a definite must for the foodie at heart, as well as the history lovers. It’s an easy town to walk around and for the most part I’ve kept restaurants that are in the main down town area. You’ll see notes on each restaurant, including my order suggestions, when to make reservations, and of course – what to wear to wander.
There are options for everyone and I’ve highlighted restaurants that value the quality of local produce and farmers. Many of the chefs create menus weekly, some even daily. I find that there is always something new on the menus that keep me coming back to Charleston for amazing food with Southern hospitality.
If you are looking for more adventures to go on, check out this article on San Francisco. It’s an itinerary for three days in the city and includes what to pack, see, eat and do. Find out more about the city and the spots I love to return to every time I go. A personal favorite will always be a trip to the SF Ballet.
Come in for a cup of coffee, and stay a while in the most cozy spot you’ll find in Charleston. You’ll be greeted by glassed in counter of the most delicious pastries along with a host of other tasty treats to get. Lunch is also available here, but I will say I like to get in early to get the pastries. They have a limited run each day as everything is freshly made and can be packed to go or enjoyed in house. After you order, head into the back and find bistro tables that are set up as the perfect spot to catch up with a friend. The shop gets busy, so listen up for your order and enjoy! If you’re looking for a gift to take home, pick up a bag of Methodical Coffee that they sell up front as it makes a thoughtful present any coffee lover will enjoy.
The dress code: Get out the door early and walk to Harken in comfort. If you see me in the shop, you’ll probably find a hat to cover my hair as my day won’t fully start until I have had coffee.
When I first found out about this spot, I was curious. Their tagline is “It’s a kitchen, not a restaurant” and it offers a look into their approach. You won’t find any bells and whistles here in terms of location or decor, but where those seem minimal the food makes up in a big way. Each day the 5-course menu changes according to what Chef Ross Webb finds to be the best ingredients around. Each bite is phenomenal and worth the experience. You’ll want to reserve your table well in advance (like a month in advance!), as there are few tables available.
As for the dress code, the kitchen is casual and funky. In honor of the unique experience I’ve gone with an unusual shoe that makes the whole look. Definitely check out the shoes that have been hand painted and actually support a fantastic organization with their purchase.
Maison is like a warm hug that is also entirely chic. It’s comfortable while elegant and the whole of it juxtaposes simplicity and innovation both in cuisine and ambience. It’s important to me to find restaurants that change their menus at the very least seasonally, as this ensures that you are getting ingredients at their peak freshness. My love for France (and French food) is made complete with this delicious restaurant.
Your dress code: Think elevated casual with modern twists of the classics. I’ve included a pair of shoes that cross over from the traditional menswear category and compliment the whole look. Try out menswear for a sharp and chic look that feels effortless and refined.
Cooking classes hold a special place in my heart. From growing up watching my mom cook to having her teach me, I’ve always felt comfortable in the kitchen. With that said, there is a whole world of ingredients I haven’t cooked and I look forward to interactive dining experiences like this to try things I’ve never worked with. This particular experience is brought to you by Chef Bob Waggoner. He’s been a massive influence in the cities culinary adventures and pulls influence for his classes from his extensive travels. Don’t be intimated by this! Get in there and have fun.
Dresscode: you’ll be cooking throughout the class, so I’d suggest wearing a black top and shoes just in case something splashes on them. It’s a precaution, but it also happens to look so chic.
Even the locals adore this iconic spot! That says a lot about a restaurant. Halls has locations all around the South, and they knock it all out of the park. Go for dinner and you’ll find a great steak, but on Sunday (and only on Sunday!) you’ll find the best brunch in town. They are famous for the Gospel Brunch so you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. Try the French toast for the most decadent and divine bites to keep you going as you walk the city and explore.
The dress code: at night you’ll need to dress up a bit more, but for this brunch you’ll be perfectly fine in denim. Elevate the look with a blazer while wearing sneakers to get to walking afterwards. The outfit is perfect for the brunch, and you can easily wear it to one of the local historic churches nearby for service early in the morning.
You’re in for a treat at Butcher & Bee, especially if you love trying new flavors and enjoy a variety of vegetables. They are not a strictly vegan/vegetarian place so you will find plenty of delicious meat options as well. The menu is best enjoyed with a crowd so you can order multiple items for all to share and enjoy. Before you leave, take a look at their take home shop for local jams and their amazing fermented honey.
Click here for a look at their menu. It changes weekly to offer only the freshest produce and ingredients.
The dress code: While this post isn’t about a packing list like other articles are, you’ll still find repeat items in the outfits. Before I purchase something, I like to know it has great versatility.
You’re in for a treat at FIG. The name of the restaurant stands for “food is good” and they mean it. From first course to last, each presentation feels like edible artwork that is still entirely approachable. The menu changes frequently, but there are a few things that I hope come back around. Chef Mike Lata continually creates shop stopping masterpieces that will keep you coming back for more. They run the whole restaurant on the principle of serving honest, local ingredients, with informed service, in a comfortable setting.
Dresscode: they currently only serve dinner, so take the opportunity to dress up a bit. My one note on wearing heels in Charleston is getting dropped off close to the restaurant. While Charleston is highly walkable, it’s not ideal in heels thanks to the occasional cobblestone streets.
As the premier steakhouse on Kiawah Island, The Ocean Room serves masterful dishes crafted from locally sourced beef, poultry and produce in a seasonally changing menu—all complemented by a wine list showcasing more than 1,000 superior selections. This elegant restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is perennially awarded both Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond ratings, so you’re ensured an unparalleled dining experience.
The dress code: cocktail attire is recommended and they actually encourage dinner guests to dress up. Use the opportunity to make the most of your reservation and dress accordingly .
If you are traveling with a girlfriend, this is an absolute must to add to your trips. Find a spot like Gabrielle and plan for a lunch where you get dressed up. Go over the top with it all, and enjoy a proper ladies luncheon. You’ll feel like a queen and want to do this again and again. It’s a fun way to try a new restaurant.
The dress code: lady like features is the way to go for a lunch like this, though the actual restaurant doesn’t hold a strict dress code for this. As weather permits, head outdoors and enjoy the sunshine alongside your delicious meal.
I’ve created The Essentials as a guide to a basic packing plan for your next holiday. Down to the most comfortable walking shoes, best bag to travel with and what toiletries you won’t want to leave home without. It’s got everything you’ll need so there will be nothing you miss.