6 bars and restaurants you need to try in Charleston
By Traci Magnus
Whether you’re looking for traditional southern food, casual local seafood or high-end international cuisine, Charleston has it all.
Charleston is known as a top culinary destination for foodies, and its growing craft brewery scene is not to be missed. The city’s diverse dining and nightlife options offer something for everyone, no matter your tastes.
Whether you’re looking for traditional southern food, casual local seafood or high-end international cuisine, Charleston has it all. Their craft brewers are known for working with local restaurants and using South-Carolina-grown ingredients to create wonderful ales and lagers to accompany the city’s fine food.
You can find top restaurants and bars throughout Charleston, inneighborhoods with historic downtown Charleston rentalsand mansions all the way out toward the beaches on the barrier islands. No matter where you’re staying in Charleston, there’s a great restaurant and bar nearby.
Located in a building thatonce housed Leon Ravenel’s auto body shop,Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop is the perfect place to gather with friends for some great wine and seafood. The industrial interior features modern art and unique thrift store finds that’ll catch your eye while you’re indulging in some of the best seafood Charleston has to offer.
While more upscale than casual, Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop isn’t stuffy or pretentious. The restaurant is comfortable and inviting with an approachable menu. They’ve been offering a great raw bar, fried seafood and fried chicken since 2014. Leon’s also has delicious salads and vegetable-forward sides to lighten up the menu.
Their wine and cocktail menu offers an ample selection of wines, including rose and sparkling wine for your preferred pairing. The full menu is available all day, and they’re open seven days a week — great for when you get that local seafood craving.
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You can’t make a best of Charleston list without including a great barbecue restaurant. Every region has its own barbecue style, and, atRodney Scott’s in Charleston,that means whole-hog and vinegar-style BBQ sauces. This restaurant is popular with locals and tourists alike, evendrawing in Vice President Kamala Harris during a campaign stopin the region.
Find delicious BBQ pork dishes like ribs and pulled pork alongside southern fried catfish. Fill your plates with southern staples and sides, including mac‘n’cheese, hushpuppies, collard greens and cornbread.
Owner and chef Rodney Scott makes his secret BBQ sauce and works in the pit alongside the restaurant’s pitmasters to deliver the smokiest, most delicious Lowcountry barbeque. You’ll leave full and satisfied after a meal here.
No matter where you’re staying in Charleston, there’s a great restaurant and bar nearby.
What began as a late-night sandwich shop in Charleston is now a modern restaurant where creative dishes bring Mediterranean and southern food traditions together. TheButcher & Bee seasonal menussource fresh, local ingredients for their mezze, dips, bowls and plates.
You’ll find unique menu items like fried pork ribs with fermented honey and grilled eggplant with caponata and fried capers, along with a fun and modern cocktail menu.
The restaurant is great for vegetarians or anyone looking for Mediterranean flavors during their stay. You can dine inside the restaurant or outside on their spacious patio, and they offer takeout so you can enjoy their menu items anywhere.
A staple of the North Charleston community, Nigel’s Good Food offersaward-winning Geechie style recipesfeaturing wings, gumbo and shrimp. Customer favorites also include their fried green tomatoes and deviled crab. Their shrimp and grits are even made with traditional brown gravy in a nod to Charleston’s past.
The city’s diverse dining and nightlife options offer something for everyone, no matter your tastes.
Owner and chef Nigel Drayton and his wife Louise operate the restaurant and have been involved in Charleston’s restaurant community their entire working lives. Their goal with Nigel’s Good Food was to create a warm and welcoming place for customers to enjoy the south’s soul food and other food traditions. The family-run restaurant is the perfect casual dining spot for your entire family.
This legendary dive bar was included in Southern Living’sbest bars of the South,and it’s easy to see why. The bar is packed with personality and is the opposite of a pretentious hipster bar.The Griffon’s motto is to be “unapologetically awesome,”and it welcomes everyone with open arms.
The bar’s been a thriving part of the Charleston community for over 20 years and promotes local brews from across South Carolina on its beer menu.
The decor is certainly unique, with walls covered in one-dollar bills from previous visitors. You can add your own note to the wall during your visit if you can find a space. The bar is located in the heart of the tourist district and opens early for lunch daily. It stays open until 2 a.m. for those looking for a great late-night place.
Along with an extensive beer menu, The Griffon has a large menu filled with great pub foods like burgers, fish and chips and shareable appetizers. It’s the perfect spot when you’re looking for a fun night with a group of friends.
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Nothing’s more southern than biscuits. This Mount Pleasant breakfast joint serves up a heaping side of southern hospitality with their generous brunch portions and from-scratch biscuits. Their buttermilk biscuits and sweet potato biscuits are perfect if you’re looking for a traditional southern breakfast like biscuits and sausage gravy or an egg, ham and cheese biscuit sandwich.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try their jalapeno cheddar biscuit and spice up your eggs benedict. The brunch menu extends beyond biscuits, offering waffles, eggs and omelets and even kid-friendly meals.
The temperate year-round weather means it’s always a great time to get out and explore the city.
Your whole family canenjoy the great food and atmosphere at Vicious Biscuit.You’ll have to venture a little outside of Charleston, as Mount Pleasant sits just to the east of city limits. This charming suburb offers visitors small-town feels with proximity to big city amenities and the only access to the barrier islands of Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island.
Mount Pleasant is a great place to stay while visiting the area, andyou may be interested in the Mount Pleasant homes for saleif you’re looking for a more permanent location.
You’re sure to work up an appetite with so much to see and do during your stay in Charleston. The temperate year-round weather means it’s always a great time to get out and explore the city.
Add these must-try restaurants and bars to your trip itinerary and stop in for some great South Carolina specialties in between shopping at King Street and checking out the colorful homes on Rainbow Row. You just may find your new favorite go-to spot.
Cover photo source Martha Graham/Shutterstock.com