18 Essential Charleston Restaurants July 2015

Welcome to the updated Charleston Eater 18, your answer and ours to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs. Every couple of months, Eater adds pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

These are the places that you think of when you think of Charleston. Not necessarily the newest and hottest on the block, but the classics — and soon-to-be classics.

1 Butcher & Bee

Sometimes, nothing but a sandwich will hit the spot, and Butcher & Bee excels in the art of adding layers of flavor to bread to create magic. Though, for the gluten-adverse, they excel in vegetable sides as well. The King Street hangout is open only for lunch (or brunch) and late nights, but well worth tracking down.

654 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

2 Charleston Grill

Charleston Grill is fine dining at its best. Located in the lovely Belmond Charleston Place, the Grill is home to one of the most elegant menus in Charleston. The seasonal menu has four categories: Pure, Southern, Cosmopolitan and Lush, but you can mix and match and create the perfect meal. Better yet, let chef Michelle Weaver create a tasting menu for you and your table.

224 King St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-4522

3 Chez Nous

Quaint destination Chez Nous is rustic, French, and romantic. Chefs Jill Mathias and Juan Cassalett are behind the stove, serving a selection of two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. They post the menu daily on social media, along with dreamy pictures of the plates. Go with a partner, order a bottle of wine, and have one of each of the offerings.

6 Payne Ct
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 579-3060

4 Edmund's Oast

Edmund's Oast is a temple to culinary delights and boozy wonders. After the first year, the restaurant is still packed full of crowds nightly. With the combination of chef Andy Henderson's thoughtful cuisine, bartender Jayce McConnell's unique cocktails, and brewer Cameron Read's beers, it's no wonder this place is popular.

1081 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 727-1145

5 EVO Pizzeria

It's always a toss-up at EVO: order the classic pork trifecta pie or to try something off the ever-changing seasonal menu? The answer is always to get one of each, and make sure a crisp, balanced salad is in the mix. End your meal with Sweeteeth chocolate.

1075 E Montague Ave
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 225-1796


Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow opened FIG in 2003, and the Ansonborough restaurant continues to be a top destination for pristinely executed plates in Charleston. Lata named Jason Stanhope executive chef last year, and he quickly won the 2015 James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast (Lata holds the title for 2009). But through all the awards, the food at FIG has remained the top priority — the kitchen and the menu is driven by what is local and available. Go for innovative takes on seasonal produce and always opt for the chicken liver pâté. [Photo: www.jwkpec.com]

232 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 805-5900

7 Hominy Grill

Hominy Grill is about as Southern as Southern can get. It’s a must stop for tourists and locals alike, which is a rare achievement for a restaurant. Chef Robert Stehling won the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast in 2008. Try the Charleston Nasty if you're there for brunch — the gravy-covered fried chicken biscuit is the definition of comfort food.

207 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 937-0930

8 Leon's Oyster Shop

Leon's Oyster Shop hits that sweet spot between casual and fine-dining. Chef Ari Kolender puts as much care into his fried chicken recipe as one would expect at restaurants that plate with tweezers (he scored a semifinalist spot for the James Beard Award: Rising Star of the Year for this level of attention). Leon's is a good place to kick back with a plate of char-grilled oysters and a glass of rosé or a quick stop for a vegetarian lunch of Siam salad and scalloped potatoes.

698 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 531-6500

9 Martha Lou's Kitchen

The tiny pink restaurant on Morrison Drive is home to some of the best fried chicken in the south. Macaroni and cheese, collard greens, catfish…you name a true southern comfort food and Martha Lou’s will probably have it. Wash it down with a glass of iced cold sweet tea for pure Southern bliss.

1068 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 577-9583

10 McCrady's

Executive Chef Sean Brock and Chef de Cuisine Daniel Heinze wow the diners at McCrady’s with extremely thoughtful and seasonal cuisine. Each plate is a work of art. Inventive plates, masterful cocktails, and a gorgeous space that dates from the early 1800’s make McCrady’s one of the best restaurants that this city has to offer.

2 Unity Aly
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-0025

11 Nana's Soul Seafood

If you're looking for seafood, soul, or real-deal Gullah-Geechie menu items, Nana's is the place to be. Mother and son team Carolyn and Kenyatta McNeil create Lowcountry classics, with local products, in their small Line Street restaurant. For $10, patrons can score a giant piece of perfectly-fried whiting, fried cabbage on rice, lima beans, and a sweet piece of cornbread — really, it's enough for two people. The trick is to keep up with the restaurant's Instagram feed to check when crab rice or garlic crabs are on the menu (two of the most popular dishes). [Photo: Jessika Stocker]

176 Line St
Charleston, SC 29403

12 Slightly North of Broad

Slightly North of Broad is one of the original innovators of Lowcountry cuisine still standing (and delighting crowds) in Charleston. Chefs Frank Lee and Russ Moore keep the focus on local, Southern flavors, and plenty of farm-fresh produce. SNOB has a loyal lunch crowd of Charlestonians that wouldn't think of taking an afternoon meal anywhere else.

192 E Bay St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-3424

13 The Bar at Husk

The Bar at Husk is in a separate structure from the restaurant, so reservations aren't required to sample their multitude of bourbons and Southern-flavored cocktails. The two-story parlor serves an amended menu, but Sean Brock's famous bacon-laden burger is always on the list. Try an antebellum punch or sample the fried chicken if it's available. The Bar is a must visit for anyone wanting a Brock experience without making plans to visit the main dining room. [Photo: www.jwkpec.com]

76 Queen St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-2500

14 The Grocery

Chef Kevin Johnson and team consistently put out a fresh and innovative menu at The Grocery. If you're looking for seasonal produce, Johnson is usually one of the first chefs to put just-off-the-farm products on the menu — like asparagus in the spring or peaches in the summer. The Cannon Street space is a great stop for drinks during happy hour or a place to share as many plates as the table can handle.

4 Cannon St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 302-8825

15 The Macintosh

The Macintosh is a favorite for brunch, dinner and their Bacon Happy Hour (named after chef Jeremiah Bacon), where a small, pork-y dish is $5. The setting is cool, but comfortable — an ideal backdrop for Bacon's menu, which spans from his famous deckle to a bone marrow bread pudding to the seasonal vegetable plate (yes, it's not just pork).

479 King St
Charleston, SC
(843) 789-4299

16 Two Boroughs Larder

Two Boroughs Larder is a perfect example of a choose-your-own-adventure type of restaurant. Meaning, you can go for a comforting noodle bowl, starting at $10, or you can go all out with raw oysters, a charcuterie plate, a massive cowboy ribeye, and chocolate budino. What started as a simple sandwich shop has morphed into an embodiment of all that's good about eating in Charleston right now.

186 Coming St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 637-3722

17 Wild Olive

Italian staple Wild Olive opened in 2009, on Johns Island, and has since become a destination for classic house-made pasta dishes, intriguing entrees utilizing local ingredients, and fresh small plates. The place gets absolutely packed on the weekends and even stays busy during the week with a $19 wine list on Mondays and Tuesdays.

2867 Maybank Hwy
Johns Island, SC 29455
(843) 737-4177

18 Xiao Bao Biscuit

Xiao Bao Biscuit is brilliant in that it can be a quick stop for lunch, a place to meet for cocktails or a full-on family-style meal. The menu pulls inspiration from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, so there's always something new and interesting to sample.

224 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403
Vietnamese Restaurant, $$$$
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