It is well known that many of the best restaurants in the South are located right here in Charleston. Whether you come to explore and enjoy the beauty of the Lowcountry or the wealth of history and cuisine (and everything in-between), you have “hit the jackpot.” Charleston’s restaurants have been written up in major magazines, such as Martha Stewart Living, and Wine Spectator. They have been featured on several television shows, as well, including the Travel Channel.
So, what makes the Holy City such a gastronomical paradise? Two major reasons are the chefs (of whom some are the world’s best), and the ample supply of fresh, homegrown produce and regional seafood. Not only does this help to support the local economy, but it also offers these chefs the freshest of ingredients to work with, thus, providing you with the best possible food you can eat!
The cuisine we enjoy in Charleston today was inspired by a blend of Southern Caribbean and African cultures, brought to this continent over the past 300 years. The planters, slaves, and yeoman farmers and their families who lived in the area of, what is currently, South Carolina and Georgia, utilized the local grains, produce, and seafood that were readily available to them. Born, out of this blend of cultures and ingredients, was what we now call, “Lowcountry cuisine.”
Many of these basic traditional dishes that we enjoy today have been passed down through the generations and unchanged. But there are also a variety of traditional dishes that have been altered by culinary masters, to stay with tradition, but to also add a fun, new twist. One thing that has never changed with the time-honored tradition of “Lowcountry cuisine,” is the continued use of fresh and local ingredients. Spotlighted below are a few fabulous destinations for “Lowcountry cuisine” in Charleston. All are credited with “home-grown” items on their menus.
Logo to the left taken from the Slightly North of Broad website.
SLIGHTLY NORTH OF BROAD (Affectionately known, locally, as SNOB): The dining room of this beautiful and romantic restaurant is complete with chandeliers, dark wood floors, and white tablecloths. Located in the heart of the tourist district on East Bay Street, you will find an abundance of local ingredients on their menu. Their modern, Southern fare includes such specialties as Maverick shrimp and grits, crab cake, lamb, steak, barbecued tuna, and more. Their seasonal, fruit cobblers are wonderful! Aside from a full bar, the wine list is excellent, with special emphasis on Bordeaux and Burgundies. In addition to being delicious and hearty, these dishes are synonymous with ultimate comfort food!
Location: 192 East Bay Street, Charleston. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Dinner is served nightly from 5:30 pm. Reservations suggested: (843) 723-3424
Logo to the right taken from the 82 Queen Restaurant website.
82 QUEEN: An award-winning restaurant, 82 Queen focuses on gracious Southern hospitality, offering a large, seasonal menu. There are 11 different dining rooms, as well as outdoor dining in the garden. Nestled in the historic French Quarter of Charleston, this charming establishment has earned a national reputation for “Lowcountry cuisine” and excellent service. The readers of Southern Living magazine voted it “Best City Restaurant,” and it has been the recipient of the Wine Spectators’ Award for five years in a row (not an easy achievement in a town renowned for fine dining). The menu has a delectable variety of pork, beef, and seafood dishes, as well as some signature dishes, such as their She-Crab soup and their crawfish jambalaya. All of this wonderful food is prepared in the style of “southern comfort” that only the Lowcountry can offer!
Location: 82 Queen Street, Charleston. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dinner is served nightly, from 5:30 p.m. Reservations suggested: (843) 723-7591
POOGAN’S PORCH: Since opening in 1976, Poogan’s Porch has been a favorite restaurant in Charleston and is one of the oldest, independent, culinary establishments in the city. This old Victorian house, which was beautifully restored with brick walls, polished wood floors, and large picture windows, has been recognized in many major magazines. It is the perfect spot for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch! Outside, porch dining is available. Their fresh approach to “Lowcountry cuisine” is what makes them among the top restaurants in Charleston. Specialties include peanut-crusted catfish, warm, homemade buttermilk biscuits, served with sausage gravy, and Ms. Bertha’s She-Crab soup. The wine list is extensive, with a 1,500-bottle wine cellar, and 28 of the wines offered by the glass.
Image above taken from the Poogan’s Porch website.
Location: 72 Queen Street, Charleston. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dinner is served from 5:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday brunch from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Reservations are essential: (843) 577-2337
Hopefully, these recommendations are a good start for your culinary journey through Charleston. It is for good reason that these restaurants are popular with both locals and tourists alike … it is their fabulous “Lowcountry cuisine.” Bon Appetite and enjoy!
Experience traditional Lowcountry cuisine in a unique way aboard The Carolina Belle! Each Thursday Charleston Harbor Tours host a Sunset Blues & BBQ Cruise that features a buffet catered by Home Team BBQ and live music from Charleston’s Shrimp City Slim. Click here for more information about the Sunset Blues & BBQ Cruise.