Oh, Charleston, you’re a dream. Of all the places I’ve visited, Charleston still remains one of the only cities that I could (and will) return to over and over again without getting bored. In fact, we’re talking about planning a trip in December one year in the near future.
Instead of sharing our itinerary and our steps day-by-day, I’m going to share my favorite places to eat, drink and explore. We tried to fit so much into our few days in Charleston and I’ll share a few places that still remain on my list that we were unable to fit into this trip.
So let’s get a few details out of the way: We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in the Charleston Historic district on Calhoun St. There are lots of incredibly beautiful boutique hotels but we knew that this trip we would not be spending a lot of time in the hotel room and instead wanted to focus on the location. I’ve also stayed at the Doubletree located in the historic downtown and this is also a great location. We arrived early Thursday afternoon and left early Monday afternoon. If you’ve never been to Charleston, the weather can get a “little” warm in the summer so I would avoid visiting in August and September. We walked everywhere…except dinner. We used uber since the ladies were wearing heels and the guys didn’t want to hear complaining. And finally, here is how we planned most of our days: athletic walk (meaning workout clothes and tennis shoes) in the morning to find coffee and breakfast; freshen up at the hotel and change clothes for the day around 10am; venture out for more walking, lunch, more walking and cocktails; around 4pm we would head back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner. So yes, I packed three outfits for each day. That’s just how I roll.
Now to the good stuff…
Favorite Coffee Spots:
The Daily – We grabbed coffee and breakfast at this spot slightly off the beaten path two mornings in a row. The avocado toast is AHHH-mazing and their lattes are caffeine perfection. It gets busy so I recommend arriving before 9am, if possible.
Revelator Coffee – This was not on our list of places to visit but we ended up there on Sunday morning when I was in need of a “jolt” before brunch later in the day. They do have a small menu with some amazing looking food (the granola bowl gets two thumbs up) but the coffee is what they take seriously. Really seriously. This place is located in the heart of downtown Charleston near lots of restaurants.
Black Tap Coffee – I am sad to say that we never made it to this spot BUT The Daily serves their coffee so I call that a win. I just noticed that you can buy their coffee beans online (woot woot) and when we return to Charleston we’ll definitely stop by the storefront on Beaufain St.
Favorite Restaurants and Bars:
Henrietta’s at The Dewberry – When we arrived in Charleston on Thursday we were both starving. I had The Living Room at the Dewberry on my list of bars to visit and since it was so close to our hotel we decided to hop on over for a drink and some snacks. The Living Room was completely empty so we headed across the lobby to Henrietta’s. We sat at the bar where we had an awesome bartender who took care of us and made us really pleased with our decision. We shared olives, oysters and some frites.
Circa 1886 – This restaurant is rated as the #16 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in the U.S. by TripAdvisor which made me nervous. However, I can honestly say we had an incredible experience from the moment we walked into the Wentworth Mansion. The restaurant is gorgeous and our server was fantastic. Super knowledgeable but wasn’t too “stuffy.” My duck entree was phenomenal. They had a great wine list and our server was helpful in picking out the perfect bottle to go with both of our dishes. If you’re planning a trip to Charleston and want a romantic dinner for two, I can’t recommend Circa 1886 enough.
Artisan Meat Share – I’m not going to lie, I was very skeptical about this place. We had reservations somewhere else but the other couple we were meeting up with on Friday was dying to go to Artisan Meat Share. Guess what? It turned out to be amazing. If you want sandwiches to go, you don’t need to worry about timing. But if you want a table, go early in the day – it’s a very small establishment. We ordered few items for the table to share: the “Motherboard” which was just a large board of charcuterie, salami & ham; the Jojos with dipping sauce (fried potatoes but so much more than that); and the Pea and Peanut Salad that was one of my favorite bites of the trip.
The Rarebit – This restaurant serves breakfast all day, everyday and has amazing cocktails. We did not have any food but did stop in for a drink. The Champagne Cocktail was amazing and we really enjoyed the bartender. Full of personality and making drinks is an art form here. I’ve heard the food it amazing though if you’re looking for a throw-back diner style meal.
FIG – One of the hardest reservations to secure in Charleston but for good reason. FIG is only open for dinner and is a hot spot. FIG was on my list from day one of planning our trip and the food did not disappoint. We started by sharing some appetizers and if we could do it again, we would have just ordered more appetizers and not ordered entrees. The appetizers steal the show. Favorites: Snapper and Olive Tartare; Chicken Liver Pâte; Cottage Cheese and Burnt Eggplant; and Ricotta Gnocchi and Lamb Bolognese (we ordered two of these and could have easily eaten four). You can make a reservation up to one month to the day in advance by phone.
The Gin Joint – If you want a good (and I mean good) cocktail, head here. But go early. We went before dinner one evening and ended up waiting 30 plus minutes until seated. It was worth it though. They also have a lot of rare bourbons and other fun things. We ordered the “pick two” where you pick two words from a list and they create a cocktail for you. I was a little nervous but they nailed it. My words: Refreshing and Sweet.
The Darling Oyster Bar – I am currently obsessed with this restaurant. We went for lunch on Sunday and we had an outstanding experience. The bartenders were great, our waiter was great and the restaurant is STUNNING in it’s decor. You must go here. And the must order items: oysters (duh); hush puppies; chowder fries; and the lobster and king crab roll. I plan on totally checking out their dinner the next time we’re in town.
The Macintosh – We only ordered drinks here but I would 100% return for their brunch or dinner. The bartenders were fantastic and I’ve heard some amazing review on the food.
McCrady’s Tavern – I enjoyed one of the top five bites of my life here on Sunday night. It’s that good. Big Guy and I basically ordered every single appetizer and shared them for our dinner. Top five favorite bites: Caviar Parfait and Tator Tots. I seriously cannot even begin to tell you how delicious this appetizer was. But I can tell you this: we ordered it as an appetizer and then again for dessert. I’m serious. Mind blown. Stupid Good. Other amazing bites of the night: Deviled Crab Stuffed Clams; Dressed Shrimp; a Plate of Southern Ham (Big Guy’s absolute favorite and he also got a small plate with two pieces just for him for dessert)and Escargot Stuffed Bone Marrow, Grilled Bread, Parsley. I will 100% return to this restaurant.
Zero Bar – Located in an adorable boutique hotel, this was the last bar we visited on Sunday after dinner. It’s incredibly tiny and while it is not the most vibrant bar scene it was perfect for us. I am mentioning it because it’s loaded in the George Hotel in which I would love to stay in sometime. The Zero Restaurant also does a tasting menu that intrigues me.
Stella’s – My last bites in Charleston were here on Monday for a late lunch. This Greek restaurant is beautiful and a must-hit spot. I wish we could have had one more dinner because this is where I would have headed. There are so many small plates that are perfect for sharing. My favorites: the hummus (best ever in the U.S.) and the charred octopus (and trust me, I’m not crazy – it’s the favorite of everyone).
Mira Wine – Mira is a winery in Napa that has a tasting room in Charleston. The wine is lovely and I really enjoyed their rosé. The wine is affordable and we considered joining their wine club just so we could be invited back to their wine dinners.
Skinny Dip – A new store that opened in Downtown Charleston that not only has adorable stuff but also has a coffee bar and frosé (aka frozen rosé). They have a space outside where you can hang out and it’s just a fun spot.
(Please know, I am not being a hater. There are just so many spots in Charleston so I’m being honest and want YOU to have the best trip ever.)
Feathertop (restaurant; we dined for lunch and I honestly think dinner would be so much better but I can’t tell you for sure)
Cypress (restaurant; very underwhelming in food and overwhelming in size. they are simply trying to turn tables.)
The Vendue (bar; I loved this spot on my bachelorette party but hated it at 33.)
Thoroughbred Club (bar; absolutely nothing wrong here, just not memorable)
Edmond’s Oast (a little far out but they have a great beer selection and I’ve heard the food is good)
Favorites for Next Time…because there’s just not enough meals in one day:
Leon’s Oyster Bar (awesome reviews all around)
Minero (lunch or dinner this place gets AMAZING reviews from visitors and locals)
5Church (for drinks, I’ve heard mixed messages on the food)
Bin 152 Wine Bar (I think this would be a fantastic spot but honestly they need longer hours)
Xiao Bao Biscuit (once again, I’ve never heard a bad review)
There you have it! I know I’ve missed something so please reach out to me if you’re planning a trip in the near future. Until next time, Charleston….