20 Best Restaurants In Charleston To Fuel Your Low Country Adventure - Trip Canvas (2024)


Updated: June 27, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, SMT

Table of Contents

  1. For the Fine Dining Foodie
  2. For the Budget-Conscious
  3. For the Seafood Lover
  4. For the Adventurous Eater
  5. Explore Charleston's Food Scene With AAA

Charleston, South Carolina is a great vacation spot for a few reasons, from its rich historical tapestry to its sun-kissed beaches. Yet, the city truly shines when it comes to its culinary scene, offering everything from rich seafood boils to exquisite fine dining experiences.

Nicknamed the “Holy City,” Charleston seems blessed with an abundance of various cuisines. That’s why we’ve created this guide to showcase some of the best restaurants in Charleston to check out, from smoky barbecue joints to fresh seafood catches.

For the Fine Dining Foodie

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Visiting friends or exploring a new city? Charleston offers the perfect excuse to indulge in a fine dining experience. With a diverse selection of upscale restaurants, you're sure to find the perfect setting to savor the city's delicious flavors. Below are some of the best Charleston restaurants to consider for a divine evening.

1. Le Farfalle

Address: 15 Beaufain St., Charleston, SC 29401

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

Nestled in Charleston's charming Harleston Village, La Farfalle offers a sweet taste of Italy with a modern twist. Diners can expect to find house-made pasta, flavorful main courses like Chicken Parmigiana or the market catch and classic Italian Antipasti. La Farfalle offers a well-rounded wine list and craft co*cktail program, making it a perfect spot for a delicious and satisfying Italian dining experience.

The restaurant's indoor and outdoor dining spaces provide an inviting atmosphere, perfect for both intimate dinners and lively gatherings. Note that La Farfalle doesn’t take reservations, so be sure to arrive early to secure an evening spot.


2. The Obstinate Daughter

Address: 2063 Middle St., Sullivan's Island, SC 29483

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

Craving a culinary adventure that spans multiple cuisines? Look no further than The Obstinate Daughter. Affectionately nicknamed the “Food Fort” by its owners, this restaurant draws inspiration from French, Italian and Spanish cuisine, evident throughout their seasonally changing menu.

Perfect for sharing and exploring flavors with a group, The Obstinate Daughter offers a variety of small plates alongside pizzas, pasta and delectable desserts. Notably, they have been awarded a Green Restaurant Certification, reflecting their commitment to sustainable practices—a core value of their business philosophy.


3. The Ordinary

Address: 544 King St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

Housed within a historic Charleston bank building, The Ordinary has established itself as a premier “Southern seafood hall” and oyster bar. Their commitment to sustainability shines through their dedication to sourcing from local and regional fishermen, crabbers, farmers, oystermen and producers. This focus on fresh, local ingredients is evident throughout their menu.

The Ordinary offers a tempting raw bar, a luxurious caviar service and an array of starters and entrees. As with many fine-dining establishments in Charleston, the menu changes seasonally to showcase each season's freshest catches and bounty.


4. Circa 1886

Address: 149 Wentworth St., Charleston, SC 29401

Approximate price per person: $100+

Circa 1886 embodies the epitome of refined dining in Charleston. Nestled within the original carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion, it exudes historic charm with original pine floors, creamy paneling and architectural details.

Executive Chef Marc Collins curates a selection of tasting menus, ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in the ambiance and enjoy a pre-selected culinary experience. For those who prefer to personalize their meal, the à la carte menu allows you to build your own.

Featuring elevated Southern cuisine, Circa 1886 is a top choice for indulging in high-quality dishes in the city.


5. FIG

Address: 232 Meeting St., Charleston, SC 29401

Approximate price per person: $100+

Once just a bistro opening its doors in 2003, FIG has blossomed into a Charleston culinary destination. The menu changes frequently with the seasons and ingredient availability, so you're likely to experience a unique meal on every visit. However, as the menu itself suggests, the focus here is truly on the food, letting the carefully curated ingredients shine.

Expect to find dishes that pay homage to the Low Country but with innovative twists that surprise and delight. FIG is a great choice for those who appreciate quality ingredients and meticulous care in their dining experience.


For the Budget-Conscious

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Traveling as a AAA member grants you access to great discounts on hotels and attractions. But the savings don't stop there! To extend your budget for souvenirs and other family fun activities, here are some favorite budget-friendly restaurants in Charleston, SC.

6. Hannibal's Kitchen

Address: 16 Blake St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $10-$20

Craving a taste of Charleston beyond the tourist hotspots? Be sure to check out Hannibal's Kitchen, a local favorite specializing in Low Country cuisine. Let’s ditch the formality—here, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Come as you are and savor home-cooked Gullah or Geechee dishes bursting with authentic Low Country flavors at budget-friendly prices.

Expect culinary staples like steaming bowls of crab and shrimp rice or comforting okra soup. This is a place to experience the soul of Charleston's culinary heritage.


7. Bertha's Restaurant

Address: 2332 Meeting Street Rd., Charleston, SC 29405

Approximate price per person: $10-$20

Known as North Charleston’s soul food restaurant, Bertha’s Kitchen has long been cooking up Southern comfort food for the community. Open since 1979 and family-run, Bertha’s keeps it simple: order at the counter, find a seat in the dining room and they’ll prepare your meal.

While a line may form ahead of lunch, the wait is well worth it, with crispy fried pork chops and chicken, shrimp and grits and cornbread. It's a great spot for a budget-friendly meal that delivers both value and taste.


8. Lewis Barbecue

Address: 464 N. Nassau St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $20-$30

Lewis Barbecue, founded by barbecue master John Lewis, is a must-visit for any serious barbecue enthusiast. Lewis's dedication to his craft is evident in his custom-designed smokers, which produce mouthwatering barbecue.

The menu offers various delicious smoked meats, allowing you to customize your order. Choose from options like USDA prime beef brisket or pulled pork, available in generous portions and sandwich form on fresh buns.

Pair your selection with classic sides like cowboy pinto beans, potato salad and mac and cheese. If you're craving authentic, perfectly smoked barbecue during your visit, Lewis Barbecue is highly recommended.


9. Dave's Carry Out

Address: 42 Morris St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $10-$20

If you're looking for a super local spot with a true Charleston vibe, Dave's Carry Out is the place to be. This corner store offers soul-satisfying Southern comfort food at budget-friendly prices.

Think savory cornish hen, turkey wings and all the classic sides you crave, like collard greens and red rice. It's not a sit-down restaurant but rather a grab-and-go option, perfect for enjoying a picnic in the park or a meal by the beach.


10. Pink Bellies

Address: 595 King St. Suite 1, Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $10-$20

Craving vibrant Vietnamese flavors without breaking the bank? Look no further than Pink Bellies, a popular spot just outside Charleston's bustling historic district. Known for its friendly prices compared to other restaurants on this list, Pink Bellies allows you to indulge in a variety of Vietnamese delights for a budget-conscious adventure.

Some of their most popular offerings include the OG Garlic Noodles with pulled pork and pickled red onions and General Gerry's Chicken, a unique fusion dish that blends Vietnamese flavors with the comforting taste of Southern-style fried chicken.


For the Seafood Lover

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Seafood is a Charleston must-try unless you have allergies. Indulge in fresh oysters, flavorful boils and all the deliciousness of Southern comfort seafood during your stay. Here's a guide to the best seafood places to eat in Charleston, SC.

11. Hank's Seafood Restaurant

Address: 10 Hayne St., Charleston, SC 29401

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

If you find yourself in the Charleston City Market area, a top thing to do during your stay, hop next door to Hank’s Seafood Restaurant. Housed in a renovated warehouse reflecting the city's port history, Hank's Seafood has been voted Charleston's Best Seafood Restaurant for an impressive 18 consecutive years.

Their menu showcases signature Low Country favorites like shrimp and grits alongside seafood dishes like grilled swordfish and scallops. Feeling more casual? Enjoy the raw bar and grab a crab or shrimp co*cktail to pair with your choice of co*cktail or mocktail.

Bonus—Hank’s also has a partner restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, in case you are visiting that city in the near future!


12. Chubby Fish

Address: 252 Coming St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

For a truly fresh and seasonal seafood experience, Chubby Fish is the perfect choice. Chubby Fish offers a dock-to-fish concept, partnering with local fishermen and farmers to source the freshest seasonal ingredients available. The menu constantly updates to reflect the changing tides and seasons.

The restaurant features a raw bar with oysters, along with small and large plates to suit your appetite. You can also indulge in whole fish, which varies depending on the fresh catches delivered straight from the Atlantic Ocean and local rivers.

Do note that Chubby Fish is quite small, with only 38 seats. It’s best to arrive early to get on the waitlist, as they don't take reservations or seat parties larger than seven.


13. 167 Raw

Address: 193 King St., Charleston, SC 29401

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

Calling all seafood aficionados! For top-quality seafood and a variety of options, 167 Raw is a top recommendation. This New England-style raw oyster bar in downtown Charleston offers an extensive menu featuring caviar service, a raw bar for oysters and clams, and lobster rolls. Enjoy a round of fresh oysters on ice with a squeeze of lemon, paired with refreshing drinks and soak in the lively restaurant atmosphere.


14. Leon's Oyster Shop

Address: 698 King St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $20-$30

Craving Southern comfort seafood with a touch of Charleston charm? Look no further than Leon's Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop. Housed in a renovated garage, this popular spot offers a unique dining experience—think exposed beams, industrial vibes and a curated collection of artwork adorning the walls.

Leon's menu is a celebration of Southern classics:fried chicken, fresh oysters and delicious fish fries. It's a must-stop for anyone seeking a delicious and visually appealing meal.

Leon's also owns the Oyster Shed, a separate restaurant that offers a more relaxed atmosphere. This pub-style restaurant features a family-style menu, perfect for sharing with friends over drinks.


15. The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene

Address: 106 Haddrell St., Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Approximate price per person: $20-$30

Get a real taste of Charleston's fisherman life at The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene. Located by the docks, the restaurant is named in memory of the wrecked Richard & Charlene, a North Atlantic trawler that slammed into the building's current location.

The atmosphere at The Wreck is quite casual, but expect delicious, homemade-style seafood cuisine. Choose from platters or combos featuring abundant Southern comfort sides, like hushpuppies and coleslaw, alongside seafood items like fried oysters and scallops. To complete your meal, finish off with some dessert, like banana pudding or key lime pie and enjoy the view of the water.


For the Adventurous Eater

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Ready to move beyond seafood and barbecue? Luckily, Charleston offers a wealth of unique and delicious restaurants spanning various international cuisines. For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, check out these suggestions below.

16. Maison

Address: 708 King St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

Experience the pure delight of dining at Maison, a small French bistro tucked away in downtown Charleston. This intimate space, ideal for couples or small groups, offers a delightful escape from the ordinary.

Maison's menu showcases a beautiful harmony between classic French cuisine and the flavors of the South Carolina Low Country. Expect to find dishes like steak tartare, a French staple, alongside offerings that feature fresh local ingredients, like crispy flounder. Book your table and experience a taste of Parisian romance in the heart of Charleston.


17. Wild Olive

Address: 2867 Maybank Hwy., Johns Island, SC 29455

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

Johns Island, just south of downtown Charleston, shines a gem: Wild Olive. This restaurant has spent the past 15 years crafting a unique culinary experience. Their focus? Seasonal cuisine paired with food-friendly wines, all highlighting the rich traditions of the Mediterranean.

Wild Olive's menu showcases a delightful fusion of Mediterranean flavors. Expect delicious pasta and meat dishes utilizing fresh, locally sourced ingredients. To top off your meal, indulge in a classic Italian dessert like tiramisu. You're sure to leave Wild Olive with a satisfied and happy belly.


18. Wild Common

Address: 103 Spring St., Charleston, SC 29403

Approximate price per person: $100+

Wild Common is ideal for those who are ready to experience innovative dining. To keep ordering simple, Wild Common offers a multi-course tasting menu, uniquely crafted each night based on Chef Orlando Pagán’s vision.

Please note that guests with certain dietary restrictions may not be able to request significant changes to the menu. However, the tasting menu allows guests to relax, enjoy the ambiance and savor the delicious flavors the kitchen has prepared for the evening.

For a truly special occasion, consider the Chef's Table experience. Gather up to 12 guests for a private dining adventure created by Chef Pagán. Wild Common is a must-visit for adventurous foodies seeking a unique culinary experience of Southern cuisine.


19. Kwei Fei

Address: 1977 Maybank Hwy., James Island, SC 29412

Approximate price per person: $20-$30

Take a drive down south to James Island to discover Kwei Fei, a leader in crafting bold flavors with the cuisine of Western China's Sichuan province. Even if you haven't heard of Sichuan cuisine before, you're likely familiar with Sichuan peppercorns in chili oil, a key ingredient in Kwei Fei's dishes.

Expect a combination of flavors that will tantalize your senses, with stir-fries, off-the-wok noodle dishes and delicious appetizers perfect for sharing around the table. As mentioned, these dishes tend to pack a spicy punch, so if you enjoy a little heat, Kwei Fei is the ideal spot for you.


20. Husk

Address: 76 Queen St., Charleston, SC 29401

Approximate price per person: $50-$100

Open since 2011, Husk continues to be a pioneer in elevating Southern cuisine. They weave their community’s flavors into their modern dishes. Seasonal ingredients are essential for Husk, constantly evolving the menus and creating a unique every time you visit.

If you’re there for brunch, expect elevated comfort food with their fried chicken and decadent cheddar grits. For supper, savor reimagined classic staples, like skillet cornbread and aged country ham. Reservations are essential, especially during peak seasons. Plan ahead to secure your table at this Charleston gem and savor their innovative take on Southern comfort food.


Explore Charleston's Food Scene With AAA

Take the stress out of your trip with AAA Travel! They'll help you every step of the way, from planning before you go to enjoying your time there and even after you return. As a member, you'll get exclusive perks like finding the best restaurants in Charleston, staying at AAA-approved hotels and discovering where to eat in Charleston, SC.

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, SMT

20 Best Restaurants In Charleston To Fuel Your Low Country Adventure - Trip Canvas (2024)
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