Back in July I spent an extended weekend in Charleston, SC for my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party and, as expected, I LOVED Charleston! The 90+ temps in July were no joke, especially considering I was 6 months pregnant, but I just stuck to black clothes to mask the sweat and accepted the fact that I was just going to be hot at all times! Charleston has so much to offer from its adorable southern charm (think colorful old row homes and brick-paved streets), to the nearby beaches, to a ton of great bars, breweries, and distilleries (which I intend to enjoy when we return and I am not pregnant!), and of course THE FOOD! So. Much. Amazing. Food. And that I got plenty of! Here’s a round-up of some of the best Charleston has to offer, we didn’t make it everywhere on this list, but all the more reason to return…
Where To Eat
Leon’s was my absolute favorite spot in Charleston – I loved it so much that I went twice! Leon’s is a little farther north on King St, but 100% worth the trip. Stop in at nearby Edmund’s Oast for a drink before or after. Obviously the food was AMAZING – I started with the grilled oysters, hush puppies, and the peach and heirloom tomato salad and finished off with an order of their famous fried chicken. Everything was delicious but the hush puppies were the best I’ve ever had, hands down. I would also highly recommend the peach salad – it’s somewhat of a weird combo of ingredients with mushrooms and a tofu cream dressing but it really worked! Of course you also have to try the fried chicken – I recommend the standard fried chicken over the fried chicken sandwich – I tried the sandwich on my return visit and while it was still really good, the fried chicken shines on its own. Finish off your meal with a cute little vanilla soft serve cone topped with sprinkles and you’re good to go! Did I mention they also have rosé on tap?!? They made me a fantastic mocktail, but yea, definitely need to return when I’m not pregnant!
Just about a block or so from Leon’s is another one of my favorite Charleston finds – The Daily. We stopped in for a quick breakfast before heading out of town and I definitely regretted not checking them out earlier. In addition to quick breakfast eats like avocado toast and breakfast sandwiches and tacos, they also have a great line-up of smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, and most importantly, all your coffee and espresso needs. I HIGHLY recommend trying the Aztec Cacao smoothie – made with cold brew coffee, almond milk, banana, cacao nibs, cinnamon, cayenne and ancho pepper – I’m in the process of trying to recreate this at home!
On Thursday night, our first night in Charleston, 8 of us had arrived into town and had a late dinner at Xiao Bao Biscuit. It’s a small space inside of what I think was possibly an old gas station, luckily they were winding down and were able to seat us fairly quickly (no reservations here – and not even a phone!). Everything we ate was delicious, we ordered a first round of several dishes that were brought out as they were ready and then ordered more of the dishes we liked until we were stuffed. The table’s favorite dish was definitely the Okonomiyaki, a Japanese cabbage pancake, topped with an egg of course, but like I said, everything was really good, including the cocktails!
We stopped into Hominy Grill for a later brunch/lunch on Friday and their famous Charleston Nasty Biscuit did not disappoint. Sadly we missed out on the breakfast menu but luckily this fried chicken sandwich with gravy is available all day. Our table shared a few apps – hush puppies, fried green tomatoes, and okra & shrimp beignets, but they weren’t our favorite – unfortunately they just tasted like fried things with no real flavor. I would stick with southern staples like this biscuits, shrimp and grits, etc – I think that is where Hominy really shines.
Our last dinner in Charleston on Saturday night was up in the air, but luckily I was able to get a reservation at The Park Cafe and it was perfect! Finding reservations for a group of 10 is no easy feat in Charleston, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, so I was super excited to hear they had an opening. It was a little farther north of the main King St. drag, which is probably why it wasn’t super busy, but it was perfect for our group’s “last supper” – delicious seasonal dishes, super cute minimal space, and not very loud at all so we could all hear each from each end of the table. The homemade pastas were a big hit at our table, but definitely do not miss out on the house-made ricotta and/or burrata, I’m fairly positive I could eat an entire order myself, SO good!
If you have a sweet tooth you have to stop into Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe. It’s right in the heart of downtown Charleston and not only do they have an amazing case of baked goods greeting you as you walk in, they also have a crazy menu of boozy and/or espresso filled cocktails and milkshakes.
On Saturday we spent the day at Folly Beach and grabbed lunch at Rita’s Seaside Grille, mainly because it was the closest restaurant to where we were hanging out at the beach. Little did we know this was not just your average beach diner! We started with their ahi tuna and watermelon nachos which were delicious and I indulged in the shrimp ‘n grits – my belly was sticking out anyways, so no need to worry about a big lunch on a beach day! While I’m definitely no shrimp ‘n grits expert, this dish was so insanely good, I didn’t want it to end! If you’re near Folly I highly recommend checking out Rita’s.
Unfortunately our plans changed and we didn’t make it to Husk, but I had to mention it because it is probably Charleston’s most well-known restaurant with James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock at the helm.
Sadly they didn’t take reservations for groups of more than 6, but when we return to Charleston FIG is on the top of my list for dinner!
Up there with FIG, Slightly North of Broad is way up there on my Charleston to-do list.
A tiny little shop that puts out some amazing biscuits. On Fridays Callie’s also has fried chicken sandwiches which I’ve heard are worth the wait. They’re also open late night 10pm-2am on Fridays and Saturdays for the bar crowd.
Even if you don’t plan on eating a full meal here, make some time to stop in for a slice of their famous Ultimate Coconut Cake.
Better-than-your-average-bar-food bar food. Try Mike’s Famous Duck Club.
Locally-sourced, modern American fare, also home to the Bacon Happy Hour.
Gorgeous space, outdoor seating, worth a visit.
For all your Charleston seafood needs.
Another seasonal, local/regional restaurant with a menu that sounds unique and delicious.
Another highly rated spot on Folly Beach.
Coolest spot in Charleston to get your caffeine fix.
Another great choice for coffee in Charleston.
Where To Drink
Where To Shop
My favorite shop in Charleston, and more candle scents than I have ever seen! It’s a little intimidating at first, but the staff is great at helping you find the scents you love from their massive scent library. Bonus, they have super inexpensive flat rate shipping so you can buy as many candles as you’d like for yourself and loved ones and have them shipped back home instead stuffing them in your suitcase! They also have candle making classes which I think would be super fun.
This tiny little shop is hidden down an alleyway so it’s easy to miss – but worth the extra search. Beautiful, minimal, American-made home goods – higher price point, but worth a browse.
Great spot to find some super cool vintage jewelry, and also where you’ll find a great variety of Charleston Rice Bead jewelry.
Even if you don’t plan on making a purchase, a stop at Croghan’s Jewel Box is a must when visiting Charleston. They have a super impressive selection of estate and antique jewelry and if you’re looking to buy a piece that won’t break the bank, check out their goldbug collection.
Pretty self-explanatory, open Saturdays April – November.
Quirky little antique/vintage shop.
Trendy women’s clothing boutique.
Another luxury women’s clothing boutique in the heart of Charleston’s shopping district.
A little something for the men.
Cute little paper/stationary shop.
What To Do
Pretty painted houses near the waterfront, one of Charleston’s most popular sites.