Charleston is well known for its stunning architecture, rich history, sandy beaches, and romantic cobblestone streets, but the food scene is the main draw for many. Charleston was voted the second-best food destination in the United States by Tripadvisor, and tourists will find plenty to keep them busy with one delicious restaurant after another.
According to Tripadvisor, Historic Charleston is full of charm and hospitality and even feels like it's suspended in time with its antebellum architecture and plantation landscapes. The evolving food scene offers bistros, bars, and everything in between, all with a window into the culture of Charleston.
Culinary tourism is on the rise and is expected to increase 17.45% during the forecast period 2022-2027. Travelers are seeking out experiences centered around food and the local culture, like integrated cooking events and classes, festivals centered around the local food scene, chef visits, and delicious dining.
For travelers who want to experience the food scene in Historic Charleston firsthand, here are five delicious places to begin your journey.
Get Your Caffeine Fix at The Daily
The Daily may look like a local coffee shop from the outside, but don't let it fool you. The long line down the street each morning shows that it is something special. They have hit the perfect balance of convenience and quality by sourcing the freshest ingredients and lovingly preparing them in innovative ways.
Travelers will find strong coffee, healthy smoothies, breakfast toasts, egg dishes, and a tremendous to-go area to prepare for the day's beach picnic. A favorite is the breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, home fries, pickled onions, cilantro, and salsa verde inside a Mitla flour tortilla. Bring your appetite!
Dine Like Royalty at 82 Queen
For a fancier breakfast, try 82 Queen in The Historic French Quarter. This is quintessential Lowcountry food made simply delicious. As one of Charleston's oldest and most celebrated restaurants, it has had a significant influence on the food scene in Charleston. Their original menu had dishes influenced by African, Caribbean, French, and Anglo-Saxon tastes, giving rise to the term "Lowcountry Cuisine."
The "She Crab" soup is a must-try as it has won many awards and tastes delicious alongside the Carolina Crab Cakes. The Barbeque Shrimp and Grits is a delightful dish with shrimp, stone ground grits, bourbon-barbeque sauce, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and scallions. Don't forget a classic mimosa!
Channel Your Inner Parisian at Rue de Jean
Rue de Jean is a refined French Cafe and Bar with a local neighborhood feel in the heart of Charleston. Their menu features Parisian-inspired classics, custom cocktails, and an extensive selection of wines. On any night here, you will find a packed house with jubilant socializing.
The Executive Chef, Marcus Shell, has been awarded the title of South Carolina Chef Ambassador 2023. He has been recognized for his professional creativity and efforts to promote the state's authentic culinary experiences while encouraging people to buy locally. He brings creative twists to the classic dishes that Rue de Jean is known for, like Crispy Pork Belly with roasted garlic and tomato jam, radishes, and red clay spicy peach honey.
Experience Bold Flavors at Mesu
In the heart of Charleston, on upper King Street, you will find Mesu, a buzzing spot that serves a fusion of Mexican and Asian foods in a lively atmosphere with plenty of delicious craft cocktails. This truly unique dining experience will be remembered.
Try the Street Corn Skewers and the Fried Pork Carnitas Clothespin Tacos if you crave Mexican. Don't miss the sushi for some local seafood like the Candy Apple Roll with seared market fish, pork rinds, kanpachi, crispy onions, mango habanero cinnamon glaze, and apple slaw. This is not your average sushi joint.
Fall in Love with Seafood at Tempest
Located in the former historic Harriott Pinckney Home for Sailors, Tempest is an upscale seafood restaurant that features local, sustainable South Atlantic seafood. They feature chilled and charcoal-roasted seafood with impressive single, double, and three-tier seafood towers.
Indulge in oysters, clams, local shrimp, and lobster; if you can't decide, try them all! If you visit for brunch, don't miss the souffle pancakes served with local honey, which are light and fluffy like you won't believe.
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