Upon arriving, it was important to immediately get a crab cake, a signature Charleston item. I heard that 82 Queen had some of the best, so after dropping off our bags, we walked right there and ordered up this beauty of a crab cake served with bacon and arugula, and paired it with a hot cup of she-crab soup.
My friend Megan recommended checking out S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad). This Bay Street restaurant, while top notch and regularly pretty pricey, had an incredible lunch special.
You get a soup of the day (which on this day was an amazing butternut squash), an entree and a drink for $10.95. The entree that day was a ravioli had braised Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and tiny pieces of short rib and it was DELICIOUS. I ate every bite, wishing it wouldn't end. Another lunch highlight was Hominy Grill.
Their shrimp and grits has been touted by many as the best in Charleston. With crispy bacon, fresh shrimp, green onions and cheesy grits, I thought it was a very good rendition of this Southern favorite.
I've seen Hominy Grill on the Food Network several times, so while it might be a bit of a tourist trap, I'm glad I got to try it. Although it's a casual breakfast and lunch spot, it lived up to all the hype.
Also at Hominy Grill we had a Fried Green Tomato BLT and a side of mac n' cheese. Can't fit any more Southern goodness on this plate! Moving on to an entirely different type of cuisine....my birthday dinner was at O-ku, a sushi bar and Japanese restaurant on King St.
We had ika zensai (squid salad, my fave), snapper sashimi, a dumpling duo appetizer and a few rolls. All the food and the service here was especially fantastic!
Kaminsky's is a great spot for a nightcap, or for me -- a late dessert. It had a great wine and martini bar and a long list of housemade desserts. I couldn't really tell if this place is a complete tourist trap, or one that locals might actually go to, but it didn't matter - I liked it all the same. This dessert was a cocoa brownie sundae. Pure decadence in a dish, one that should probably be shared by three people, rather than gobbled down solo the way I did. But that's neither here nor there...After a few days of some overindulgence, I was happy to discover that my hotel was located close to Dell's Vibes, a really cool little juice and smoothie bar. I made an attempt at detoxing with this green juice followed by a yoga class at Seeking Indigo, a yoga stuido/shop/spa, also on King St....and then got right back to the gluttony a few hours later.
I had read about the Charleston Farmers' Market as a foodie mecca prior to my trip and wanted to visit. I wasn't quite sure where it was located, and to my surprise on Saturday morning, I looked out my window to see the vendors setting up their tents in the park next door on Calhoun St. How convenient! The feasting could begin again without even a walk between me and my next delicious meal. These Vietnamese tacos were my favorite item here - they had lemongrass chicken, cilantro, pickled carrots, red pepper and "avocado crema." I topped them with pickled jalapenos and sriracha and was in taco paradise.
Monza Pizza is a great spot to grab an oven-baked pie. This one was called the Materassi. It was a basic margerita baked to perfection and the ideal meal on a chilly afternoon.
One of my favorite parts about staying in downtown Charleston was the plethora of local coffee shops within walking distance. This latte and it's frothy art was a real treat from Kudu Coffee House, which also serves craft beer and has live music on their patio just about daily.
Another coffee shop favorite was Brown's Court Bakery. This little gem of a bakery provides its breads and rolls to many of the amazing restaurants downtown. It's location is very random -- in a small house in a residential neighborhood. Without using Yelp, and Google Maps, I never would have found it, but I'm glad I did.
I've only been to Charleston once before and one place I remember eating was FIG (which stands for Food is Good -- clever, right?) on Meeting St. This ricotta gnocchu with lamb bolognese was to-die-for. We basically talked about going back to get it again each day we were on our trip, but the challenge to forge new foodie ground kept us away, sampling new places we hadn't tried before....like 39 Rue de Jean.
These mussels from 39 Rue de Jean were incredible. Made with blue cheese, white wine, and bacon, the sauce made us want to soak up every last bite with the accompanying loaf of crusty bread.
Last but certainly not least was Husk. This restaurant came reccomended by several of my foodie pals including @thekatlewis. I loved the plantation-style house it was located in and the atmosphere inside is great as well.
We shared a burger since we heard it was a must-have. It really was awesome! I asked our server what gave it such a a different flavor and she explained that the burgers are oven-baked at Husk and contain bits of bacon from a local farm that gives it its smoky flavor. Side note, Charleston has the best bacon! Why? I don't know. But when dining around the city, you'll find it somehow always works it's way into dishes where you didn't expect it, but you're glad it's there.
Don't you love knowing where your food comes from? At Husk, they tell you where all the ingredients of the day come from on a chalkboard right at the front door.
These shisito peppers from Husk were a treat, too -- blistered and drizzled with honey lime vinaigrette. I felt as if I could spend weeks in Charleston and never get close to experiencing all the amazing food this city has to offer. These photos are just a taste of some of my favorites.
Fellow foodies, have you been to Charleston? Leave your comments on your favorite restaurants in the comments section!