It’s no secret that dining out is a form of nightly entertainment in Charleston. The city’s pulse has been connected to its kitchens since the late 1600s with the birth of today’s prized hyper-local Lowcountry cuisine.
From Charleston’s world-renowned food festivals to its treasured heirloom recipes and innovative, hand-crafted cocktails, it’s no wonder why they say Charleston tastes as good as it looks. Scroll on for the top 11 reasons why foodies love the Southeast’s premier dining destination.
1. AWARD-WINNING RESTAURANTS
Want to experience the heart and soul of Charleston? Taste the cuisine. Today’s chefs reap the best local seasonal ingredients to create classic dishes that celebrate Charleston’s authentic flavors.
2. JAMES BEARD AWARD-WINNING CHEFS
Tastemakers abound. A total of four Charleston chefs have brought home the esteemed James Beard Foundation Best Chef Award, including Chef Sean Brock of Husk and Minero, Chef Mike Lata and Chef Jason Stanhope of FIG and Chef Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill.
3. FOOD FESTIVALS
Each spring, the foodie focus turns to the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. With a mix of celebrity chefs, more than 90 food and wine stations and cooking demonstrations, it’s now one of the nation’s top food and wine events.
4. FRESH-FROM-THE-DOCK SEAFOOD
From tidal tributaries to the Atlantic Ocean, the pristine waters surrounding Charleston produce a bounty of fresh seafood, including shrimp, fish, oysters, clams and crabs.
5. LOWCOUNTRY CUISINE
Spend time in Charleston and you’re bound to hear a local say, “Gullah.” It’s a lyrical word used to describe the linguistic and cultural heritage of local sea island inhabitants who descended from Africa. The Gullah imprint on Charleston culture runs deep, inspiring the soulful flavors of Lowcountry cuisine, including shrimp and grits, okra gumbo and Gullah rice.
6. TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN BBQ
If there’s one single food the South really takes pride in, it’s barbecue. And Charleston is no different. Satisfy your scratch-made, slow-smoked, craving for traditional, delicious ‘cue at one of the 11 best bbq joints in the Lowcountry.
7. CHARLESTON CITY MARKET
As one of the nation’s oldest public markets, the historic Charleston City Market plays a leading role in the preservation of vibrant American history and time-treasured customs. Here you will find more than 300 local vendors and artisans selling Lowcountry favorites including benne wafers, cheese crisps and praline pecans.
8. CULINARY TOURS
Explore the history of the Holy City’s notable restaurants, learn about the chef’s approach to culinary excellence, have menus interpreted by a pro and tour the kitchen for a close-up peek at just what it takes to produce award-winning cuisine.
9. HEIRLOOM RECIPES
Comprised of heirloom recipes proudly passed from one generation to the next, Lowcountry cuisine has evolved over the past 300 years.
10. ESSENTIAL SOUTHERN COCKTAILS
Charleston is a city that is just as electric at night as it is during the day. With everything from rooftops to speakeasy-inspired bars, there’s a setting for everyone. Revel in the sweeping views of the Holy City with a cocktail in hand at one of the top eight rooftop bars in Charleston.
11. WATERFRONT DINING
Charleston’s scenic supper spots provide the opportunity to savor both the local cuisine and the Lowcountry’s unparalleled beauty simultaneously! Discover eight restaurants with amazing sunset views in Charleston.