Looking for the ultimate taste of Charleston? Well here it is. We've laid out a gluttonous buffet that includes way more than shrimp and grits and fried chicken. It's stuffed full of Southern classics, haute cuisine, pub food, and down-home fare too. So put on your eatin' pants and dig in.
Charleston dining requires a pit stop in history. Every city has its classic dishes, and lucky for us, Charleston's traditional recipes are rich and delicious. Whether you're a newbie or a veteran, you must know and love these before you can consider yourself a bona fide local.
She-Crab Soup at 82 Queen
The briny bisque was invented in these parts, and 82 Queen's is an award-winning version of the classic. A good place to start.
Roasted Oysters at Bowens Island Restaurant
Locals know the pleasure of hosting an oyster roast in their backyard during the colder months, but sometimes it's just easier to hit up Bowens Island for a shovelful of steaming hot local oysters. A signature Lowcountry experience.
available at specialty grocers
$33.90-$57.90 per 24
Some might argue that cornbread is the best Southern bread around, but Callie's Biscuits make a compelling argument otherwise. These aren't found at a restaurant but in the freezers of gourmet grocers around town. They ain't cheap, but if you want to know what a real Southern biscuit should be like, this is it.
Crab Cake at Charleston Grill
Crab cakes might be more associated with the Chesapeake Bay area, but blue crabs are prevalent in the waters around here too. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better crab cake than Michelle Weaver's at the Grill. Even in Baltimore.
Fried Chicken at the Griffon
Like any self-respecting Southern city, Charleston likes its chicken crisp and fried too. The Griffon, a humble pub near the water, puts out a damn fine greasy basket of fried chicken.
Shrimp and Grits at Hominy Grill
These days, you can find shrimp and grits everywhere, even New York City. But if you want a simple dish with no pretension, then go eat Robert Stehling's. It's pure and good.
Sweet Tea at Jestine's Kitchen
My Southern children were flabbergasted when they first traveled north and discovered you can't always get sweet tea. Luckily that's not true in Charleston. Jestine's classic Southern table wine is just right: strong and just sweet enough.
Lima Beans at Martha Lou's Kitchen
Down South, a lot of folks live on beans alone. My great-granny made it to her 90s on pintos and rice. Martha Lou offers a lesson in how Southerners turned beans into a meaty staple. It might be the food of poverty, but it's hearty and good.
Coconut Cake at Peninsula Grill
Speaking of granny, she always had a fresh coconut cake ready for our visits. It's the perfect Southern treat. Over at Peninsula Grill, their coconut cake is like grandma's but on steroids. A multilayered extravaganza, this cake is so good people pay more than $100 to have them shipped all over the country.
Sarah's Pimento Cheese with Crackers at the Glass Onion
Pimento cheese is having a moment. Everyone everywhere is discovering this lunchtime staple. Chef Louis Osteen calls it the caviar of the South. For a hearty sample, Sarah O'Kelley's can't be beat.
Frogmore Stew at Gilligan's
They may call it Gilligan's Stew, but it's the same thing as Frogmore Stew (a.k.a. Lowcountry Boil). This is a dish so simple most locals make it at home, but for a dining-out version, Gilligan's is right on the money with lots of 100 percent Wild American Shrimp (a must) with sausage, potatoes, and onions thrown in the spicy mix.
Macaroni and Cheese at Cru Cafe´
Most home cooks end up making macaroni pie, which is much different than the roux-based mac and cheese, which Chef John Zucker has mastered. His version is legendary. We've written about it before, but we don't care. It's the ultimate example of rich, gooey decadence.
Cornbread at Husk Restaurant
The smoky, meaty round of crispy cornbread at Husk isn't really a classic version, but it's so good that it's ruined boring old cornbread for a lot of us. Chef Sean Brock will always be our hero for this cornbread. May he never retire it. Amen.
Fried Green Tomatoes at Magnolias
It's fanciful, with country ham grits, local goat cheese, and tomato chutney, but Magnolias' take on fried green tomatoes is a fine introduction to what was once a humble farm dish made with tangy unripe 'maters.
Stuffed Hush Puppies at Fleet Landing
Hush puppies are classic Southern fare. A seafood platter just wouldn't be complete without them. At Fleet, they take these little cornmeal fritters to the extreme, stuffing them with a veloute of lobster, rock shrimp, leeks, and corn. Instead of ketchup, you get to dunk them in a spicy Creole tomato sauce.
Fried Shrimp at McClellanville Diner
You can get plenty of fried shrimp in Charleston, and it's all good (as long as the shrimp is local), but for a serious example of fresh shrimp plucked straight off the boat, dipped in some batter, and dunked in hot grease, take a short drive to McClellanville where they know how to do it up just right.
Hash and Rice at Bessinger's
Wise barbecue fans know better than to inquire too closely about what goes into a pitmaster's hash, but Bessinger's version of the signature Carolina barbecue side dish is as good as it gets. Choice bits of pork and pig parts are simmered with onion, potatoes, and mystery spices until they're reduced to a meaty gravy that's ladled over a pile of white rice — the perfect partner for mustard-sauced pulled pork.
Collards at Virginia's on King
The newly proclaimed state vegetable is a peculiar thing. Some folks hate them, but once you taste a savory, rich recipe like Virginia's (and douse it in some pepper vinegar), well, you'll be hooked like the rest of us.
Okra Soup at Bertha's Kitchen
Okra soup is straight out of Africa, an example of Gullah heritage. Stewed tomatoes thickened with fresh okra, seasoned with smoky bacon, and dotted with corn makes for a soulful and delicious bowl of soup. Head to Bertha's for an authentic version.
Fried Fish at Rosebank Farms Café
We like it fried here in the South, and that goes for fresh fish too. Whether it's flounder or catfish, Chef John E. Cuff at Rosebank has a deft hand when it comes to breading and frying, a skill you shouldn't underestimate, particularly with the more delicate species.
Now that you've schooled yourself in classic Charleston fare, you can explore the delicious frontiers of food that have expanded out from downtown into the far reaches of the 'burbs. These are a collection of our favorites, from risotto and mussels to duck fat fries and coddled eggs, in no particular order.
Oyster Shot at Pearlz
The ultimate way to kick off any food tour of Charleston is by slurping down a peppery oyster shot at Pearlz. Brace yourself.
Mussels at 39 Rue de Jean
I tend to tear through the mussels in order to get to the real prize of this dish: a hot bath of pistou and a big chunk of French bread for dipping. They've got five other sauces too, and each is worthy of being a personal favorite. Add some frites for a classic bistro combo.
Chicken Liver Paté at FIG
I've been trying to figure out all of the secrets to Mike Lata's famously delicious chicken liver pâté for some time, and I'm still not even close. No one is quite sure how he does it, but the velvety slab, served up ice cold, will make lovers out of even the most liver-averse.
Asparagus Risotto at Al di La
This classic West Ashley trattoria pairs fresh, buttery scallops with creamy risotto and the earthy bite of asparagus for a dish that will have you licking your plate.
Seafood Tower at Hank's Seafood Restaurant
It's a statement piece, proclaiming to the dining room that you like your fish raw and cold. Impressively layered with icy mussels, clams, claws, and oysters, this is a treat for the eyes and the mouth.
Insalata di Polpo at Bacco Italian Restaurant
The grilled braised octopus on this salad will wow you with its tenderness and convert those who believe that the eight-legged beasty must be tough and chewy. The smoky, fresh grilled flavor is an added bonus.
Fried Brussels at Big Gun Burger Shop
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that you either love or you hate. If you only ate Big Gun's fried version, you'd love them. Guaranteed. An interesting, tasty snack.
Basil Duck at Basil
A tender half of boneless duck comes fried and topped with mushrooms, peppers, and onions, whose crunchy-sweet pop are the biggest treat of the dish. It all swims in "Basil" sauce, a strong, spicy broth that you'll want to soak up with the bowl of white rice that comes on the side. Split it or not; it makes for great leftovers.
Oven-Roasted Turkey Plate at Boulevard Diner
We wish every day could be Thanksgiving. At Boulevard Diner it is. The oven-roasted turkey plate comes with all of your Turkey Day faves: cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, smashed potatoes, and gravy.
Cheese Biscuits at Jim 'n Nick's Barbecue
$1.99/half dozen $3.99/dozen
Hot, sweet, and cheesy, these little delights will cause a fight to break out at the table. Get a basket and save yourself from the drama.
BBQ Duck Hash at High Cotton
At High Cotton's inimitable Sunday brunch, roasted duck is served with red onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, and potatoes, with two sunny-side-up eggs and a sweet mustard-based barbecue sauce — the ultimate combination of savory and sweet.
Pommes Frites a la Graisse de Canard at La Fourchette
That's potatoes double fried in duck fat, by the way. The taters are cured at room temperature for three days, then double fried — first at 275 degrees for a quick blanch, and then, after drying, for a few minutes more at high heat — until they are dark and sensuously brown. Crisp outside, tender inside: There are no better fries to be found.
The Coddled Egg at FIG
The first time I dipped a fork into a ramekin of Sea Island egg baked with celeriac cream and brown butter, I gobbled it up before my date could get a fork in. Chef Mike Lata has a way with eggs, and this little dish proves it.
Pear & Gorgonzola Salad at Lana Restaurant
Mixed field greens and poached pears tossed with gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts may not sound like much, but it's a sublime little salad that has earned a legion of fans.
Chicken and Ribs Combo at Pollo Tropical
Dusted in spices and grilled till crispy and just slightly charred, the chicken at Pollo Tropical is phenomenal. Pair it with fall-off-the-bone pork ribs for a knockout plate.
Oysters Rockefeller Pasta at Long Point Grill
Take a proven flavor combination — bacon, onion, spinach, and parmesan — and toss them with linguine in a rich Pernod cream sauce, and you have a tantalizing new take on an old classic.
Shepherd's Pie at Madra Rua
Side $3.95, Lunch $7.95, Dinner $9.95
There's no better place to get this classic Irish dish than at Madra Rua. The meaty pie comes in three sizes and is served with fresh Irish soda bread that can be used to mop up every last drop of savory goodness. Kick it up a notch by adding melted cheese.
Butter Bean Salad at Monza
$6, $8/tuna, $10/local white shrimp
A Southern take on a simple Italian salad. A big bowl of beautiful beans lightly tossed with dressing and dotted with plump shrimp or shards of tuna. Light but remarkably hearty.
Sumac-Rubbed Duck Breast at Muse
Seared duck breast is a dime a dozen. Muse's duck breast is a treasure: it's cooked on a grill, not in a pan, and it's rubbed with sumac — a tart, fruity spice that imparts an exotic flavor to the rich, dark meat. Add in sweet medjool dates and tender madeira-braised onions and you have a brilliant combination of sweet, smoky, and tart.
Fried Lobster at Oak Steakhouse
The creature looks frozen. Twisted up in hot batter, the fried lobster at Oak comes to the table waving its claws at you and begging to be liberated of its toothsome meat. A great presentation and a delicious critter.
Extraordinary BLT at Moe's Tavern
The original fried green tomato BLT (all others are impostors). This one comes stacked with fresh mozzarella, crispy bacon, red tomatoes, fresh mixed greens, and pesto mayo.
The RiverDog at The Joe
Some would argue that the Homewrecker — foot-long, half-a-pound, and topped with an array of gut-busters like chili and jalapeños — is the top dog at the Joe Riley ballpark, but insiders know the true signature Lowcountry wiener is the franchise's eponymous RiverDog: coleslaw, mustard-based barbecue sauce, and — the coup de grace — a slice of pickled okra laid over the top.
Yellowtail Carpaccio at O-Ku
At O-Ku it's a bit hard to decide, but the yellowtail carpaccio might be valedictorian of the class. Each of the six oblong slices of yellowtail are topped with a thin slice of serrano pepper and sprinkled with tangy, earthy yuzu truffle soy sauce. Sublime.
Quail and Venison Sausage at Red Drum
Any fish, meat, or protein that's been flame-kissed by Chef Ben Berryhill's big wood-fired grill is bound to be rave-worthy, but the grilled quail stands out even from that notable pack. Totally deboned so it's easy to slice and savor, the meat is dark, smoky, and flavorful, and with just enough crispy char to add a little boost of texture.
Crispy Red Snapper at Red Orchids
The crispy red snapper, big enough to feed two, is a pair of cross-hatched and deep fried snapper fillets drenched in a sweet and sour bell pepper concoction with an ample kick of hot pepper. For the money, it's one of the best Asian dishes in town.
Buffalo Kickin' Chicken at Kickin' Chicken
Chicken sandwiches might seem pedestrian, but when the mothercluckers at the Kickin' Chicken have their way with them, they become something rather extraordinary. The Buffalo takes fried chicken (and you should definitely get it fried), melts some provolone on top, and serves it with a side of blue cheese (or ranch) dressing for an extra layer of tastiness.
Mike's Famous Duck Club at Tattooed Moose
The price may be a bit higher than your typical sandwich, but we've got two good reasons why you shouldn't let this bother you. One, the duck club can easily be divided between two people. Two, packed with duck confit, applewood-smoked bacon, smoked cheddar, lettuce, onion, and tomato, this is one decadent and tasty treat. It deserves every ounce of fame bestowed upon it.
Duck Club Sliders at Voodoo Lounge
3 for $6, 6 for $9.
Similar to Mike's Famous Duck Club (see above), these sliders are digest size and come on gooey soft King's Hawaiian dinner rolls. The silky duck confit, smoked cheddar, and bacon are topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and garlic aioli. It's a heavenly blend of sweet, soft, salty, crispy, and chewy all in a single bite.
The Galactic Dog at Jack's Cosmic Dogs
Cosmically different than your average dog, the Galactic piles chili, cheese, slaw, and spicy mustard on top of a wiener nestled inside a sweet bun. Out of this world.
Clammer Dave's Clams
available via clammerdave.com
If you eat at fine dining places about town, you will run into some stellar dishes using Dave Belanger's clams, but why not get them yourself from the source? His CSA operation will have you swimming in clams (and the best oysters in town as well). All you need is a pan, some white wine, garlic, herbs, and a delivery from clammerdave.com.
Pork Slap at Closed for Business
A crispy fried pork cutlet, house-smoked ham, and swiss cheese are layered inside a challah bread bun. It used to be topped with Benton's bacon and pickled okra, and more recently has green tomato chutney on top, but in all formulations it's a legendary local sandwich.
Filet & Boursin Omelet at Sunflower Café
Creamy, savory cheese and tender, meaty filet mignon, and some fresh mushrooms, too, all come encased in a fluffy omelet and served with home-fried potatoes and a flaky biscuit. And it's less than 10 bucks, too!
Three-Year Gouda Mac and Cheese at Ted's Butcherblock
Unlike typical versions, Ted's gouda mac and cheese is served chilled, making it perfect for a hot summer side. It's more of a Southern salad than anything else.
Crudo at Trattoria Lucca
Chef Ken Vedrinski gets fresh fish straight from the local waters delivered right to his back door. Certain species get the crudo treatment: sliced thin, served raw, and drizzled with fragrant olive oil and tart citrus juice and then topped with a tiny slice of hot pepper. Sushi, Italian-style.
Rio Bertolini Pasta
available at select Piggly Wigglys and the Charleston Farmers Market
Sweet pear and gorgonzola, butter bean and shrimp, collards and ham. The flavor combinations of Brian Bertolini's ravioli are endless, and the best part is you can do them up at home. Simply boil, add a favorite sauce (we like browned butter), and enjoy.
Duck Confit Sandwich at Caviar & Bananas
Succulent duck, smoky aged gouda, pickled red onion, sweet fig preserves, and spicy black pepper mayo mingle with sourdough bread to create an irresistible sandwich.
Asian-Glazed Ribs at Coleman Public House
These sticky, meaty baby-back ribs are sweet with a touch of heat. They come topped with a delicate enoki mushroom and daikon sprout salad, providing a perfect Asian complement. There's a reason why hungry diners make the trip to Coleman Public House just for this dish.
Beer-Braised Barbecue Sandwich at Hello My Name Is... BBQ
Pork is braised for 18 hours in Holy City Brewing beer and served on brioche. Top it with pickled veggies, blue cheese, slaw, jalapeños, and even barbecued bacon, then slather it in one of their creative homemade sauces for an amazing roadside attraction.
Pan-Fried Sweetbreads at McCrady's
$8/a la carte
Sweetbreads are a delicacy that must be experienced by all, and there's no better place to get them than McCrady's. The dish changes frequently but Chef Sean Brock's current installment is pan fried then dressed in housemade General Tso's sauce, served with a 65-degree egg yolk, miso broccoli purée, and shiso, and garnished with furikake.
Picnic Sampler at Hominy Grill
Hominy's take on the old-fashioned Southern relish plate is perfect for sharing: tangy pickled okra, a pickled egg purple from beet juice, a scoop of pimento cheese, and thinly sliced country ham. A sampler of down-home flavors.
Applewood-Smoked Chicken at JB's Smokeshack
J.B.'s may be a barbecue joint known for its pulled pork, but truth be told, it's what they do with chicken that earns them a place on this list. The fried chicken is among the area's best, but the applewood-smoked chicken is the king among cluckers.
Carnitas Enmoladas at La Norteña
The Carnitas Enmoladas is a rich, chocolatey plate of tender pork so succulent it's almost impossible to eat it all up. Almost.
Cowboy Beans at Taco Boy
They're rich, succulent, and swimming in a spicy brown sauce. No matter what flavor of taco or quesadilla you order, cowboy beans are the perfect side.
Forget tortillas, pitas, sandwich bread, or any other carbohydrate that you can slap some stuff inside of. The toasty texture of a roti can't be beat, especially when it's filled with Chucktown Chicken and pickled veggies.
Sashimi and Tuna Oyster at Cypress Lowcountry Grille
This tiny bite marries Lowcountry and Asian flavors in a dreamy union that is cool, briny, and spicy all at the same time. Simple. Genius.
Fresh Garden Salad at Nirlep Indian Restaurant
Yes, there are plenty of tasty Indian treats on Nirlep's buffet, but the tangy-yet-fresh garden salad sends us back to the bar more than anything else.
Shrimp Crabmeat Wontons at Carolina's
Our good friend, the late Rose Durden, originated these wonderful bite-sized morsels when she headed the kitchen at Carolina's years ago. Although Rose is no longer with us, you can still get a taste of her culinary genius, as they've never left the menu.
Ponzu and Truffle Tuna Sashimi at Social
Social's new executive chef Doug Svec has revamped the wine bar's menu with addictive dishes like the tart ponzu and truffle tuna sashimi with hot and sour cucumber, local radish, and candied lemon. Ask one of the "wine studs" for the perfect glass to pair it with.
Ceviche at Coast
$11.99, $12.99/lobster, $10.99/baby octopus
Coast has a traditional ceviche, with fish, lime, and red onion, but they also offer lobster, octopus, and shrimp versions for good measure. Served with an inventive cocktail, they make a great starter for a progressive dinner tour of the Upper King Street dining district.
Lowcountry Carbonara at Tristan
No dish is more representative of Chef Nate Whiting's playful postmodern blend of classic and modern than the Lowcountry Carbonara. Brown-seared local quail is topped with bacon creme fraiche. The "impasta" — sweet onions cooked till they're meltingly tender — stands in for the spaghetti, and it's all topped with a tiny poached quail egg.
Beef Brisket at Fiery's Rons Hometeam BBQ
Central Texas barbecue and classic French techniques merge in pitmaster Aaron Siegel's beef brisket, which is marinated with wine and spices then slow smoked until it's tender enough to melt in your mouth.
Rice & Bean Bowl at Dell'z Deli
$6.50/cheese, $5.50/no cheese
Dell'z rice and bean bowl is one of the best lunch values in town. It's packed with rice, black beans, salsa, fresh avocado, and, for an extra buck, gooey melted cheese. It's healthy, filling, and affordable, like everything else on Dell'z menu.
Pork Ton Toro and Peekytoe Crab Cake at Circa 1886
Take fatty pork cheek and braise until tender, pair it with a peekytoe crab cake, sit it on some forbidden black rice, and you have a wholly unique dish with rich, Asian flavors and succulent proteins. Chef Marc Collins conducts bold experiments with flavor over at Circa 1886, and this one is irresistible.
34-oz Long Bone Tomahawk Rib Eye at Halls Chophouse
What could be more decadent than a steak that costs $85? But when it's dry-aged for 45 days and comes with a giant bone sticking out the end, this is a worthwhile splurge. To get your real money's worth, you should most definitely pick up the bone and gnaw those tasty bits off.
The Rib at Fat Hen
This sucker is a full-on, bone-in, melt-in-your-mouth 16-ounce short rib slathered with a dark barbecue sauce that comes quivering on the plate. Think steak and bacon, all wrapped into one, and smoked until it falls from the bone. Bring a bib and a hearty appetite.
Bouillabaisse at Fish
Take a Master French chef who runs a seafood restaurant and watch him throw together a simple pot of this classic stew. The bowl of fragrant bouillabaisse comes overflowing with chunks of fresh fish and shellfish and leaves behind a puddle of broth, perfect for dipping bread into.
Gnocchi with Pork Bolognese at FIG
Chef Mike Lata turns out many succulent dishes. And he's known to pull recipes that become too popular, lest they suffer as cliché. This dish, however, never goes out of style. The elements may shift with the seasons, but when FIG does gnocchi, it's always light and airy, and the pork bolognese is worthy of the highest praise.
Smoky "Buffyaki Style" Chicken Wings at Husk
If you don't like smoke, there's no point going to Husk. And the Smoky "Buffyaki Style" chicken wings are about as smoky as it gets. You will lick your fingers clean.
Southern Crab Salad at SNOB
Many worthy dishes exist on the menu at SNOB, but our go-to lunch option is a well-done classic. Chunks of fresh blue crab mixed with basil, bell peppers, and shallots come nestled on a bed of lettuce, making for a refreshing midday meal.
Garganelli with Milk-Braised Pork Ragu at Wild Olive
$9 sm/$16 lg
The hand-rolled noodles are only part of the charm of this dish. The real sexiness lies in the milk-braised pork ragu, which comes with caramelized onions, rosemary, and parmesan — a bewitching flavor combo that you just can't stop eating. Order the large portion.
Homemade Pretzels at the Gin Joint
Forget those little bowls of salty nuts. The ultimate cocktail companion is a warm, soft pretzel at the Gin Joint. Made from scratch, it's served with a little ramekin of melted sriracha-laced cheese and a brilliant housemade porter mustard.
Slice of Pizza at Gilroy's (after 2 a.m.)
By the light of day, a cheese-laden, greasy slice of Gilroy's Irish pizza pie may not seem like the thing to eat. But when the bars just let out and you and your five friends need a way to soak up the alcohol, suddenly it's haute cuisine, and the perfect end to a tour of Charleston food. Don't forget the ranch.
Pizza is pretty much delicious, no matter how you slice it, but these pies deserve special notice.
Eggy & Leggy Pizza at Mellow Mushroom
$11 10-inch, $19 14-inch, $24.50 16-inch
Who doesn't eat pizza for breakfast? But why not eat a breakfast pizza for dinner? This delicious oil and garlic base pie is topped with pancetta, sunny-side-up eggs, fresh scallions, and cracked black pepper. It's a sure crowd pleaser.
Pork Trifecta at EVO Pizza
$12 8-inch, $14 12-inch
Three layers of meat — housemade sweet sausage, pepperoni, smoked bacon — combined with fresh mozzarella and red sauce on top of a wood-fired crust makes for a worthy challenge. Eat three of them and you're a bona fide hero.
The Chauncinator at D'Allesandro's
$8.75, $13.50, $17.50
Any pizza with a double dose of pepperoni deserves a place in your heart. Add fresh mozzarella, basil, and red sauce and a delicious New York-style crust and you've got a pizza that deserves a place on this list.
What's a food list without burgers? Probably the most controversial topic in all of eaterdom, burgers have rabid fans (and detractors). Here's our list for ones worth eating in town.
The Cheeseburger at Husk
As soon as Chef Sean Brock's burger debuted, it reached legendary status, which means we couldn't very well have a list of Charleston's most famous and beloved dishes without including this burger — a double-pattied, smoky, cheesy mess of goodness. You can find it at the Husk bar at dinner time and in the restaurant at lunch.
The Memphis Burger at Sesame
Bacon, peanut butter, banana, and beef? Sounds like something Elvis would love. It's a crazy combo that tastes amazing.
Hop Frog Burger at Poe's
Why is the Hop Frog better than, say, the Black Cat (with chili, onions, bacon, and pimento cheese) or the Tell-Tale Heart (with a fried egg, bacon, and cheddar cheese)? Hard to say. No matter which burger, Poe's buns are perfectly soft yet sturdy, and if you order it medium rare, the beef patty is reliably pink in the middle. The Hop Frog's bacon, BBQ sauce, and Monterrey Jack cheese strike just the right balance of traditional and edgy, and when you top it off with handcut fries and a cold COAST IPA you have a Saturday lunch to treasure.
The Barnyard Burger at Rita's
Served on an English muffin, the Barnyard comes stacked with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg. It's a breakfast sandwich with an extra helping of meat, which is perfect for a hangover day or any day you want a hearty, greasy treat. Luckily, Rita's opens at 10 a.m.
BBQ Buffalo Burger at Fuel
When you think of bison burgers, it's usually in the context of some overdone, smarmy joint focused on all the wrong attributes of a genuine good time. But Fuel serves it low-brow, with a sweet slaw and a bit of mango ketchup. It goes exceedingly well with cold beer and bocce on the back deck.
The Wilbur at Triangle Char and Bar
It's a big fat slab of pork belly — and we mean big, fat, and intrusive — slapped on top of a burger. Need we say more?
Any Half-Price Burger at Moe's Tavern
They had half-price burger night on Tuesdays long before anyone else, and it's a local rite of passage to find your way to Moe's and squeeze yourself into the crowds and chow down on one of their delicious burgers (we like the roasted poblano and goat cheese).
California Burger at A.C.'s Bar and Grill
The hamburgers at A.C.'s are always well seasoned, but the California burger, topped with green olives, is one of Chucktown's best. It's even better than their Grand Ma burger — and that's saying something.
We could've made an entire list of 101 beguiling sweets, but instead we limited ourselves to just eight. The crème de la crème, as they say.
Chocolate Croissant and French Press Coffee at G&M/Fast & French
$2.90 croissant $1.50 coffee
There's no better way to start a Charleston morning than with a flaky, warm croissant filled with half-melted chocolate and a cup or two of dark, rich coffee made in a French press.
The Coca-Cola Cake at Jestine's Kitchen
We might mock tourists for standing in line in 110-degree weather to eat at Jestine's Kitchen, but we've got to admit that the fried chicken, cornbread, and sweet tea are pretty darn good. And then there's the Coca-Cola Cake, a classic Southern recipe that the eatery has perfected. The super moist cake has a mild chocolate flavor and is topped with sticky chopped pecans and whipped cream. Be sure to save room for it when you're playing tourist-in-your-own-town.
Sticky Buns at WildFlour
WildFlour owner and pastry chef Lauren Mitterer is a terrible tease — she insists on making her addictive sticky buns available only one day a week. Stop by the Spring Street bakery on Sundays between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and choose between a bun with caramelized pecans or one with cream cheese frosting — or both. You might want to save one for later in the week when you need your sticky bun fix.
Macaroons from Macaroon Boutique
There's something about the texture of a macaroon that is more perfect than the most perfect cookie or brownie. It's delicate but toothsome, creamy and just a touch crispy, and perfectly indulgent. Flavors include chocolate, pistachio, and vanilla, but opt for the raspberry.
Lavender Gelato at Paolo's Gelato
Like some mad culinary genius, Paolo Dalla Zorza consistently churns out both classic and inventive flavors of gelato, from Stracciatella to simple strawberry. Be sure to try the lavender if you get the chance — it's unexpectedly sweet and earthy.
Beet Ice Cream from Roots Ice Cream
@RootsIceCream. Charleston Farmers Market and various events
Bright magenta in color, earthy in flavor, the beet ice cream is the shining example of what gourmet, seasonal ice cream can be. The other flavors are nice too, but this one stands out as particularly swell.
Earl Grey Tea Painted Chocolate from Christophe Artisan
Christophe's hand-painted chocolates are all so beautiful that you hardly want to bite into them. Keep an eye out for the bright blue flat dome with the little white flakes: the dark chocolate ganache inside is laced with Earl Grey tea in a luxurious blend of dark, sweet mystery.
Chocolate Sea Salt Popsicle from King of Pops
The texture of a Jell-O pudding pop, the chocolate sea salt popsicle is so good it will have you chasing this popsicle cart all over the Lowountry.
Did we neglect to include one of your favorite dishes? Leave it in the comments.