Cheap Eats 

181 Palmer

Downtown - Modern American

Watched over by Chef Scott Stefanelli, the students at the Culinary Institute of Charleston’s 181 Palmer lay down an unbelievable lunch value with food so good it might as well be served at one of our downtown restaurants. Stefanelli sets the menu each semester with the goal of using the best ingredients available and letting his students master techniques like making charcuterie, roasting short ribs, and rolling out fresh pasta. The seasonal three-course menu lets you choose an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert course for $15 per person. The dining room operates only when school is in session, and you have to make reservations sometimes weeks in advance, so plan ahead. But if you want to see the future chefs of Charleston, they’re ready to practice on your palate for half the price. And here’s a hint: Find out when the pastry class is, because on those days, you’ll get the added bonus of trying their scrumptious petit fours and canapés. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Winter 2014)

A.C.'s Bar and Grill

Downtown - Pubs + Taverns

A.C.’s is a no-frills watering hole known for its satisfying slate of late-night eats and a brunch that's an enduring staple of the downtown Sunday Funday. Locals may lament the steady price increase of the Beer of the Month special, but it’s hard to find such a solid deal on import and craft beer these days. The mushroom swiss burger is a juicy classic, while the cheesesteak heaps grilled onion, sautéed mushrooms, and hot and sweet peppers atop thin strips of steak on an Amoroso roll straight out of Philly. During Sunday brunch, the chicken and waffles are a perennial favorite while a variety of omelets and French toast concoctions abound. A.C.’s has multiple billiards tables for the pool sharks and a row of booths for groups of friends to crowd into, but whatever your scene, just don’t call it a hipster bar. —Angela Hanyak Dish (Winter 2014)

Ali Baba Mediterranean Deli & Catering

Daniel Island - Mediterranean

Ali Baba is a straight-up Mediterranean Deli, featuring falafel, kebabs, beef shawerma, and a whole lot more. Owners Samir and Yasmeen Elzabidi are native Jordanians, and have brought the flavors of not just their home country but the entire region to this stylish venture on Daniel Island. There are a few more Western preparations like panini and wraps, but the traditional Levantine favorites are what really shine: fattosh (bread salad), foul madamas (a fava bean dip), and the brightest, most addictive hummus in the Lowcountry. The deli’s vivid orange walls with red and blue accents are a fitting match to the bold, bright flavors of the food, and the big platters of lamb shanks, kibbi, or souvlaki with warm pita bread are perfect for a filling lunch. You don’t even need to say “open sesame” to unlock this trove of Mediterranean treasures. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Ali Baba Mediterranean Food

Mt. Pleasant - Mediterranean

Ali Baba is a straight-up Mediterranean Deli, featuring falafel, kebabs, beef shawerma, and a whole lot more. Owners Samir and Yasmeen Elzabidi are native Jordanians, and have brought the flavors of not just their home country but the entire region to this stylish venture on Daniel Island. There are a few more Western preparations like panini and wraps, but the traditional Levantine favorites are what really shine: fattosh (bread salad), foul madamas (a fava bean dip), and the brightest, most addictive hummus in the Lowcountry. The deli’s vivid orange walls with red and blue accents are a fitting match to the bold, bright flavors of the food, and the big platters of lamb shanks, kibbi, or souvlaki with warm pita bread are perfect for a filling lunch. You don’t even need to say “open sesame” to unlock this trove of Mediterranean treasures. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Amalfi's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria

Mt. Pleasant - Italian

Amalfi’s small two-story space has bright yellow walls and tables upstairs and down, and its familiar canon of big Italian-American pasta dishes is about as straight-down-the-middle as it comes: lasagna, ziti, and ravioli with lots of bright red tomato sauce along with alfredo, marsala, and parmigiana. The oven-toasted subs are solid, and thin-crust New York-style pizza and stromboli round out the offerings. The daily lunch menu includes dozens of pasta, pizza, and sandwich choices for under eight bucks including a drink, making it one of the best bargains. Amalfi’s is hidden away in a hard-to-find spot at the back of Mt. Pleasant’s Belle Hall shopping center, but the fresh-made sauces and bread and the eminently reasonable prices make it well worth seeking out when you’re in the mood for a casual, homey Italian meal. —Robert Moss, Dish (Winter 2013)

Art's Bar & Grill

Mt. Pleasant - Pubs + Taverns

Most of the patrons of Art’s Bar & Grill go there for happy hour beers or late-night Jäger shooters, but a few wise eaters stop in at lunch because they know the secret. The lineup of fried seafood, burgers, and sandwiches looks run-of-the-mill at first glance, but everything is either made from scratch or brought in from the best local purveyors, like barbecue from John G. and Irv at Charleston Bay Gourmet Catering, bread from Ashley Bakery, and pickles from the Charleston Pickle Co. When the season is open, the golden-brown fried shrimp are caught fresh by the legendary Wayne Magwood, and when it’s not, you can’t order fried shrimp. But that’s okay, because you can always get a half-pound, cooked-to-order burger on a poppy seed bun or the delightful French dip. You might even call them works of Art. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Black Bean Co.

James Island - Cafés

Black Bean Co. calls itself Charleston’s “premium organic, all-natural, speedy service restaurant.” It’s the creation of young Charleston native and Culinary Institute graduate Ellis Grossman, who eagerly and entrepreneurially offers healthy, ethical food all at a reasonable price. Black Bean’s wraps, inspired by world cuisines, roll up a variety of lean proteins, lettuces and vegetables, fruits, nuts, cheeses, and legumes inside fresh tortillas. There are also healthy soups and salads, often made with local ingredients. And the smoothies are a great option in the summer heat. Grossman has been growing his produce on a plot out at Thackeray Farms on Wadmalaw, ensuring that everything is indeed as fresh and local as he can get it. The prices have inched up a bit (the gyros are no longer the amazing steal of $4), but as we all know, particularly when it comes to food, quality doesn’t come cheap. They’ve added locations and will be opening a couple more in the near future. Cue the American fast food takeoever. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Black Bean Co.

West Ashley - Cafés

Black Bean Co. calls itself Charleston’s “premium organic, all-natural, speedy service restaurant.” It’s the creation of young Charleston native and Culinary Institute graduate Ellis Grossman, who eagerly and entrepreneurially offers healthy, ethical food all at a reasonable price. Black Bean’s wraps, inspired by world cuisines, roll up a variety of lean proteins, lettuces and vegetables, fruits, nuts, cheeses, and legumes inside fresh tortillas. There are also healthy soups and salads, often made with local ingredients. And the smoothies are a great option in the summer heat. Grossman has been growing his produce on a plot out at Thackeray Farms on Wadmalaw, ensuring that everything is indeed as fresh and local as he can get it. The prices have inched up a bit (the gyros are no longer the amazing steal of $4), but as we all know, particularly when it comes to food, quality doesn’t come cheap. They’ve added locations and will be opening a couple more in the near future. Cue the American fast food takeover. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Black Bean Co.

Mt. Pleasant - Cafés

Black Bean Co. calls itself Charleston’s “premium organic, all-natural, speedy service restaurant.” It’s the creation of young Charleston native and Culinary Institute graduate Ellis Grossman, who eagerly and entrepreneurially offers healthy, ethical food all at a reasonable price. Black Bean’s wraps, inspired by world cuisines, roll up a variety of lean proteins, lettuces and vegetables, fruits, nuts, cheeses, and legumes inside fresh tortillas. There are also healthy soups and salads, often made with local ingredients. And the smoothies are a great option in the summer heat. Grossman has been growing his produce on a plot out at Thackeray Farms on Wadmalaw, ensuring that everything is indeed as fresh and local as he can get it. The prices have inched up a bit (the gyros are no longer the amazing steal of $4), but as we all know, particularly when it comes to food, quality doesn’t come cheap. They’ve added locations and will be opening a couple more in the near future. Cue the American fast food takeoever. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Black Bean Co.

Downtown - Cafés

Black Bean Co. calls itself Charleston’s “premium organic, all-natural, speedy service restaurant.” It’s the creation of young Charleston native and Culinary Institute graduate Ellis Grossman, who eagerly and entrepreneurially offers healthy, ethical food all at a reasonable price. Black Bean’s wraps, inspired by world cuisines, roll up a variety of lean proteins, lettuces and vegetables, fruits, nuts, cheeses, and legumes inside fresh tortillas. There are also healthy soups and salads, often made with local ingredients. And the smoothies are a great option in the summer heat. Grossman has been growing his produce on a plot out at Thackeray Farms on Wadmalaw, ensuring that everything is indeed as fresh and local as he can get it. The prices have inched up a bit (the gyros are no longer the amazing steal of $4), but as we all know, particularly when it comes to food, quality doesn’t come cheap. They’ve added locations and will be opening a couple more in the near future. Cue the American fast food takeoever. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Bon Banh Mi

Downtown - Delis + Sandwiches

Jonathan Boncek

Traditional Banh Mi

Jason Sakran and Jeremy Spencer’s version of the traditional Vietnamese sandwich edged out the rest of the local competition in the City Paper’s side-by-side Battle of the Bánh Mì, and the bread — a sublime baguette made with a blend of wheat and rice flour — was the deciding factor. Bon Bánh Mì keeps the offerings simple: your choice of six bánh mì with fillings, ranging from a fairly traditional country pâté and Vietnamese ham to the fusiony egg and Canadian bacon. You can have the same fillings wrapped in a tortilla for tacos or served over lettuce and veggies as a salad. They’ve added some daily specials too. On Tuesdays, stop in for the bun cha, a noodle dish with chile noodles, mint, tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, carrots, and Vietnamese meatballs. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2014)

Boone Halls Farms Market Café

Mt. Pleasant - Southern

Boone Hall is half roadside farm stand, half gourmet food store with a little café and ice-cream shop thrown in to boot. Much of the fresh produce is grown on the big farm just across the road, and the butcher counter offers a selection of fresh meats and seafood. The shelves up front stock plenty of local specialties like Carolina Gold Rice, stone ground grits, and pickles and preserves. The café is a good option for a quick Southern-style lunch, with an offering that includes burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches along with meat-and-two “farm meals” like country fried steak, pulled-pork barbecue, and a thick slab of meatloaf. These hearty, inexpensive meals and a cooler full of glass-bottled sodas and home-churned ice cream make Boone Hall Farms a promising place to stop off for a bite while touring the Lowcountry. —Robert Moss, Dish (Winter 2013)

Brick House Party Plantation

James Island - American

Situated along Folly Road on the way to the beach, the Brick House Party Plantation is both right in the middle of everything and far removed. The main floor of the grand Southern house has been converted into a comfortable dining area, and there’s plenty of outdoor table options under Moss Dish (Summer 2013)-draped live oaks where local musicians regularly set up for some live music. With a Mediterranean twist on Lowcountry cuisine, the vegetarian-friendly menu is also rich with local seafood. Seared grouper, barbecue mahi, and crab cakes are good choices, and they come with plenty of fresh Southern veggies on the side. A cozy 10-seat bar behind the main house rounds out this charming addition to James Island’s culinary scene. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Bull Street Gourmet and Market

Downtown - Cafés

There’s a well-curated selection of beer and wine, with hundreds of bottles for sale as well as a selection of gourmet groceries, from duck fat to local cheeses and produce. You’ll find a handful of breakfast items, like a freshly baked croissant with Nutella and strawberries or a toasted bagel with smoked salmon, red onions, capers, and cream cheese. Breakfast and lunch are served all day, and dinner runs from 5-9 p.m. There are at least two or three soups made fresh every day, a packed charcuterie plate, and tons of sandwiches and salads. They also make the baked goods in-house (if you’re lucky enough to stumble in on a day when they’ve made muffins, we recommend the blueberry). They’re planning to open another location on Meeting Street in the Elan Midtown building later this year. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Winter 2014)

Charleston Bakery

Summerville - Delis + Sandwiches

You might not expect to find an authentic Jewish-style deli out in Summerville, but that’s part of the charm of Charleston Bakery. The cozy, casual eatery is worth the trek if you’re craving fresh bagels, homemade baked goods, or creative Coney dogs. Order at the counter, grab an old-fashioned soda from the cooler, and then take a seat. Start off the day with a fresh-baked croissant, jalapeño bacon cheddar grits, or bagel with lox (hand-cut and prepared in-house). For lunch, try a customizable “Wild Salad,” corned beef and pastrami sandwich, or the matzo ball soup. Whether used for the tomato pie or fruit tart, the fresh-baked pastry is stellar, so be sure to get something with it. And they’re known for their Charleston Rum Cake. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Summer 2013)

Charlie's Grocery

Downtown - Mediterranean

This go-to Radcliffeborough corner store has all the typical snacks and cigarettes you’d find at almost corner store in Charleston, but you can also stop in for a lunch that doesn’t come from a freezer case. Their small deli menu features Boar’s Head sandwiches, chicken tenders, fries, and a hot dog deal, but they’re known for their falafel, perfect fried balls of ground chickpeas. Served in a pita with a cool tahini dressing and lots of hot sauce, we suggest upgrading and adding hummus for $1 to balance the spicy kick. Charlie’s recently expanded with another store on Spring Street, but for now, you can only get their falafel at the original location. —Susan Cohen, Dish (Winter 2013)

Charlie's Grocery

Downtown - Mediterranean

This go-to Radcliffeborough corner store has all the typical snacks and cigarettes you’d find at almost every corner store in Charleston, but you can also stop in for a lunch that doesn’t come from a freezer case. Their small deli menu features Boar’s Head sandwich meat, chicken tenders, fries, and a hot dog deal, but they’re known for their perfectly fried falafel balls. Served in a pita with a cool tahini dressing and lots of hot sauce, we suggest upgrading and adding hummus for $1 to balance the spicy kick. Charlie’s recently expanded with another store on Spring Street, but for now, you can only get their falafel at the original location. —Susan Cohen Dish (Winter 2014)

Closed for Business

Downtown - Bar

Pork Slap

The funky decor, 42 beer taps, and eclectic menu combine to make Closed for Business an endearing little beer garden. The bodacious Pork Slap sandwich, which quickly put them on the map, is an addictive combination of fried pork cutlet and smoked ham piled high on a bun and layered with green tomato chutney. We love the classic pairing of grilled cheese with a zingy tomato soup, and the Jimmy Serrano Veggie Burger is a vegetarian’s dream. The rest of the limited menu appeals to the serious beer drinker with a handful of tasty bar snacks: pork rinds, fried green beans, buffalo oysters, and beer mussels (made with bacon, aioli, shallots, and garlic). They’ve got a good burger (the Business), a Chicago dog, and a fresh daily market salad that comes straight from area farms, tastily proving their dedication to sourcing locally and seasonally. The beer taps are kept stocked with rare and unusual brews that change on a daily basis, available in three different sizes (10 oz., 16 oz., 1 liter). They’ve got liquor too. On Sunday mornings, their brunch menu will inspire you to get out of bed, whether it’s for the oyster omelet (fried oysters, pimento cheese, buffalo sauce) or the corned beef hash (housemade corned beef, potatoes, pickled peppers, caramelized onions, whole grain mustard, farm egg). With a Pimm’s Cup or a Grand Marnier Gin Fizz, we can’t think of a better way to get the day going. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Winter 2014)

D'Allesandro's Pizza

Downtown - Pizza

The Chauncinator

Brothers Ben and Nick D’Allesandro spin tasty pies and pour frothy beers to loyal customers at their laid-back Elliotborough pizzeria. Start off with a hearty side salad filled with a variety of fresh veggies and cheese, then try our favorite pizza, the Chauncinator: a margherita with double pepperoni, minus the tomatoes. The menu includes chicken wings and a few “CalJoes,” which are calzones with sandwich ingredients. They also offer a list of lunch combo deals starting at $6.95 as well as cheap beer at happy hour. The place consistently feels as chill as the D’Allesandro brothers themselves, making it a popular local hangout for college kids and neighborhood residents. Despite our pleas, the bros tell us they won’t be adding another location anytime soon, but they have expanded their reach, stocking grocery store freezers with frozen pizzas made fresh in their off-hours. We’ve got a couple in the freezer right now for those times we’re craving some D’Al’s and we’re too far away from St. Philip St. to get us some. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Winter 2014)

Dave's Carry-Out

Downtown - Soul Food

High-end restaurants like the Grocery and Two Boroughs Larder are quickly moving into the area around Dave’s Carry-Out, but this no-frills soul food joint offers a true taste of Charleston. For under $7 you can get a takeout box filled to the brim with the best of Lowcountry cooking like pork chops, crispy chicken wings, and finger-lickin’ ribs. The selection of sides is small but tasty — try the salty collard greens, thick steak fries, or red beans and rice. The lunch specials change daily, but your best bet is to go with a seafood platter — they range from $7 for a generous portion of shrimp to $13 for shrimp, fish, scallops, and devil crab. If you want a true local experience, opt for the lima beans and rice. It’s meaty and filling. A few tables allow customers to dine in, but most folks get their Dave’s to-go, whether for lunch or a greasy late-night snack. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Winter 2014)

Dell'z Deli

Downtown - Delis + Sandwiches

Rice & Bean Bowl

There aren't many places in Charleston that have the kind of cult following that Dell'z has, but they welcome fanatics and neophytes in equal measure. Salads, wraps, and pitas come loaded with cucumbers, sprouts, and avocados, but vegetarians hold Dell’z in such high regard due to the flavors she imparts without using a drop of animal fat. The Kitchen Sink Overloaded Wrap layers rice, beans, cheese, mushrooms, and spicy sour cream, while the Hummer marries black bean hummus with cilantro, salsa, and lime. For carnivores, get the roast beef roll, with jack cheese and horseradish mayo. A trio of salad options provides an option for the gluten-free set. Around the corner is Dell’z Vibez, a stellar juice and smoothie bar that will boost your energy with its healthy concoctions. —Angela Hanyak Dish (Winter 2014)

Dell'z Uptown

Downtown - Cafés

Jonathan Boncek

Dell'z Five Eleven pizza will make you forget you're eating vegan sausage and cheese

Dell’z Uptown takes the vegetarian-friendliness of Dell’z Deli to the next level. This isn’t just a place that serves veggies and tofu. Dell’z goes all out, with vegan options for chicken, bacon, and shrimp. Heck, you can even get vegan cheese on your Jazzy Pizza. There are plenty of favorites they brought over from the Cannon Street location, including the Hummer and the Snobby Joe. But they have plenty of items unique to this spot too. The My Thai Bowl (zucchini, squash, vegan sausage, cabbage, spinach, pasta, and mango salsa over brown rice) is already an instant classic. The best part is that there’s room for sitting down and staying awhile, and it’s a great addition to the above-the-Crosstown dining scene. —Susan Cohen Dish (Winter 2014)

Dixie Supply Bakery and Café

Downtown - Breakfast

At Dixie Supply, owners Allen and Kris Holmes serve big, filling, no-frills breakfasts and lunches with plenty of down-home Southern flair. Muffins, cookies, and croissants fill the glass cases up front, and they’re all baked fresh from scratch. For just $2.50 you can get a bowl of grits so dense and creamy they make a satisfying breakfast all by themselves, but that would mean passing up on soft, fluffy biscuits with ham or sausage and the delectable French toast made from slices of croissant dipped in a vanilla-tinged batter. At lunch, fried chicken, tomato pie, and daily blue plate specials offer Southern treats every bit as hearty as the breakfast fare. Look for the bright blue awning on the modest storefront on State Street. Dixie Supply doesn’t put on any airs, but with food this good, it hardly needs to. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2014)

Drop In Gourmet Deli and Bar

Folly Beach - Delis + Sandwiches

The Drop In Deli on Folly is loaded with personality, and either you'll like that personality or you won't. We appreciate things like concrete walls and clever sandwich names like the Pholly Cheese Steak (with cheese whiz) or the Three Guys Burger ("They got five, we got three"). But what we really appreciate are sandwiches prepared with care and thought. This isn't just a killer beer shack (PBRs are $2.50 in the can); it's a gathering place where you can bring your kids for lunch or stop by after a day at the beach and not be disappointed. The Drop In also hosts Sushi by Lisa from 6-9 p.m. Tues.-Fri. —Stephanie Barna

Dukes Barbecue

James Island - Barbecue

The name Dukes is synonymous with barbecue in the lower part of South Carolina. Various Dukes operate barbecue restaurants in Orangeburg, Walterboro, Blackville, Aiken, Allen Dish (Summer 2013)dale, Beaufort, St. George, Ridgeville, Bamberg, and North Charleston. Most but not all of these are related to each other — sometimes by blood and sometimes just through a business transaction. The newest Dukes on the scene is the one on Folly Road on James Island, and it’s run by Bryan O’Quinn, the son of the owner of the Dukes in Walterboro. The O’Quinn family bought into the Dukes empire, learning their signature style when they purchased the Walterboro restaurant, and Bryan has brought that style with him to James Island. There’s no beef brisket or smoked chicken wings or any of that foreign stuff to be found here, just a pure manifestation of the mustard-based barbecue tradition. The all-you-can-eat buffet (about $10 for adults, $6 for kids) has chopped pork, hash and rice, fried chicken, and a mess of sides. It’s bare bones just like it’s supposed to be, with styrofoam plates, plastic utensils, and a big bag of Sunbeam bread on each table. Top it all off with a plate of banana pudding from one of the big silver buffet bins and you’re guaranteed to not leave hungry. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Famulari's

Summerville - Pizza

If you are in Summerville, if you have to have pizza, and if you care what it tastes like, you should be at Famulari's. They may not look like the fanciest pie joint — there's no million-dollar renovations here, and there's certainly no "special sauce" hiding out in the back — but Famulari's serves excellent pie. When most people think of pizza, they think New York, but these guys serve a signature, gut-busting Chicago-style deep dish oozing with meat and cheese. It's a good three inches thick, with the sauce layered on top of the cheese. There's enough heft to bust a gut. When you show up to carry this deep dish monster home, bring a towel for your back seat, since not even the thick corrugated box can hold back the grease. —Jeff Allen

Famulari's Pizza

Summerville - Pizza

If you are in Summerville, if you have to have pizza, and if you care what it tastes like, you should be at Famulari's. They may not look like the fanciest pie joint — there's no million-dollar renovations here, and there's certainly no "special sauce" hiding out in the back — but Famulari's serves excellent pie. When most people think of pizza, they think New York, but these guys serve a signature, gut-busting Chicago-style deep dish oozing with meat and cheese. It's a good three inches thick, with the sauce layered on top of the cheese. There's enough heft to bust a gut. When you show up to carry this deep dish monster home, bring a towel for your back seat, since not even the thick corrugated box can hold back the grease. —Jeff Allen

Fishnet Seafood

West Ashley - Seafood Suppliers

Fishnet Seafood might be most famous for their Jesus Crab, a Christian interpretation of the delicious “deviled” crab. City Paper writer Jeff Allen claims their deep-fried soft-shell crab has the power to save souls. Fishnet will cook to order any of the fresh fish they have for retail sale — croaker, whiting, porgy, the list goes on — in their deep fryer. There are no seats inside this store/takeout restaurant, so all the food is to-go. Georgetown Seafood supplies Fishnet with their fish, and they buy crabs from a local crabber. Boiled shrimp is also on the menu, and the kitchen has peeled versions in the back to bread and fry.

The Griffon

Downtown - Pubs + Taverns

Fried Chicken

In many ways, the Griffon is the quintessential dive bar. It’s a no-frills joint with old tables, rickety chairs, and a well-worn bar. And you certainly won’t find a restroom with fancy-schmancy bathroom fixtures that look like the bastard offspring of the IKEA catalog and Southern Living. For Pete’s sake, the Griffon is the kind of place with dollar bills stuck to the ceilings, walls, and, well, who knows where else they may be. However, in addition to a menu of pretty standard bar fare, this little Vendue Street pub serves up the choicest craft brews and an unexpectedly good, rotating meat-and-two menu. Some days it’s fried chicken and green beans, other days it’s fried pork chops, mac and cheese, and collards. Heck, they even serve lasagna. Oh, and they also make some doggone good soups too, from broccoli cheddar to crab bisque. —Chris HaireDish (Winter 2014)

Hannibal's Kitchen

Downtown - Soul Food

Some guy once complained about us sending people to eat here, but we think food should be an open-minded adventure. Hannibal's rules the heart of the East Side soul food scene, just behind Trident Tech's Palmer campus, and while it may not be for the tourist crowd, it is true low-down modern soul. The atmosphere reflects life on the other side of the peninsula's proverbial tracks. From chicken wings and fried rice to a seafood salad that we would never touch, this is the epitome of soul food. It ain't pretty, but it's definitely real. —Jeff Allen, Dish (Summer 2009)

Hello My Name is... BBQ

Downtown - Food Trucks

One of the first food trucks in a now bustling scene, Hello My Name is … BBQ has made the move from nomad to permanent resident. While you’ll still see their name-tagged truck out on the road and at events around town, that familiar blue-and-white logo is now also painted on the side of a small strip mall on Meeting Street by the I-26 overpass. The physical location has the same great, simple barbecue with a slightly expanded menu and a good selection of beer and glass bottle sodas. The taco, mac and cheese, and sandwich specials change daily, or you can just build your own ’wich of beer-braised pork with toppings like pickled onions, pimento cheese, and a fried egg. Keep an eye out for meatloaf and the black bean burger too. And don’t forget the barbecued bacon. Because the best topping for pork is pork. —Susan Cohen Dish (Winter 2014)

HoM

Downtown - Burgers

Adam Chandler

HōM-Wrecker

HōM (pronounced home) is still slinging some quality gourmet burgers. The HōM-Wrecker has been a menu staple since the restaurant opened, and there’s good reason for that. A juicy beef patty is topped with applewood-smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, and a perfectly cooked sunny-side up egg. Besides the beef, HōM offers a wide array of burger patties such as lamb, turkey, falafel, and tofu. The hand-cut fries and garlic-chipotle onion rings go hand in hand with the burgers, and the crunchy fried pickles are fantastic. What we’re really digging right now are the sweet potato fingerlings tossed in roasted garlic, truffled herb aioli, and blue cheese — addictive. The bar sports some local craft beer and a few crazy cocktails, helping establish the ping-pong hall as a solid local favorite. —Eric Doksa Dish (Winter 2014)

Jack's Cafe

Downtown - American

There are few places in downtown Charleston as reliable as Jack’s Cafe. On weekdays, you can hit this greasy spoon for a good breakfast or lunch, all cooked up by Jack himself at the grill. In the mood for waffles and hashbrowns? A bacon-and-swiss burger? All of the above? The menu combinations here are limitless, but you’ll leave full no matter what, and your wallet won’t take too much of a hit in the process. King Street may offer the glitz and glamour of the latest food trends, but we sometimes like to spend our lunch hour in a booth at Jack’s, surrounded by college kids and indulging in grilled cheese and french fries. Jack has announced that he’ll be retiring soon, so be sure to get your favorites before this institution is gone. —Susan Cohen Dish (Winter 2014)

Jack's Cosmic Dogs

Mt. Pleasant - Hot Dog Joints

The Galactic Dog

The original bright-hued location of Jack’s Cosmic Dogs on Highway 17 in Mt. Pleasant has won over a constellation of fans, including Food Network star Alton Brown, who declared the Cosmic Dog one of best things he’s ever eaten. With glass bottles of soda on ice and an old-style soft-serve ice cream machine, it’s a pitch-perfect throwback to a lost era of roadside hot dog stands. There’s even a creaky screen door on the front. A newer location on Folly Road, which has a larger dining room and a drive-thru, too, gives James Islanders their own stellar dogs. Alton’s favorite, the Cosmic Dog, has blue cheese slaw and sweet potato mustard, while the Astro Dog is topped with onion relish and spicy yellow mustard. The dogs themselves are top-notch, and they’re served on seeded deli rolls instead of plain white buns. Combine a chili-cheese Orbit City Dog with a side of handcut fries and a longneck Sundrop, and you’ll have a genuine roadside classic. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

JB's Smokeshack

Johns Island - Barbecue

At JB’s Smokeshack, they proudly declare, “The flavor’s in the meat, sauce is on the side.” It’s a classic Carolina barbecue joint, and that means an all-you-can-eat buffet with limited hours (open Wed.-Sat.). The buffet features hickory-smoked pork, applewood-smoked chicken, and juicy, pepper-tinged fried chicken. At dinnertime they add a carving station with beef brisket. For sides, there are collards, black-eyed peas, hash and rice, baked beans, and many more classics. The pork is tender and flavorful, but the chicken — rich and juicy and full of great smoke flavor — is the real treat. Be sure to save room for banana pudding. It’s the proper way to top off a classic Lowcountry barbecue feast. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Kickin' Chicken

Downtown - American

If you’ve spent any time in Charleston as a starving student or aspiring young professional, you’ve probably eaten your fair share of Kickin’ Chicken sandwiches. My favorite for years was the Buffalo Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich, a raft of fried chicken tenders doused in hot sauce and covered in melted provolone cheese on a soft, toasted bun with a crispy exterior. The Chicken used to be a little delivery outfit up in the ’hood, a real Chucktown original. Now it’s a burgeoning empire with seven locations spanning two states and a newly launched food truck. We know people who swear by the famous Ultimate Big Deal (ham, turkey, roast beef, chicken, bacon, swiss cheese) and the “Bobby Fries” topped with ranch dressing, more bacon (for the love of your heart), and melted cheese. It may not be trendy these days to be an emerging chain selling over-the-top dishes that would make a state fair food vendor blush, but do you think we care? Hell no. We’re too busy stuffing our faces. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

La Norteña

North Charleston - Mexican

Paul E. Cheney, Jr./jwkpec.com

Located on the international mile of Rivers Avenue — home to H&L Asian Market, Bombay Bazaar and Restaurant, Phuong Vietnamese Restaurant, and Pho #1 — La Norteña is one of the most authentic Mexican joints you’re going to find in the Lowcountry. Yes, the interior isn’t all that different from the Combo No. 1 chains, but the food is decidedly different. In fact, you can credit La Norteña — with its emphasis on fresh ingredients and true-blue South of the Border fare — for many of the new menu items at your neighborhood Speedy Gonzales joint — things like mole and carnitas and ceviche and al pastor tacos and camarones a la diabla. But few manage to top La Norteña. We still go back for the Carnitas Enmoladas (think rich, almost chocolatey, tender pork), the traditional tacos (chorizo, barbacoa, and fish), and the quartet of hot sauces the servers bring to the table (we could put the creamy jalapeño sauce on about anything). We’re still interested in trying their Menudo, a hangover-curing soup with honeycomb and beef tripe. Of course, the señors and señoritas at La Norteña know that Americanized fare brings in a fair number of dinners, so you can expect to find plenty of quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, and nachos. —Chris Haire Dish (Summer 2013)

Mamma Brown's

Mt. Pleasant - Barbecue

After being closed for nearly two years, Momma Brown's BBQ has reopened as Mamma Browns' BBQ in the former KFC building at the corner of Highway 17 and Highway 41. This is great news to the loyal fans who ate at the old location for years. This time, however, it's not buffet style, but it's still a bang for your buck. A pulled pork platter with two sides will run you $7.50. They've got the original vinegar/pepper barbecue pork, mustard barbecue pork, chicken and sausage pilau, ribs, and more. Classic sides include mac and cheese, coleslaw, collard greens, and even some seasonal fare like butter beans. We missed Momma and we're glad she's back. —Eric Doksa

Martha Lou's

Downtown - Soul Food

Martha Lou’s has become something of a foodie hotspot over the past few years, and it all began when Charleston celebuchef Sean Brock sang the soul food joint’s praises in the New York Times and later on an episode of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. Since then, Martha Lou’s parking lot has been packed around lunchtime each and every workday with high-end SUVs and imports, and we regularly see television crews in the parking lot. But inside Martha Lou’s Kitchen, everything has pretty much stayed the same — thankfully. Martha Lou serves up the hottest food in town, and we mean that literally. The fried chicken is piping hot, and so are the lima beans and the mac ‘n’ cheese. The menu changes day to day — the catfish is tasty, but you’ve got to watch out for the bones, while the chitlins, well, they taste like chitlins — and you can dine in or call ahead. And if breakfast is more your thing, then swing by the little pink house in the morning and get your day started off right. —Chris Haire Dish (Winter 2014)

MEX 1

West Ashley - Mexican

Jonathan Boncek

Mex 1 Coastal Cantina is a welcome addition to the West Ashley dining scene. The restaurant may not be near the water, but it’s got a huge surfer vibe (i.e. the kitchen is separated from the bar by a wall constructed of surfboards). This is a new venture for Jack Hurley, owner of Jack’s Cosmic Dogs, and diners won’t leave disappointed. The Baja-style eats beckon the hungry, and the impressive tequila list opens the door to a whole slew of fun. An array of tacos, quesadillas, and tortas make up the entrees, with the addition of tasty bites like guacamole and Mexican street corn. We’re partial to the Baja fish tacos and carnitas torta, but the Baja bowls are becoming a local favorite. Don’t forget to try one of the bangin’ cocktails. With Morgan Hurley’s creative infusions like the Tequila Mockingbird, you can’t go wrong. —Eric Doksa Dish (Winter 2014)

Mia Pomodori

Downtown - Pizza

This teeny tiny pizza joint churns out big, bold pies. The pizza is made-to-order from a shotgun-style counter, and seating is limited to a couple of patio tables against the wall or a bare-bones courtyard out back, so your best bet is either to get it to-go or have it delivered. Their standard round pizzas have a thin crispy crust — you’ll find classic pepperoni and margherita alongside the Mediterranean (olive oil, fresh spinach, feta cheese, rendered bacon, roasted garlic, and black olives). But what really sets Mia Pomodori apart is their Sicilian squares. They’re served on a thick crust with a generous helping of sauce. Add in a selection of calzones, sandwiches, breadsticks, and salads, plus a beer and wine cooler, and you’ve got the makings of a hearty Italian meal without having to break a sweat. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Summer 2013)

Midtown Bar & Grill

Downtown - Bar

Midtown attracts the preppy, button-downed masses of Charleston to Upper King Street. Being a bar, they've got plenty of beer, a number of specialty drinks, and a massive list of shots, and they're able to draw a hefty weekend crowd with live music (it's a good thing they expanded into 52.5 Records' old space). Lunchtime is a quieter affair. Though the dark, brick interior isn't the most ambient of dining rooms, the food is solid. The menu is Southern-inspired; pulled pork is everywhere, featured in taquitos, a wrap, a sandwich, and as an entrée. Get their "signature" sweet tea-marinated pork chop, fried, with some mac 'n' cheese (they offer a variety of sides, from fries to fried okra). Pimento cheese comes on a grilled sandwich and on a burger, topped off with sweet grilled onions and a generous heap of bacon. Brunch has all the basics — french toast, biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits — and a build-your-own Bloody Mary. If the weather's nice, enjoy your meal out in their courtyard. —Susan Cohen

Moe's Crosstown Tavern

Downtown - Pubs + Taverns

Located up near Hampton Park, the original Moe’s Crosstown is a classic neighborhood watering hole that serves generous portions of tasty bar fare. They’ve earned legions of fans over the years, which is why they’re packed to the gills for Tuesday half-price burger nights and Sunday brunch. The burgers are fat, smoky, and fully customizable, and you can pay just a bit more for their perfectly cooked onion rings. Many swear by their BLT made with fried green tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, bacon, and pesto mayo. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Winter 2014)

Moose's Famous BBQ

Moncks Corner - Barbecue

Moose's Famous BBQ is off the beaten path up in Moncks Corner, but it's well worth the drive. The cash-only, all-you-can-eat buffet includes chopped pork, smoked chicken, sliced pork tenderloin, and a memorable beef brisket. The hash and rice is splendid, too. A deep lineup of excellent side dishes — squash casserole, red rice, pillowy pork skins, and mac and cheese — guarantees multiple trips back to the big buffet. Careful with that homemade banana pudding at the end: After several plates of barbecue and sides, one small bowl of that gooey, sweet concoction can lay you low. —Robert Moss

Olympik Restaurant and Bakery

West Ashley - Greek

Inexpensive, fresh, and flavorful, the Greek fare at this long-running family restaurant is worth a drive down Savannah Highway. The modest structure housing Olympik may look old and worn from the outside, but the interior is warm and welcoming. The food is carefully prepared too. They offer familiar standards like gyro plates (beef, lamb, or chicken), hummus, falafel, Greek potatoes, and kebabs, but regulars love the more exotic house specialties, like the crispy, made-to-order Olympik Dosa (a gluten-free wrap made from rice and peas) or the beefy Moussaka casserole. The honey-sweet, melt-in-your-mouth almond marzipan cookies and delicate, homemade baklava are must-have desserts. —T. Ballard Lesemann

Papa Zuzu's

Mt. Pleasant - Mediterranean

Hundreds of red tomatoes line the stainless steel shelves in the front of Papa Zuzu’s, and they’re waiting to be tossed into a big salad or stuffed inside a warm, fluffy pita. It’s classic Greek fare with a hippie vibe, and that means generous gyros filled with roasted lamb and beef and pitas stuffed with chicken and spinach or baba ghanoush. The gyro pizza tops grilled dough with gyro meat, onions, portobello, cheese, and tzatziki sauce, and vegetarians will be happy to find tasty versions of hummus, tabouli, and baba ghanoush on a Mediterranean plate big enough to feed two. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2014)

Park Pizza Co.

North Charleston - Pizza

It's a pretty ballsy move, opening up a pizza joint half a block down from EVO, one of Charleston's finest pie spots, but that's what the folks at Park Pizza Co. did. The thing is the two restaurants are so dramatically different that they serve two entirely different needs: EVO caters to the gourmet, local-first crowd who are willing to shell out some cash, while Park Pizza is your more traditional delivery joint. Not that all the pies at Park Pizza are traditional. There are certainly some odd ducks here, from the She-Crab (olive oil, cream cheese, mozzarella, crab, tomato, garlic, green onions, parmesan) to the Thai (olive oil, cream cheese, provolone, Thai chicken, broccoli, cilantro, honey-roasted peanuts) to the Seoul Glo, a one-time special topped with Korean barbecued pork and kimchi. But it's the more traditional pies, like the Three Pigs (marinara, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, pork sausage) and the Envy (pesto, mozzarella, spinach, artichokes, feta), that have won over our taste buds. Also, two big thumbs up to the joint's garlic and herb breadstrips, the monkey bread, and the house salad dressing, a creamy cucumber wasabi concoction that is both soothing and spicy. —Chris Haire

Perfectly Frank's

Summerville - Hot Dog Joints

Perfectly Frank's has been serving up a laundry list of creative hot dog concoctions for years in Summerville, but recently the little neighborhood favorite evolved into a whole new entity, thanks to the influence of former Atlanticville chef Billy Condon. Nowadays, the menu has much more than hot dogs. You'll find burgers, meatloaf sandwiches, tacos, and quesadillas. You'll also find specials from Chef Condon that will have you hopping in your car to check this place out. We were piqued by the Thai beef burrito with shaved beef and kimchi. Of course, if it's a hot dog you want, they still have the Frank Coney (chili, mustard, onions) and the Frank Rizzo (shredded lettuce, mayo, tomato, and bacon), or you can opt for the Frankenstein and make your own monster. Just be sure to ring the bell on your way out. —Stephanie Barna

Pho #1

North Charleston - Thai + Vietnamese

If you’ve become bored with the takeout rotisserie chicken or subs from your neighborhood supermarket, the deli counter at H&L Asian Market offers an exotic twist on supermarket convenience food. You can eat it right there in the pastel pink and blue booths or get a big order packaged up in styrofoam boxes to go. Pick up a few tubs of steaming pho with rare beef, brisket, meatballs, and even tripe or a couple of rice or noodle bowls topped with roasted pork, shrimp, or duck. The cool Vietnamese spring rolls wrapped in taut rice paper are delightful, too. What better way to turn a quick dinner on the go into a culinary adventure? —Eric Doksa Dish (Summer 2013)

Pollo Loko Peruvian

North Charleston - Mexican

Chicken and Ribs Combo

Pollo Tropical has the requisite selection of burritos and quesadillas you would expect to find in a strip-mall Mexican restaurant, but there’s much more. Peruvian-style charcoal-grilled chicken is the specialty of the house, and it’s more than worth a drive down Dorchester Road to discover. Its crispy, slightly charred skin and juicy meat pairs perfectly with the orange, pepper-laden sauce that comes on the side. Fish and big racks of pork ribs get the same char-grilled treatment, and a small selection of Colombian food like cheese-topped arepas, empanadas, and fried plantains round out a selection that’s a far cry from your typical Tex-Mex fare. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Queen Street Grocery & Café

Downtown - Store

Tucked away just north of Broad Street, about a block from the Old City Jail, Queen Street Grocery has evolved from a standard corner store to a popular gourmet to-go destination. Owner Rob Bouton keeps the place stocked with all the necessities for neighborhood residents — beer, wine, various groceries — but they also have a growing menu of sandwiches, salads, crepes, and more. They even have locally made sushi available in the cooler, and Normandy Farm provides bread for the sandwiches and baked goods like big-as-your-head cookies. But QSG continues to be known for its made-to-order crepes. The Kiawah melds pesto, mozzarella, and tomato, while our personal favorite, the Mt. Pleasant, has Nutella and fruit. You can also build your own bowl of guacamole, sip on a smoothie, or get buzzed on their signature cold-pressed coffee. Dine-in and takeout options are available. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Winter 2014)

Seppy's Hotdogs

Mt. Pleasant - Hot Dog Joints

With its bright red and white awning and sleekly lettered menu, this new Mt. Pleasant hot dog stand is small in size but long on style. Sixteen signature dogs include classics like the Carolina with mustard, chili, and slaw and the German with mustard and kraut. The Ole spices things up with salsa and jalapeños while the Palm, topped with melted cheese and bacon crumbles, is sinfully gooey and delicious. All come on your choice of a meaty all-beef dog or a Carolina smoked sausage that’s so tender that it will almost melt in your mouth, and there are turkey and vegetarian dogs, too. The buns are soft and top-loading, and the chili, pimento cheese, and caramel onion spread are all made from scratch. That’s a formula for a superlative dog. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Sesame Burgers & Beer

Mt. Pleasant - Burgers

Sesame is not only known for its burgers, but its focus on quality local ingredients. The condiments are made in-house (ketchup, pickles, etc.) and most of the toppings come from nearby farms. You can order any burger with or without a bun, with your choice of beef, black beans, chicken, or turkey. Last we checked, they’ve got over 45 toppings to choose from, ranging from American cheese to fig and bacon jam. Burgers aside, they’ve also got some fresh garden salads and some killer onion rings. Let’s not forget the milkshakes. They’re incredible. —Eric Doksa Dish (Summer 2013)

Sesame Burgers & Beer

West Ashley - Burgers

Hunter McRae

Sesame's Burger in a Bowl

Sesame is not only known for its burgers, but its focus on quality local ingredients. The condiments are made in-house (ketchup, pickles, etc.) and most of the toppings come from nearby farms. You can order any burger with or without a bun, with your choice of beef, black beans, chicken, or turkey. Last we checked, they’ve got over 45 toppings to choose from, ranging from American cheese to fig and bacon jam. Burgers aside, they’ve also got some fresh garden salads and some killer onion rings. Let’s not forget the milkshakes. They’re incredible. —Eric Doksa Dish (Summer 2013)

Sesame Burgers & Beer

North Charleston - Burgers

The Memphis Burger

Sesame is not only known for its burgers, but its focus on quality local ingredients. The condiments are made in-house (ketchup, pickles, etc.) and most of the toppings come from nearby farms. You can order any burger with or without a bun, with your choice of beef, black beans, chicken, or turkey. Last we checked, they’ve got over 45 toppings to choose from, ranging from American cheese to fig and bacon jam. Burgers aside, they’ve also got some fresh garden salads and some killer onion rings. Let’s not forget the milkshakes. They’re incredible. —Eric Doksa Dish (Summer 2013)

Skoogie's

Mt. Pleasant - Hot Dog Joints

This tiny lunch stand is a Mt. Pleasant classic. Billing itself "the best little deli South of Chicago," Skoogie’s has been knocking out BLTs, reubens, and Italian beef sandwiches for more than 30 years. The egg salad and chicken salad sandwiches are noteworthy, but the classic Chicago-style Skoogie Dog is the real star of the show. It’s a genuine Vienna Beef wiener in a steamed poppy-seed bun, piled high with onions, mustard, tomatoes, and sport peppers and finished off with a kosher pickle strip and a dash of celery salt. Served with a generous helping of crisp shoestring fries, it’s a perfect taste of the Windy City right here in the Holy one. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2013)

Sloppy Cow

James Island - Burgers

Jonathan Boncek

In the Lowcountry, gourmet burgers are a plenty, but at Sloppy Cow, they’re taking it to the next level by stuffing each Certified Angus Beef burger with a variety of imaginative ingredients, served on Texas toast or a toasted bun. Take the Spicy Cow, for example. The bold burger comes jammed with roasted jalapeño relish, jack cheese, chipotle onions, and bacon and smeared with spicy mayo. They’ve even got a decent black bean burger and a spicy barbecue chicken sandwich that brings the heat. But the ridiculous smoked chicken nachos is what will get you coming back for more. They’re served piping hot — crispy fried corn tortilla chips buried in pieces of pulled smoked chicken, warm garlic, bacon, and smoked gouda cheese sauce, crumbled queso fresca, fresh salsa, and roasted jalapeño relish with just the right amount of cilantro lime cream. Trust us. —Eric Doksa Dish (Summer 2013)

The Sprout

Mt. Pleasant - Vegetarian + Organic

The Sprout’s vegan, organic menu and extensive fresh juice offerings will satisfy even the most hard-core health nuts among us (even the ones from California). This small café next to Mt. P’s Eco-Fitness keeps their coolers stocked with plenty of grab-and-go items like breakfast quinoa and live granola, while their made-to-order menu features a walnut burger and their famous vegan pad thai. During peak hours their juicer runs practically nonstop, churning out delicious, nutrient-packed concoctions like the Skin Saver (peach, pineapple, apple, and carrot) and the Alkaline Battery (cucumber, kale, parsley, lemon, and celery). If you’re feeling really brave, try a wheatgrass shot — just make sure you’ve got a chaser ready. We recommend their Berry Dream Smoothie. —Elizabeth Pandolfi Dish (Summer 2013)

Sunflower Café

West Ashley - Cafés

Yes, you can get a filet mignon omelet laced with Boursin cheese, but the folks at the Sunflower Café aren’t putting on any airs. It’s a cheery, family-run spot with friendly service and outstanding comfort food. The big fresh-made salads and sandwiches like the tuna melt and the BLFGT (bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomatoes) hit the spot at lunch, but breakfast and brunch is where this Sunflower really blossoms. A blizzard of powdered sugar blankets fluffy beignets, and the poached eggs are loaded up with crab and fried green tomatoes or sausage and onions. Don’t skip the breakfast potatoes tossed with onions and peppers; they’re delicious. And as for that filet mignon and Boursin cheese omelet, well, it’s a work of nap-inducing breakfast genius. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2014)

The Tin Roof

West Ashley - Hot Dog Joints

This classic dive and music venue, complete with a Willy Wonka mural and a sizeable patio, specializes in hearty hot dogs. Their most popular dog is the Maple Leaf, topped with maple soy syrup, honey mustard, bacon, and relish. It tastes like dipping your sausage in maple syrup on Sunday morning. The Mango has mango salsa, spicy mustard, cabbage, mayo, and bacon. For those looking for savory, they've got a mean Chicago dog, and the Suzy's Weiner dog has chili, homemade jalapeño pimento cheese, and onion. They also serve sandwiches and burgers, and vegetarians can chow down on the Boca Burger. All sandwich bread, hot dog buns, and burger buns come from Ashley Bakery. Sunday brunch runs the gamut from breakfast wraps to breakfast nachos, made with raw fries topped with scrambled eggs, cheddar, bacon, and Sriracha. —Amelia Thomson

Tomato Shed Cafe

Johns Island - Southern

The Ambrose family runs a Wadmalaw farm, a Johns Island market, and the quaint Tomato Shed Café, where the focus is always on fresh, locally grown vegetables. When they say they’re a farm-to-table restaurant, they really mean it. They are the farmers. The menu is classic, Southern country cooking with meat choices like roast pork, beef, or barbecue and side dishes like tomato pie, squash casserole, collards, and butter beans. If you can’t score a table during the busy lunch rush, they’ve got plenty of take-and-bake items in the refrigerator. And if you’re looking for some shrimp, they usually have a cooler of the day’s freshest catch for sale. It’s a one-stop shop for local food lovers. And they’ve added a selection of wines from Grassroots to make your life complete. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Twenty Six Divine

Downtown - Cafés

Hidden on a stretch of Upper King just past the Crosstown sits Twenty-Six Divine, a cozy café with lots of natural light that beams through the acrylic ghost chairs that dot its tight dining room. The husband-and-wife team behind the bakery and café have been expanding their lunch menu in recent months. The seasonal offerings include classic fare like homemade sweet potato gnocchi with sage butter and turkey meatloaf served on a baguette and topped with mushroom-thyme gravy, alternately light and heavy depending on your mood. The desserts are as mouthwatering as ever, especially a trio of caramel, espresso, and vanilla bean-custard filled profiteroles and the caramel cheesecake with a spiced apple compote. —Angela Hanyak Dish (Winter 2014)

Verde

Mt. Pleasant - American

Salads have long been synonymous with boring diet food, but Verde makes healthy eating fun, fast, and, most importantly, tasty. The locally owned King Street spot exudes freshness with a bright green interior offset by colorful stripes. Customers can choose salads or wraps from the menu or build their own salad from an endless array of veggies, proteins, and dressings, from beets to goat cheese to nuts. The employees will help you customize your salad, but so far we’ve been happy with the specialty salads, like the Southern Harvest (mesclun, roasted chicken, apples, pecans, and cornbread croutons with sweet tea vinaigrette) and the Soba Salad. Be sure to check out the employee’s creations as well — a recent offering had strawberries, cranberries, goat cheese, granola, spinach, and a raspberry vinegrette. With so many choices, Verde makes us want to eat salad every day. —Erica Jackson Curran Dish (Summer 2013)

Verde

Downtown - American

Salads have long been synonymous with boring diet food, but Verde makes healthy eating fun, fast, and, most importantly, tasty. The locally owned King Street spot exudes freshness with a bright green interior offset by colorful stripes. Customers can choose salads or wraps from the menu or build their own salad from an endless array of veggies, proteins, and dressings, from beets to goat cheese to nuts. The employees will help you customize, but so far we’ve been happy with the specialty salads, like the Southern Harvest (mesclun, roasted chicken, apples, pecans, and cornbread croutons with sweet tea vinaigrette) and the Soba Salad. Be sure to check out the employee’s creations as well — a recent offering had strawberries, cranberries, goat cheese, granola, spinach, and a raspberry vinaigrette. With so many choices, Verde makes us want to eat salad every day. —Erica Jackson CurranDish (Winter 2014)

Voodoo Tiki Bar and Lounge

West Ashley - Tapas Bar

Jonathan Boncek

Voodoo brings some much-needed Polynesian flavor to the Lowcountry, with a few velvet paintings and wild full moon parties thrown in the mix. The Avondale restaurant recently updated both its space and its menu, revamping the cocktail list to utilize more fresh ingredients — but don’t worry, the drinks are still served in kitschy tropical tumblers with as much flare as they can fit poking out of the top. The food menu is packed with inventive bar fare that probably shouldn’t even be called bar fare. There’s a selection of satisfying sliders like duck club, oxtail, and the crispy fried white bean burgers, or try the gourmet tacos — barbecue duck and Baja shrimp are popular choices. The pizza du jour is often an adventurous choice; a recent special featured cilantro pesto, pineapple, cheese, and bacon. It was surprisingly delicious. —Erica Jackson CurranDish (Winter 2014)

The ’Wich Doctor

Folly Beach - Delis + Sandwiches

The ’Wich Doctor is still holding down the fort just off the main drag of Folly Beach’s Center Street. They’re still serving up out-of-the-ordinary sandwiches and pizza with the occasional noodle bowl and other mouth-watering specials. The vibrant little shack has a laid-back atmosphere where you can enjoy smoked chicken, jerk pork, and pork belly sandwiches. The Hanoi Hoagie is full of flavor, with juicy slices of lemongrass beef, julienned carrots, fresh cilantro, and nuoc cham (a Vietnamese condiment made with citrus and fish sauce). While the sandwiches are solid, the specialty pizzas are a must try. The white clam pizza fares well with a garlic butter base under ricotta, lemon, Italian parsley, and, of course, clams. But we always seem to find ourselves obsessing over the noodle bowls — think curried udon noodle with poached chicken, tomato, pineapple, and bok choy — flavor explosion. —Eric Doksa Dish (Winter 2014)

Wild Wing

Downtown - American

The Wild Wing restaurant chain — an empire that grew out of Hilton Head and remains based in Charleston — hit on a surefire winner of a concept. They serve some of the best chicken wings ever and douse them with enough different sauces and flavors to captivate a crowd. We like to order our beer by the bucket and then get a sampler platter of wings so we can taste some of the 33 different flavors. Our top five? Flaming Parmesan, Ranchilada, Loco Bueno, Red Dragon Wing, and the Red, Hot, and Bleu. They've got other stuff on the menu here, and it's good, too, but the wings are why people return again and again. —Stephanie Barna

Wild Wing - Mt. Pleasant

Mt. Pleasant - American

The Wild Wing restaurant chain — an empire that grew out of Hilton Head and was sold to a group out of Charlotte — hit on a surefire winner of a concept. They serve some of the best chicken wings ever and douse them with enough different sauces and flavors to captivate a crowd. We like to order our beer by the bucket and then get a sampler platter of wings so we can taste some of the 35 different flavors. Our top five? Flaming Parmesan, Ranchilada, Loco Bueno, Red Dragon, and the Red, Hot, and Bleu. They’ve got other stuff on the menu here, and it’s good, too, but the wings are why people return again and again. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Wild Wing - N. Charleston

North Charleston - American

The Wild Wing restaurant chain — an empire that grew out of Hilton Head and was sold to a group out of Charlotte — hit on a surefire winner of a concept. They serve some of the best chicken wings ever and douse them with enough different sauces and flavors to captivate a crowd. We like to order our beer by the bucket and then get a sampler platter of wings so we can taste some of the 35 different flavors. Our top five? Flaming Parmesan, Ranchilada, Loco Bueno, Red Dragon, and the Red, Hot, and Bleu. They’ve got other stuff on the menu here, and it’s good, too, but the wings are why people return again and again. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Wild Wing - Oakland Market

Mt. Pleasant - American

The Wild Wing restaurant chain — an empire that grew out of Hilton Head and was sold to a group out of Charlotte — hit on a surefire winner of a concept. They serve some of the best chicken wings ever and douse them with enough different sauces and flavors to captivate a crowd. We like to order our beer by the bucket and then get a sampler platter of wings so we can taste some of the 35 different flavors. Our top five? Flaming Parmesan, Ranchilada, Loco Bueno, Red Dragon, and the Red, Hot, and Bleu. They’ve got other stuff on the menu here, and it’s good, too, but the wings are why people return again and again. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Wild Wing Cafe

North Charleston - American

The Wild Wing restaurant chain — an empire that grew out of Hilton Head and was sold to a group out of Charlotte — hit on a surefire winner of a concept. They serve some of the best chicken wings ever and douse them with enough different sauces and flavors to captivate a crowd. We like to order our beer by the bucket and then get a sampler platter of wings so we can taste some of the 35 different flavors. Our top five? Flaming Parmesan, Ranchilada, Loco Bueno, Red Dragon, and the Red, Hot, and Bleu. They’ve got other stuff on the menu here, and it’s good, too, but the wings are why people return again and again. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)

Workmen's Cafe

James Island - Soul Food

Angie Bellinger cooks up an array of Southern favorites, from fried chicken and meat loaf to lima beans (made with smoky neck bones) served over a plate of rice.

Zia Taqueria

James Island - Mexican

We have many favorites at this great little taqueria. Like the tart margaritas that come served in tall pint glasses. Like the fish tacos that you can get for $2.50 on Mondays. Like the spicy verde salsa, which we could drink by the bucket, and the fantastic chicken enchiladas, or the big, messy tortas, and the generous platos (they could easily feed a small family). There’s not a bad thing on the entire menu, and we should know. We’ve eaten pretty much everything on it. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Summer 2013)
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