Local fish: Fresh, local fish is a mainstay of Charleston dining. If you're eating at any of the nicer restaurants downtown, be sure to look to the specials list for the catch of the day. You can eat salmon and grouper just about anywhere in the country, but the waters off the coast of Charleston produce an array of lesser-known variety like triggerfish, golden tilefish, and red porgy that are uniquely delicious. Whether pan-seared, roasted whole, or cooked over a wood-fired grill, fresh Charleston fish is the first step to a memorable meal.
Shad roe: In February, as the water begins to warm, shad roe becomes available for a brief two-month season. This roe is nothing like caviar. It comes in "sets" — two flat, connected sacks filled with hundreds of thousands of tiny eggs — that cook up more like liver than sturgeon or salmon roe. Shad roe is typically fried in a pan along with bacon and served with grits or scrambled eggs. If you see it on a local menu — it appears regularly this time of year at the Hominy Grill and Slightly North of Broad — give it a shot. It's one of the classic treats of the early Lowcountry spring, and a sure sign that warmer weather is on its way.
Vegetables: In early March, we're teetering on the boundary between winter and spring vegetables. Beets, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens are the mainstays of the cold season, and they've been anchoring the vegetable selections at local restaurants in recent months. Asparagus, radishes, and strawberries are just around the corner, though, and the first early arrivals should be appearing any day now. Look for the fresh locally grown stuff from out on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands and you can't go wrong.