Neighborhood Favorites 

167 Raw

Downtown - Seafood

Jonathan Boncek

Lobster Roll

167 Raw’s killer assortment of fresh oysters, clams, fish, and shrimp for purchase to-go, and dine-in lobster rolls and heavenly scallop po’ boys has made it one of the most in demand restaurants in town. There's not a day we've passed by when there wasn't a line out the door of this tiny seafood emporium. You can always count on some excellent fish tacos or a fresh catch of the day sandwich that’ll surely surpass expectations. Think grouper crudo with chervil, rainbow trout, and blood orange reduction. 167 Raw has announced that they will be opening a second location in 2019 in the old Il Cortile Del Re space on King, which means lobster rolls for everyone. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

39 Rue De Jean

Downtown - French

39 Rue de Jean looks like it’s been at 39 John St. forever and in Upper King’s recent restaurant history, it has. For almost two decades the brasserie has kept regulars returning thanks to French classics and then some, like the nicoise salad, brimming with tuna, green beans, eggs, and a toothsome vinaigrette, or the big plates, like the braised short ribs (with butter!), the burger (one of the best in town maybe?), and the six preparations of mussels. A bowl for $11.99 with a side of frites and a glass of Prosecco will do you up right. If all this have you dreaming of Paris, head down John Street. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

450 Pizza Joint

Sullivan's Island - Pizza

Jonathan Boncek

The DeMarco

This casual pizza joint serves large pies and individual slices with a host of creative toppings. Set on Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island, the joint has a deliberately funky, rock n’ roll vibe. There’s a long wooden bar serving craft beer, plus an expansive offering of fresh juice and coffee drinks. Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as Lowcountry Creamery ice cream, the menu emphasizes Italian American favorites like garlic knots, eggplant parmesan sandwiches, and hot Italian hoagies. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

60 Bull

Downtown - Cafés

Finally Harleston Village has its neighborhood cafe back. After Bull Street Gourmet closed at 60 Bull St. back in 2013 it left a sandwich-sized hole in the neighborhood. But with 60 Bull, breakfast, lunch, and now dinner have returned to the hot address. Lunch keeps things fresh with salads like the classic Caesar and a spinach and arugula mix. There are loads of sandwiches as well — from pimento grilled cheese to a black bean burger. For dinner, the Heritage Farms Country Fried Pork Chop makes a nice option before trying one of 60 Bull’s cobblers. The small restaurant keeps a good stock of local beers too in case you just want to pop by for a refreshing sip. —Kinsey Gidick(Dish, Summer 2018)

82 Queen

Downtown - New Southern

Katie Gandy

At 82 Queen, the light and zesty crab cakes come with purloo, prosciutto green beans, and a smear of remoulade

A downtown bastion of Lowcountry staples like shrimp and grits and Frogmore stew, 82 Queen has steadily been building a menu of forward-thinking dishes. Of course, the proven classics remain. Locals and visitors alike continue to head to the Queen for fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, and Lowcountry chicken bog. But don’t let tradition stand in the way of trying that fried oyster and crawfish gumbo. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Accent on Wine

Summerville - Wine & Cheese Shop

A favorite in downtown Summerville for some time, Accent on Wine set up shop on the growing East Montague strip in 2015. For Park Circle residents, a low-key alternative to sports bars and dives was a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Offering a wide selection of wines by the glass and bottle, the Accent staff is willing and able to guide you toward something suitable for your palate. Take your pick from the wide selection of meats and cheeses for $6 each, or go all out with the “Whole Shebang” sampler. Nightly specials and a rotating draft list mean you’ll find something for chianti and COAST drinkers alike. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Acme Lowcountry Kitchen

Isle of Palms - Seafood

On weekends, Acme Lowcountry Kitchen is one of the most visited brunch locations around, and it’s no surprise as they’ve got a menu with over 60 options, including nine different benedicts — New York strip, crab cakes, fried chicken livers with kale, and sweet onion demiglace to name a few. But they’re also serving lunch and dinner with everything from American staples like burgers and wings to Lowcountry classics, a la fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits. Acme also serves one of the best fried shrimp baskets in town — medium-sized shrimp are covered in a powdery breading that’s fried extra crispy, and each bite reveals a crunch and a whole lot of flavor. Oh, and you can’t beat the fact that it’s just a short walk from the ocean. Beach nap, anyone? —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

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. The dive has endured highs and lows, but with a go-to Beer of the Month special, a small army of fast-moving bar staff, and plenty of Miller High Life, you can’t keep the crowds from the dimly-lit corners of this King Street mainstay. Of course, A.C.’s is still serving up their trademark cheesesteaks, burgers, and always-satisfying bar food that will fulfill even the booziest of cravings. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Al di La

West Ashley - Italian

Seasonally inspired Northern Italian fare is served in Al Di La’s bright, contemporary dining room. The West Ashley restaurant has a cheerful, expansive outdoor patio from which you can tuck into a plate of the duck confit tagliatelle with cremini mushrooms and crème fraiche. The risotto del giorno is made with cherry tomatoes, arugula, and a spicy saffron seafood broth then topped with pan-fried shrimp in a symphony of carb-y delights. Additional standby favorites include the pillowy soft ricotta gnocchi and classic tiramisu with a shot of Limoncello. In the corner there’s a cheerful wine bar offering a wide array of varietals. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Ali Baba Mediterranean Deli & Catering

Daniel Island - Mediterranean

Ali Baba is a straight-up Mediterranean deli, featuring falafel, kebabs, beef shawarma, 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: fattoush (bread salad), foul madamas (a fava bean dip), and perhaps 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. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Alley

Downtown - American

Jonathan Boncek

The Alley's green salad of shredded fennel, cabbage, celery leaves, jalapeños, and cilantro tossed in lemon vinaigrette.

The Alley’s got everything you need for an adult game night — cold beers on tap, wings in six flavors (check out hot honey habanero), and eight bowling lanes. Yes, you can have your drinks delivered lane-side. With a solid selection of arcade games, too, The Alley is downtown’s best spot to fill up and play on. With heart-attack friendly classics like loaded tots (trust us, get them), chili nachos, and the chicken and waffles sliders, there’s plenty of grub to keep you going through a night’s worth of games. They’ve got fancier foods too, like fried goat cheese salad. And that’s as good as it sounds. —Connelly Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Angel Oak Restaurant

Johns Island - Modern American

Katie Gandy

Salmon and mashed potatoes

Angel Oak Restaurant is just seven miles away from the amazing Angel Oak tree, and it’s bringing life to a part of Johns Island that has few dining options. The primary focus of the menu is familiar comfort food, and the use of local ingredients is apparent: beef from Legare Farms, bread from Saffron bakery, grits from Geechie Boy, and fresh fruit and vegetables from Limehouse produce. For three bucks, the snacks are a steal. We like the thick and creamy pimento cheese with grilled toast points. A generous portion of macaroni might share a bowl with barbecue pulled pork, gruyere, and parmesan — a sinful dish, one that will send you praying for forgiveness. Entrees include hearty staples like buttermilk fried chicken, meatloaf, and shrimp carbonara. The crowd-pleasing country-fried steak is made with beef from Legare Farms and served with whipped mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts. It’s a homey little place serving up food that will make you feel all warm inside. —Eric Doksa Dish (Winter 2014)

Anson

Downtown - New Southern

Kaitlyn Iserman

Anson serves a surefire mix of upscale seafood, steak, and traditional Lowcountry offerings. While the restaurant’s classic crispy fried flounder enjoys regular accolades, it’s the rich, decadent she-crab soup that cannot be missed. With an elegant interior, high ceilings, and large, inviting wood bar, the noise level can be a bit exuberant, but don’t let that distract you from the upscale elegance and the menu’s other worthwhile offerings like shrimp and grits, fried okra, and a variety of fresh fish and steak options. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

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 shots, but 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 great 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. 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 2018)

Baguette Magic

James Island - Bakeries

Baguette Magic is truly magic. Mathieu, the man behind the restaurant, grew up in the French countryside in a small town called Villers-Cotterets and he brings his true blue mastery of French cuisine to this humble James Island spot. Stop in for breakfast items like an egg sandwich on a baguette with pepper, onion, tomato, and cheddar or a cheese omelete with a side (get the potato gratin if you know what’s good for you) and petit croissant. For lunch you’ll find sandwiches served on both baguettes and croissants, all baked in-house, and salads like the salade verte with seasonal greens and the Framboise with baby lettuce and goat cheese. No matter when you go, order as many almond croissants from the bakery as you can carry. Seriously, they’re that good. —Mary Scott Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Barsa Tapas Lounge & Bar

Downtown - Tapas Bar

Barsa’s Spanish-inspired menu has made it a favorite among locals. A hearty selection of meats includes an 18-month Serrano ham, six-month chorizo, and speck. Barsa offers a solid list of Old and New World wines, well-prepared cocktails, and attentive service. Daily croquettes, fried manchego cheese, and pork ribs are perfect dishes to enjoy with a fruit-forward glass of tempranillo. When time isn’t an issue, order one of the three paella options — they’re discounted during happy hour — and make sure to check out the daily specials, particularly sangria night on Thursdays. And don’t forget to check out the killer happy hour specials. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bay Street Biergarten

Downtown - Pubs + Taverns

Jonathan Boncek

Pig wings

With a name like Bay Street Biergarten it better be a big open space with outside seating, communal tables, plenty of German food, and rivers of beer, or rather bier. BSB checks all those boxes. Their menu states that the restaurant is “Bavarian Inspired, Southern made” and with bites like their pretzel bombs, surprisingly crisp and light golf ball sized cheese and sausage stuffed pretzel balls, and the Jaegerschnitzel entree — breaded pork cutlet, white wine mushroom gravy, red bliss mashed potatoes, and asparagus — they’re backing that up. But we know it’s about the beer. Order from a list of 50 + bottles and cans and 24 draught beers. Or if you’re into pouring your own beer you can get a beer card and self-serve from 70 + taps scattered throughout walls and communal tables. If you are looking for a place to pull on your lederhosen, guzzle liters of beer, and watch the big game, there are huge TVs on every wall and they’re not afraid to crank the volume up so you can hear every single hit. Don’t forget, it’s spelled B I E R. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bertha's Kitchen

North Charleston - Soul Food

Okra Soup

Head up Meeting Street until you see a two-story robin’s egg blue building with purple trim, and a line stretching out the door. The Southern soul food platters here are so tasty, generous, and inexpensive, that the line starts forming well before they open for lunch. Businessmen, laborers, and far-flung tourists alike shuffle through the quick cafeteria-style service counter loaded with a smorgasbord of meat and threes, such as fried pork chops, fish specials, yams, stewed greens, home-style mac-&-cheese, limas nestled with smoked turkey necks, dark roux okra soup, moist cornbread, and fried chicken better than anyone’s Grandma ever made, all served on no frills Styrofoam plates. Chow down as the open kitchen clatters and the line continues to grow. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bessinger's Barbeque

West Ashley - Barbecue

If you want to sample the classic Midlands style of South Carolina barbecue without leaving the city limits, just head over to Bessinger’s on Savannah Highway. It’s the outpost established by Thomas Bessinger, one of a trio of brothers from Orangeburg County who came down to Charleston in the 1950s and 1960s and opened drive-in barbecue joints. Now run by his sons, Tommy and Michael, the restaurant boasts a dual format, with a country buffet on one side of the building and a sandwich shop on the other. The buffet features everything from fried catfish to teriyaki chicken along with a parade of homestyle Southern sides. The sandwich shop still serves burgers and barbecue the way they did back in the ’60s. The savory hash and rice is a fine example of South Carolina’s classic barbecue side, and Bessinger’s signature yellow mustard sauce is one of the best around. You might not expect it from a barbecue joint, but the cheeseburger basket is the insider’s pick for a great old-school burger, too. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Betty's Eatery

Mt. Pleasant - American

Ruta Smith

Tucked next to Whole Foods in Mt. Pleasant, Betty’s Eatery is a breakfast and lunch joint, with a promise to “take you back to your grandma’s kitchen.” The extensive menu is displayed behind the counter and starts with breakfast on the left. The space itself is bright and cheery, with yellow banquettes and 1960s hits playing overhead. On the breakfast side of things, the Croque Madame gets a Southern makeover. Two slices of brioche are filled with Swiss cheese and a massive portion of thin-sliced ham. This grandma replaces the nutmeg-dusted bechamel with a deluge of salty Mornay, then tops it with a sunny side up egg. For lunch, the shrimp po’ boy is a highlight. Served on a nine-inch hoagie, six fried, breaded shrimp are accompanied by sweet pickles and Romaine lettuce. Dressed with a spicy remoulade possessed with a real kick, it’s a slight twist on the traditional that works. The roast beef sandwich is made with “Betty’s oven-roasted beef” and is better than most delis. The thin-sliced, rare meat is well-seasoned and served on sourdough bread spread with tangy horseradish and creamy dijon. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Big Gun Burger Shop

Downtown - Burgers

Heather McRae

The Spaniard

Chef Austin Kirkland took it up a notch when he opened his retro-dive burger joint, Big Gun Burger Shop in 2011. Styled with old hub-caps and playing classic tunes, not only does he serve artisan burgers like the Towering Inferno with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, queso fresco, and habanero slaw or the Thin White Duke with mushrooms, bacon, swiss, caramelized onion, and horseradish mayo, he also makes you jealous of the “non-burgers.” There’s the Dirty Gardner vegetable burger with eggplant tomato jam and fried kale and the Jive Turkey with a ground turkey patty, turkey bacon, gouda cheese, avocado, and peach jalapeno mustard. The meat is ground in-house with 25 percent of it brisket and the accompanying fries are freshly cut and seasoned with Old Bay and other spices. Just want to indulge in a classic cocktail or microbrew? The bar plate offerings are the perfect accompaniment with bites like fried Brussels sprouts and the mac-and-cheese fritters with gouda mornay dipping sauce. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bin 152

Downtown - Wine Bar

Brys Stephens

There is beauty in simplicity. Bin 152 is essentially a wine and cheese bar. Yet the offerings are anything but simple. Cosmopolitan husband-and-wife team Patrick and Fanny Panella (who have since opened the inimitable restaurant Chez Nous) are fanatical about their selections. Patrick, who once owned a wine bar in San Francisco, serves only wines that excite his palate. Fanny, who is French, is very particular about her cheeses. Bin 152 is therefore an extension of the Panellas and their combined F&B experience in New York, San Francisco, Paris, and Nice. You feel as if you’re walking into their personal hangout — artistic, comfortable, dimly lit, vibrant, chic but approachable. It’s the perfect spot to sip cava and nibble on triple cream fromage served with thinly sliced, fresh baked baguettes before heading to dinner or a show. Or to enjoy a late-night drink to wind down your evening. Or to spend a rainy late afternoon retreat sharing a bottle of wine and charcuterie board with friends. Don’t be intimidated by the formidable wine list or cheese menu. Patrick or Fanny will help steer you towards marvelous choices. You might wind up skipping dinner altogether. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bistro A Vin

Downtown - French

As you walk into Bistro A Vin — the sister establishment and next-door neighbor to pastry-focused Cafe Framboise — the sound of Frank Sinatra fills the air. In accordance, the olive oil shop-turned-wine-bar is elegant, but cozy. The menu is unapologetically French. Although there is thoughtfully sourced fromage and charcuterie, why no start in the deep end with the escargots? Here, six vol-au-vent puff pastries are filled with garlicky snails and topped with a nondescript parsley butter. Escargot with training wheels, if you wanted to trick someone into unwittingly consuming snails in the guise of a garlicky pastry, this would be the way to do it. The accompanying salad is small in scale, but memorable. Spring greens are topped with cherry tomatoes and a sweet balsamic reduction, the net result of which is lovely on a hot summer night. — Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Black Wood Smokehouse

West Ashley - Barbecue

Jonathan Boncek

Brisket sandwich

We never would have guessed a Kosher raised chef could deliver such good barbecue, but Joseph Jacobson manages to do just that at his South Windermere restaurant. The brisket quite literally melts in your mouth and the pulled pork could stand amongst any of the best in Charleston. For the West Ashley set, this new spot offers a family friendly environment with hearty meals that provide plenty of leftovers. We recommend a cold beer and the meat and two sides — the grits are slap your mama good. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Blind Tiger

Downtown - Pubs + Taverns

Jonathan Boncek

When Mike Shuler, the owner of Midtown, said he was taking over The Blind Tiger, it was anyone’s guess how the remodel would go. But come to find out, Shuler shined up the place but left the Tiger’s personality intact. Plus, he improved upon its menu. Now you can get char-grilled oysters and smoked wings in addition to a burrata salad. Burrata salad at Blind Tiger? Yes, you read that correctly. Of course, our main concern was would the new Tiger maintain it’s old Charleston appeal, the charm of the back patio on a cool evening night, and yes it does. Grab some friends and a beer. Your favorite watering hole remains just as great as ever. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Blu Restaurant & Bar

Folly Beach - Seafood

Oceanfront dining is a rare commodity around here, but BLU serves it up all day long. BLU offers beachgoers seafood that bucks the traditional seaside trend of fried and fast. In fact, BLU Restaurant & Bar has garnered a Platinum Certification through the S.C. Aquarium’s Good Catch initiative. That should give any diner peace of mind as you tackle the restaurant’s tasty shrimp and crab pasta, roasted half chicken, or the daily fresh catch. BLU plates local veggies as much as possible and that means you get not only fresh fish, but the taste of the Lowcountry, and all with an exceptional view. —Kinsey Gidick Dish (Summer 2018)

The Boathouse at Breach Inlet

Isle of Palms - Seafood

Kaitlyn Iserman

Pan-roasted sea scallops come atop parmesan risotto with prosciutto, asparagus, and a lemon rosemary vinaigrette

The Boathouse boasts one of the best dining views in the Lowcountry thanks to its perch at the edge of Breach Inlet on the Isle of Palms. Since 1997, its broad menu of fresh, local seafood has been drawing crowds of locals and vacationers alike. The daily “Fish Board” highlights a rotating selection of fresh, local catches, which you can have grilled, blackened, fried, or roasted, and there’s a generous array of house specialties, like crab cakes, pecan encrusted fried chicken, and a sirloin paired with a butter-poached lobster tail. On weekends, hearty eggs benedict, jalapeño and sweet hush puppies, and po’ boys provide brunch options that are almost as satisfying as the marsh view from the big rooftop deck. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bohemian Bull

James Island - Pubs + Taverns

Jonathan Boncek

Boho-Mi

Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a restaurant serving up Czech dishes. Rather, this James Island beer garden offers the perfect spot for families to gather. The kind of place where mom and dad can enjoy a craft beer and a burger while the tots run free in the large outdoor patio space with wooden picnic tables. There are more than 30 beers on tap with a variety of styles, from stouts and IPAs to Belgians. The menu’s burger offerings include a traditional beef burger made from a brisket and chuck blend. Or, for those hankering for a morning flavor, there’s the breakfast burger with eggs over medium and hashbrowns. We recommend the Southern fried chicken or the Bar-B-Cuban made with smoked pulled pork, sliced ham, pickles, mustard, and Swiss cheese with mojo sauce. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bombay Indian Restaurant

North Charleston - Indian

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 many moons ago ... and with good reason: They serve arguably the best baguette in town. It’s hard (but not tooth-breaking hard) on the outside and soft on the inside. The fillings include five spice tofu, red curry beef, lemongrass chicken, and the fusiony egg and Canadian bacon, but none are quite as good as the traditional country pâté and the Spam-like — gasp — Vietnamese ham; it’s a little fattier than the rest, but it will stick to your ribs for hours. The same fillings can be served over lettuce and veggies as a rather tasty and filling salad or wrapped in a taco shell, an effective delivery device for sure, but one that is nowhere near as good as their baguette. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Bowens Island Restaurant

James Island - Seafood

You’ve heard about Bowens Island Restaurant, we know you have. If you haven’t, get some hungry buds and plan your trip now. Don’t expect white tablecloth and maitre’d service. It’s famously no frills, but it’s worth it. The nightly crowds are a testament to the family fish camp. Robert Barber is the second generation to run the Bowens Island oyster room, hidden between Folly and James Island. Over time, it’s grown from a grimy, albeit quaint, cinderblock outpost to a pluff-mud pantheon that offers up damn good fried seafood, hushpuppies, and cold local beer in its upstairs dining room. Follow your nose downstairs and elbow-out yourself a space at the all-you-can-eat oyster tables and slurp down tasty local oysters by the shovelful that were likely pulled off the marsh that day. Oyster season or not, we have a hard time passing up the Frogmore Stew, a pot full of potatoes, sausage, corn on the cob, and shrimp steamed together as God intended it. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Boxcar Betty's

West Ashley - Chicken

Jonathan Boncek

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Somewhat hidden away on Savannah Highway is Boxcar Betty’s, a simple enough place that means to take a stand on the lack of good fried chicken sandwiches. Because owners Ian MacBryde and Roth Scott, formerly of Magnolias, staked their claim as a niche kind of joint, the menu confidently boasts only a few items. Despite serving only three sandwiches, it’s still hard to choose between the Boxcar with peach slaw and pimento cheese, the Chicken Not-So-Waffle with bacon jam and maple syrup, and the spicy Buffalo sandwich with blue cheese and farm-fresh tomatoes. They’re all pretty messy, the true sign of a good sammie. The super-casual restaurant also serves one salad with chopped fried chicken or a battered-and-fried pimento cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom. Sides include hand-cut sweet potato fries, fried pickles with ranch, and peach coleslaw. Sweet-toothed diners should get the pecan pie in a cup with vanilla bean ice cream to-go because that’s about the only food here that’s car friendly. With new spots in Summerville, North Chuck, and even the Windy City, looks like Betty is breaking out of the boxcar. —Kelly Rae Smith (Dish, Summer 2018)

Breizh Pan Crepes

Downtown - French

There’s something so multi-purpose about a crêpe. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, the French have mastered the all-day meal. But for all their utilitarian appeal, there are few who can prepare them up to Gallic standards. Luckily for us, Breizh Pan’ Crepes is the real deal. There you can pop in for a La Molène crepe with sausage and Swiss cheese to start the day. Or you can run errands on King Street before pausing for a refueling L’Huelgoat — a veggie crepe with goat cheese, baby spinach, red onion, and balsamic glaze. But whatever you do, be sure to save room for dessert. Our pick: Le Phare — a sweet pancake filled with strawberries, homemade chocolate, bananas, and Chantilly cream. Vive Breizh Pan! —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Butcher & Bee

Downtown - Delis + Sandwiches

Sam Spence

Moving from a dark, tiny space on Upper King Street to a bright, sunny building on Morrison Drive in late 2016 made a world of a difference and elevated the restaurant from hipster hangout to dining destination. B&B's menu features a larger range of dishes with everything from falafel to a pork chop porterhouse. An excellent feature present on the menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner is B&B’s Mezze selection, a collection of small plates with a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influence. It’s safe to say that pretty much anything you order from here will be incredibly creative. Local fish is given the royal treatment, seared with the skin on served with savory grits and grilled shishito peppers. B&B seems to have a bright future and is likely going to get more popular with time. —Suzanne Cohen (Dish, Summer 2018)

Cafe Framboise

Downtown - Cafés

Charlestonians are fortunate in that we have a solid handful of pastry shops. But when it comes to croissants, really no one does them like the French. That’s why stumbling upon Market Street’s Framboise is always a treat. Inside patissier Dominique Chantepie serves up perfect almond, chocolate, and traditional croissants in addition to brioche and danishes, cakes and tarts. At lunch you’ll find salad nicoise, Croque Monsieur, crepes, and French onion soup. The prices are reasonable, the staff friendly, and if you hit it on the right day, the courtyard is an excellent place to sit and sip a cappucino while licking the crumbs off your plate. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen

Downtown - Bar

Jonathan Boncek

Spicy Jamaican beef patties

Relentlessly festive and fun, this is no kitschy tiki bar. Rather, Cane Rhum Bar offers a chic, tropical vibe with Caribbean flavors on the menu and smooth-drinking cocktails with which to wash them down. Belly on up to the polished bar and order a zippy, ginger-infused Instant Vacation. Cool down on a hot Charleston night with their take on the crisp Mojito, made with both fresh mint and snappy mint bitters. If you’re looking for something upon which to snack, highlights include the Jamaican jerk chicken or coffee and brown sugar-rubbed steak, served sliced and cooked to order. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Cannon Green

Downtown - Mediterranean

Jonathan Boncek

Sheepshead

Sitting in Cannon Green’s dining room feels like dining on someone’s backyard patio, surrounded by green plants and lit by candlelight. The prominent wooden frontage to the original building, including entrance stairs and windows that dominate the space, adds to that outdoor atmosphere. While they’re undergoing renovations through October, Cannon Green tells us that they remain open for Chef’s Table reservations, private dining opportunities, weddings, and event bookings. —Robert Donovan, Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Carmen y Juan's

Mt. Pleasant - Mexican

Jonathan Boncek

Carmen y Juan’s Homestyle Mexican Food is a refreshing break from the countless cookie cutter Tex-Mex joints that blanket the Lowcountry. Instead of numbered combinations with endless permutations, the menu is slim, and everything on it is made from fresh ingredients using homestyle recipes. From the thick, fragrant mole rojo to the fluffy and filling tamales, everything is a little bit better than you might expect. The carnitas are marinated in fresh orange and pineapple juices, and the thick chunks of pork pull into beautiful long strands. There’s always a daily special, too, like a home-style bean soup, pozole, and even menudo, the traditional Mexican soup made from beef stomach. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Caviar & Bananas

Downtown - Cafés

We’ve often thought the owners of Caviar & Bananas just might be the smartest proprietors in Charleston. Located in the midst of 10,500 hungry undergrads on George Street, the to-go gourmet shop was a great idea from the beginning. But what’s kept C&B humming is their reliable quality. From fresh salads to sushi, pre-made mac ‘n’ cheese to specialty products like Jack Rudy Tonic, this tony market is the easy solution for a quick bite when shopping downtown, heading to a Spoleto show, or en route to class. Plus, they have Saturday and Sunday brunch, a must for any college-friendly locale. And when you have a busy work day ahead, you can pop by the restaurant as early as 8 a.m. to grab a salad and an iced latte on the go. —Kinsey Gidick Dish (Summer 2015)

Caviar & Bananas

Downtown - Cafés

Duck Confit Sandwich

We’ve often thought the owners of Caviar & Bananas just might be the smartest proprietors in Charleston. Located in the midst of 10,500 hungry undergrads on George Street, the to-go gourmet shop was a great idea from the beginning. But what’s kept C&B humming is their reliable quality. From fresh salads to sushi, pre-made mac ‘n’ cheese to specialty products like Jack Rudy Tonic, this tony market is the easy solution for a quick bite when shopping downtown, heading to a Spoleto show, or en route to class. And when you have a busy work day ahead, you can pop by the restaurant as early as 8 a.m. to grab a salad and an iced latte on the go. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Chico Feo

Folly Beach - Bar

Jonathan Boncek

Wu-Tang Bowl

Owner Hank Weed opened the Second Street and East Ashley Avenue as a taco luncheon counter, similar in vein to the Lunch Hook, a sandwich joint sporadically run out of the location in years prior. It’s since grown into a full-fledged mini restaurant complete with dishes like curry goat and Cuban beans and rice. Of course the tacos remain a menu staple. You can get three — mahi, house-smoked pork, and chicken — for $8. A cozy outdoor bar, complete with TV (when weather allows), ample picnic table seating, and a tiny stage on the back porch of the property’s adjoining cabin, make this the perfect spot for post-beach snacking. —Stratton Lawrence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Circa 1886

Downtown - Modern American

Pork Ton Toro and Peekytoe Crab Cake

When it comes to romantic fine dining, Circa 1886 at The Wentworth Mansion is about as luxe as you can get. A recent interior design freshened up the restaurant built in the old carriage house space, but the delicate and delightful menu remains. Executive Chef Marc Collins focuses on high-quality local ingredients to create light and vibrant dishes. Traditional Lowcountry specialties often appear on the menu, but Collins takes a more modernized approach, resulting in food that is both comforting and elegant. Where else can you order chicken fried lobster? Or Broken Arrow antelope? One of the best parts of a visit is Circa’s always surprising desserts. Peaches and cream ice cream sandwich, anyone? —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Closed for Business

Downtown - Bar

Pork Slap

Closed for Business’ funky decor, 42 beer taps, and eclectic menu have endured. 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 menu appeals to the serious beer drinker with a handful of tasty bar snacks: pork rinds, buffalo shrimp, potato skins, and gravy fries. They’ve got a good burger (the Business), a Chicago dog, and a fresh daily market salad that comes straight from area farms, 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). —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

CO

Downtown - Thai + Vietnamese

Jonathan Boncek

Located in the heart of the King Street shopping district, CO takes Vietnamese street food uptown and serves it at prices that are extremely reasonable considering the highly valued downtown strip. The two-story restaurant has a sleek, ultra-mod vibe, and the full bar mixes up an ambitious slate of East-meets-West fusion cocktails — Bloody Mary with sriracha and cucumber sake, a cool sip that will go down smooth and soothing in the hot summer months. The apps include the requisite summer rolls (both of the tofu and shrimp variety) and pork belly buns — think sliders with hoisin sauce, pork belly, and pickled veggies. You’ll also find four varieties of bánh mì sandwiches ranging from five spice pork belly to braised Korean short rib with spicy kimchi, and a host of noodle dishes, from pho to pad thai and drunken thai noodles. Go with the bun xao salad with caramel pork (vermicelli, lettuce, pickled carrots, bean sprouts, pork and crab spring roll, cilantro, nuoc cham dressing). Like so many Vietnamese dishes — and Co’s in particular — it’s crisp, cool, and refreshing. However, it’s worth noting that many of the dishes at Co are a touch sweeter than what you might find at a more traditional mom-and-pop Vietnamese joint, a nod perhaps to the South’s taste for the saccharine. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Coast

Downtown - Seafood

Ceviche

Just to the left of 39 Rue de Jean, down a narrow alley lined with ivy covered brick, look for the bright neon sign beckoning diners into this friendly, boisterous seafood venue. Inside, a towering ceiling caps this historic warehouse bustling with diners. An open kitchen flanks the lively bar area as classic rock tunes and rustic décor (we dig the red blowfish lamps) contribute to the “island lounge” vibe. Weather permitting, grab an open table along the alley and imagine you’re in a coastal European town, that is, until your heaping plate of shrimp and stoneground grits plants you squarely in the Lowcountry. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Cocktail Club

Downtown - Cocktail Bar

Jonathan Boncek

Cocktail Club's Tropical Heat

The Cocktail Club occupies the second floor above its sister restaurant, the Macintosh. Taking a touch of inspiration from the old speakeasy days, the big room has an appealing blend of the rustic and the sophisticated, invoking a nightclub improvised in a Prohibition-era warehouse. But there are no bathtub gin martinis here. The cocktails have plenty of contemporary farm-to-shaker influences, employing beet juice and sweet potato puree along with an array of liquors infused with everything from black and red peppercorns to blueberries and thyme. Spicy, floral, creamy, smoky: the flavors are always fresh and inventive, making this a club very worth joining. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2013)

Coleman Public House

Mt. Pleasant - Bar

Asian-Glazed Ribs

The go-to spot for Mt. Pleasant beer geeks, Coleman Public House has a big “On Tap” chalkboard with an ever-rotating list of American craft beers and Belgian brews that might include a Blanche de Bruxelles White next to a Westbrook Pacific Jade or a Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour beside a Smutty Nose IPA. The food is equal to the brews. The half-pound Angus burgers are a big draw, and the dinner menu blends hearty pub fare like fish and chips with more ambitious plates like encrusted yellowfin tuna and braised beef short ribs with potato gratin. Creative munchies like mini lamb burgers, crab and corn fritters, and Asian-glazed baby back ribs make for fine bar snacks, and on weekends the brunch menu stacks up pancakes alongside big plates of huevos rancheros, biscuits and gravy, and steak and eggs. And now its sister property, Maybank Public House, is giving JI-ers the same solid food. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Craftsmen Kitchen and Tap House

Downtown - Pubs + Taverns

Jonathan Boncek

Craftsmen boasts over 50 taps and they always carry local brews. Start the table off with some inventive veggie plates, like crispy Brussels sprouts with cinnamon sweet potato puree or roasted rainbow carrots with dried figs and salsa verde. The menu rotates depending on what’s in season, so look for summer squash and roasted tomatoes during the warmer months. Craftsmen does beer food well, so dig into one of their filling sandwiches — might we recommend the Crunchy Dame, made with barbecue pork belly, gruyere, cherry jam, mustard aioli, and an egg — or a juicy burger, made with both classic (cheddar cheese) and clever (beer pickles) toppings. Craftsmen’s kitchen is open late, which is a godsend after a night out on East Bay; you can stuff your face with crispy potato bombs or smoked pork spring rolls. And we did mention the whole craft beer thing, right? Craftsmen not only offers a killer selection of brews year-round, but they often feature tap takeovers, where an out-of-town brewery gives the people of Charleston a taste of the good stuff from off. You don’t want to miss these opportunities to try rare and one-off beers; our last visit was during Wicked Weed’s tap takeover and the line was out the door. —Connelly Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Cru Cafe

Downtown - Fusion + Eclectic

Tucked in a cozy Charleston single house on Pinckney Street, just a stone’s throw away from the busy City Market, chef and owner John Zucker has been serving wandering visitors and in-the-know locals for more than a decade now. Between his downtown dining room and its original namesake, Cru Catering, chances are you’ve had their crowd-favorite four-cheese mac, their shrimp and grits, or their other small bites. But you owe it to yourself to visit the cafe again. Stop in and be seated at tables lining the old living room and porch — you’ll feel right at home. Expect satisfying plates ranging from their famous Thai seafood risotto for dinner to generous salads and sandwiches. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Crust Wood Fired Pizza

James Island - Pizza

The perfect cozy, laid-back restaurant for a weekday date night or pre- Terrace film screening, Crust has been slinging solid ‘za on James Island since 2013. The approximately 12-inch pizzas are served on thin metal pans with a crust that is quite good: very thin, with just a touch of black char from the oven’s flames. The toppings range from chicken and bacon to spicy shrimp and prosciutto. We almost always order the special pizza of the moment, which utilizes fresh, in-season ingredients, or we default to the Butternut. Made with the roasted squash, mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese, mozz, arugula, and drizzled with truffle oil, we don’t even feel guilty when we scarf the whole thing. —Mary Scott Hardaway

Cumberland Smokehouse

Downtown - Barbecue

Jonathan Boncek

Pulled pork platter

This sleek sports bar with dark wood paneling, large scale booths, and a separate bourbon tasting bar is the perfect hideaway on the downtown peninsula to drink a good cocktail or a craft beer and nosh on smoked chicken wings with Alabama white sauce. The delectable smoked meats at Cumberland — pork or chicken — have the hint of hickory and the right balance of juicy tenderness with crispy end-pieces scorched by the fire. In addition to the meat, save room for the decadent loaded fries topped with pulled chicken or pork, smoked cheddar cheese, bacon, white barbecue sauce, and jalapenos, or keep it kosher with the barbecue duck fat fries that include a large basket of perfectly crisped fries in a sweet and salty barbecue seasoning, no ketchup needed. Don’t miss the special of the day — as it’s usually one of the best items on the menu — and their highly regarded ribs, showcased on the weekends, are worth the trip. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Daily

Downtown - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek file photo

The Daily serves up fresh juice

Sometimes you just need a kale salad in a hurry. That’s what The Daily — the sister property to Butcher & Bee — has taught us. Since this coffee shop/meets grocery/meets bakery opened, it’s become our go-to for quick bites and caffeine hits. While we tend to stop by in the morning for a latte and an heirloom tomato BLT or chicken shawarma sandwich to go, a visit after work is just as smart. Then you can grab all the fixings for a proper dinner at home. Snag some pita, whipped feta, and a bottle of vino for a feast at home. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

D'Allesandro's Pizza

Downtown - Pizza

The Chauncinator

Brothers Ben and Nick D’Allesandro have only been throwing pies at their funky Elliotborough pizzeria since 2006, but from their following on Bogard Street, you’d think that they’ve been around forever. D’Al’s has one of the city’s best lunch deals hidden on the back of its menu: a small two-topping ’za or a small one-topping personal pie and a generous side salad that will set you back around $7 and change. At least once a week, someone on the CP staff dials up D’Al’s for a few of our favorites, usually the Chauncinator (margherita minus tomatoes, plus double-pepperoni) and the Get Gnarly, a killer white pizza with mozz, blue cheese, basil, and chicken roasted in balsamic vinegar. (They even take orders online.) Great for a quick lunch or an impromptu dinner with friends (plus a few pitchers of cold brew), D’Al’s is a hangout for college kids and loyal locals that carries the pulse of the trendy neighborhood. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Daps

Downtown - Breakfast

Daps Breakfast & Imbibe occupies a bright, Westside single renovated into something straight out of an Urban Outfitters catalog. Effortlessly trendy bordering on so-cool-they’re-not-even-trying, the menu similarly focuses on the breakfasts of champions: You know, English muffin egg sandwiches, pancakes, and booze. Order the Chickpea Folded Egg Sandwich — a light, beautifully cooked omelette-style egg is folded into quarters and placed within a substantial English muffin. Doughy in a good way, the muffin stands up to the lightly fried, yet still mushy chickpea patty. Teeming with pliant, whole garbanzo beans and tasting lightly of fennel, it’s paired with sweet sorghum mayo. If the doctor is more into fiber, then the ‘Cakes, Puddings & Pies’ section of the menu may beckon. The Apple Jack pancakes offer a reason to re-embrace carbs for breakfast. Sweet, but not cloyingly so — the cakes themselves are at once light and hearty. The apple compote is like the best part of a pie, with soft, spicy, skin-on fruit rendering the syrup unnecessary. Sprinkled with Apple Jack cereal dust, it’s all the upside of a saccharine-y childhood memory without the sugar hangover. Pair your breakfast plates with libations including mimosas on tap, pitchers of Charles Towne Fermentory ‘Ralf’ beer, and “breakfast wine,” including a magnum of Sentier rosé. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Darling Oyster Bar

Downtown - Seafood

Jonathan Boncek

With high ceilings, honeycomb tile floors, and oodles of vintage charm, it’s no wonder locals have been streaming into The Darling. However, it’s not just the King Street restaurant’s appearance, but the seafood-focused menu that has made a splash with diners. The menu runs the gamut from ceviche and Creole shrimp to traditional favorites like shrimp and grits, hamburgers, and fry baskets. But the real standouts are the raw offerings. Sit at the glass-enclosed raw bar and people-watch as you dine on fresh, raw local clams and East Coast oysters. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

DB's Cheesesteaks

West Ashley - American

Missing since they closed up shop on Folly road in 2010, DB’s Cheesesteaks is back. Set up at 2 Avondale Ave. owner Danny Bailey is serving his finely chopped cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteaks, and pizza steaks. Avondale barflys now have another option to soak up all the booze they’ve downed at Voodoo, The Roost, and Gene’s. Why’d you go to a cheesesteak shop and not get a cheesesteak is a mystery. But if that’s your thing, they have meatball hoagies, burgers, hot dogs, and cold subs too. But let’s be real, you should get a cheesesteak. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

Dell'z on the Macon

North Charleston - Vegetarian + Organic

Kinsey Gidick

If you’re a vegan, or just try to eat like one as often as possible, take note. Dellz on the Macon is your new favorite place. The sister property (or should we say daughter property?) to Dell’z Uptown on Rutledge Avenue, Dellz on the Macon is Smarel Brown’s — daughter of Maudell Grayson — new restaurant. The small cafe offers many of the same vegan-friendly bites folks will recognize from the original Dellz, think Jazzy Pizzas, Lucky Bowls, and cauli nachos. Plus, there’s plenty of smoothies. But the best part, Dellz on the Macon has an altruistic side as well where guests can pay it forward to a diner in need. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Dell'z Uptown

Downtown - Cafés

Jonathan Boncek

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

While Dell’z is a veggie place, we recommend skipping the salads for heartier fare like the sizeable Hummer, a wrap oozing with black bean hummus, salsa, avocado, and fresh lime. Start with (and share) the huge plate of nachos — of the vegan variety or not this plate of chips, rice and beans, salsa, spicy sour cream, sriracha, and cheese is made divine with the addition of “da sauce,” a creamy, addictive topping that will have you coming back for more. You can’t go wrong with the Jazzy Pizza either, especially with the healthy substitution of a tortilla shell for pizza dough. With organic wine and local brews in the fridge, Dell’z is a great place to sip and snack. —Connelly Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Dog & Duck

Mt. Pleasant - Bar

The Park West location features a regular weekend jump-castle, while the Long Point one has a chest brimming with kids toys. Both have a full slate of good beers on tap, too, which means fun for the whole family. The fare is firmly in the wings-and-sandwiches pub fare genre, but the execution is better than most, and broader too. With more than two dozen sandwiches, the selection includes basic Philly cheesesteaks and reubens along with double-dog dares like the Hillbilly Cheeseburger, which tops fried bologna with spicy pepperjack cheese, and the Mahindeburger, a grilled mahi filet rubbed with enough hot blackening spice to set your eyebrows afire. Big waffle fries are a reliable side dish, and the potato salad, creamy and infused with smoky bacon, is on the shortlist of the best in town. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2013)

The Dog & Duck

Mt. Pleasant - Bar

The Park West location features a regular weekend jump-castle, while the Long Point one has a chest brimming with kids toys. Both have a full slate of good beers on tap, too, which means fun for the whole family. The fare is firmly in the wings-and-sandwiches pub fare genre, but the execution is better than most, and broader too. With more than two dozen sandwiches, the selection includes basic Philly cheesesteaks and reubens along with double-dog dares like the Hillbilly Cheeseburger, which tops fried bologna with spicy pepperjack cheese, and the Mahindeburger, a grilled mahi filet rubbed with enough hot blackening spice to set your eyebrows afire. Big waffle fries are a reliable side dish, and the potato salad, creamy and infused with smoky bacon, is on the shortlist of the best in town. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2013)

The Dog & Duck

West Ashley - American

The three locations of the Dog & Duck feature a superior version of American pub fare in a family-friendly setting. Sandwiches range from your basic Philly cheesesteaks and Reubens to double-dog dares like the fried bologna and pepperjack on the Hillbilly Cheeseburger and the Damage Done, a special we've had before that tops a half-pound pile of roast beef with bacon and cheddar cheese. The potato salad, creamy and infused with smoky bacon, is on the shortlist of the best in town. With a full lineup of good beers on tap, dog-friendly patios, and a regular weekend jump castle at the Park West location, this Duck has something to please everyone in the family. —Robert Moss

Duke's BBQ

North Charleston - Barbecue

James Islanders love to load up at the buffet at Dukes BBQ, and for many the fried chicken is as much of a draw as the barbecue. This is a Charleston outpost of the loosely connected barbecue empire forged by the Dukes, whose various family members established restaurants throughout the lower part of South Carolina, and it carries on the classic Orangeburg County style. That means no beef brisket or smoked chicken wings or any of that foreign stuff to be found here, just classic chopped pork with a mustard-based sauce. The all-you-can-eat buffet features that barbecue alongside hash and rice, fried chicken, and a mess of sides. If you’re lucky, fried chicken livers and gizzards will make an appearance, too. The restaurant itself is pretty bare bones, just like it’s supposed to be, with styrofoam plates, plastic utensils, and a big bag of Sunbeam bread on each table. And don’t forget to top it all off with a plate of banana pudding from one of the big silver buffet bins. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Early Bird Diner

West Ashley - American

Adam Chandler

Chicken and waffles

No proper decision on where to eat in West Ashley is complete until you’ve considered Early Bird Diner. Cozy up with some friends in the seat-yourself booths or watch the magic happen from the counter. An Early Bird first-timer? Try the chicken-and-waffles. Besides that, the patty melt, fried green tomatoes, and the mac are all surefire choices. But before you place your order, be sure to check the board above the kitchen window for specials, there’s likely something there that will challenge your craving. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Edmund's Oast

Downtown - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek

Grilled Octopus

This hip gastropub has a laid-back vibe. There are communal tables, as well as a chef’s counter and an expansive outdoor patio. Menu highlights include the house-made charcuterie and cheese plates, plus upscale bar food like fried tripe, hanger steak, or crispy chicken with green curry sauce. The drink menu is every bit as compelling, rife with small batch cocktails, meads and a host of inventive beers brewed on-site. And $4 happy hour in The Bower when the weather’s nice, well, the price and vibes cannot be beat. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Ellis Creek Fish Camp

James Island - Seafood

Jonathan Boncek

Shrimp Roll

Folks heading down Harbor View Road should veer off into this casual, friendly spot serving up fried oyster baskets, shrimp po’boys, crispy catfish, and blue corn hushpuppies, as well as non-fish camp fare like a portobello melt, fried chicken platter, and an array of salads. The outside deck beneath a light-strung live oak is great for its proximity to the marsh. Ellis Creek is brought to us by the same crew that used to run SALT on Sullivan’s and The Boathouse at Breach Inlet, both known for their family-friendly vibes, upscale comfort foods, and fresh seafood. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

EVO Pizza

North Charleston - Pizza

Jonathan Boncek

A recent daily pizza special sums up the seasonal approach at EVO

At EVO, the use of fresh, local ingredients is key, and they’ve been keeping it local from the very beginning, back when they were a mobile wood-fired oven serving pizza at the farmers market in Marion Square. Large chalkboards decorate the walls, listing local ingredients from various farms, along with daily specials. Executive Chef Blake McCormick flexes her culinary creativity with the daily specials. Housemade sausages, fresh arugula, and duck crostini have popped up on the specials board, but we’re partial to the pizza. The crust is thin and slightly charred, and the mozzarella is made fresh and pulled in-house twice a day. The pistachio pesto pie was named one of the best pizzas in the country by Food Network Magazine, and the sinful Pork Trifecta keeps customers coming back. Check out the beer list for what’s on tap, and you’ll find plenty of local brews to keep your inner beer snob happy. And, speaking of beer snobs, keep your eyes peeled for a joint Holy City Brewing and EVO restaurant/brew pub/music venue to open on the peninsula in 2019. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Fishnet Seafood

West Ashley - Seafood Suppliers

Look for the Dodge’s Chicken sign as you head out Highway 17 South and hang a hard right into the Fishnet Seafood parking lot. This favorite of locals (and go-to fried crab shack of Sean Brock), tucked in a weathered former filling station, sports a plethora of fried seafood. Ladies wearing white shrimp boots patiently hand-bread full-bellied blue crab, load up fryers, and make chitchat with regulars. You can select your local catch of choice from the on-site fishmonger to have it fried up specially for you, from croaker to porgy to flounder. Don’t be surprised if the catfish on ice is still moving, watching you as you decide its fate. It’s that fresh. The walls are adorned with scripture — they sell Jesus crabs rather than deviled — but the steady line of worshipers at the lunchtime counter testify to the authenticity of honest people who just cook it the right way. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Five Loaves Cafe

Mt. Pleasant - Cafés

Jonathan Boncek

Five Loaves' BLT

Five Loaves Cafe has mastered the fine art of the soup-and-sandwich combo, and that’s why there’s usually a line out the door at lunchtime. The rotating selection of half a dozen soups are made daily with fresh ingredients in a sparkling array of flavors. A thick cheddar and potato puree has a subtle, smoky heat from chipotle peppers, while there’s a sweet spiciness to the carrot, ginger, and cilantro. Perhaps my favorite is the creamy asparagus and bacon soup, which has sublime bits of semi-melted blue cheese hidden away inside. You can pair the soups with one of a dozen sandwiches such as a hot ham and brie with green tomato jam, served on your choice of bread. At night, the menu expands to include a range of hearty pasta dishes like shrimp gnocchi and tri colored cheese tortellini, plus tasty comfort fare like chicken paillard and a filet with bleu chees crust, roasted mushrooms, rosemary potatoes, seasonal veg, and demi glaze. The downtown has also added a juice bar so you can get your fruit fix while you wait to eat. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Five Loaves Cafe

Downtown - Cafés

Five Loaves Cafe has mastered the fine art of the soup-and-sandwich combo, and that’s why there’s usually a line out the door at lunchtime. The rotating selection of half a dozen soups are made daily with fresh ingredients in a sparkling array of flavors. A thick cheddar and potato puree has a subtle, smoky heat from chipotle peppers, while there’s a sweet spiciness to the carrot, ginger, and cilantro. Perhaps my favorite is the creamy asparagus and bacon soup, which has sublime bits of semi-melted blue cheese hidden away inside. You can pair the soups with one of a dozen sandwiches such as a hot ham and brie with green tomato jam, served on your choice of bread. At night, the menu expands to include a range of hearty pasta dishes like shrimp gnocchi and tri colored cheese tortellini, plus tasty comfort fare like chicken paillard and a filet with bleu chees crust, roasted mushrooms, rosemary potatoes, seasonal veg, and demi glaze. The downtown has also added a juice bar so you can get your fruit fix while you wait to eat. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Fleet Landing

Downtown - Seafood

Stuffed Hush Puppies

Water water everywhere, but not a place to see it, at least as far as Charleston restaurants are concerned. Luckily we have one downtown spot with a most distinctive maritime setting and best waterfront view in town — Fleet Landing. Seated in a refurbished Naval house set over a reinforced pier, you’ll be counting dolphins and sailboats while you dine on classic southern seafood fare. A fried green tomato stack layered with tarragon crab salad and creamy shellfish sauce? Yes, please. Order southern seafood standards and you won’t be disappointed: Carolina lump crab cake with pickled corn relish; shrimp and grits; she-crab soup with blue crab roe and sherry; a Lowcountry boil full of shrimp, sausage, corn, and red bliss potatoes; and crispy whole fried flounder with apricot glaze. This family friendly setting is always popular so be sure to make a reservation before you go. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

Fuel

Downtown - Caribbean

I have a standing order at Fuel: hoe-cakes, braised pork tacos, and Pain Killer — keep ‘em coming. On a spring afternoon, when the weather hasn’t hit that hotter than a whore in church level, you can’t do much better than a leisurely lunch on Fuel’s back patio. The former gas station turned Caribbean kitchen has been satisfying for years, and with a killer sweet corn bisque; big, fresh salads; and chips and dip galore (from queso carne to a salsa trio to nachos), we think they have a good long life ahead of them. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

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Fulton Five

Downtown - Italian

Kaitlyn Iserman

Fulton Five sits in a charming, vine-covered building just a half block from King Street. Its cozy dining room, complete with banquette seating and white tablecloths, is perfect for an intimate candlelit dinner. The Northern Italian menu features handmade pasta like tagliatelle bolognese and ravioli stuffed with carbonara and braised beef short rib with hearty trattoria fare like seared duck breast and leg confit, a chocolate espresso-rubbed filet, and a grilled bone-in veal chop with green peppercorn marsala mushroom jus. For starters, we particularly liked the salad of shrimp, lobster, and lump crab meat with roasted tomato and lemon mayo. The upstairs terrace provides some of the most pleasant al fresco dining in town. Not surprisingly, Fulton Five has won the City Paper Readers’ Pick for Charleston’s most romantic restaurant for years. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

Gathering Café

West Ashley - Cafés

Those living West of the Ashley have been enjoying the Gathering Cafe’s healthy, satisfying, made-from-scratch food since 2012 when chef and owner Nathan Conkle opened the neighborhood restaurant with a farm-to-table menu packed with hearty, modern eats. Dishes like panang curry with tofu or one of their daily specials, like the North Carolina pan-seared flounder served with sweet potato gratin and sautéed greens in a brown butter sauce, keep diners coming back. In 2014 the cafe started serving breakfast — from oatmeal to grits, Greek yogurt to egg sandwiches, and fresh squeezed juices to smoothies — which keep with the Gathering’s healthy but delicious fare. And every dish tries to use ingredients that are as seasonal and local as possible. —Melissa Tunstall (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Glass Onion

West Ashley - New Southern

Sarah's Pimento Cheese with Crackers

The Glass Onion takes its farm-to-table seriously (in fact, the last time I saw Chef Chris Stewart, he was cooking up Jimmy Red heirloom grits in the middle of a corn field to feed a volunteer crop mob). The eclectic menu trumpets the day’s freshest finds. I could live out the rest of my days eating GO’s butterbean falafel over chunks of watermelon sprinkled with salty feta and shredded mint. You might feel more carnivorous and choose the chicken and andouille gumbo, fried pig ear po-boy, corned beef tongue, or GO’s famous Tuesday first-come first-served fried chicken (so popular you must reserve in advance). Southern classics like deviled eggs, shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, seasonal cobblers, and custardy bread pudding are beloved staples, but you never really know what offerings will appear on the hand written chalkboard. All this, combined with the fact the restaurant was named after a song on The Beatles’ White Album, makes this a funky, scrumptious, and essential neighborhood eatery. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

G&M/Fast and French

Downtown - French

The first thing any G+M veteran will tell you about the place is that there’s nothing else like it in Charleston, and they’re right. The unmistakably French dishes — croissants for breakfast, croque-monsieur for lunch, straight through to fondue specials for dinner ­— have been coming out of the tiny Broad Street kitchen for more than three decades now, and they show no signs of letting up. Hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and daily specials are the name of the game during lunch. Choose from “something very French” a little later in the day, like smoked ham, butter, and cornichons or the cheese of the day; you really can’t go wrong. Follow the G+M team on social media for the inside scoop on rotating specials — peaches with goat cheese and prosciutto, anyone? —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

goat.sheep.cow.north

Downtown - Gourmet Groceries

Jonathan Boncek

Although arguably goat.sheep.cow.north’s menu is more about curating than cooking, the varied cheese, charcuterie, and combo boards showcase those impressive skills well. Each board represents products from each of the animals and provides a thorough smattering of textures — expect a solid bang for your cheese-loving buck. Those looking for something more substantial might appreciate the signature grilled cheese, muffuletta, or any one of the special daily sandwiches. The welcoming, refined space features an extensive wine list, with dozens of by-the-glass and whole bottle options, as well as a beer and cider selection. Whether it’s your choice to sip and sample, or gorge yourself stupid on cheese, it’s hard to do much better in the burgeoning Half Mile North neighborhood. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Grace & Grit

Mt. Pleasant - Southern

The menu at this stylish, contemporary Mt. Pleasant venue highlights Lowcountry staples. Expect traditional brunch and dinner dishes like fried green tomatoes, she-crab soup, and shrimp and grits, plus locally sourced fish and seafood selections prepared six different ways. The restaurant’s name refers in part to its Baskin Robbins-esque approach to grits, with 15 sweet and savory varieties available. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Granary

Mt. Pleasant - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek

Smoked pork chop

The Granary on Coleman Blvd. is spacious and contemporary. The upscale comfort food fare will fill you up, so come hungry, and wear your loosest pants. If you don’t want to be too much of a hedonist, go with the butcher board a generous display of house-made charcuterie. The fennel-infused Finocchiona salami, super spicy coppa, and country pâté are excellent, as are the accompanying bread and butter pickles. Pair your weeknight bites with a refreshing happy hour special like the Mt. Pleasant Margarita — silver tequila, pura vida naranja, lime, coconut water, and lavender. Otherwise, show up for a truly decadent Sunday brunch, with menu items like a blueberry cream cheese French Toast plated atop a lemon curd and covered with blueberries, strawberries, and bourbon maple syrup. Unabashedly sweet, it’s certain to satisfy the cravings of anyone hoping to start the day with a sugar rush. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Graze

Mt. Pleasant - Modern American

Kaitlyn Gandy

Spicy tuna tataki

Quietly and confidently, Graze continues to serve up a creative and eclectic menu. Chef/owner Michael Karkut offers a unique blend of down-home favorites — lobster mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, and cornflake-crusted catfish with butterbeans, sweet corn, and hominy succotash — with more creative dishes like cinnamon-chili-dusted sea scallops with a sweet potato and brown butter pancake, sauteed green beans, and apple, onion, and pancetta compote. There’s some Asian flair too. As is the case with the spicy tuna tatiki with “firecracker” mayo and the Korean beef bulgogi. The lunch menu brings about a New England lobster roll and a duck confit B.L.T., and brunch shouldn’t be missed. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Hank's Seafood Restaurant

Downtown - Seafood

Ceviche

At Hank’s, waiters in white jackets and black ties serve historic local dishes like she-crab soup, Bouillabaisse, and Seafood a la Wando, a blend of shrimp, scallops, and fish in a rich sherry cream. The “Fried” section of the menu features five different selections of heaping Southern seafood platters, all served with fried sweet potatoes and classic coleslaw. And of course you’ll find Hank’s seafood tower or seafood castle — gleaming silver ice-filled pans bearing chilled shrimp, oysters, mussels, lobster, and stone crab claws. Add it all up, and you’ve got flashy, big-ticket seafood dining that can please even the most sophisticated palate. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Harbinger Bakery and Cafe

Downtown - Coffee + Tea Shops

Charleston was light on adorable cafes until Harbinger rolled up on King Street. Owners Greer Gilchrist and Cameron Neal have brought their love of fresh pastries, sandwiches, and salads and placed them into a ridiculously charming space on Upper King. Stop by for the Sunshine Bar, a mix of date almond crust and coconut and dates ($3.50) or a half of a Mexican chopped salad (for only $6!) for lunch. The ladies serve all your favorite coffee options — iced lattes, cappuccinos, machiattos, to pair with your Don’t Cry For Me Argentina tartine while reading the New York Times in their sun dappled cafe. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Harold's Cabin

Downtown - American

Jonathan Boncek

Harold’s Cabin has gone through a bit of an evolution as of late. The super quirky menu has come back to earth with the arrival of chef Trevor Smith. In Smith’s capable hands, the hip Hampton Park Terrace restaurant now offers the same favorites, like its Forage Board — the freshest of veggies — in addition to a hearty bison burger, venison chili, a pork loin, and starters like hush puppies. It’s eclectic, yet comforting and the welcoming feeling keeps regulars coming back for more. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Hen and The Goat

James Island - American

If 2018 really is the year of the breakfast the Hen & the Goat is right on time. The James Island cafe caters to the casual diner offering breakfast and lunch with plenty of options for your a.m. fuel. The ubiquitous avocado toast sits right beside its French cousin (complete with three pieces of challah topped with egg custard batter, and syrup) and there are plenty of kid-friendly options in between — don’t miss the muffins. Lunch includes reasonable salads and sandwiches and a Reuben for good measure. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Henrietta's

Downtown - French

Billed as a Southern brasserie, Henrietta’s is the Dewberry Hotel’s flagship restaurant. The space itself is casual, with open-back bistro chairs and a black-and-white checkered tile floor, but the frequently-changing menu is decidedly upscale with a France-meets-New Orleans focus. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, recent menu highlights included buckwheat crepes with homemade ricotta, a decadent croque madame with house-cured ham, and delicate flounder grenobloise with kumquats and brown butter. The extensive wine list and full bar is certain to quench most any thirst. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

High Thyme

Sullivan's Island - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek

Seared scallops

High Thyme is one of Sullivan’s Island’s best kept secrets. The dining room is small and quaint, and the menu is as simple as it gets: think hummus, seared tuna, and crab cakes. But simple is no problem, as the dishes are presented with a glimpse of elegance and the flavors that follow are quite good — consistency and execution at its finest. For dinner, order the grilled pork tenderloin cooked medium rare and start with the seared sea scallops with country ham and brandy cream. Head to the patio early Sunday morning and enjoy one of the best brunches in town. Start off with a mimosa and a basket of warm biscuits before diving into a plate of corned beef hash with two sunny side up eggs. It’s delightful. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

HŌM

Downtown - Burgers

Adam Chandler

HōM-Wrecker

HōM (pronounced home) is still slinging some quality gourmet burgers in its seventh year in business. 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, Summer 2018)

Home Team BBQ

Sullivan's Island - Bar

Jonathan Boncek

Pitmaster Aaron Siegel is steadily building a barbecue empire. At his original Home Team West Ashley location, you can munch on tender ribs, chicken, and pork while listening to live blues and roots rock-centric music. Meanwhile on Sullivan’s Island, his slightly larger menu includes smoked turkey and barbecue shrimp. The newest location is downtown and features more haute cuisine-inspired dishes like tomato and burrata salad tucked amongst robust barbecue offerings. Home Team is well known for its Texas-style salt-and-pepper brisket and with the first bite it’s easy to see why. The result of a gut-busting R&D tour through the Lone Star State, it’s some of the best brisket being served in the city today. The fat quite literally melts in your mouth, and the beef itself is seasoned to oh-boy perfection. Siegel’s ribs have also been singled out for particular praise, too, being voted Most Life-Changing Rib by Esquire readers and earning Home Team the designation Best Rib-Sticking Joint in America by Southern Living magazine. However, if it’s your first time at Home Team, you have to order Siegel’s smoked chicken wings paired with the mayonnaise-based Alabama-style barbecue sauce. Cool, creamy, and tangy, it’s the perfect match for the smoky chicken and arguably the best barbecue sauce in town. —Suzanne Cohen (Dish, Summer 2018)

Home Team BBQ

West Ashley - Barbecue

Jonathan Boncek

Pitmaster Aaron Siegel is steadily building a barbecue empire. At his original Home Team West Ashley location, you can munch on tender ribs, chicken, and pork while listening to live blues and roots rock-centric music. Meanwhile on Sullivan’s Island, his slightly larger menu includes smoked turkey and barbecue shrimp. The newest location is downtown and features more haute cuisine-inspired dishes like tomato and burrata salad tucked amongst robust barbecue offerings. Home Team is well known for its Texas-style salt-and-pepper brisket and with the first bite it’s easy to see why. The result of a gut-busting R&D tour through the Lone Star State, it’s some of the best brisket being served in the city today. The fat quite literally melts in your mouth, and the beef itself is seasoned to oh-boy perfection. Siegel’s ribs have also been singled out for particular praise, too, being voted Most Life-Changing Rib by Esquire readers and earning Home Team the designation Best Rib-Sticking Joint in America by Southern Living magazine. However, if it’s your first time at Home Team, you have to order Siegel’s smoked chicken wings paired with the mayonnaise-based Alabama-style barbecue sauce. Cool, creamy, and tangy, it’s the perfect match for the smoky chicken and arguably the best barbecue sauce in town. —Suzanne Cohen (Dish, Summer 2018)

Indaco

Downtown - Italian

Jonathan Boncek

Casonei quail foie gras chanterelles

The executive chef shuffle at Indaco is hard to keep up with — currently, former sous chef Michael Holler at the helm. The food, though, well we dream about it. The black pepper tagliatelle is drizzled in nature’s sauce — a perfect egg yolk. And the Neapolitan sytle pizzas? The little neck clam pie ($16) with garlic, oregano, lemon, sea beans, and Parm is supposed to be shareable, but you’ll want the whole thing for yourself. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Ink N Ivy

Downtown - American

Jonathan Boncek

Set in the site of a former pawn shop, this hip three-story bar and restaurant features pop art-themed decor along with a crowd-pleasing menu. Trendy, Southern-inspired offerings have ranged from crispy chicken skins and carrot hummus to a cauliflower mac and cheese. Pull up a seat at the long wooden bar, where the creative cocktails run the gamut from funky to festive, including a gin drink made with edible glitter. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Jack of Cups Saloon

Folly Beach - Fusion + Eclectic

Jack of Cups’s painstakingly crafted menu is made-from-scratch daily then prepared to order during service, and each entry is truly interesting, from the Peanut Ginger Soup to this little gem of a pasta dish called the Red Curry Mac, featuring al dente pasta shells in a spicy red curry cheese sauce, topped with diced pickles, tomatoes, cilantro, parmesan, and black pepper. Where else are you going to get red curry cheese sauce? From summer rolls to a baby iceberg salad, the summer menu is fresh as can be, and the sunny back courtyard makes the perfect backdrop for a night out. —Jessie Hazard (Dish, Summer 2018)

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. 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 2018)

Jim 'n Nick's Bar-B-Q

North Charleston - Barbecue

Birmingham-based Jim ‘N Nick’s is not your typical barbecue restaurant chain. They don’t have a walk-in freezer, and everything on the menu — from the crust on the pies to the croutons atop the salad — is handmade from scratch. The King Street location, known simply as “Nick’s,” is a quick-service joint where you order at the counter, but it still offers a broad slate of barbecue that includes traditional pulled pork and beef brisket along with newer innovations like smoked wings and riblets. The Jim ‘N Nick’s out at Tanger outlet mall has even broader offerings, plus a full-service, sit-down format. Beyond barbecue, the wide-ranging fare includes fried catfish, shrimp, and ribeyes. The pulled pork and chicken are pretty good, but the smoked pork hot links and the sliced Angus beef brisket are the real winners. Owner Nick Pihakis is seriously committed to fair pay for his employees and supporting sustainable agriculture, too, including an ongoing initiative called the Fatback Pig Project, which aims to return pastured pork to mass-scale production. Those sorts of efforts — and the scrumptious mini cheese biscuits — are the kind of barbecue innovations we can get behind. —Robert Moss Dish (Summer 2015)

Ristorante Juliet

Downtown - Pizza

Jonathan Boncek

This pasta and pizza spot with plenty of libations from a Beer Spritz to COAST's 32/50 Kolsch.

The Junction Kitchen & Provisions

North Charleston - Breakfast

What upper Spruill Avenue lacks in beauty, The Junction makes up in taste. The former site of Port City Pizza serves up breakfast concoctions all day long such as the “buzzed doughnut” (over easy egg, coffee rubbed bacon slabs, fried dough, and a smoky dip, served on a heap of golden hashbrowns), plus fresh sammies and salads for the lunch crowd. Indulge in a set of cactus-braised pulled pork tacos with goat cheese and arugula while you peruse the wall of take-home provisions including unique wines, local veggies, Johns Island eggs, and excellent tomato pies. A real neighborhood gem for the Park Circle area, The Junction is part eat-in, part grab-and-go, and always fresh, original, and affordable. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Kairos Greek Kitchen

Mt. Pleasant - Greek

Entering the fast casual market in Mt. Pleasant, John Ondo, formerly of the Italian focused Lana on Rutledge, opened Kairos Greek Kitchen last May. In the old K-Mart shopping center on Bowman Road, Kairos promises “healthy, Greek inspired dishes” and they deliver them fast. Get in line and start by choosing a rice bowl, pita, or salad base. From there your protein choices are excellent falafel, slow roasted lamb, chicken, or meatballs. Dress it up with a choice of nine spreads and dressings including tzatziki, harissa yogurt, tahini, and baba ghanoush and then top it with kalamta olives, tomato and cucumber salad, feta, or one of the other 10 toppings and you’re out of there in less than five minutes. And, if you don’t want to hike to Mt. P, Kairos has opened a second location serving up the same fast, tasty fare in West Ashley. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

Kanpai Japanese Restaurant

Mt. Pleasant - Sushi + Japanese

Jonathan Boncek

The documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi plays on a loop in this humble little suburban eatery, owned and operated by Chef Sean Park, who made a name for himself at O-Ku downtown. In 2010, Esquire’s John Mariani praised the chef by saying, “Sean Park turns out beautiful, fanciful sushi,” and tagged O-Ku as one of the best new restaurants of the year. In 2012, Park took over the kitchen at Bambu and successfully revamped a menu that desperately needed help. Park then purchased Kanpai, which he runs with his family. His work is art. He creates vibrant sushi platters and aromatic bulgogi. His gazpacho is as beautiful as it gets, and you’ll find little gems on the menu, like steamed buns and miso ramen, that are worth trying if you’re not in the mood for sushi. We suggest going on a sensory journey by ordering the chef’s tasting menu. Make sure you give him advance notice and chat with him about your preferences because his omakase is tailored to each diner. You won’t regret it. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

Kickin' Chicken

Downtown - American

Oh Kickin’ Chicken, we loved you when we were in college and we still love you today — especially after a festive night on the town. This local chain’s five locations now service more than hungry CofC Cougars. But it’s what got the biz started, super tasty chicken sandwiches, that always lures us back. We’re suckers for the Johnny, a mighty meal of chicken, bacon, barbecue sauce, and cheddar cheese with an oh-so-necessary side of ranch dressing. When we’re rolling deep with friends, the wings always satisfy, particularly with an adventurous crowd willing to forego the traditional teriyaki sauce for the Thai chili option. This chicken is clearly doing something right. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Ko Cha

West Ashley - Korean

Jonathan Boncek

Bulgogi

If you’re looking for a place to score bibimbap, gasoline, and lottery tickets, then Ko Cha is the spot for you. Tucked inside an Exxon Mobile gas station, Ko Cha is serving a full menu of Asian treats, including bowls of fried rice and Mongolian beef. But Korean dishes, like bibimbap and jobchae, keep people coming back for more. Each entree comes with a sampling of sides like curry potatoes, bitter greens with sesame, and kimchi. There are noodle bowls filled with shrimp, octopus, and mussels (jjambbong) and hammered deep fried cutlets of pork (donkkaseu), but our favorites are the beef bulgogi and the kal bi — thin cuts of beef from the chuck end of short ribs (bone and all) that sizzle on a hot plate with an unforgettable aroma. Each bite of beef tantalizes the senses, begging you to eat more. Ko Cha is a must visit for the culturally inclined. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

843 Korean BBQ & Sushi House

North Charleston - Korean

If you’ve never had Korean barbecue — or have been waiting for the opportunity to enjoy it locally — your time has come. Set in a disco-like, renovated space on Rivers Avenue, 843 Korean offers both traditional dining and in-table grills, with the latter featuring an expanded menu. The uninitiated can dip a toe in the waters with classics like bi bim bop, marinated beef bulgogi, and haemul peon (seafood pancakes), while more adventurous palates may prefer the spicy rice cakes and ever-changing array of banchan (such as kimchi, fermented vegetables, or dried anchovies in chili paste). Also offering a broad mix of both traditional and inventive sushi, 843 Korean is an adventure unto itself. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

La Norteña

North Charleston - Mexican

Paul E. Cheney, Jr./jwkpec.com

Ask any chef in Charleston where they go for authentic Mexican food in town and the answer is La Norteña. Hailing from the central region of Jalisco, the western-Pacific area in Mexico, the specialties here include numerous seafood dishes, including octopus ceviche, whole fried tilapia, shrimp veracruzano, and five house-made salsas and hot sauces brought to your table when you first sit down. Other recommended authentic items not to be found at your Americanized joints are Menudo, a honeycomb tripe soup, tortas, tacos callejeros (street tacos served on corn tortillas with cilantro, onion, and a lime on the side), and a variety of offal meats including lengua (beef tongue) and cabeza (beef cheek). Favorites also include the Barbacoa and the al Pastor tacos with the house margarita, making this a worthy trip to North Charleston for the real gustatory experience. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

La Pizzeria

Mt. Pleasant - Pizza

Adam Chandler

Clams

If owner Laura Zanotti’s charming Milanese welcome isn’t enough to get you smiling at the door, La Pizzeria’s hearty lasagna bolognese, veal saltimbocca, and delicious chicken ravioli should do the trick. This hidden gem is one of Mt. Pleasant’s best secrets. The pizza is the big draw, though, and has been the making of many a loyal fan. From a quatro gusti pie made with sausage, mushroom, artichokes, and black olives to La Pizzeria’s take on a Hawaiian with ham, bacon, and pineapple, even the pickiest of pie enthusiasts will be won over here. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

La Tabella

James Island - Italian

Before we knew anything about crudo and sformatino, Italian food meant piccata, marsala, and saltimbocca, and that's the kind of classic Italian-American fare that La Tabella specializes in. The menu is stocked with the aforementioned standards, which are done well, but there's still enough creativity in the preparations to satisfy the family food snob. While the kids slurp down spaghetti and meatballs, you can fork into a tender pork osso bucco, which is actually the whole shank, gently braised, slathered in sauce, and served atop a beautifully prepared mushroom risotto. Or you can opt for a fresh version of seafood fra diavalo or linguine and clams and be just as satisfied. —Jeff Allen

Ladles Soups

Downtown - Soup & Salad

Basically the antithesis of Seinfeld’s famous “Soup Nazi,” Ladles is a charming local chain providing all manner of liquid sustenance to the Lowcountry. Started 11 years ago, it’s quickly expanded far beyond Charleston, but maintains its commitment to quality with a rigorous franchise plan all owners must adhere to. That means that the tangy lemon chicken soup is just as good downtown as it is in West Ashley. And did I mention affordable? At $3.75 a bowl, you can’t beat the price. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Langdon's Restaurant & Wine Bar

Mt. Pleasant - Modern American

Langdon’s in Mt. Pleasant has long been the reliable place to turn for a big night out east of the Cooper. The offerings from chef/owner Patrick Owens blend Lowcountry cuisine with a range of international influences, resulting in tempting combinations like gnocchi made from local goat cheese and curried duck and mint spring rolls with a jalapeño-coconut dipping sauce. The entrees are rich and elegant with a few unexpected twists. The catch of the day is served over leek and sweet corn risotto, while a rack of lamb is paired with homemade duck sausage and kumquat-mint marmalade. A hefty dry-aged, 18-oz. bone-in ribeye is the anchor of the upscale menu, and the food-friendly wine list, which received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, offers options ranging from big value to big spender. From the food to the atmosphere to the service, Langdon’s doesn’t cut any corners, and that makes all the difference. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Laura Alberts Tasteful Options

Daniel Island - Cafés

Daniel Island professionals like Laura Alberts’ lunches for their mix of sandwiches, salads, and specialities, like shrimp baba ganoush or the tarragon shallot salmon couscous. And if you don’t have to head back to the office try one of their beer or wine suggested pairings. And they’ve got a lot of suds and wine to offer since much of the space is dedicated to selling the sweet nectar. Laura Alberts even has a growler station. Plus if you want to grab and go, the cafe sells picnic lunches and a la carte for you to go explore the perfectly manicured lawns of the island. —Melissa Tunstall Dish (Winter 2015)

Leon's Oyster Shop

Downtown - Seafood

Jonathan Boncek

Chargrilled Oysters

The chargrilled oysters at Leon’s embody the restaurant’s approach to food: unfussy and delicious. The fish fry platter is a jumble of oysters, shrimp, and fish battered and delicately fried and served with a tartar sauce so good we sometimes just dip a fork in it in between bites. If we know anything about restaurateurs Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink, it’s that they know how to design a restaurant that both looks and feels good. This is the kind of place that gets in your regular rotation because it’s comfortable, delicious, and reliable. Oh, and here’s a power move: dash some of that Red Clay Hot Sauce on the scalloped potatoes. You’ll be glad you did. —Stephanie Barna (Dish, Summer 2018)

Lewis Barbecue

Downtown - Barbecue

Jonathan Boncek

Lewis’ building houses four custom built smokers and a sausage smoker that can cook 1,600 links at a time, all hand built by Lewis and his father. Once inside you’ll queue up to have meat hand-sliced by one of two meat-cutters stationed behind a long counter directing you to opposite ends. Lewis’ “life changing” beef brisket is definitely the star. The infinitely tender meat has a salty, peppery crust and shines with melted fat. But there’s also juicy smoked turkey, pulled pork, pork ribs and Texas sausage called “hot guts” available and priced by the pound (or hot guts by the link). After your tray is filled with your order of meats, choose your sides from mustardy potato salad, lemon slaw, cowboy beans, and rich green chile corn pudding. If you come to Lewis’ on Saturdays, Flintstone-sque beef ribs can be had. Meaty with dark crust and glistening fat, they’re an impressive sight. A huge chunk of meat surrounding a smoke blackened bone that brings back time hidden evolutionary memories of caveman feasts. The pitmaster isn’t just cranking out stellar, 'cue, either. Lewis has introduced fried chicken Tuesdays, prime rib Wednesdays, chicken fried steak supper Sundays, and the occasional Detroit-style pizza party. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

Liberty Tap Room & Grill

Mt. Pleasant - American

On pleasant days when they roll up the big windows in the front bar at Liberty Tap Room, you can enjoy a fat, juicy burger and a pint of craft beer while watching the ducks and turtles swim in the pond below. Over the past few years, the selection of draft beers available on the bar’s 38 taps has gotten better and better, with beers from some of the country’s best craft breweries joining the house’s own Liberty line of microbrews. The smoky wood-grilled wings and chewy soft pretzels make for superior bar munchies, and for dinner there’s a full selection of steaks, ribs, chicken, and pasta, plus pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. Perhaps best of all are the burgers. Liberty grinds its own beef and makes its brioche buns in house, and the Freedom Burger — a half-pound of beef topped with bacon, cheddar, onion straws, and a fried egg — is a thing of beauty that any red-blooded American can appreciate. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

LoLA

North Charleston - Cajun

One of the first forays into Cajun cuisine in Charleston is thankfully the best we’ve seen so far. LoLA brings an unexpected and delicious fusion cuisine to a city that is awash with shrimp and grits, benne wafers, and she-crab soup. Serving New Orleans classics like etoufee and jambalaya is what keeps patrons coming in droves but the best thing about LoLA is the weekly Crawfish Boil. It’s fun enough to keep your Tuesdays set aside for shucking and sipping potent cocktails. The po’ boys are no slouch either and come served on crusty baguettes, packed to the brim with fresh seafood. Between the po’boys, oysters, crawfish, and seafood mac and cheese, you’re bound to find something that satisfies that Cajun fix you’ve been looking to fulfill. In addition to the fabulous food, LoLA’s casual, friendly atmosphere is positively infectious and will keep you returning to this neighborhood joint. Seafood sandwiches and great service? Count us in. —Suzanne Cohen (Dish, Summer 2018)

Long Point Grill

Mt. Pleasant - American

Popular Mt. Pleasant spot Long Point Grill serves turned up diner fare for lunch and dinner. Big salads such as the Shrimp Scallop Cobb and Pecan crusted chicken vie for your lunch attention with the fried or grilled chicken BLT, house burger with a choice of five cheeses and the decadent Duck Confit melt. The Grill’s dinner menu’s bigger plates add pistachio crusted chicken, herb crusted crab cakes along with larger portion carryovers from lunch like the buttermilk fried chicken with thyme gravy and the LPG mac and cheese, a lighter “Mac and Cheese” made with penne pasta tossed with chicken, peas, and bacon. With a varied menu of big hearty portions, reasonable prices, and an easy to get to location, Long Point Grill is sure to please. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

Lost Dog Cafe

Folly Beach - Breakfast

You don’t have to love dogs to love this little place on Folly. But you do have to love hearty, well-prepared breakfast and lunch fare. And hippies. It always helps to love hippies when you’re dining on Folly, but that’s beside the point. Lost Dog’s large shaded patio invites a lazy, late breakfast, one that you can enjoy in the company of your favorite pooch. While Fido scarfs the free doggie biscuits, you can savor the huevos rancheros or oversized pancakes with maple syrup. Open from 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sunday), there are few better places to enjoy a leisurely brunch or down a few hangover-curing mimosas, but come early on the weekends — Lost Dog is always bustling. Menu favorites include chicken salad croissants and the “fresh fish thing,” which cheekily relies on “what the cat caught today.” —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Lotus

North Charleston - Thai + Vietnamese

Jonathan Boncek

Banh xeo

We all love Basil, and the same team has brought us its Vietnamese equivalent in Park Circle. Co-owner Henry Eang, born in Cambodia and raised in the U.S., travels extensively throughout Asia and understands how to deliver clean, fresh, exotic flavors to our palates, from steaming bowls of Pho Ga to savory Bo Kho to sweet-and-salty Shaking Beef — chopsticks optional. Lotus’s tasteful interior is muted and elegant, opening onto an outdoor side patio which bustles in fair weather. A long bar offers up Asian brews, crisp wines, and playful cocktails utilizing basil, lemongrass, and lavender. Eang’s latest restaurant is truly a great addition to the ever-evolving East Montague lineup. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Lowcountry Bistro

Downtown - Southern

Jonathan Boncek

Southern-style mussels

Say hello to one of our favorite rustic, brick-walled dining ventures on Market Street. Steve Kish, a long-time restaurateur in Charleston and owner of 82 Queen, opened Lowcountry Bistro in the heart of Charleston’s historic Market district. LB takes on traditional Southern cuisine with a few modern twists and a dash of Creole and French thrown in the mix. Frogmore stew, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and Carolina crab cakes exist alongside the Market Burger, cioppino, and jambalaya, which ensures there’s something for everyone. The setting is simple and casual, with a large second floor balcony, which is perfect for people-watching while enjoying a refreshing peach cooler. —Eric Doksa Dish (Winter 2015)

Luke's Craft Pizza

Downtown - Pizza

Hole in the wall doesn’t do Luke’s Craft Pizza justice, though essentially that’s what this is. A tiny space, with take-out only, under the helm of a lesser chef, this would be just another meh pizza place. But not so with Luke Davis. His simple $14 pies (additional toppings are extra) have become an overnight success. That’s largely thanks to his pizza pedigree — a resume that includes stints at Mellow Mushroom and EVO. Choose from an assortment of toppings like Casalingo salami, house-pickled jalapeños, shitake mushrooms, and speck. Or, ask what the day’s special is. The last one we went gaga for included South Carolina peaches. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Madra Rua

North Charleston - English + Irish

Whether the World Cup is in full swing or you’re just looking for Premier League action on the weekend, Madra Rua caters to throngs of supportive fans year-round with its laid back atmosphere, friendly staff, and serious food. Madra is a great spot to take in a game or catch up, just find a seat at the bar or pull a group into one of the cozy, high-backed booths. In addition to a wide selection of drafts, including local brews, Madra proudly supplies the largest list of layered drafts in the area, just check out their list of Guinness variations. Try the Guinness Snakebite, a sweet combination of Guinness and Magners Cider, or the Black Mountain, matching Guinness with Sierra Nevada. Pub favorites like fish and chips are standard Madra fare, and be sure to stop by one Sunday for brunch, with classics like shrimp and grits and riffs like the Irish eggs benedict. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Madra Rua

Summerville - English + Irish

Whether the World Cup is in full swing or you’re just looking for Premier League action on the weekend, Madra Rua caters to throngs of supportive fans year-round with its laid back atmosphere, friendly staff, and serious food. Madra is a great spot to take in a game or catch up, just find a seat at the bar or pull a group into one of the cozy, high-backed booths. In addition to a wide selection of drafts, including local brews, Madra proudly supplies the largest list of layered drafts in the area, just check out their list of Guinness variations. Try the Guinness Snakebite, a sweet combination of Guinness and Magners Cider, or the Black Mountain, matching Guinness with Sierra Nevada. Pub favorites like fish and chips are standard Madra fare, and be sure to stop by one Sunday for brunch, with classics like shrimp and grits and riffs like the Irish eggs benedict. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Magnolias

Downtown - New Southern

Jonathan Boncek

Down South roll

Magnolias has been serving Charleston indulgent, quality Southern fare for longer than almost anyone else in town, but even after all this time, the East Bay Street staple still deserves a spot on your to-do list. Homestyle standards like buttermilk fried chicken with biscuits and gravy are must-haves, but dishes like the sweet chili rubbed ahi tuna and braised beef short ribs make sure there’s something for everyone on Executive Chef Kelly Franz’s menu. Magnolias’ staying-power is a testament to its innovative twists on classic Southern flavors, like the fried green tomato appetizer with white cheddar and caramelized onion grits, country ham, and tomato chutney. Around lunchtime visitors can expect plenty of wallet-friendly soups, salads, and sandwiches under $15. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mainland Container Co. Kitchen & Bar

Mt. Pleasant - Burgers

Keely Laughlin

Hidden at the end of a gravel drive off Ben Sawyer Boulevard, Mainland Container Co. is comprised of a rustic, beachy restaurant, a ground-level bar set in a shipping container, and ample umbrella-covered seating. Decadent bar food offerings range from wings in a variety of flavors; ball-sized hush puppies that are basically savory donuts drizzled with honey, and served with hot pepper jelly and pimento cheese; and a beer cheese-covered tater tot extravaganza called The Full Container. Despite such temptations, the sweet and friendly waitress strongly endorsed the Caprese-stuffed avocado, a clever union of the current avocado trend and the traditional salad from Capri. The two cold, firm avocado halves are served on a bed of arugula. The fish of the moment requires no modifications, it’s a successful execution made even better by the accompanying seasonal vegetables. Along with the caprese avocado dish, the flavor balance of this fish showcases the chef’s obvious command of farm-to-table cuisine. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mama Kim's

Downtown - Korean

Mama Kim, a petite Korean woman with the strength to take on Charleston and become a surrogate mother to all who dine here, has a memorable slogan, “Rock out with your wok out.” And rock it she does with her interminable energy and genuinely warm hospitality. For all the turn-over that happens in this collegiate area, the testament for Mama’s food comes from the length of time it’s been around — over a decade. A narrow brick room with plastic red booths with a friendly fast crew in the kitchen, this established hole-in-the-wall serves authentic spicy pork bul-go-gee that comes with all the accompaniments: pickled daikon, crunchy black beans, a variety of kimchi, kongjaban (black beans in soy sauce), sigeumchi namul (garlicky spinach), hot radish, and kongnamul (cold boiled bean sprouts in sesame oil). If Korean bee-bim-bop isn’t for you, try the Japanese hibachi, the rice bowls, steamed beef dumplings or the famous bibimbap, fried egg over rice and vegetables. Keep your own plate rockin’ with the selection of homemade hot sauces including yellow Komezu sauce, ginger sauce, and a myriad of blazing hot sauces. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

Manny's Neighborhood Grille

West Ashley - Greek

Manny’s puts out family-friendly fare with a Greek accent. They recently opened on George Street downtown, and at the old West Ashley standby they have a great neighborhood vibe that we still appreciate. They stay true to the Stavrinakis family’s culinary heritage with authentic fare like roast Greek chicken, moussaka, and the signature Greek-style lamb shank. It’s what a local place should be all about: cold beer, good times, and satisfying grub. From fat burgers to the Greek specialties of the house, the rib-sticking platters keep this place a regular stop. —Jeff Allen, Dish (Winter 2013)

Maple Street Biscuit Company

James Island - Breakfast

When this Florida-based biscuit chain moved into the Harris Teeter-anchored shopping center on Maybank, we knew the breakfast game had officially changed on James Island. On a recent trip we grabbed one sweet biscuit, the Biscuit Frenche, and one savory, the Farmer. As you might expect, the first is made with French toast biscuits with pecans and cinnamon chips baked in and is topped with strawberries and whipped cream. The latter is a bit of a challenge to share, so go ahead and admit you’ll eat the whole thing yourself. Made with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, and apple butter, this one is damn good, and works for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. They also have an extensive coffee selection, as well as iced coffee, tea, and fountain drinks. —Mary Scott Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Martha Lou's

Downtown - Soul Food

Write ups in the New York Times, numerous Best of Charleston awards and mentions by Sean Brock and other chefs have had Martha Lou’s Kitchen on the list of many a Charleston visitor. The accolades haven’t caused the food to change much, still serving up classic meat and three options. The menu changes daily but there’s a good chance some combo of the fried chicken, whiting, or pork chops will be available. The Fried Chicken and whiting come to you straight out of the frier, hot, both with a salty, well-spiced, craggy crust. It’s all fried to order so be prepared to wait. Pretty much anyone you talk to about Martha Lou’s is bound to mention the limas. Like everything else from the kitchen they’re richly flavored and stewed with hunks of pork — a must order. Round it out with red rice, collards, mac and cheese, or okra and you’re set except for the tea. Sipping Martha Lou’s tea you might question if there’s any sugar left, anywhere. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Maybank Public House

James Island - Pubs + Taverns

Jonathan Bonceck

Nearly identical to its Mt. Pleasant sister spot, Coleman Public House, MBH is the place to take a picky eater. From classic burgers to seafood linguini, shrimp and grits, and pan-seared chicken, the menu is expansive. There’s something for everyone. Located conveniently next to the Terrace Theatre, you can catch a flick before sitting down to a nice meal to dish about the movie. Just beware that parking is limited — best arrive early. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

McCrady's Restaurant

Downtown - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek

Virginia oyster

High ceilings, exposed stone walls, and copper-topped tables fill a warm, elegant space where innovative farm-to-table offerings are the norm. Square up your shoulders and order the escargot-stuffed marrow bone with grilled bread and parsley. It’s earthy, rich, bright perfection and your mouth will thank you. Same goes for the beet au poivre, crispy veal blanquette, and sublime broiled flounder with confit of eggplant and tomato. One long wall of the restaurant is occupied by the stately bar. With its focus on craft cocktails and brown spirits, there’s sure to be something to lift your mood. Beer and wine enthusiasts will also find themselves well tended-to, with a varied choice of by-the-glass and canned/bottled options to please any palate. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mellow Mushroom

Mt. Pleasant - Pizza

There’s plenty of good pizza in Charleston, from the large, crisp Neapolitan-style to the thicker variety. Some places focus on traditional toppings, while others get creative. Mellow Mushroom offers enough variety to make just about anyone happy. The chewy pizza crust and wide-ranging toppings have earned Mellow the Charleston City Paper’s Readers’ Pick as Best Gourmet Pizza for years. We’re talking andouille and artichokes, tempeh and tofu, along with the more traditional pepperoni and sausage. The same ingredients can be incorporated into dozens of salads, hoagies, and calzones, and they’ve also got gluten-free crust and vegan cheese as options, too. Each of the Lowcountry locations has its own unique look and menu items. In Avondale, an old theater was converted into a huge pizza palace with a psychedelic black-and-white swirl paint job, bright red booths, and very high ceilings. The latest location at Tanger Outlet Mall carries on the playful atmosphere and even features a room wallpapered in City Papers. We’re a fan of the Mellow Beer Club, which allows diners to work their way through a wide range of respectable craft brews, earning perks throughout the whole process. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mellow Mushroom

West Ashley - Pizza

There’s plenty of good pizza in Charleston, from the large, crisp Neapolitan-style to the thicker variety. Some places focus on traditional toppings, while others get creative. Mellow Mushroom offers enough variety to make just about anyone happy. The chewy pizza crust and wide-ranging toppings have earned Mellow the Charleston City Paper’s Readers’ Pick as Best Gourmet Pizza for years. We’re talking andouille and artichokes, tempeh and tofu, along with the more traditional pepperoni and sausage. The same ingredients can be incorporated into dozens of salads, hoagies, and calzones, and they’ve also got gluten-free crust and vegan cheese as options, too. Each of the Lowcountry locations has its own unique look and menu items. In Avondale, an old theater was converted into a huge pizza palace with a psychedelic black-and-white swirl paint job, bright red booths, and very high ceilings. The latest location at Tanger Outlet Mall carries on the playful atmosphere and even features a room wallpapered in City Papers. We’re a fan of the Mellow Beer Club, which allows diners to work their way through a wide range of respectable craft brews, earning perks throughout the whole process. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mellow Mushroom

Downtown - Pizza

Eggy & Leggy Pizza

There’s plenty of good pizza in Charleston, from the large, crisp Neapolitan-style to the thicker variety. Some places focus on traditional toppings, while others get creative. Mellow Mushroom offers enough variety to make just about anyone happy. The chewy pizza crust and wide-ranging toppings have earned Mellow the Charleston City Paper’s Readers’ Pick as Best Gourmet Pizza for years. We’re talking andouille and artichokes, tempeh and tofu, along with the more traditional pepperoni and sausage. The same ingredients can be incorporated into dozens of salads, hoagies, and calzones, and they’ve also got gluten-free crust and vegan cheese as options, too. Each of the Lowcountry locations has its own unique look and menu items. In Avondale, an old theater was converted into a huge pizza palace with a psychedelic black-and-white swirl paint job, bright red booths, and very high ceilings. The latest location at Tanger Outlet Mall carries on the playful atmosphere and even features a room wallpapered in City Papers. We’re a fan of the Mellow Beer Club, which allows diners to work their way through a wide range of respectable craft brews, earning perks throughout the whole process. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mellow Mushroom

Summerville - Pizza

There’s plenty of good pizza in Charleston, from the large, crisp Neapolitan-style to the thicker variety. Some places focus on traditional toppings, while others get creative. Mellow Mushroom offers enough variety to make just about anyone happy. The chewy pizza crust and wide-ranging toppings have earned Mellow the Charleston City Paper’s Readers’ Pick as Best Gourmet Pizza for years. We’re talking andouille and artichokes, tempeh and tofu, along with the more traditional pepperoni and sausage. The same ingredients can be incorporated into dozens of salads, hoagies, and calzones, and they’ve also got gluten-free crust and vegan cheese as options, too. Each of the Lowcountry locations has its own unique look and menu items. In Avondale, an old theater was converted into a huge pizza palace with a psychedelic black-and-white swirl paint job, bright red booths, and very high ceilings. The latest location at Tanger Outlet Mall carries on the playful atmosphere and even features a room wallpapered in City Papers. We’re a fan of the Mellow Beer Club, which allows diners to work their way through a wide range of respectable craft brews, earning perks throughout the whole process. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

A

Mex 1 Coastal Cantina

West Ashley - Mexican

Jonathan Boncek

Mex 1 Coastal Cantina was 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). Jack’s Cosmic Dog owner Jack Hurley’s culinary trip South of the border won’t leave diners 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. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mi Xao

Mt. Pleasant - Thai + Vietnamese

Jonathan Boncek

London broil pho

A takeout-centric restaurant from chef/owner Anh Toan Ho, Mì Xào brings traditional Vietnamese cooking to the northern edge of Mt. Pleasant. The compact menu includes noodle soups, rice dishes, and salads along with cool summer rolls and tender steamed dumplings. The beef pho brims with savory spices while the tom yum kung presents big, flavorful shrimp in a lime-tinged sweet and sour broth. Daily specials offer a sampling of classic dishes from across Asia, too, like pad thai, pancit, and Korean barbecue. For the northern ’burbs, it’s a much-needed infusion of fresh, interesting flavors and a great option for a quick, affordable meal. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Millers All Day

Downtown - Breakfast

Suffice to say, brunch is having a moment, and Millers All Day is all over it. Chef Madison Tessener’s menu aims to appeal to current trends, plus a polished, mid-century modern, straight-outta-Mad Men interior. The decor could be a movie set and everything about it is appealing: From the bright retro lighting, to the illuminated ‘Prescriptions’ sign over the kitchen, it’s an homage to carefully crafted nostalgia. The menu has a similar air of updated sentimentality. With its Southern classics-meets-hot trends approach, most likely everyone will find at least one item that speaks to their palate. The traditional-minded can’t go wrong with the fried chicken biscuit ($7). For those seeking lighter fare, the BLT salad ($12) bridges the gap between hedonistic and wholesome. Essentially a shrimp salad with BLT sensibilities, warm greens are tossed with a light sherry vinaigrette, bacon crumbles, and three chunks of ripe, fresh heirloom tomatoes. Finished with eight sweet, tail-off shrimp and some sunflower seeds, it’s the perfect light meal. And, if you need some sustenance to take with you, there’s a coffee bar serving cold press and espresso drinks, plus fresh baked cookies and scones. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Moe's Crosstown Tavern

Downtown - Pubs + Taverns

Jonathan Boncek

Moe’s Crosstown Tavern has one of the most loyal followings of any dive bar in town. It’s also one of the few you’ll find with a packed house at lunch, dinner, and on game day. There for lunch? Bypass the gut-busting burgers and try a wrap. The Bronco, chicken caesar, and buffalo shrimp wraps are all solid picks. Dinnertime? Now it’s time for a burger. Stop in on Tuesday and you’ll pay half-price for any of the cooked-to-order options, like the Eye Opener (bacon, cheddar, fried egg), and the BLT, complete with a crispy fried tomato. Thirty minutes until kick-off? No need to crack a menu, just order a few cold ones and some of the best wings in town. We swear by the crispy lemon pepper, but you can’t go wrong with the hot teriyaki or even ‘Mo Hotter.’ Get there early for Sunday brunch and fill up on drunken French toast or crab cake benedict, and be sure to check for the pancake of the day. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Mondo's

James Island - Italian

If you’re looking for hearty fare in a cozy spot, look no further than the unassuming strip mall location of Mondo’s, a James Island Italian treasure. Squeezed between a Sonic and a thrift store, Mondo’s makes the most of its space, including an outside bar and patio area. But let’s talk food. Mondo’s has sizeable portions and quality dishes, from the simple marsala pasta to the robust lasagna with pulled beef short rib. With a solid lineup of Italian-style apps like bruschetta and caprese, as well as a number of leafy greens, Mondo’s balances out its pasta-heavy menu. —Connelly Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Monza

Downtown - Pizza

Now a staple of the King Street scene, Monza continues to impress thanks to artisanal pies that come with farm fresh ingredients. With a nod to great Formula 1 racers, each pie comes with a racers’ moniker, like the Volpini — fresh tomato sauce, prosciutto, arugula, and pecorino romano — or the more classic Count Louis with roasted mushrooms and Italian pepperoni. Daily specials like the occasional gnocchi or roast pork with almond pesto and fresh tomatoes keep things interesting. But we always return to the pies, specifically the Ronnie Peterson, a perfectly crisp pie layered with oven-roasted chicken breast, artichokes, arugula, pesto, ricotta, mozzarella, and garlic. That with a glass of Prosecco enjoyed on Monza’s hidden back patio and you may start to believe you’re really in Naples. Evviva! —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Ms. Rose's

West Ashley - American

Jonathan Boncek

Fresh swordfish from Cherry Point with butternut squash puree, brussels sprouts, pecan vinaigrette, and puffed rice

Ms. Rose’s Fine Food and Cocktails’ broad menu should have something to please anyone. Start off with fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and tomato ragout, warm pretzel sticks, or whole wings with a choice of three sauces. Their fried chicken sandwich is crispy and juicy and the 6 oz. house burger with Swiss cheese, apple wood smoked bacon, and fried onions hits the spot. The fish and chips are excellent — the fried cod splashed with malt vinegar is some of the best in town. Vegetarians can choose the cheese tortellini with cherry tomato, roasted red pepper, Manchego and Parmesan cheese, spring onion, and baby spinach. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Mustard Seed

Mt. Pleasant - Fusion + Eclectic

In the early 1990s, the Mustard Seed was a small bistro in a Mt. Pleasant shopping plaza with a vegetarian-friendly menu and cute wine list. Now the Mt. Pleasant location is situated in a handsome stand-alone building with a casual wine bar atmosphere. Two Mustard Seed locations with similar decor and ambiance have sprouted up on James Island and in Summerville. They’re all part of the Dine With Sal group, and they’ve all earned loyal clienteles by offering fresh ingredients, homemade soups and desserts, and more than a few exotic twists on Lowcountry and Southern fare. Each location offers healthy vegan and vegetarian dishes, too. —T. Ballard Lesemann, Dish (Winter 2013)

NICO

Mt. Pleasant - French

After leaving his near decade-long post at Fish, Chef Nico Romo started his own venture in Mt. Pleasant, Nico Oysters + Seafood. The renovated space is stylish and welcoming with covered outdoor seating and brick walls, wood tables, and large farmhouse chandeliers inside. A small bar area wraps around the partially open kitchen and the vibe is at once convivial and chic. As the name implies, the restaurant shines when it comes to raw seafood. NICO offers up to 12 daily varieties of oysters, as well as caviar, periwinkles, and even a Scotch Oyster which involves a glass of Bowmore 12, a single oyster du jour, and four-part instructions. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Nirlep Indian Restaurant

West Ashley - Indian

Like many of you, about the only time we swing by Nirlep is at lunch, and we do it because Nirlep has one of the most wallet-friendly buffets around. Over the years, we’ve been to Nirlep so often we’ve noticed that we’ve developed a routine. We get our carb fix on first, thanks to the naan; it’s always soft, warm, and if you’re looking, a little charred in spots. And we also grab a little bit of the chopped salad; it’s a tangy combo of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes. After that we move on to the entrees, making an effort to combine both vegetarian dishes and meat ones. On the veggie end, the saag paneer (a stewy, gooey batch of spinachy goodness) and the channa masala (an onion and tomato curry dish) are good too. But truth be told, we just can’t get enough of the meat dishes. From the creamy lamb korma to the curry chicken to the tangree kebab (ultra-spicy pieces of chicken leg marinated in dark spices like black pepper, cloves, and black cumin, then tandoor-roasted) to the butter chicken (an ultra-creamy blast of spicy nirvana). Of course, you’ll need something to cool your mouth off after all of those dishes. May we recommend the rice pudding. Yum. —Chris Haire (Dish, Summer 2018)

North Central Delicatessen

Downtown - Delis + Sandwiches

Jonathan Boncek

The After Party

We’re all about eating local except when it comes to bagels. If you want legit bagels, go to North Central Deli and grab the lox. Flown in from Long Island’s A&S Bakery, these are the real deal, chewy, savory bagels you’ve been looking for and they speak to Chef Marguerite Chalmers commitment to using only very best ingredients she can find. That’s a rarity in this day and age of cheap eats. Cheap usually means a 99 cent heart attack. Not at North Central Deli. All of the sandwiches are made to order and the wursts come straight from Stiglmeier Sausage Company in Chicago. That’s tube meat we can get behind. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Ocean Room

Kiawah - Steakhouse

Jonathan Boncek

The 130-degree filet mignon with crispy new potatoes, balsamic glazed sweet onions, and horseradish crème fraîche

The preeminent place for indulgence in the Lowcountry, The Ocean Room’s gorgeous oceanside dining room, exquisite food, and discerning service, will swaddle you in luxury. This is the place to go for a special occasion. The menu typically offers five cuts of beef and four to five additional entrees, and the 1,000-bottle wine list is exceptional. In the lounge, there’s a sushi menu for those who want a lighter meal without breaking the bank, but we heartily recommend dressing up, getting a table in the dining room, and going all out. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

O-Ku

Downtown - Sushi + Japanese

Yellowtail Carpaccio

You pretty much can’t go wrong with O-Ku. With the sushi chefs turning out half-price rolls and the well-appointed bar staff slinging marked-down cocktails during happy hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (not a typo!), the King Street hotspot has something for the California roll lover and the nigiri expert alike. To be honest, we rarely stray from the sushi. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like O-Ku’s twist on the venerable potato roll (shrimp tempura, avocado, shoe-string potatoes, eel sauce, and mango remoulade). Our favorites are the tuna tataki roll (seared tuna, tempura shrimp, avocado, eel sauce, spicy aioli) and the dapper snapper roll (red snapper, spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, pickled red onion, sweet chili vinaigrette). From the bar, the crisp lemongrass gin and tonic and the sweet Saigon sunset always hit the spot. If you stick around after the lights go down, don’t be surprised if it feels more like a nightclub than a restaurant. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Old Village Post House

Mt. Pleasant - New Southern

Housed in a restored 19th century general store on charming Pitt Street, the Old Village Post House retains much of the allure that has made it a popular Mt. Pleasant outpost for downtown and East Cooper diners alike. The white beadboard walls and dark pine floors of the dining room make an elegant but cozy setting, while the tavern room, with its brown leather chairs, is a comfortable spot for casual cocktails. The seasonal menu emphasizes fresh and locally available ingredients, including crab stuffed flounder served alongside Lowcountry shrimp and yellow squash flavored with herb butter or a peach salad with spinach, radishes, goat cheese, sherry honey vinaigrette, and pecans. Intriguing combinations on the vegetable plate (jumbo asparagus, sweet corn, okra, green beans, grilled tomato), and excellent versions of Lowcountry favorites, like crab cakes and shrimp and grits, round out an impressive dining offering. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

On Forty-One

Mt. Pleasant - Southern

Restaurateur, consultant, and chef Brannon Florie does not disappoint with this upscale iteration of Southern classics made with the freshest ingredients. Located up Highway 17, just past Boone Hall Farms at the fork of Highway 41 (thus the name), this sleek space includes a comfy back deck with a lively outdoor bar surrounded by picnic tables under tall pines. Start with the smoked salmon deviled eggs, then dig into some spicy ranch dry rubbed wings. Signature dishes like shrimp and grits (starring Geechee Boy Greg Johnsman’s stoneground heirloom deliciousness), crispy fried chicken, and a pork chop with maple-apple gastrique and skillet mac and cheese will satisfy any appetite, while lighter eaters can enjoy a kale salad or grilled salmon over leek and corn risotto. This place is definitely worth the trek into Pleasantville. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

One Broad Street

Downtown - Cafés

I love shakshuka, but there is no shakshuka I love more than 1 Broad’s. Chef Kevin Getzewich makes the Middle Eastern classic a brunch must with its tangy tomatoes and custardy poached eggs. Somehow Getzewich has managed to take his fine dining background (Indaco and Macintosh) and bring the same level of execution to approachable favorites. For instance, 1 Broad’s grinder is topped with barbecue chips. Clams in potato veloute sauce share the menu with housemade noodles on Texas toast. The menu is all over the place but it’s comforting and filling and flavorful all in a gorgeous Italian Renaissance Revival building. —Kinsey Gidick(Dish, Summer 2018)

Opa Café

Summerville - Greek

The blue-and-white Aegean sparkles through in this most unlikely of strip mall joints. Tucked in the culinary hinterlands of Summerville, they serve solid Greek-American food at a good price, including the best gyros in the greater metropolitan area. The tzatziki is homemade, as is the fresh horiatiki salad, a menagerie of tomato, onion, and cucumber that hits full stride during the height of the summer harvest. They’ve replaced the old jambox with a new speaker system, but the bouzouki music that spills out all day long will have you jonesing for the whitewashed cliffs of the Greek isles. —Jeff Allen DISH (Summer 2013)

Page's Okra Grill

Mt. Pleasant - Southern

We blame it on the Redneck Rolls. The fried barbecue and cheese spring rolls were all the magic voodoo Page’s needed to basically print money. This big Mt. Pleasant restaurant sees lines out the door every Sunday for it’s brunch, but really any time of day you’re going to find it a full restaurant. That’s because the service is always friendly, the environment welcoming to even the most rambunctious tot, and the food of the stick to your ribs variety. Page’s menu is massive, befitting the restaurant’s come one, come all attitude. You’ll find Southern classics like chicken fried steak, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes, not to mention chicken livers. But there’s also a burger to satisfy even the pickiest tween. And, because Page’s knows you’re bringing the whole fam, they’ve got plenty of beer, wine, and Bloody Marys to make dinner bearable. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Paisano's Pizza Grill

James Island - Pizza

Who couldn’t love a pizza place with a pie named after our favorite hometown comedian? The Colbert (named after Stephen Colbert, of course) has bleu cheese crumbles, chicken, and hot sauce. Meanwhile, a pie called the BLTO has mozzarella cheese, bacon, and red onion, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo tossed on top after it comes out of the oven. If that’s not enough you can always tuck into the Fat Boy, a doughy beast with a garlic-stuffed crust. The little dining room on James Island is a fine place to eat, but they also deliver lickety-split. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Pancito & Lefty

Downtown - Bar

Jonathan Boncek

Chilaquiles

Like a virtual trip to a seaside Mexican outpost, Pancito & Lefty is both a lively mezcal-focused bar and a serious restaurant. For those imbibing, there’s beer, wine, and a variety of mezcal-infused cocktails, along with opportunities for tequila and mezcal tastings. The food itself is purposefully authentic, with such touches as guacamole topped with “sal de chapulin” — or grasshopper salt, a traditional prehispanic seasoning — and chilaquiles verde, a typically homey comfort food, adorned with an over-easy duck egg and slices of fresh avocado. And despite any misgivings, consider leaping at any opportunity to try the restaurants lengua, or cow tongue. In this chef’s hands, the meat is beautifully prepared, and perfectly charred and tender, with none of the liver-y flavor that usually puts people off. Expect loud, South-of-the-border music along with spicy flavors. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

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. The gyro pizza tops grilled dough with gyro meat, onions, portobellos, 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, Summer 2018)

Parcel 32

Downtown - New Southern

Taking over the Charleston single that used to house Fish, Parcel 32 is modern and fresh, with patterned green and white tile floors that make way to light wood, dark walls, and moss-colored velvet banquettes. Smaller plates include the chilled corn silk-poached shrimp ($15), made with halved, pickled shrimp in a earthenware bowl along with fresh corn salad, thin radish slices, and chunks of heirloom tomatoes. Topped with delicate pea tendrils, it’s like a Southern riff on ceviche. The lightly sautéed heirloom kale ($7) is a bright, brilliant green and the large portion is at once lemony and nutty, topped with a generous portion of benne seeds. Entrees range from a vegan, gluten free farmers plate to a grilled country pork chop and dishes split between a pan-roasted sumac day boat catch and a cast iron-seared filet. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Park Cafe

Downtown - Cafés

Jonathan Boncek

Vegetables with pate

When Karalee Fallart Nielsen opened a cozy cafe near Hampton Park, the neighborhood rejoiced. And though the hours have changed (the cafe no longer serves dinner), patrons remain just as loyal as ever. Xan McClaughlin now runs the kitchen which is entirely focused on giving locals what they want — super fresh breakfasts and lunches like house-made granola, honey poached turkey sandwiches, and, of course, Park Cafe’s cult favorite avocado toast. On weekdays, the bar is packed with a certain coffee klatch who can be found their daily while the space overflows on weekends, when the brunchers while always the morning over the latest issue of the New York Times. Suffice it to say, Park Cafe is Wagener Terrace’s Cheers. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Parson Jack's Café

West Ashley - Cafés

Parson Jack’s comes in somewhere between a country roadhouse bar and grill and a suburban Hooters location. The waitresses are decked out in school-girl outfits, the seats are church pews, and dogs are encouraged on the patio (free treats, folks). It’s seriously the best bar burger in that part of town. The beefy patties come topped with fried onions and your choice of a smorgasbord of toppings. It’s also a great old-school suds tap, crowded with locals and backed by several flat screens with the game on. And on Sunday mornings, they have a hot, self-service waffle iron and bottomless mimosas. If that’s not enough, order the Reuben. They cure their own brisket weekly, in-house. Nobody beats that. —Jeff Allen Dish (Winter 2013)

Pawpaw

Downtown - Southern

Jonathan Boncek

With its modern take on homespun classics in a space filled with sophisticated muted colors, wood-grain tabletops, and a mirror-tiled bar, Pawpaw restaurant is as chic as it is flavorful. The food is at once familiar and provocative, with a buttermilk biscuit appetizer that is sure to become the yardstick by which all future pimento cheese efforts are measured. Other standouts include crisp and seductive free-range recipe #88 fried chicken, the superlative crispy blue crab bites and the charred, yet luscious market catch fish. Don’t overlook the restaurant’s evocative cocktail menu, particularly the flamboyant “Why Haven’t I Met Bill Murray?,” billed as a smoked old fashioned. Served literally smoking, it smells like camping, with woodsy, nostalgic flavors and a finish reminiscent of a gourmet s’more. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Pearlz

West Ashley - Seafood

Jonathan Boncek

Oyster Roast

Whether you’re looking for a vibrant hotspot to take out-of-town guests for dinner or a few spots at the bar to grab a late bite, Pearlz has you covered. As you’d expect, it’s all about the oysters. You can get them steamed, but we recommend them served fresh on the half shell — don’t be shy. After you slurp down the first batch, ask your server for a round of oyster shooters — Absolut Peppar, spicy horseradish, black pepper, lemon, and, of course, a raw oyster. Just do it, trust us. Not in the mood for shellfish? Opt for an angus burger or crab cake sandwich. And don’t forget to check the bar menu for local craft brews on tap and cheap beer and wine specials. —Sam Spence

Pearlz

Downtown - Seafood

Whether you’re looking for a vibrant hotspot to take out-of-town guests for dinner or a few spots at the bar to grab a late bite, Pearlz has you covered. As you’d expect, it’s all about the oysters. You can get them steamed, but we recommend them served fresh on the half shell — don’t be shy. After you slurp down the first batch, ask your server for a round of oyster shooters — Absolut Peppar, spicy horseradish, black pepper, lemon, and, of course, a raw oyster. Just do it, trust us. Not in the mood for shellfish? Opt for an angus burger or crab cake sandwich. And don’t forget to check the bar menu for local craft brews on tap and cheap beer and wine specials. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Pho #1

North Charleston - Thai + Vietnamese

If you’ve become bored with the takeout rotisserie chicken or subs from your neighborhood grocery, 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 2018)

Phuong Restaurant

North Charleston - Thai + Vietnamese

Jonathan Boncek

The original owners of Pho #1 in the H&L Supermarket now operate Phuong just down the street. It’s classic Vietnamese fare. We aren’t talking about the ever popular bánh mì or creative Asian-fusion noodle bowls. Here, you’ll find traditional pho with tripe, meatballs, and rare beef or cool Vietnamese spring rolls wrapped in rice paper with peanut dipping sauce. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

Pick Thai

James Island - Thai + Vietnamese

Katie Gandy

Pick Thai, a small and not-very-fancy Thai restaurant, sits at the corner of a strip mall on Folly Road. It looks pretty much just like the pizza joint it replaced but with a fresh coat of paint. However, it’s what the kitchen sends out that’s worth stopping in for. The traditional Thai menu — pad Thai, prik king, green curry — is prepared using locally sourced ingredients. We particularly like the red curry duck basil fried rice and the wonton soup, which just might be the best in town. This is the perfect place to get food for a lazy, let’s-order-in-and-watch-a-movie kind of night. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

Pier 101

Folly Beach - Seafood

We didn’t realize how much we wanted to drink on Folly’s Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier until the option became available to us. Thank you Pier 101 for making the stroll to the “Edge of America” just that much more pleasant with a Kokomo cocktail in the hand. The drink, a Smirnoff Coconut, Disaronno, creme de cacoa, and cream of coconut blend, tastes like a White Russian on vacation. Top that sucker off with a seafood basket — shrimp, flounder or oysters — and you’ve quite literally got it made in the shade. Oh, and don’t sleep on those fried deviled eggs. I know they sound wack, but just trust us on this one. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Pier 41

Mt. Pleasant - Seafood

Jonathan boncek

Softshell Crab

Pier 41 has arguably the best happy hour in town. What sounds like hyperbole can be backed up by fact: $1 oysters and $1 champagne from 4-6 p.m. every day they’re open, including Friday and Saturday nights. The defense rests. And the defense apologizes for likely making the line even worse. They also have a Bloody Mary that will put all other Bloodys to shame, and will make you the queen or king of Instagram for a day. The monster is $35 and is both a cocktail and a meal. Weighing in at 20 ounces, it’s got Dixie pepper vodka and enough Armoracia rusticana to choke a horse. But the murky beverage also comes with a delightful spread, all perched on top: four fried oysters, three chilled shrimp, and a giant king crab leg. It’s the kind of thing that makes adjoining tables order what she’s having. The best part is the food is solid: The oysters are crisp, yet juicy, and the peel-and-eat shrimp are paired with pepperoncini, an unexpectedly agreeable sweet foil. And did I mention the king crab leg? You had me at king crab leg. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Poe's Tavern

Sullivan's Island - Pubs + Taverns

Big, sloppy, house-ground cheeseburgers draw the crowds to Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island. By day, it’s a bustling beach lunch spot, by night a raucous bar and grill. The rustic walls are hung with Edgar Allan Poe memorabilia, and all the burgers are named after his tales. The basic Gold Bug has a mundane slice of cheese, while the fearsome Tell-Tale Heart is topped with fried egg, bacon, and cheddar cheese. For my money, though, the Hop Frog with barbecue sauce, bacon, and Monterey Jack is the real masterpiece, especially when combined with a side of thin, crispy hand-cut fries and a local draft beer. Poe’s fish tacos are rumored to be pretty good, too, but with those big, beefy burgers demanding attention, we’re not sure how anyone would find that out. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Poke Tea House

Downtown - Fusion + Eclectic

With a new, second location in Mt. Pleasant, Poke Tea House proves that when it comes to fast casual, diners like to build their own, perfect meal, or, in other words, “poke your way.” The poke your way ($11.99 one protein, $14.50 two proteins) option lets customers choose from nine proteins including chicken and eel, 15 mix-ins ranging from tamago to shiso leaves, and 11 toppings including squid salad and corn. And considering there are also 10 flavored sauce options and the choice of seaweed burrito or green salad bases, odds are anyone can muster a concoction to their liking. — Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Pollo Loko Peruvian

North Charleston - Mexican

Chicken and Ribs Combo

Hidden away in a strip mall just outside I-526 on Dorchester road, Pollo Loko serves up a mix of Peruvian and Mexican with other South American offerings. When you pull into the parking lot, you can smell the charcoal smoke of their signature dish — Peruvian charcoal grilled chicken with crispy skin, smoky flavor and perfectly tender meat. Served up with a tart vinegar cabbage and soft red rice, it’s a reasonably priced treat. Popular dishes like the Colombian meat buffet on a plate Bandeja paisa and Peruvian stir-fry lomo saltado offer other tasty options. If more traditional Mexican is what you’re after, Pollo Loko has a full selection of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and other dishes from more directly south of the border cuisine. Fried and grilled tilapia and shrimp round out the menu, and you can pair anything with sides like fried plantains and yucca or a tall cool vanilla spiked Horchata. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

Poogan's Smokehouse

Downtown - Barbecue

Don’t let the high ceilings and weathered, industrial brick walls fool you. Poogan’s Smokehouse emanates warmth. Thanks to some bright strings of Edison bulbs and a cheerful bluegrass soundtrack, it almost feels like an outdoor space. The ambiance is laid-back, while the service lands right in the sweet spot between attentiveness and privacy. Also hitting the bull’s eye, the menu offers a funkified take on a traditional smokehouse barbecue. Think spicy pickled fried okra; crisp, decadent pork rinds with Buffalo sauce and bleu cheese; or a riff on pork and beans with charred chunks of smoked pork belly. Poogan’s Porch fans will recognize the fried chicken, not to mention the shrimp and grits. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Prohibition

Downtown - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek

Lamb chops

The entrees are dazzling and change seasonally; summer offerings include an Anson Mills farro risotto, brimming with seasonal greens, wild mushrooms, and fresh peas, or a burger crammed with maple-bourbon bacon jam, garlic aioli, crisped onion and cheddar cheese, and the requisite “local catch” which changes with more frequency. Those prone to the decision making paralysis that often comes along with such a robust entree menu should take note of the hidden gem of the menu: more than a half-dozen artfully crafted appetizer and shareable plates born out of a love of local produce, much of it sourced from Ambrose Farms. Stand-out offerings include an heirloom tomato salad drizzled with cucumber sumac and Lowcountry Creamery yogurt, dotted with Sea Island red pea falafel; Brussels sprouts tenderly crisped in a chili-lime sauce, tossed with pickled carrots; and warm Diver scallops brushed with brown butter and citrus. —Sarah Reynolds (Dish, Summer 2018)

Purlieu

Downtown - French

Jonathan Boncek

Frog leg tarte

Stepping into this intimate, relaxed Westside bistro is almost like being transported to a Parisian neighborhood. Chef John Zucker’s seasonal menu offers traditional French dishes like frog leg tarte and rabbit rillet, plus reimagined classics such as mache salad with duck prosciutto or a refined bouillabaisse filled with local seafood. The warm, cozy space is filled with reclaimed wood ceilings and tile walls, providing a distinctly European ambiance. The carefully chosen wine list only adds to the experience. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Queen Street Grocery & Café

Downtown - Cafés

The postcard-worthy sidewalk outside of Queen Street Grocery is a textbook example of why so many people love Charleston. Just a block off King Street, QSG has stayed a local favorite in a city full of local favorites for years, by sticking to a simple plan: Keep the place stocked with the essentials and keep the menu board full of delicious fresh-made sandwiches, salads, crepes, and more. Specials change regularly, but for us, the choice for lunch is always between the pressed Cuban sandwich and everything else. Stop by in the morning and you’ll find cold-pressed coffee and crowd-favorite, made-to-order crepes, with something for both sweet and savory crepe lovers out there. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

R. Kitchen

Downtown - American

There’s something special about texting a restaurant and asking for a reservation, giving the anonymous user on the other end your name and any food allergies you may have. What’s even more special is showing up to R Kitchen ­— either downtown or in West Ashley, both spots are unassuming buildings you’d otherwise pass without looking up, so look up — and walking into what feels like a good friend’s kitchen. Cliche as that sounds, some of the best parts of your R Kitchen meal are the tidbits of conversation you’ll hear from other guests and the back story the personable chefs offer regarding their carefully crafted dishes. Pass bottles of wine around the bar or patio — we’re all family here — and bite into a light piece of wahoo to start. Or perhaps your night starts with fresh tomatoes, drizzled with the lightest touch of spices and oil, relishing in their own seasonal goodness. The menu changes every night at R Kitchen, depending on what the chefs can get their hands on, and the surprise is part of the fun. We’ve tucked into creamy pasta, fresh corn salad, and closed-eye-pure ecstasy creme brulee. You get the idea. This place isn’t really a hidden gem anymore (reservations should be made weeks, if not months in advance), but that doesn’t make it any less special to us. —Connelly Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Rarebit

Downtown - American

Jonathan Boncek

With a long marble-topped bar, fresh seafoam green paint, and green-and-black plaid seats on the booths, this retro-styled King Street diner captures the feel of the pre-Hippie ’60s. The menu looks backward too, with classic, no-frills fare ranging from tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches to big plates of fish and chips and chicken and waffles. The double track burger has two thin-pressed patties topped with ketchup, mustard, and pickles on a soft Cuban bun. The breakfast menu’s steak and eggs, huevos rancheros, and French toast are served all day, offering something substantial to line your stomach even late at night. Brent Sweatman heads the bar, and his cocktails recreate old classics like the Sazerac and the Corpse Reviver, while his house-made ginger beer tops off the bar’s signature Moscow Mules served in snazzy copper mugs. It all comes together to create a rare bit of nostalgia that doesn’t feel dated at all. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Red Drum

Mt. Pleasant - Fusion + Eclectic

Jonathan Boncek

Red Drum’s menu reads like a mash-up of a traditional steak house, Lowcountry bistro, and an elevated Tex-Mex joint. Coming from the mind of owner Texan Ben Berryhill, Red drum takes Tex-Mex standards like tortilla soup, enchiladas, and crab meat tostaditas and runs them alongside ubiquitous Lowcountry favorites like shrimp and grits. The wood grilled Joyce Farms chicken breast comes with Mexican melting cheese, garlic cream, crisp tortilla strips, avocado relish, and asparagus. The wood grilled quail and Texas venison sausage is a must try. Their steak menu offers four cuts with six different sauces along with six Tex-Mex influenced a la carte sides. If you come during happy hour expect standing room only at the full service bar, but there is a good chance you will meet your next date. If you’re looking of course. —Robert Donovan (Dish, Summer 2018)

Red Orchids

West Ashley - Chinese

You’d never guess that some of the best Chinese food in Charleston is tucked in a nondescript West Ashley strip mall. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Inside you’ll find a sophisticated, minimalist aesthetic, where 1920s Singapore prints line the walls, and red paper lanterns cast a warm glow. Husband-and-wife owners Tony and Kelly Chu have been tantalizing our palates for more than a decade. Diners make the pilgrimage to feast on sizzling chicken and shiitakes cupped in cool lettuce wraps, braised duck, finely spiced lamb chops, honey glazed walnut shrimp, spicy Korean steak, and Red Orchids’ succulent and crispy signature red snapper. Be sure to save room for Kelly’s housemade, seasonal ice creams. With flavors like green tea, honey bourbon, lychee berry, black sesame, ginger, lavender, or coffee with bacon, all available as shots, Red Orchids is definitely worth the trek. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Red's Ice House

Mt. Pleasant - Seafood

Red’s Ice House boasts a terrific view of Shem Creek. There’s a cozy bar inside, but most of the action takes place on the multi-level decks. Open for lunch and dinner, it’s a popular, high-energy hangout for tan, fun-loving locals and tourists of all ages. Accessible by boat. Featuring the dog-friendly “Yappy Hour” once a month.

Renzo

Downtown - Pizza

Jonathan Boncek

In a town teeming with establishments serving small, thoughtful, farm-to-table dishes, it’s hard to stand out. Renzo, employing a seeming mantra of originality squared, has found a niche. It’s the bastard child of a well-heeled Spanish/Italian chef and a mad scientist. Not surprisingly, the menu is a bit of a vocab test, even for diehard foodies. All the same, it’s a welcome education and a likely introduction to some things you’ve never had before ... Or at least not in the same mouthful. Case in point, the boquerones ($8). These Spanish-style vinegar-cured anchovies are often served tapas-style, on toasted bread with grated tomato and extra virgin olive oil. Here, the olive oil remains, but the small, piquant fish are wrapped around juicy pink grapefruit slices and topped with a heaping helping of ground black pepper. Make sure to include enough olive oil in each bite, as it’s a strong and acidic combination that kind of has to grow on you. The Shabazi ($14), however, is where the rubber meets the road. The heavily charred, chewy crust is topped with a vinegary tomato sauce and dotted with ground lamb balls. From there it’s finished with a generous portion of fresh parsley, mint, and purple basil. “That doesn’t sound like much of a pizza,” you might muse. And I’d be inclined to agree, but for the accompanying small dish of yogurt and zhug, a green Yemenite hot sauce. Made with garlic, parsley, and cilantro, along with olive oil and Thai bird chiles, it’s the Girls Gone Wild version of chimichurri, and it’s explosive. If you can take the heat — and it’s formidable — you’ll likely wonder where zhug has been all your life. Along with wood-fired pizza, Renzo hangs its hat on natural wine. There’s a thoughtful selection of bottles, plus a smattering of European-focused options by the glass. Undeniably deliberate, yet prone to (successful) flights of fancy, Renzo has hit the ground running. With a spot-on mix of style and flavor, I just want to kiss it, and I don’t even care who sees me. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Riso Noodle House

West Ashley - Asian Fusion

Honeycomb tripe, fried pork intestine, and soybean pork feet are just a few dishes that stand out at the Riso Noodle House in West Ashley. Hidden in a strip mall on Sam Rittenberg, it’s not a flashy joint, but the food is cheap, and it’s darned good, too. They’ve got everything from bento boxes filled with crispy chicken and mongolian beef to big bowls of coconut curry and rice. We recommend the aromatic bowl of Singapore rice noodles with mild curry sauce, but if you’re feeling frisky, order off the authentic Chinese menu. The Hong Kong sirloin and noodle stew is as good as it gets. —Eric Doksa Dish (Winter 2014)

Rita's Seaside Grille

Folly Beach - Burgers

Located right across the street from the Folly Beach fishing pier, Rita’s is perfectly situated for a midday break from the sand and sun. When the weather’s nice, the big windows are flung open, giving the whole place an outdoor feel. There’s a big covered patio as well, perfect for sipping a margarita while listening to live music and enjoying the sea breeze. The menu focuses on standard American fare, like barbecue sandwiches, gourmet burgers, and a selection of salads. If you’re in the mood for seafood (we always are at the beach), go for the fried seafood basket with oysters, shrimp, and flounder, or get the blackened tuna nachos with watermelon pico de gallo. Weekend brunch has fried chicken biscuits and shrimp ‘n’ grits, and be sure to check out the specials — every now and then they’ll cook up a batch of their Cap’n Crunch French Toast. —Erica Jackson Curran DISH (Summer 2013)

The Royal American

Downtown - Bar

The Royal American has been one of our favorite bars for a long time now. Some of our best memories have been at concerts at the dive right next to the train tracks. But Royal has is now not only a great bar, it’s a pretty solid restaurant too. In fact, they have a new menu with quality eats that belie the dive bar rep — from daily specials like a fresh chicken shawarma salad to menu staples like the crazy good dry-rub magic wings (not too spicy, but with a subtle sweet kick). Sounds like just what we’d like with Royal’s Rum Punch. —Mary Scott Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Runaway Bay Restaurant

North Charleston - Caribbean

At North Charleston’s Riverfront Park, you’ll find a Jamaican restaurant hidden among the Army Wives sets and the annual sculpture installation, where Runaway Bay has a waterside view that does much to conjure up the feel of the Caribbean. The view from the restaurant’s expansive second-story windows is unique, as is Runaway Bay’s adherence to Jamaican culinary tradition. The menu features traditional dishes like jerk chicken and pork, curry goat, and oxtail and butterbeans, plus there’s a hearty brunch on Sundays. With its serene, almost remote location, it’s a great way to take a tropical vacation without leaving the tri-county area. —Susan Cohen Dish (Winter 2013)

Rutledge Cab Co.

Downtown - American

Jonathan Boncek

BBQ Pork Flatbread

Rutledge Cab Co. has answered the call of upper peninsula residents looking for an all-American joint where they can eat a couple times a week. The restaurant is slinging burgers, pickling veggies, and shaking up cocktails, and at a low price point, too. Though the menu has recently changed, the food is comforting but a little more uptown — think chicken or beef skewers, Thai green curry, and shrimp and grits. The space has a modern, yet unpretentious vibe, with a huge welcoming patio. The burger is one of the best values in town, and we recommend starting off with the pu pu platter, featuring crab and leek rangoons, charred barbecue wings, teriyaki beef skewers, and tuna satays. Did we mention they serve breakfast all day? —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Saltwater Cowboys

Mt. Pleasant - American

While seated on the dog-friendly outdoor deck, the water views cannot be beat. Kayakers, shrimp boats, and even dolphins pass by. Inside, the space is bright and airy, with large floor-to-ceiling windows and giant TVs silently tuned to ESPN. The menu features a variety of sandwiches, as well as fried seafood platters and barbecue. Try the fried grouper fingers — these ain’t no fish sticks. Rather, the five chubby “fingers” — firm and fresh — are lightly breaded and perfectly fried. They’re accompanied by an excellent tartar sauce, but the white, flaky grouper is so lovely it seems a shame to drown it in mayo, no matter how fine. Order a bevy of sides, you can’t go wrong. The mac and cheese is a prime example. Topped with a layer of melted cheddar so thick as to require a knife, it’s comforting decadence at its best. Similarly, the corn pudding will likely bring back childhood memories. Inaccurately named, this is creamed corn if ever there were. Filled with soft, cooked onions and plump white corn kernels, there’s a familiar tinny flavor that indicates the yellow corn may have come from a can. For some people — like my dining companion — this may induce a nostalgia-based hunger that makes it hard to share. The Geechie Boy house grits are a fine example of the genre. Creamy and buttery, yet not ridiculously so, they’re another solid offering. Same can be said of the collards, which are neither too sweet nor too vinegary, and still retain a bit of their verdant vegetable-ness. If it’s ‘cue you crave, go for the smoked turkey breast. In addition to great flavor, the two thick slices are tender and succulent, not always an easy feat with turkey. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Santi's

Downtown - Mexican

Dirt cheap pitchers of strong margaritas, sangria, and cerveza with the best chips and carafes of salsa would be enough to keep most of us returning to Santi’s, but the spirited décor and the green outdoor patio combined with the authentic Mexican comfort food makes this a regular spot. Don’t be deterred by the shabby exterior and the full parking lot — the cheerful interior with friendly, speedy service will quell any nerves. Start with the fresh, chunky guacamole or frijoles con queso, a bowl of melted cheese, chorizo sausage onion, tomato, and cilantro. Mama’s specialty of chicken soup with beef-filled tortilla is soulful and the Mexican tacos have the most flavorful meat complete with the simplicity of a lime, cilantro, and onions. The fun ambiance, affordable pricing, and boozy cocktails will leave you in a Mexicana state of mind. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

Santi's

Mt. Pleasant - Mexican

Dirt cheap pitchers of strong margaritas, sangria, and cerveza with the best chips and carafes of salsa would be enough to keep most of us returning to Santi’s, but the spirited décor and the green outdoor patio combined with the authentic Mexican comfort food makes this a regular spot. Don’t be deterred by the shabby exterior and the full parking lot — the cheerful interior with friendly, speedy service will quell any nerves. Start with the fresh, chunky guacamole or frijoles con queso, a bowl of melted cheese, chorizo sausage onion, tomato, and cilantro. Mama’s specialty of chicken soup with beef-filled tortilla is soulful and the Mexican tacos have the most flavorful meat complete with the simplicity of a lime, cilantro, and onions. The fun ambiance, affordable pricing, and boozy cocktails will leave you in a Mexicana state of mind. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

Seanachai Social Club

Johns Island - Cocktail Bar

This is a members-only bar on Johns Island that’s happy to let you check it out a time or two before you pony up for membership. It’s owned and operated by one of the coolest Irishmen in town, Gerry Kieran, a longtime bartender who is much-loved by his clientele, and for good reason. The specialty drinks use artisanal bitters, cherries pickled in-house, and plenty of true Irish whiskey. Gerry has a small barrel of the Dublin, his version of the Manhattan, which features Irish whiskey, Benedictine, sweet vermouth, and maple bitters. He also has what must be the best Irish whiskey list in town from blended whiskeys to single malt and a handful of single pot still whiskeys, like Middleton Very Rare from Cork that’s aged 25-27 years. It’s a true neighborhood watering hole, with no TVs, a low volume conducive to conversation, food trucks on Friday, and good live music from local groups like the Flat Foot Floozies, which should have you doing a happy Irish jig. —Stephanie Barna Dish (Winter 2013)

Sermet's Courtyard

Daniel Island - Mediterranean

Sermet’s Courtyard is the Daniel Island outpost of long-time Charleston restaurateur and painter Sermet Aslan, offering an eclectic Mediterranean fusion in a relaxed setting beneath the big live oaks. The appetizers and entrées combine multiple layers of fresh and exotic flavors. Grilled portabella mushrooms are stuffed with crab and spiked with the zip of chorizo, while a grilled skirt steak is enlivened with a zesty chimichurri. Shrimp couscous, lamb and beef meatballs, and chicken sautéed with prosciutto, sun-dried tomato, and fennel blend bright and savory flavors, while rich, fresh-made desserts and daily wine specials round out the meal. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 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 salads and some killer onion rings. Let’s not forget the milkshakes. They’re incredible. —Eric Doksa (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Shellmore

Mt. Pleasant - Seafood

Known for its happy hour, this intimate Mt. Pleasant wine bar sits on a tree-lined street and is replete with cozy touches. Pull up a Parisienne chair and place an order for raw oysters, crudo, or a cheese plate served on flowery antique dishes. Look to the chalkboard on the wall for the daily specials, a rotating menu of seasonal salads, thoughtful sandwiches, and comforting small plates. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Shelter Kitchen + Bar

Mt. Pleasant - American

Jonathan Boncek

Shrimp and Grits

Roll up to the Shelter on Saturday and Sunday and you’ll see it packed to the gills for their uber-popular weekend brunch. Grab a table on the deck and enjoy one of their ‘crushes’ (fresh, fruity, icy cocktails) or decadent brunch favorites like breakfast tacos, steak rancheros, and more. The price is right, the location near Shem Creek is great, and with live local music to boot, we’ll probably see you there. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Shi Ki

Downtown - Sushi + Japanese

The next time you get a sushi craving and don’t want to break the bank, head to this little hole-in-the-wall next to the Rite Aid on East Bay. This mom-and-pop establishment is a hidden neighborhood secret with loyal patrons who seek high-quality, affordable, Japanese food and sushi off the beaten path. Fill up on a Dynamite Roll (soft shell crab, smelt roe, and scallops), Super Crunch Roll (shrimp tempura and Asian pear), romantic Sushi Boat for Two, or a steaming bowl of udon noodle soup packed with seafood swimming in a dashi broth. They’ve got some of the best lunch deals in town. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Skoogie's

Mt. Pleasant - Hot Dog Joints

This tiny lunch spot 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 2018)

Smoke BBQ

Downtown - Barbecue

Jonathan Boncek

Get the wings. Although the crispy confit — oh yeah, you read that right — wings should be reason enough to compel you into the industrial-chic space known as Smoke BBQ, the rock-and-roll ambiance may be what keeps some of you coming back. With Jack White and The Strokes setting the tone, the vibe is young and hip. The menu, however, plays it pretty straight, with a variety of thoughtful, relatively uncomplicated sandwiches like a Pastrami Rueben made with house-cured meat and homemade sauerkraut. Along with brisket, chicken, and pork plate options, don’t miss the mouthwatering hash and grits. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Smoky Oak Taproom

James Island - Barbecue

You’ve made it to the Smoky Oak when you smell the red oak and hickory smoke wafting across Camp Road. Beneath that wafting smoke lies a funhouse of pulled pork, brisket, wings, burgers, chicken, ribs, sausage, and 45 taps of ice-cold beer. Live music takes the stage at night, featuring artists as local as the native James Islanders. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Sorghum & Salt

Downtown - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek

Root vegetable bolognese

Situated in the space that once held the beloved Two Boroughs Larder, Chef Tres Jackson’s Sorghum & Salt has more than enough chops to fill those shoes. Tenaciously fresh and unapologetically creative, Jackson’s cuisine offers a mix of familiar and foreign in ways that are fresh and unexpected. The menu is as continually in flux as the ever-shifting Lowcountry weather, but don’t miss a chance to try the superlative salt-roasted beets or sweet, yet savory Ambrose Farms radishes. The desserts are equally flamboyant, yet delicate, with the notable standout of an airy beet cremeux. A group effort and an obvious labor of love, anticipate thoughtful, provocative food prepared and served by people who are clearly proud of it. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

South Seas Oasis

Downtown - Bar

Jonathan Boncek

From its high, flowery paper parasol-covered ceiling to the playfully named dishes coming from the “Ooh-Mami Bar,” there’s an inference that a good time will be had at South Seas Sushi, an expansion of the South Seas Tiki Lounge. Service is friendly and attentive, and I followed my waitress’s enthusiastic endorsement of the chicken yakitori ($10). Here, three chunks of white meat chicken are served on skewers and lightly drizzled with teriyaki sauce. The meat was tender and there’s a subtle grill flavor. The shrimp crackle pop ($10) delivers a dozen tempura-battered shrimp piled around a ramekin of sriracha mayo. This would make an ideal accompaniment to some of the restaurant’s relentlessly creative cocktails, like the Jade Garden ($11) made with tequila, coconut, and matcha green tea powder or the MSG ($11), which offers a fanciful mix of maraschino, sake, and gin, along with smoked mushroom and orange bitters. It’s mixology on overdrive, and the sheer originality is impressive. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Southern General

Johns Island - Delis + Sandwiches

Destination diners may venture out to Johns Island seeking French or Italian, but locals know that a modest sandwich shop called The Southern General is just as much worth the drive. The Southern General divides its list of sandwich offerings between The General’s Sandwiches and a collection of craft sandwiches that amp up traditional offerings. The Super Butt comes with braised pork, smoky-sweet onion-mustard relish, and spicy-sweet potato cream cheese on a brioche bun. Other winners include the Cu-Bahn-Mi with candied pork belly and sweet potato garlic kimchi topped with a guavenero-banana mustard that deftly fuses habanero peppers with guava fruit. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Stack's Coastal Kitchen

Mt. Pleasant - American

Jonathan Boncek

Pan-roasted porkchop plate

Stack's has somewhat of a dual personality. On one side is a great little lunch place with dishes like seared tuna salad, muffaletta, and mini tuna burgers. Right next door is Stack's Evening Eats, which serves — you guessed it ­— dinner in a more bistro setting. Over on that side, you can start off with fresh pulled mozzarella, country paté, and a glass of wine. For the main course try the cornflake fried flounder or the grilled rib-eye with smoked gouda mac and cheese and green beans. Both sides are worth checking out, depending on what time you find yourself in the area. —Eric Doksa

Stella's

Downtown - Greek

Jonathan Boncek

It’s hard to say what’s most striking about Stella’s on Saint Philips Street. Is it the hip, yet boisterous vibe? The large portions at an incredibly reasonable price point? Or is it the vast, authentic, and consistently delicious menu? Regardless of your ultimate conclusion, this is a trifecta worth a visit… Or five. The grilled octopus and spanikopita are simple perfection, while the saganaki is a visual showstopper and an excuse to pig out on cheese. Stella’s own recipes — namely her calamari and braised lamb shank with No. 5 noodles and brown butter shank sauce, are at once comforting and elevated, testimony to the woman who inspired it all. Cheaper than a trip to Greece and every bit as tasty, just make sure you call ahead for reservations as the place tends to be packed. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Stems & Skins

North Charleston - Wine Bar

Promising “fresh and freaky ferments,” Stems and Skins serves up just that. You’ll find owner and sommelier Matt Tunstall behind the bar, serving the cozy banquettes, and even sabering select bottles of bubbly if you stop in at the right time. Stems is Tunstall’s first stop after curating the cellar at Husk, and the experience shows. A thoughtful mix of small batch wines available by the bottle and the glass means it’s hard to make a bad choice. And Stems’ fresh take on small plates, including a very Euro exploration of canned seafood snacks, make it unique compared to the rest of the growing and increasingly-upscale neighborhood. Not in the mood for wine? House cocktails and brews are available too. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Sticky Fingers

Mt. Pleasant - Barbecue

For more than two decades, Sticky Fingers has been dishing up Memphis-style barbecue for hungry Lowcountry residents. It’s now a chain with 16 locations spanning five states, but the Mt. Pleasant location is the one that started it all. The barbecue includes pulled pork, smoked turkey, and beef brisket, but the dry-rubbed ribs are the star of the show. A blend of full-service family restaurant and barbecue shack, Sticky Fingers has a full bar and a broad menu with plenty of options like fried catfish, fried shrimp, and cheeseburgers, too, for those heathens who don’t like hickory-smoked pork. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2013)

Sticky Fingers

Downtown - Barbecue

For more than two decades, Sticky Fingers has been dishing up Memphis-style barbecue for hungry Lowcountry residents. It’s now a chain with 16 locations spanning five states, but the Mt. Pleasant location is the one that started it all. The barbecue includes pulled pork, smoked turkey, and beef brisket, but the dry-rubbed ribs are the star of the show. A blend of full-service family restaurant and barbecue shack, Sticky Fingers has a full bar and a broad menu with plenty of options like fried catfish and cheeseburgers, too, for those heathens who don’t like hickory-smoked pork. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2013)

Sticky Fingers

Summerville - Barbecue

For more than two decades, Sticky Fingers has been dishing up Memphis-style barbecue for hungry Lowcountry residents. It’s now a chain with 16 locations spanning five states, but the Mt. Pleasant location is the one that started it all. The barbecue includes pulled pork, smoked turkey, and beef brisket, but the dry-rubbed ribs are the star of the show. A blend of full-service family restaurant and barbecue shack, Sticky Fingers has a full bar and a broad menu with plenty of options like fried catfish, fried shrimp, and cheeseburgers, too, for those heathens who don’t like hickory-smoked pork. —Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2013)

Stono Market

Johns Island - General Location

The folks at Ambrose Farm may be best known for local organic vegetables and the most beautiful strawberries in town, but all that seasonal goodness can be found alongside a menagerie of knickknacks, antiques, and down-home grub at the venerable old Tomato Shed Café on Johns Island. They’ve expanded the joint a bit over the years, but it still serves up Lowcountry favorites like fried flounder, crab cakes, country fried steak, sweet onion pie, and she-crab soup, with a plethora of sides chock full of seasonal ingredients straight from the farm. Wash it all down with a self-serve bottomless iced tea or lemonade. Just don’t forget to grab a couple of their famous tomato pies from the cooler before you head back to town. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Sunrise Bistro

Johns Island - Cafés

For years Sunrise Bistro has been keeping Johns Island full. The casual cafe serves breakfast and lunch but its most loyal fans line up for brunch where they can get the most bang for their buck. Name another Lowcountry restaurant where you can get biscuits and gravy for $5? We’re big fans of the Jessica Ann omelet, an eggy plate of fresh basil, red onions, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Or you can tank up on carbs with a grit bowl. It’s not fancy, it’s not pretentious, Sunrise Bistro is simply good. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Sunrise Bistro

Summerville - Breakfast

For years Sunrise Bistro has been keeping Johns Island full. The casual cafe serves breakfast and lunch but its most loyal fans line up for brunch where they can get the most bang for their buck. Name another Lowcountry restaurant where you can get biscuits and gravy for $5? We’re big fans of the Jessica Ann omelet, an eggy plate of fresh basil, red onions, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Or you can tank up on carbs with a grit bowl. It’s not fancy, it’s not pretentious, Sunrise Bistro is simply good. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Surf Bar

Folly Beach - Bar

Just off the main drag on Folly, this beloved watering hole lures surfers and non-surfers alike with its laid-back, rustic vibe and groovy playlist from the 1960s and early ’70s. Surfboards line the rafters, and Hendrix and Zappa make good company from their poster perches on the walls. The wraparound bar is the centerpiece, visually and socially, strung with festive white Christmas lights, with vintage surf videos looping on a big screen TV above. Rotating suds on tap include classics like Guinness and local favorites like Holy City Pluff Mud Porter. Requisite tropical stress relievers, like the popular Painkiller or muddled mint Mojito, enable you to leave your worries behind. Indulge in the Philly cheesesteaks, generous burgers, or ruby red Ahi tuna tacos with roasted corn and poblano salsa. Or just come for the relaxed, throwback vibe. Grab a PBR and head for the foosball table on the back deck, and be sure to check out the weekly lineup of live music acts. When the bartender cranks the volume on his favorite song, don’t be shy, sing along. You’ll be in good company. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Swig & Swine

West Ashley - Barbecue

Jonathan Boncek

If you follow pitmaster and co-owner Anthony DiBernardo on social media, you’ll see that the man doesn’t sleep. He’s stoking his custom-built smokers at 2 a.m., tirelessly perfecting the art of wood-smoked barbecue, sometimes with his son in tow. The man is clearly passionate about his craft, and the rest of us get to reap the benefits. Pull up a stool at the meat counter at this popular eatery, and DiBernardo himself might break from tending the fires to offer you a taste while you’re waiting for your order, be it tender pulled pork, sausage, turkey, wings, pork belly, or brisket. All come with your choice of four house-made sauces (an amalgam of southern barbecue styles), plus a bonus jalapeño sauce for heat seekers. Sides are plentiful and service swift and friendly. Wash it all down with a sweet tea if you so choose, but the swig list here might tempt you to hang out long after you’ve taken your last bite. Creative craft cocktails incorporate moonshine, absinthe, muddled fruits, and herbs, and the craft beer list goes on for pages. With whiskeys, swanky bourbons, wines, and even hard ciders, it’s clear this contemporary roadside eatery takes its swig as seriously as its swine. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Tabbuli Grill

Downtown - Mediterranean

Jonathan Boncek

Tabbuli Grill is one of the first places tourists walk by after disgorging from the cruise ships. It’s sitting at a prime location at the tip of Market Street, and it catches passing diners with its open-air patio and picture-perfect palm trees swaying in the breeze. But it’s not just for tourists. Locals will find this a pleasant place to spend a great happy hour with its creative mix of cocktails and tasty Mediterranean nibbles like hummus, baba ghanoush, and falafel. —Eric Doksa Dish (Winter 2013)

Taco Boy

Folly Beach - Mexican

Jonathan Boncek

The infectiously upbeat trumpets of mariachi music blasts as you enter the doors of Taco Boy, instantly setting a festive mood. As far as “concept” restaurants go, this place nails it, with its yellow ochre and burnt sienna hued walls hung with painted Oaxacan masks, stripped wooden ceilings, oversized colored Christmas lights, and rusty chandeliers. Even its bathroom walls are lined with vintage Mexican movie posters. None of this eye for detail would matter if the food weren’t as good as it is. Fresh guacamole makes a great start, and taco choices are endless, such as chipotle marinated grilled Mahi Mahi, kimchi beef with sesame seeds and Korean barbecue sauce, or the Al Pastor with thinly shaved spit fire pork and roasted pineapple salsa, all served in your choice of corn or flour tacos, or Bibb lettuce wraps for the virtuous. With taps flowing, margaritas galore, and a boozy, creamy tres leches dessert to finish off your meal, you’ll be bowing reverently to our Lady of Guadalupe as you exit. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Taco Boy

Downtown - Mexican

Jonathan Boncek

The infectiously upbeat trumpets of mariachi music blasts as you enter the doors of Taco Boy, instantly setting a festive mood. As far as “concept” restaurants go, this place nails it, with its yellow ochre and burnt sienna hued walls hung with painted Oaxacan masks, stripped wooden ceilings, oversized colored Christmas lights, and rusty chandeliers. Even its bathroom walls are lined with vintage Mexican movie posters. None of this eye for detail would matter if the food weren’t as good as it is. Fresh guacamole makes a great start, and taco choices are endless, such as chipotle marinated grilled Mahi Mahi, kimchi beef with sesame seeds and Korean barbecue sauce, or the Al Pastor with thinly shaved spit fire pork and roasted pineapple salsa, all served in your choice of corn or flour tacos, or Bibb lettuce wraps for the virtuous. With taps flowing, margaritas galore, and a boozy, creamy tres leches dessert to finish off your meal, you’ll be bowing reverently to our Lady of Guadalupe as you exit. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Taste of India

West Ashley - Indian

We’re long-time naan eaters. And while we can’t say that we’re experts, there is little doubt that Taste of India serves up the best naan in town. The reason: It’s fluffier than the other varieties you’ll find in the Lowcountry. There are no tough bites here; just pillowy yumminess. Like the other Indian joints in the area, Taste of India is best known as a lunch buffet spot, and rightfully so. However, Taste of India is just as good for dinner. The entrees are great — the chicken korma is a sweet and spicy fave and the lamb roghan josh is a comforting plate featuring tender chunks of lamb in a hearty brown sauce — while the tandoori chicken is sure to delight fans of backyard barbecues. Meanwhile, if seafood’s your thing, grab the shrimp vindaloo; a bright and brilliant red, this dish packs a spicy punch. If you’re into grilled meats, you’ll probably like their kebabs — chicken ginger, boti (hunks of lamb), and seekh (minced lamb). There are also plenty of vegetarian options, from the aloo mutter (potatoes and peas in a creamy sauce), palak chana (fresh spinach with cheese), chana masala (chickpeas cooked with tomato and onion) to the mutter paneer (peas and cheese in a curry sauce) and bhindi masala (okra with tomatoes, onions, and ginger). —Chris Haire (Dish, Summer 2018)

Tasty Thai & Sushi

Downtown - Thai + Vietnamese

Come for the happy hour and stay for the huge menu at this traditional Thai restaurant on King Street. With $3.50 draft beers from 4-8 p.m. (including Westbrook’s White Thai), you can wash down soups, salads, curries, and sushi with more than a couple brews. Start with a pot of the tom yum koong, a flavorful bowl bursting with traditional Thai tastes like lemon grass, galanage root, lime leaves, and cilantro. Shrimp swim in the broth and a pot is big enough for two to three people. House specialties include red curry duck and spicy udon noodles and salads like the Yum Yai (mixed seafood) are healthy and filling enough for a meal. Did we mention sushi? This place has plenty of it, with a sushi chef whipping up the tasty rolls toward the front of the restaurant. Might as well try the King Street roll (since you know, you’re there) with sliced tuna, crab salad, and avocado on top of crab, tempura flakes, and a cream roll and drizzled with eel sauce. —Connelly Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Tattooed Moose

Downtown - Bar

Long before there were oasts and home teams on Morrison Drive, there was the Tattooed Moose. A neighborhood dive bar festooned with stuffed critters, including its namesake, the Moose hit paydirt as one of the first places in town to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. To their credit, aside from the crowds (deservedly) getting a little bigger, the fame hasn’t gone to their antlers. The Moose is known for its cold beer, killer sandwiches, and its duck fat fries. Oh, the fries. Served three ways, you can get your fries straight-up, with roasted garlic and blue cheese or with a side of gravy. For your main dish, try their famous duck confit club sandwich, a Thanksgiving sandwich, or the Lucky No. 1, with pork belly, kimchi, tomatoes, cucumbers, fried onions, spicy wasabi mayo, and sweet red chili sauce. More the island type? Beat the traffic and check out their location on Johns Island. And now, West Ashley moose lovers don’t have to venture far for their duck club fix — the Citadel Mall location opened this May. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Tattooed Moose, JI

Johns Island - Delis + Sandwiches

Hunter McRae

Duck Club

Long before there were oasts and home teams on Morrison Drive, there was the Tattooed Moose. A neighborhood dive bar festooned with stuffed critters, including its namesake, the Moose hit paydirt as one of the first places in town to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. To their credit, aside from the crowds (deservedly) getting a little bigger, the fame hasn’t gone to their antlers. The Moose is known for its cold beer, killer sandwiches, and its duck fat fries. Oh, the fries. Served three ways, you can get your fries straight-up, with roasted garlic and blue cheese or with a side of gravy. For your main dish, try their famous duck confit club sandwich, a Thanksgiving sandwich, or the Lucky No. 1, with pork belly, kimchi, tomatoes, cucumbers, fried onions, spicy wasabi mayo, and sweet red chili sauce. More the island type? Beat the traffic and check out their location on Johns Island. And now, West Ashley moose lovers don’t have to venture far for their duck club fix — the Citadel Mall location opened this May. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Tattooed Senorita Cantina

James Island - Mexican

Jonathan Boncek

More Tex-Mex than Mexican, Tattooed Senorita sits right across the street from The Barrel, the ideal spot for post-beer eats. The menu features what you’d expect: quesadillas, tacos, ensaladas, and a build your own burrito with some surprises, like the shaved Brussels sprouts salad. Whether you like your Mexican food gringo-friendly or more creative, like the fried chicken, pimento cheese, bacon, and ranch taco, the service is welcoming and the atmosphere chill enough to feel accepting of even the most sunburnt and sandy Folly Beach-goer. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Tavern & Table

Mt. Pleasant - Modern American

Jonathan Boncek

Deviled egg trio

This waterfront venue combines the best of many worlds. With multiple interior dining areas, indoor and outdoor bars, a covered deck, and couch-lined dockside patio, diners can choose the seat that best suits their mood. That could be enjoying crsipy dynamite shrimp with Calabrian chile honey and pickled banana peppers beneath handcrafted chandeliers inside, or biting into luscious pretzel pull-aparts on the outdoor patio while watching pelicans skim the water. The house-made charcuterie board is a must, and so are the brick oven flatbreads (we love the glazed fig and prosciutto with fontina cheese and wild arugula). Enjoy a wide selection of adult beverages to help wash it all down with gorgeous sunsets over Shem Creek to boot. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Ted's Butcherblock

Downtown - Cafés

Not just a full-service butcher shop, Ted’s Butcherblock is also a fabulous lunch spot, a great source for good wines, and a regular destination for food-loving beer geeks. Owner Ted Dombrowski stocks the coolers with high-quality gourmet ingredients, from Kobe beef and stinky cheese to artisanal bacon and smoked duck. They recently added a seafood counter where you can find high-quality, locally caught fish. Each month, the sandwich and panini menu explores a different cuisine, guaranteeing regulars won’t ever get bored. And out back you can now grab breakfast from their food truck Tuesdays through Saturdays until 10:30 am. Think breakfast sandwiches, but with artisanal bacon, housemade chorizo, Taylor ham, or house-smoked salmon. —Kinsey Gidick Dish (Winter 2015)

Thai Elephants

James Island - Thai + Vietnamese

With its wilderness of carved wood dining sets straight out of an Asian art museum, Thai Elephants aims to impress. An otherwise nondescript space, the elaborate furniture sets a more-elegant-than-your-average-strip-mall-joint tone. The menu is also far-reaching, offering an expansive selection of both sushi and Thai dishes. Selections from the Japanese side of the house include tuna tataki, dynamite rolls, two kinds of California rolls, and a rainbow of sushi and sashimi. Thai offerings feature Som Tum (papaya salad), Pad See Ew noodles, and soft-shell crab with black pepper, plus Panang curry and pineapple fried rice. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Three Little Birds

West Ashley - Cafés

If you’re looking for family friendly fare you won’t find better than Three Little Birds. This vine-covered building is easy to miss, and it’s always packed. That’s thanks to the casual vibe with funky local art covering the walls and mason jars adorning the tables. Kids are automatically given crayons to color on the paper tableclothes and no one is gonna fuss if your tiny one makes some noise. The extensive menu is filled with plenty of sandwich options like a grouper BLT on a challah bun, but we’re happy that breakfast is served all day. Sweet potato benedict, huevos rancheros, and an array of omelets might satisfy your cravings. Plus they make an excellent baby breakfast — animal shaped pancakes with fresh fruit. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Triangle Char and Bar

West Ashley - Burgers

Jonathan Boncek

Big burgers, a generous craft beer selection, and the deep Sunday brunch menu keep the outdoor patios packed at both Triangle Char & Bar locations. The menu offers a substantial line-up of tacos and salads, but it’s the grass-fed beef burgers and their daring toppings that get the most attention. Sprinkled among them are some clever munchies, like a selection of egg rolls ($8.50 each) filled with shrimp and grits or pulled pork and collards and a bowl of popcorn ($4) tossed with sea salt, white truffle oil, and fine wisps of parmesan cheese. With their firmer texture and stronger flavor, those grass-fed burgers have sparked heated debate among diners, but the funky, open environment and creative menu bring ’em back for more.—Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2014)

Twenty Six Divine

Downtown - Cafés

There’s nothing so gratifying as a culinary love story, especially when it culminates in what some call their favorite meals in Charleston. Husband and wife chefs/owners Enan and Jennifer Parezo first met while working on Seabrook Island, then held posts at Charleston Place. Jenn, a pastry chef, worked at The Sanctuary on Kiawah while helping Enan launch his catering and private chef business. Lucky for us, they opened Twenty Six Divine together in 2010. A petite and intimate venue on Upper King, the menu changes weekly, and guests are treated to surprise amuse bouches while awaiting their mains. So for example, while you anticipate your duck confit panini, or your house-made spinach ricotta gnocchi, Jenn might treat you to a shot of honey dew vanilla smoothie or a sweet potato vichyssoise. Elegance, surprise, and artistry make this place a sure bet. And since Jenn is a trained pastry chef, the made-from-scratch desserts will send you off on a dreamy sugar high. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Uptown Social

Downtown - American

Keely Laughlin

While Uptown Social is a vast, spacious bar with more TVs than a Best Buy it also happens to be a decent way to while away some time, especially if you can get a spot on the rooftop deck. Uptown Social is a bar — technically, four bars — a responsibility they take seriously. Whatever your pleasure, they have some. There are adult slushies with names like High Noon grapefruit frose ($7) and day rager ($7), plus signature cocktails like the Grape-full dead ($9) and Burning Sensation ($9). For those less inclined toward mixed drinks with adorable monikers, there’s also a variety of beer and wine on tap. The bar food fares well. The sloppy joe sliders ($9) are billed as “cafeteria style, but better.” Although not a very high bar, they’ve succeeded. The chunky ground beef mixture contains flecks of red bell pepper and the sauce has notes of brown sugar and Worcestershire. The classic cheeseburger sliders ($12) require no adjustment. Three sliders arrive with sweet sauteed onions blanketed by a melted layer of cheddar cheese. Well-seasoned and topped with two pickles apiece, the homey simplicity works well here. The armitage pizza ($14) makes a case for what Uptown Social does best — bake fresh dough. The cracker thin crust is topped with green creme, fresh mozzarella, and big chunks of Grana Padano, but where it really takes flight is with the peppery arugula and bright lemon zest. Light and fresh, the super thin crust allows the unique toppings to take center stage. A big, beautiful space with four bars and a coveted rooftop deck, Uptown Social is bound to be slammed in the evening hours. But even if you don’t fancy yourself a social butterfly, it’s worth a stop for anything involving some fresh dough and melty cheese. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Verde

Downtown - Vegetarian + Organic

Jonathan Boncek

With a create-your-own option as well as a solid list of signature items, Verde covers all the (green) bases. Salad bases range from mesclun to kale, with topping choices like beets, edamame, and artichoke hearts. Add cheese, protein, and a dressing (we recommend the lemon tahini) and you’re good to go. If you’d prefer to save your decision-making capabilities then grab a signature salad like the Southern Harvest which stays true to its name with cornbread croutons and sweet tea vinaigrette. Any salad can also be wrapped so whether you’re looking to sit and munch or grab and go, Verde’s got you covered. Oh, and this locally owned and operated chain is growing. This summer they opened their first Charlotte location, with more green goodness on the horizon, we’re sure. —Connelly Hardaway (Dish, Summer 2018)

Vespa Pizzeria

Daniel Island - Pizza

Jonathan Boncek

At Vespa Pizzeria, they bake their hand-tossed Neapolitan pies in a big Italian Mugiani wood-fired oven until the thin crust is crisp and slightly charred. The BLT tops that delicious crust with Benton’s bacon, arugula, and sliced tomatoes, while the Athenian loads on shrimp, feta, kalamata olives, and artichokes. For starters, there are bowls of mussels in three flavors (basil, bacon, or diavolo) and crisp arancini (rice balls) filled with mozzarella and prosciutto and fried a dark golden brown. There’s Peroni and the house’s Vespa IPA on tap and a small slate of salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes, too. Like the motorcycle that inspired its name, Vespa mixes classic style with a retro-futuristic vibe. Add to it a focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients and you’ve got a recipe for some pretty impressive pizza. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

Vickery's Bar and Grill

Mt. Pleasant - American

For large parties or if kids are in tow, Vickery’s, which overlooks picturesque Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, is just the spot for some good grub and good times. The big menu starts with wings and bourbon butter shrimp that are perfect for sharing. Large salads will satisfy the veggie lovers while the meat eaters will head straight for the Southern fried chicken. Us? Our go-to is the jerk chicken breast sandwich topped with raspberry sauce, black beans, and rice. The bonus? A side of fried plantains. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Vincent Chicco's

Downtown - Italian

The entrance of Vincent Chicco’s with a spiral staircase, antique mirrors, and a vintage wooden bar makes one feel as though they’ve entered a European café. This newest addition of the Holy City Hospitality Group, which includes Coast, Virginia’s on King, 39 Rue de Jean and it’s neighboring sister restaurants, Victor’s Social Club and Michael’s on the Alley, offers southern Italian cuisine with homemade pastas in an elegant setting. Antipasti selections include house-made burrata. Traditional Tuscan Italian pasta offerings not to be missed include the succulent lamb sugo, a slow cooked lamb shoulder made into a Bolognese-style sauce over tagliatelle pasta with housemade ricotta and finished with lavender mint. Not into carbs? Then try the veal marsala with braised mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. You can even order these dishes while having cocktails at their neighboring, Victor’s Social Club, giving you multiple venues to enjoy these Italian delica cies. —Katherine Connor (Dish, Summer 2018)

Vintage Coffee Cafe

Mt. Pleasant - Coffee + Tea Shops

If you want kick-ass toast, this charming coffee shop off of Coleman is the place to go. Their proscuitto with brie and fig jam version is enough to get me up in the morning. Add the pleasant playground to the equation and you have the stuff of exhausted parents’ dreams. And Vintage got even better with the addition of Coastal Crust’s first brick and mortar at the back of the property. Now you can let your rug rats climb on the old truck play structure while you tuck into a wood-fired portobello mushroom pie. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Voodoo Tiki Bar and Lounge

West Ashley - Tapas Bar

Jonathan Boncek

Voodoo and Polynesian may not be the first combo you think of, but the Avondale tiki-themed restaurant makes it work. That’s probably because they don’t let the decor dictate the menu. Instead they serve upscale bar food, think fondue and tacos filled with barbecue duck, red curry chicken, baja shrimp, and cashew-encrusted tuna. They even create specialty pizzas every week, like the Philly Cheese Steak Pizza with garlic-mozzarella cheese sauce topped with steak, onions, peppers, and more mozzarella. The cocktail list is where you’ll really find the tiki influences, with punches and cocktails served in kitschy tropical tumblers with as much flare as they can fit poking out of the top. Many of the concoctions are made with delicious in-house liquor infusions, like peach cobbler vodka, strawberry-jalapeño tequila, and watermelon-basil tequila. And if the punches pack too much of a punch, a serving of Voodoo’s truffled tots served with garlic and green curry aioli will do you a world of good. —Melissa Tunstall (Dish, Summer 2018)

Warehouse

Downtown - American

This hip neighborhood bar also serves up some solid progressive American fare. Think cozy, upscale duck poutine and a New England-style fishwich — thanks to new chef Jason Daly — as well as the kitchen’s trademark deviled eggs topped with a homemade relish and fried oyster. Along with craft beers and inventive house cocktails, there are over 40 bourbon varieties available. Things can get rowdy here on the weekends, so plan to return for the Sunday brunch to cure what ails you. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Wasabi - Summerville

Summerville - Sushi + Japanese

Part sleek sushi spot, part hopping night club, somehow Wasabi has mastered both genres. For the post-work crowd, the large bar area offers a relaxing spot to sip sake. For dinner, head to the back room for hibachi or stay seated and order off the solid sushi menu. Hang out long enough and you best be ready to dance as DJs take over the dimly lit dining room. Hot tip: order ahead for lunch and grab one of Wasabi’s bento box specials. The super deal includes a four-piece California roll, soup, salad, and a choice of hibachi, sashimi, or tempura veggies. —Kinsey Gidick Dish (Winter 2015)

Wasabi - Daniel Island

Daniel Island - Sushi + Japanese

The Daniel Island incarnation of Wasabi has hibachi favorites alongside upscale sushi offerings with plenty of extravagant flourishes. On pleasant evenings, roll-up doors convert the big bar in the front corner into an open-air happy-hour spot, and the white leather booths and elaborate lighting fixtures set a bold, stylish tone. The hibachi grill turns out a reliable selection of chicken, steak, and seafood, and the sushi bar sends out a parade of creative rolls, like the Diablo with its spicy tuna and cucumber topped with jalapeño and kimchi sauce. The specialty sushi selection is where the real action is, presenting beautiful, delicate plates like kanpachi carpaccio dressed with prickly yuzu tobikko and sharp white truffle or Japanese snapper graced with yuzu and 250-million-year-old Himalayan pink salt. You can even get real freshly ground wasabi root to go alongside. —Robert Moss (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Bar

Downtown - American

Jonathan Boncek

Hamachi Crudo

Charleston has many rooftop restaurants but for food-to-view bang for your buck, this is the place to go. Start with the hushpuppies, crisp orbs paired with a generous serving of pimento cheese. From there it’s a toss-up between settling in for more bar snacks — we’re fans of the bacon & eggs deviled eggs — or opting for a true meal. If you go with the latter, the Watch burger will set you right and the shrimp and grits aren’t bad either. Cocktails are a must and Dutch Courage, made with gin, coconut water, raspberry, and lemon is a nice way to ease into the afternoon. You’re going to want to linger longer, so come hungry. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Wood & Grain

Mt. Pleasant - Seafood

Having previously tackled California-Mediterranean and Lowcountry cuisine, Chef Patrick Owens’ menu for Wood & Grain is focused on a diverse mix of locally sourced seafood, salads, and wood-fired pizzas. Chic and welcoming despite its strip mall location, the restaurant has a lively bar, plus private and communal tables centered around an open kitchen. In addition to the raw oysters and wood-fired ’za, highlights from the eclectic menu have included a kale salad, market ceviche, and roasted octopus. —Vanessa Wolf (Dish, Summer 2018)

Workshop

Downtown - Coffee + Tea Shops

Michael Shemtov’s brainchild is a six stall fancy food court tucked into the newest business development on the peninsula. Workshop offers up-and-coming and established chefs a place to take some risks on new concepts and so far the results have been as unique as the idea. The opening kicked off with Korean noodles, pizza, ramen bowls, Tex-Mex, and grilled cheese. But there’s also already been turnover flip-flopping the space to now house Verde in addition to creative pop-ups like Pigeonhole and Spice Ting Jamaican. Arguably the most innovative food move of the year, Workshop is the space that has us most excited. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene

Mt. Pleasant - Seafood

Jonathan Boncek

Fried fish and shrimp

As former CP critic Robert Moss once wrote, “The Wreck is one of those places that locals either love or hate.” Something about the barebones vibe and salty sailor look turns some folks off. But not me. The Wreck is a Shem Creek institution and its “our way or the highway” attitude just adds to the charm. Don’t believe me? Ask critic and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons. She hosted her 40th birthday there while filming Top Chef: Charleston. She loved the seafood shack’s stripped down appeal — like the fact that it’s open just a handful of hours each day, and the meals are served on paper plates with iced tea in clear plastic cups, soda in cans, and beer in bottles. You can’t make reservations. But what you will get is the freshest local seafood like grilled or fried fish, shrimp, and scallops along with fried oysters, deviled crab, and stone crab claws. Once a cash-only business, the Wreck in recent years started accepting credit cards, but that’s the only visible concession to modern convenience. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Downtown - Chinese

Jonathan Boncek

Okonomiyaki

Charleston’s eater intelligentsia worships at the altar of this hipster-filled Asian fusion restaurant in a converted gas station. What started as a pop-up with a devout following eventually found a dedicated shrine much to the delight of all who crave a wide swath of Asian flavors (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Taiwanese) interpreted with fresh Lowcountry ingredients. The dishes are not for the meek or unadventurous; each packs escalating levels of heat. On the gentler scale is the popular Okonomiyaki, a Japanese cabbage pancake criss-crossed with drizzles of sriracha and Japanese mayo, then topped with a runny-yolk egg. On the spicy end of the scale is the Mapo Dofu, whose cubes of tofu incinerate your taste buds with swirls of chili oil, leaving heat seekers crying through tears of gratitude as they lick their plates clean. Cool your palate with a coconut milk or a (nonalcoholic) lemongrass ginger beer. Or just ride out on a blaze of fiery glory with a peppercorn craft cocktail like the Sichuan Sting. Either way, you are sure to become a devotee of the cult of Xiao Bao. —Allston McCrady (Dish, Summer 2018)

Zen Asian Fusion

West Ashley - Asian Fusion

At Zen Asian Fusion, it says “fusion” in neon out front, and it’s fusion that you’ll get. Low-hung globe lamps throw light around the subdued dark wood-panel walls and sparkling tiled bar. From fresh spring roll standards to creative hand-rolled sushi with touches of Chinese, Malaysian, and Japanese dishes, Zen turns out a quality culinary experience at the right price. Some might call the menu long, but we prefer “comprehensive,” with equal-parts traditional and family-fun mixed in. Zen is a sprawling, comfortable destination that belies its strip-mall surroundings. —Sam Spence (Dish, Summer 2018)

Zia Taqueria

James Island - Mexican

Pre-movie at the Terrace, this is our go-to for a little taco fare and a healthy gulp of one of Zia’s five different margarita varieties — pro tip, try the Más Margarita with the tequila of your choice, Cointreau, and fresh margarita mix, shaken and served on the rocks. Zia lures customers in with their salsa fresca and warm chips, but it’s their generous platos of beef barbacoa and chicken Yucatan served with corn on the cob that keeps us coming back time and again. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

Zombie Bob's

West Ashley - Pizza

The restaurant is called Zombie Bob’s but owner Ryan Dedrickson could have easily called it Monster Bob’s because his pizzas are freaking ginormous. We’re talking bigger than your head slices. Even better, the former food truck is smartly stationed inside Frothy Beard’s new tricked out HQ so you can drink some of the best beer in the city while you munch on a stupid big sourdough-crusted slice. —Kinsey Gidick (Dish, Summer 2018)

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