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)

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