Best Food in Charleston: Local Cuisine, Restaurants, Festivals

Charleston, South Carolina, is a coastal city with a rich history and a thriving food scene. Located on the Atlantic coast, Charleston is known for its seafood, Southern cuisine, and Lowcountry cooking, influenced by the region’s African, Caribbean, and French heritage. The city is also home to many award-winning restaurants and food festivals, making it a must-visit destination for food lovers.

Best Dishes and Local Cuisine

  • She-crab soup: A creamy soup made with crab meat, sherry, and a hint of mustard.
  • Gullah cuisine: A style of cooking that originated with the Gullah people, who are descendants of enslaved West Africans and live in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. Gullah cuisine is known for its use of seafood, rice, and fresh vegetables and is often served with a spicy sauce or seasoning.
  • Hoppin’ John: A dish made with black-eyed peas and rice, traditionally served on New Year’s Day for good luck.
  • Shrimp and grits: A classic Southern dish made with shrimp, grits (a type of ground cornmeal), and various vegetables and spices.
  • Biscuits and gravy: A breakfast dish with flaky biscuits and a savory sausage or bacon gravy.

Best Restaurants in Charleston, SC

  • Husk: A James Beard Award-winning restaurant known for its commitment to using locally sourced ingredients and serving dishes that highlight the flavors of the Lowcountry. Must-try dishes include fried chicken and shrimp, and grits.
  • FIG: A farm-to-table restaurant with a seasonally-changing menu featuring local ingredients. Must-try dishes include the crispy duck confit and the pan-seared scallops.
  • The Ordinary: A seafood-centric restaurant with a raw bar and an extensive selection of oysters. Must-try dishes include the lobster roll and the tuna Crudo.
  • The Macintosh: A modern American restaurant focusing on locally-sourced ingredients and creative cocktails. Must-try dishes include pork belly and shrimp and grits.

Food Festivals in Charleston, SC

  • Charleston Wine + Food Festival: An annual event that celebrates the city’s culinary scene, featuring tastings, dinners, demonstrations, and more.
  • Lowcountry Oyster Festival: An annual event that celebrates the region’s famous oysters with live music, oyster shucking, eating contests, and more.
  • Charleston Restaurant Week: An annual event that celebrates the city’s dining scene, with participating restaurants offering special menus and deals.

Best Time of Year to Visit for Food Lovers

Charleston’s food scene is vibrant year-round, but a few times of the year are perfect for food lovers. The fall season is an ideal time to visit, as the weather is mild and several food festivals and events are taking place, including the Charleston Wine + Food Festival and Charleston Restaurant Week. The spring is also an excellent time to visit, with warmer weather and the Lowcountry Oyster Festival taking place.

Other Attractions in Charleston, SC

In addition to its food scene, Charleston is also known for its historic charm and beautiful beaches. Some other attractions to check out while in the city include:

  • The Charleston Waterfront Park: A beautiful park with a pier, fountain, and harbor views.
  • The Battery: A historic district with beautiful antebellum homes and a promenade along the harbor.
  • Fort Sumter National Monument: A historic fort located on an island in the harbor, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
  • The Charleston Tea Plantation: A working tea plantation on Wadmalaw Island, where visitors can take tours and taste various types of tea.
  • Folly Beach: A laid-back beach town located just a short drive from Charleston, known for its surf and laid-back atmosphere.

People Also Ask

  • What are some other famous dishes from Charleston, SC?
    • Some other famous dishes from Charleston include fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, benne wafers (a type of sesame seed cookie), and Frogmore stew (a seafood boil).
  • What is the Gullah culture, and how does it influence the food in Charleston, SC?
    • The Gullah culture is a unique blend of African and American influences that developed in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, including the Sea Islands and the coast of Georgia. Gullah people are descendants of enslaved West Africans who were brought to the area to work on the rice, indigo, and cotton plantations. The Gullah culture is known for its rich oral tradition, music, art, and cuisine, influenced by West African and Caribbean flavors and ingredients.
  • Are there any vegetarian or vegan options in Charleston, SC?
    • Yes, there are several vegetarian and vegan options in Charleston. Many restaurants in the city offer vegetarian and vegan dishes, and there are also several dedicated vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

Charleston, South Carolina, is a city with a rich culinary history and a thriving food scene. From seafood and Southern comfort food to Gullah cuisine and farm-to-table fare, there is something for every type of food lover. The city is also home to a number of award-winning restaurants and food festivals, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Southern cooking. In addition to its food, Charleston is also known for its fascinating history, beautiful beaches, and various other attractions, making it a great place to visit year-round.