I’ve taken several trips to Charleston, S.C. Almost every time I plan my mini vacation around what I’m going to eat while I’m there. And I have no shame.
While Charleston is pretty much known for it’s Southern charm and rich history, the food scene is what brings a lot to the table (pun intended).
With so many options, it’s hard to pick and choose where to get the best food. But don’t worry — you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a list to help you plan your next trip around what you want to eat (because why not?).
The Park Cafe
The Park Cafe lies on the outskirts of the city. It’s great for when you want to grab breakfast on the ride into Charleston. They serve breakfast and lunch all day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekend. My go to is the “Walk in the Park,” which includes eggs, toast, bacon or sausage and potatoes or fruit. Asher said it’s one of the best breakfasts he’s ever had.
I told my mom and maw maw not to eat the free hotel breakfast. Did they listen? Nope. So you can imagine they were VERY disappointed when they watched me eat my breakfast at Sweetwater Cafe while they munched on fruit and fried okra (which they said was awesome by the way). If you’re in the mood for breakfast or brunch, Sweetwater is located closer to the City Market so you can swing by for a bite to eat before you hit the shopping.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Have you ever heard the Southern phrase, “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit?” I want to change that to “Butter my butt and call me a Callie’s hot little biscuit.” They’re that good. There are two locations in Charleston — one at the City Market and one on upper King Street. You’ll have to get your biscuit to go at the City Market and seating is super limited at the King Street location. I’ve had to grab a biscuit and pop a squat on the sidewalk (no complaints here). My favorites are the shortcake with peach basil jam and the cinnamon biscuit. They also offer biscuits like chive and cheese, black pepper bacon and country ham among other specialties.
Black Tap Coffee
Black Tap is your destination hipster coffee joint in Charleston. With a charming exterior and a minimalistic white interior, this little building exports some of the best espresso drinks in the area. This spot is the perfect place to escape from the summer heat and relax right outside the busy streets of downtown.
City Lights Coffee
Looking for a less hipster coffee place? Here’s your spot. This small, cozy coffee shop serves coffee, smoothies and pastries — a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. It’s conveniently located right near the City Market. Seating is limited so you may have to get your coffee to go.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
You will never experience anything quite like Xiao Bao Biscuit. Don’t even worry about trying to pronounce the name of the restaurant — just go there. This abandoned gas station turned upbeat Asian restaurant and bar boasts new takes on classic dishes. Forget everything you know about Asian food. You’re mind will be blown. My favorite thing on their menu (and one of my favorite foods ever) is their okonomiyaki, a Japanese cabbage pancake. Weird, right? The owners developed this dish while farming in Japan. Do yourself a favor and get it topped with pork candy.
Possibly the best seafood place in Charleston. But be ready to spend some cash and make sure you put your napkin in your lap because this place is hanky swanky (pun intended). Reservations are always a good idea. The restaurant is located adjacent to the City Market. I highly recommended their roasted salmon with the mustard horseradish sauce and anything with the crispy potatoes is to die for. When I treat myself, this is where I go. It’s worth every penny.
Charleston Farmer’s Market
There’s a little bit for everyone at the farmer’s market. You can pick up a crepe, eggs, nuts — you name it — and stroll through the different shopping booths or pick up some fresh produce. I bought some cold brew at the farmer’s market once with my mom. She’s not a huge coffee connoisseur and thought I was consuming an alcoholic beverage before 9 a.m. Talk about day drinking. Wow, mom. Anyway, the market is located at Marion Square and is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. during April to November. It’s a great way to start a weekend adventure.
Beardcat’s Sweet Shop
Part of me went here because, you know, CAT. Part of me went here because of the gelato. And while I didn’t see any bearded man hiding a feline friend under his locks, I did find the best gelato I’ve had in my life. Located outside Charleston on Sullivan’s Island, Beardcat’s offers satisfaction to your sweet tooth while you browse around the small downtown area or hit the beach. My recommendation is half chocolate, half pistachio. They also offer breakfast and sandwiches. So. Much. Bliss.
Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe
If you dream in coffee, cake and ice cream, here’s your Charleston haven. They offer all sorts of coffee beverages, drinks and milkshakes, but their display case is what temptations are made of. And if all temptations had a chocolate cream filling, I think I’d give in every time. So whether you’re celebrating your birthday or those cute new shoes you bought on King Street, go get you some cake.