Besides being one of America’s oldest cities, Charleston is also home to some of the country’s hottest chefs and best restaurants. Within this charming place, you’ve found an incredible diversity of restaurants that specialize in everything from steaks and seafood to Chinese, Japanese, and anything in between.
With so many places to choose from, narrowing them all down is challenging. The spots below are the best-of-the-best restaurants in Charleston, and we recommend trying as many as you can while you enjoy your stay in this beautiful city.
Best Restaurants in Charleston
- Lewis Barbecue
- 167 Raw Oyster Bar
- The Obstinate Daughter
- Bertha’s Kitchen
- The Glass Onion
- Miller’s All Day
- Leon’s Oyster Shop
- Hannibal’s Kitchen
- Xiao Bao Biscuit
- Charleston Grill
- Jackrabbit Filly
- Chubby Fish
- Hank’s Seafood Restaurant
- Slightly North of Broad
- Zero Restaurant + Bar
- Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar
- Brown Dog Deli
- The Ordinary
232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Next to the trendy Indigo Inn in the heart of Charleston is FIG, a neo-American staple for nearly 20 years.
FIG serves up a rotating menu that takes influence from French, Southern American, German, and other cuisines. The staff also curates one of the finest cocktail programs in the Southeast, so it’s a perfect spot for enjoying a few drinks with your meal. If you’re looking for a suggestion, be sure to try the prosciutto and Jimmy Red cornbread or grilled triggerfish.
76 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
In historic downtown Charleston across the street from The Mills House, Travis Grimes serves up his love letter to the south at Husk. To distill their vision into a single idea, if it’s coming out of their kitchen, it’s coming from the South.
Their menu constantly rotates and emphasizes local ingredients. You can take a look at past menus on their website, but there’s no telling what they’ll be serving when you arrive, which is part of the beauty of Husk. Trust us; whatever they’re serving, you’ll be talking about for months.
464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
East Central Charleston is home to several excellent barbecue joints, but if you only have time for one, let it be Lewis Barbecue on North Nassau. Here, acclaimed pitmaster John Lewis serves up his Texas take on Carolina-style BBQ, and it’s a must-try.
The menu is short and to the point, and while it rotates, brisket and ribs are staples. The meats are the star, but it’s just as easy to get wrapped up in all the sides, which include collards, mac and cheese, and a killer green chile corn pudding.
167 Raw Oyster Bar
193 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
What began as a wholesale seafood operation in the late 70s has blossomed into a trifecta of restaurants on the East Coast, with two in Charleston. The sushi bar on Bay Street is excellent, but 167 Raw is the family jewel.
167 Raw offers a classic raw bar, some small plates, sandwiches and more, and it’s also a great spot to grab a drink. The diver scallops and pastrami-seasoned swordfish are to die for, but don’t sleep on their Butcher’s Cut, which changes daily depending on availability.
The Obstinate Daughter
2063 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
Venture to Sullivan’s Island at the southernmost point of Charleston, and you’ll reach The Obstinate Daughter, which sits across the street from Town Hall. The O/D is the destination for Southern Hospitality when you’re here in Charleston, and their welcoming staff is just as memorable as the food here.
This restaurant in Charleston is decidedly Southern, with French, Italian, and Spanish cooking influences. Whether you’re here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the results are always delicious. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, especially The Old Danger pizza and the clams fra Diavolo. Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the apple frangipane tart.
2332 Meeting Street Rd, Charleston, SC 29405
A Charleston staple for 40 years, Bertha’s Kitchen serves up what could very well be the best Soul Food in America. While the matriarch of the operation, Albertha Grant, passed away in 2007, her three daughters preside over the kitchen with the same care their mother did, and it shows in their James Beard-award-winning food.
You can’t go wrong with the meat-and-three here, where you choose a protein and three sides to enjoy in their fuss-free dining room or to-go. Make sure to grab a side of collard greens; you won’t find them anywhere better in the country.
The Glass Onion
1219 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407
In the Ashley Forest neighborhood of Charleston, next to Swig & Swine BBQ, you’ll find an unfussy walk-in joint called the Glass Onion. Here, Chef Chris Stewart serves up southern staples from locally sourced ingredients that are sure to have you coming back for more.
The menu rotates daily depending on availability, but there are some staples you must try. The fried green tomatoes are as good as it gets, and the shrimp & grits are absolutely textbook. Look no further if you’re in the mood for top-notch southern cooking.
Millers All Day
120 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
A few steps north of Broad between Berlins Women and the Charleston Concert Association is a fuss-free slice of southern hospitality that’s perfect for a breakfast bite any time of day. Co-owner Greg Johnsman, formerly of the famed Marsh Hen Mill, grinds up fresh grits daily on the 175-year old mill you see in the window.
I’d love to tell you about how excellent the entire menu is, but I’m so one-track-minded here that I’ve yet to stray from the shrimp and grits, which is arguably the best you’ll ever have. If you’re in a drinkin’ mood, be sure to try the Cousin Eddie.
Leon’s Oyster Shop
698 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Leon’s has come a long way since it served as local mechanic Leon Ravenel’s garage. Today, much of the scenery is unchanged, but the purveyors serve up oysters, chicken, and seafood instead of new alternators and brake pads.
Leon’s is a classic blue-collar joint perfect for a stiff drink or an ice-cold beer. The oysters ain’t bad, either. But the true star of the show is the bird. Grab a few of your closest friends, order a whole fried chicken with a mess of sides, and thank us later.
16 Blake St, Charleston, SC 29403
A third-generation Soul Food staple a ¼ mile east of the Cooper River, you’ll find the Huber family, who have been serving up the finest Low Country cuisine from this sherbert-colored building since 1985.
These days, Hannibal’s grandaughters preside over the kitchen and the recipes with the same level of care as when they first opened almost 40 years ago. The crab and shrimp rice is Hannibal’s signature dish, and it’s a must-try, along with the oxtail and rice.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
Walk into Xiao Bao Biscuit on the corner of Rutledge and Spring, and you’re immediately transported to a world of fine Asian fare that you won’t find anywhere else in Charleston. Inspired by a months-long honeymoon throughout Asia, co-owner Duolan Li curates a diverse and ever-changing menu of staples inspired by the countries he visited.
From Japanese okonomiyaki with local vegetables to Chinese bao buns made with Marvin’s Red pork belly, Xiao Bao Biscuit effortlessly blends its Asian influences with local ingredients from Charleston’s finest purveyors. If they’re on the menu when you arrive, try the hand-pulled Taiwanese pork noodles.
224 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
On posh King Street between Louis Vuitton and Tommy Bahama, chef Michelle Weaver presides over the city’s finest establishment, Charleston Grill. Here, Chef Weaver serves up a menu that feels entirely southern despite using global ingredients and inspiration.
The seafood dishes are the star here, with standouts like scallops in a smoked bacon vinaigrette and fish grenobloise. The crispy sweetbreads and pancetta and peas appetizers are also worth obsessing over.
4628 Spruill Ave #101, North Charleston, SC 29405
Shuai and Corrie Wang left the big city of Brooklyn for the southern charm of Charleston in 2014 to start new jobs. Once they arrived, their shiny new jobs fell through, and they were left to their own devices. They say pressure makes diamonds, and that’s true of their incredible restaurant Jackrabbit Filly.
The menu takes influence from the American South and Shuai and Corrie’s homeland of China. The dishes are inventive, unique, and beyond delicious. We recommend trying as many things as possible, provided one of them is the Sichuan dry pot.
252 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403
In Charleston’s cozy and historic Eliotborough neighborhood, you’ll find Chef James London’s seafood-fueled gift to the city, Chubby Fish. This dock-to-table concept offers the freshest seafood the Lowcountry has to offer in a bright and airy coastal setting.
The menu changes regularly depending on availability. If the buffalo amberjack collar is on the menu when you arrive, consider yourself lucky, and order two.
Hank’s Seafood Restaurant
10 Hayne St, Charleston, SC 29401
Just blocks from the Cooper River at the corner of Church and Hayne is arguably Charleston’s finest destination if you’re looking for a fresh catch. Chef Tim Richardson presides over a diverse menu of classics and seafood specialties in a stylish environment reminiscent of a classic American steakhouse.
You won’t find a better broiled seafood platter anywhere on the East Coast, but the must-try dish here is the Seafood A La Wando: a mess of fresh seafood in a shellfish cream sauce with a fried grit cake.
Slightly North of Broad
192 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
A short walk from the Port of Charleston and next to New York City pizza, you’ll find an awesome neo-American haunt that’s snobby in name only. S.N.O.B has been a staple of Charleston’s changing landscape for over 20 years, and chef Russ Moore serves up a small, ever-changing menu of some of the best food you’ll find in the area.
Since the menu changes frequently, you never know what you’ll get. If you’re lucky, they’ll have offerings like their pan-roasted duck breast, BBQ tuna, or grilled Heritage pork chop.
Zero Restaurant + Bar
Left Side, 0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401
The 0 George Hotel is a renowned destination for foodie travelers, and the Zero Restaurant is its crown jewel. This hip enclave was established in 2012, and in less than a decade, it’s left an indelible mark on the culture of Charleston.
Executive Chef Vinson Petrillo curates an ever-changing menu that rotates with the seasons and often multiple times within a season. In our experience, it’s best to order the tasting and let the chef work his magic for you.
708 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
In a clear-as-day royal blue building on Charleston’s historic King Street sits Maison, a neo-French bistro that serves up inventive takes on French classics through the lens of the Lowcountry.
The menu rotates regularly, so it’s tough to pin down a favorite dish since you’ll rarely be able to have it twice. Some of the standouts from my trip include the monkfish chop amandine and the rabbit en croute with black truffle. Whatever’s on the menu when you arrive, rest assured that Chef Vandy Vanderwalker has something perfect for you.
Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar
205 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
In the heart of Charleston’s Historic District in a centuries-old building you’ll find Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar. This classic space leans heavily on Charleston’s history while putting a decidedly modern spin on things. It’s the perfect spot for a cocktail, and the bar area stays open until 2 a.m.
The menu is seafood-centric with an emphasis on local favorites. The South Carolina favorite She Crab Soup is on the menu, along with delicious entrees like sea scallops with a mushroom and shrimp risotto, and the classically southern shrimp and grits.
Brown Dog Deli
40 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401
The perfect spot for a quick bite, the French Quarter’s Brown Dog Deli is simple, sophisticated, and nothing like your average deli. They’re open daily for takeout or delivery, and there’s ample seating both inside the eclectic restaurant and outside in their courtyard.
You’ll find classic deli fare like sandwiches and salads, but everything has a unique twist, thanks to Chef Wes, who presides over the kitchen here. The French onion grilled cheese and pig ‘n fig are must-try sandwiches. But you can’t go wrong with anything on the expansive and eclectic menu here.
544 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
From the team of geniuses that bring us FIG, The Ordinary is a coastal seafood eatery that’s nothing like its name suggests. You’ll find this noteworthy spot next to Felix Cocktails et Cuisine on King Street, in a historic building with a bright and airy dining room that serves as the perfect backdrop for their food.
It’s tough to narrow down favorites on this menu. Everything is delicious, inventive, and as fresh as it gets. The bigeye tuna au Poivre and okra gumbo come to mind as favorites, but don’t make up your mind until you hear the specials.
Charleston was once one of America’s best-kept secrets, but it’s exploded as a hub for food and culture in recent years. If anything, it’s set the stage for more incredible restaurants, inventive cocktails, and exciting things to do when you’re in town.
Did we leave any restaurants in Charleston off our list? Sound off in the comments below and let us know! And if you don’t have plans for the ball drop yet, check out Charleston’s hottest New Year’s Eve parties.
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