Charleston, South Carolina has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Honestly, it deserves its own foodie guide. So voila! This ultimate Charleston foodie guide includes all of the best places to eat in this charming Southern city.
The best part about the best food in Charleston is that there is so much variety.
That can be overwhelming, but this guide will help you narrow down your food options, especially for Charleston first-timers!
So whether you have dietary restrictions, love a good cocktail, devour your share of seafood, or are feening for your share of Southern comfort, you’ll find it in Charleston!
Let’s begin! I’ll start this guide with a restaurant pro tip, then dive into breakfast through dessert spots.
For more help planning your ultimate Charleston trip, I suggest checking out my other guides:
- Ultimate 3 Day Charleston Itinerary
- Best Coffee Shops in Charleston, SC
- Ultimate Charleston Travel Guide
Now let’s get into the best restaurants in Charleston!
When I researched eating around Charleston, SC, I quickly learned how far in advance people book reservations for the most noteworthy restaurants.
From experience, I can tell you that you should book reservations sooner than later.
Some places don’t have openings until MONTHS from today.
Now, I planned my trip to Charleston about three days BEFORE my arrival. That didn’t leave me much time to prepare.
BUT, I did discover two super helpful tips around my timing issue:
Make Late Reservations—First, I searched for late reservations. Most dinners I had were around 9:00PM to 10:00PM. This gave me more time to enjoy the city, relax in my accommodations, take a nap if needed, and enjoy food at the best restaurants in Charleston!
Grab a Bar Seat at Open—Second, for breakfast and lunch, I arrived at most places right when they opened and grabbed a seat at their full-service bar if needed. This prevented me from wasting hours waiting for a table!
Most of the best food in Charleston uses the Resy reservation system, so it’s easy to set notifications and manage reservations during your trip.
Map of Places to Eat in Charleston
Here is a map of the best places to eat in Charleston! You can click here to view a live version you can use during your trip.
Now let’s get into the good good ;).
List of the Best Food in Charleston
- Harken Cafe
- Clerks Coffee Company
- Millers All Day
- Daps Breakfast & Imbibe
- Breizh pan Crepes
- The Palmetto Cafe
- Gnome Cafe
- Church and Union
- Felix Cocktails et Cuisine
- Slightly North Of Broad
- 82 Queen
- Brown Dog Deli
- Sorghum & Salt
- 167 Raw Oyster Bar
- Rodney Scott’s BBQ
- Hank’s Seafood
- The Ordinary
- Delaney Oyster Bar
- Chubby Fish
- Citrus Club
- Living Room
- Frannie & The Fox
- Bourbon & Bubbles
- The Cocktail Club
- The Rooftop at Vendue
- Carmella’s Cafe and Dessert Bar
- La Pâtisserie
- Sugar Bakeshop
- Off Track Ice Cream
Don’t worry. We’ll get into each of these in detail!
These are listed in no particular order.
Charleston had my FAVORITE coffee shops. In fact, I wrote a whole blog about them!
So make sure you read my blog on the best coffee shops in Charleston for more deets.
But here are two of my favorites:
Harken Cafe—An adorable, country-chic, vintage-vibe coffee shop on Queen Street. The shop has a super charming atmosphere and serves delicious fresh goods like cookies and muffins alongside their premium coffee roasts.
Clerks Coffee Company—An airy coffee shop located in the Emeline hotel. Near the Historic City Market, it’s a cozy place to enjoy a latte and relax before exploring the city.
Best Breakfast in Charleston, SC
The most important meal of the day, the Charleston way—woohoo! That was my sorry attempt at a rhyme, lmao.
Pro Tip: A LOT of these places serve breakfast all day.
So don’t get hell-bent on eating breakfast early in the morning if you can’t get a table.
I would often get a muffin from a coffee shop to hold me over, then eat breakfast a little later.
Millers All Day—Probably the most popular breakfast spot in Charleston, which is why you can always expect a 1 to 2-hour wait. It serves classics like waffles, pancakes, grits, and housemade banana bread.
Daps Breakfast & Imbibe—A quaint spot in downtown Charleston. Try their famous hash and pancakes!
Breizh pan Crepes—A cozy cafe that serves delicious sweet and savory crepes and espresso!
The Palmetto Cafe—An airy cafe with a garden view, known for fancy fares like lobster and crab meat omelettes.
Every day is better with brunch, right?
Charleston brunch spots do the trick. So whether it’s for Sunday brunch or Wednesday brunch (because that’s a thing), try these places!
Husk—Husk is known for their take on Southern cuisine and is a popular go-to for dinner too. The menu changes frequently, but you might get to try their Confit Duck Leg if you’re lucky!
Gnome Cafe—Gnome Cafe serves breakfast fare all day and is an excellent place for all you plant-based folks! The pancakes feel like clouds in your mouth they’re so fluffy.
Huriyali—A health conscious cafe where you can enjoy goodies like acai bowls and breakfast burritos.
Church and Union—A unique upscale dining experience set in an old church. Try their french toast or pork Benedict!
Felix Cocktails et Cuisine—French inspired cuisine that’ll have you coming for the french toast and staying for the deviled eggs.
And so the Charleston foodie guide continues on!
IDK about you, but I’m feeling pretty hungry at this point.
Slightly North Of Broad—A locals’ favorite for its decadent Lowcountry cuisine. Their shrimp and grits will send you to heaven. Did I mention they have live music too?
82 Queen—Swanky bar and cafe located in the French quarter. Go here for Southern classics like She Crab Soup, Jambalaya, and Pecan Pie.
Brown Dog Deli—THE place for premium sandwiches and quick bites like a good ol’ chili cheese dog.
Stella’s—The place to go if you’re feening for Greek comfort food!
Sorghum & Salt—A lunch must! Try some faves from their tasting menu to try a bit of everything! This is a great place for plant-based folks to eat too!
Beech—A great place to grab a poke bowl on King Street!
167 Raw Oyster Bar—This has to be some of the best raw seafood you can get in Charleston!
Rodney Scott’s BBQ—Ready for some of the best slow-cooked, smoked BBQ you’ve ever had? Head right over to this Charleston hot spot!
Leon’s—Just about everyone who visits Charleston goes to this popular oyster bar. Your best bet for getting a seat here is to go right when then open at 11AM!
Dinner is quite the affair in Charleston! And let me just warn you, dinner instantly became my favorite meal because of this city.
Seriously, some of the best things I ate in Charleston (and in my life) were from the places we’re about to get into!
You’ll have your best chance at getting a spot in these popular places to eat by getting a reservation.
Make sure you check their individual sites and follow their dress codes!
FIG—Stands for Food Is Good and if you only have time for one reservation in Charleston, get it here. The softshell crab dish was one of the best plates I have ever had, and the sticky sorghum pudding melts in your mouth in the most perfect way.
Hank’s Seafood—If you want to try some good AF seafood, you gotta head to Hank’s. Every dish is made with extra love and will have you wanting more!
The Ordinary—The Ordinary is run by the same team who brought us FIG perfection. Their menu features amazing small bites like yellowfin tuna AND some glorious signature cocktails.
Delaney Oyster Bar—The only place you need to be to try some locally caught oyster goodness.
Chubby Fish—This beloved Charleston hot spot is where you’ll get some of the best seafood dishes of your life made by a chef who has a deep appreciation for local ingredients. Get there early! This is a HOT spot and they do not take reservations!
One thing Charleston is NOT lacking in is amazing places to score signature cocktails.
Some of these places serve small bites you can enjoy too!
Citrus Club—Located on the rooftop of The Dewberry, The Citrus Club makes hand-crafted cocktails with a tropical vibe. Try their Mai Tai.
Living Room—Another high-class bar located in The Dewberry. With its chic modern vibe, you can enjoy some of their housemade caramel corn with a flavorful cocktail.
Frannie & The Fox—A classy bar and restaurant located in hotel Emeline. Go for the drinks and stay for the vibe.
Bourbon & Bubbles—If you’re a bourbon fan, you HAVE to make it to B&B! They have an extensive list of bourbon cocktails even a bourbon rookie will love.
The Cocktail Club—If you’re into speakeasy vibes, look no further! The Cocktail Club is the place to be with its live music and patio.
The Rooftop at Vendue—Another great rooftop bar in the Charleston area just a 2-minute walk from the famous Waterfront Park. Come here for sunset drinks!
While you’ll find that the popular dinner spots in Charleston have excellent dessert options, you’ll ALSO find that there are plenty of standalone places offering tasty sweets too!
If you’re looking for something to curb your sweet tooth, try one of these stops!
Carmella’s Cafe and Dessert Bar—If you’re looking for a place to have delicious Italian desserts, check out Carmella’s! This cute cafe offers cannolis and mouth-watering gelato.
La Pâtisserie—Come and try some French goodies at this adorable patisserie! Try their macaroons.
Sugar Bakeshop—A cute and playful bakery best known for their fun cupcakes.
Off Track Ice Cream—Fun ice cream shop with unique ice cream flavors like banana pudding. They have a vegan menu too!
My Top Picks
Phew! 30+ of the best restaurants in Charleston, SC is a LOT to sort through.
To make life a bit easier on you, here are my top picks on where you should dine.
Now, this is just based on my experience!
I chose these based on what I would recommend someone try on their first trip to Charleston.
- Harken Cafe
- FIG (reservation recommended)
- Hank’s Seafood (reservation recommended)
- The Ordinary (reservation recommended)
- 167 Raw
- Chubby Fish
- Citrus Club
- Off Track Ice Cream
Overall, you can’t go wrong!
Some of the best food in Charleston, SC can be found by chance while you’re walking around.
So while this guide offers some great options, take some time to make your own discoveries while you’re exploring.
For more help with sorting out your Charleston vacation ideas, check out my other blogs: