We recently returned from a long holiday weekend in Charleston, SC… a few pounds heavier might I add. The “Holy City” did not disappoint when it came to sights and bites. There is no shortage of phenomenal places to eat in and around downtown Charleston. Whether you are seeking upscale southern, classy seaside, or down home bbq dining, Chucktown has it all.
We are big fans of enjoying the local fare wherever we go. After spending 5 days walking, eating, and sweating our way through the city (oh the humidity), we can say these are the top 4 foods you must try in Charleston:
1. Fried Green Tomatoes
When I first spotted this as a menu item, a big hot wave of nostalgia came over me as I reminisced about one of my favorite early 90’s movies – Fried Green Tomatoes. As a young girl, I identified with the tomboy character of Idgie and remember being curious as to what a fried green tomato would even taste like. I mean, do people really eat green tomatoes?
Twenty-five years later I have an answer – yes they do and they are pretty dang good! You can’t head to the south and not indulge in something fried. Crisp on the outside, warm and juicy on the inside and paired with goat cheese crumbles – just, YES! Do it, you won’t be sorry.
A quintessential southern food, grits top the list as a staple comfort meal at breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Charleston doesn’t just do grits – they do every version of grits! Cheesy grits, shrimp and grits, creamy grits, sweet potato grits… the list goes on an on. I don’t care if grits aren’t usually your thing, you still have to give them a try in the south.
As for me, my favorite were the “City Grits” I ordered one morning from Another Broken Egg Café. Here’s the description from their menu: Creamy southern grits, roasted garlic, onions & smoked Gouda cheese, topped with baked bacon, tomatoes & green onions. Cue mouth watering.
3. Lowcountry Steampot
This topped the list for Jimmy as a must eat while we were on the east coast, where there is an abundance of seafood. We are fairly deprived of good, fresh seafood in Phoenix – a side effect of living in the desert. He ordered this item no less than 4 times during the 5 days we were in town. Yup, the man knows what he likes.
The thing is, I’m not entirely convinced that this is a southern specialty item, so much as it is a dish for the tourists. But hey, we’re tourists and it’s delicious, so bring it on! Full of jumbo shrimp, crab legs, mussels, boiled potatoes, sausage, and corn – this meal is sure to leave you full and satisfied. Jimmy recommends the Crab House to meet all of your steampot needs.
Those of you with a sweet tooth like me, rejoice, for Charleston is a city of desserts. During the summer, there is an Italian ice vendor on most street corners downtown – enjoy a free sample to keep you cool! If gelato is your thing, you are covered – Belgian gelato, Italian gelato, gelato everywhere… eat your frozen treat heart out.
Then of course you have your choice of MANY boutique dessert shops. Kaminsky’s Dessert Café had a line every time we passed, no matter the hour, and is known for its specialty coffees and cold beverage creations. We enjoyed a visit one night to Carmella’s Dessert Bar. While thousands were gathered along the Charleston waterfront to take in the 4th of July fireworks, we had the place practically to ourselves, happily indulging in mousse and cheesecake as we watched the New York City fireworks on TV. Inside… where there is air conditioning.
If fancy dessert shops aren’t your thing, there are plenty of good old fashioned candy stores throughout town. Sweet smelling pralines, rich fudge, even a shop devoted to moonpies. You gotta love a place that holds the moonpie in such high regard.
No matter your food preference, when you are in the Charleston we recommend you indulge… and learn to loosen your belt buckle a few notches.