Today, let’s take a trip to the South – specifically, to the Southern state of South Carolina and their ever so delicious city, Charleston. Discover some of my favorites from our girl’s trip and plan your next adventure, sprinkled with enough good eats to last you a lifetime!
Oh Charleston, what a trip that was. This past fall, my best friend and I decided to go on a girl’s trip to this Southern city and goodness, was it fantastic. Charleston has won over the hearts of many, including us, for its incredible food, culture, and history. All in a very easily walkable city, you’ll find some of the best foo you’ve ever tasted, while taking in the sights that have long stood part of its history.
Silently, but quite suddenly, Charleston has exploded into a foodie city that can easily compete to the likes of Boston and New York. Only it’s cleaner, people are nicer, and the food has this Southern flair that no Yankee city will ever have. There’s a million and one places to stay in Charleston, from outstanding mansion hotels to small bed & breakfast inns. We were graciously hosted by the Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront Downtown set on the picturesque Ashley Marina, by the banks of the Ashley River. Let me tell you, waking up every morning to that gorgeous harbor dotted with boats was a spectacular experience.
With its many restaurants, it’s touch to choose where to eat in Charleston, but any day you can start your morning with fresh seafood, hushpuppies, and a Bloody Mary with a crab leg in it – is a good day. All this we experienced at The Darling Oyster Bar. The freshest oysters and littleneck clams, you could spend the entire day slurping them back. Their cornmeal hushpuppies with sorghum butter were to die for – so crispy yet tender on the inside. Heaven is live and well at the Darling Oyster Bar.
Next up my might an odd suggestion for a food guide, since recommending food at hotel chains is never on my list. But like I mentioned, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront Downtown which has their own Garden Grille & Bar restaurant and one night we decided to stay in and relax on their rooftop bar. As we watched the stellar sunset, we ordered some things of their menu and these fried green tomatoes topped with crab cakes were something out of this world. Basically, the most Southern items combined, the tomatoes were fried to a crispy perfection and the crab cakes were so flavorful I couldn’t stop eating them. Typically, on-site hotels don’t have a great reputation for good food, but if you want to watch the sun set over the Ashley Marina and have some good food, I urge you to give it a chance.
James Beard Award winning chef and owner Robert Stehling is doing Charleston right at Hominy Grill. Sure, you can get the shrimp and grits here because they are as legit as they come. Or even order the She Crab soup because it’s the best you’ll taste in the city. But I beg you to order the Charleston Nasty Biscuit – the most tender biscuit sandwiches crispy fried chicken and cheddar cheese, all drenched in sausage gravy. Chef Stehling even makes his own sausage to make this gravy an it’s luscious, savory – so good I’m wondering why I didn’t think of ordering an extra side of gravy on the side?! Next time, I sure will.
We were happy to also discover that Charleston wasn’t just a city of one unique type of food – there are some incredible Asian restaurants as well as Latin and Spanish. One restaurant that stood out was Minero, part of the Sean Brock dynasty. A casual Mexican eatery, I suggest stopping in for a taco between meals. The ambiance is fun and inviting, the food packed with spices and flavor. The tortillas were out of this world, warm and pliable, and to give you a little insight about how much thought and work goes into the tortilla, here’s some info from their site:
Chef Sean Brock and the Minero team tasted over 40 varieties of corn before choosing their three favorites from three different producers: Masienda, Geechie Boy Mill, and Anson Mills. Using a traditional nixtamalization process to make fresh masa every day, Minero grinds the corn in house, which results in a truly authentic corn tortilla [served in this Charleston restaurant].
Let’s not forget the sweet side of Charleston, because my oh my are there enough sweet treats to go around. Glazed Gourmet Donuts should definitely be on your itinerary when visiting Charleston. Pictured below you can see the donut we ordered: Sweet Corn Blueberry filled with a sweet corn custard and topped with a blueberry glaze and corn crumble. It was the ideal combination of sweet/savory and having corn in desserts is one of my favorite things, so this donut was a winner. They have other fun flavors like Blue Cheese Cabernet, Green Tea and Sesame, and Chinese Five Spice, along with classics like Glazed and Chocolate.
Another sweet spot is Sugar Bakeshop, where you can get a really good cupcake. It’s funny how the cupcake trend started and honestly, I’m not one for those sickly sweet, overdose of frosting bits. But the cupcakes at Sugar were just the opposite. Not super sweet, with a good ratio of frosting to cake. We shared a coconut cupcake and each bite was sweet nirvana.
For more Charleston food inspiration, make sure to check out my Top 5 Foodie Eats in Charleston over at Nancy D. Brown’s website. Go forth and travel this new year – the world awaits!