The Best Restaurants in Charleston SC – A Foodie Guide

Charleston, SC, was named the No. 1 Best Food City in the U.S. by Conde Nast. The Holy City is a great culinary capital in the South.  In addition to multiple award winning restaurants, each March renowned chefs and epicureans celebrate Charleston’s rich, culinary heritage with the Charleston Food and Wine Festival. Whether you are craving savory Southern classics, like shrimp and grits, or vegan creations, like sweet potato hash, Charleston area restaurants have it all.

Our Charleston SC Foodie Guide offers recommendations on must-try restaurants in downtown Charleston, West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant and the Sea Islands. Let’s start with some downtown Charleston restaurant favorites. 

Award-Winning Restaurants Downtown Charleston


Let's start our Charleston restaurant guide with some of our favorite restaurants near downtown Charleston. It's hard to choose because there are so many top restaurants offering delicious food.

  • Husk

At Husk of Charleston, Chef Travis Grime’s love of Southern cuisine is apparent in his devotion to using only the best, locally sourced ingredients.

The result is a subtle interplay of culinary genius and homage to the culture of soul food, the cuisine that made the South Carolina Lowcountry what it is today.

Named one of the best restaurants to visit in Charleston by Forbes magazine. Call early for reservations!

  • FIG

FIG = Food is good. 

Named one of the best restaurants in the U.S. by Eater and winner of the prestigious James Beard award.

Mike Lata’s culinary passion and commitment to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients make this a must-stop on any visit to Charleston.  

  • Xiao Bao Biscuit

Xiao Bao Biscuit Charleston isn’t all shrimp and oysters. This Asian-inspired eatery offers incredible, spicy soul food favorites. Don’t let the casual vibe of the space, a former gas station, deter you. The Okonomiyaki pancake is what dreams are made of!

Local ingredients with an Asian flare are the star here. Try the locally sourced tilefish in green curry sauce. Named one of the 31 best restaurants in Charleston by Conde Naste.

  • Leon’s Fine Poultry and Oyster Shop

Leon's Fine Poultry and Oyster Shop serves the best-grilled oysters in Charleston. This hip, casual upper King Street eatery also cooks up a memorable chicken sandwich, breaded with seafood seasonings, and topped with a tangy Asian slaw on a freshly baked brioche bun.

Rose on tap, frozen G&Ts, and growlers of Champagne. Oh, and there’s soft serve too. This may be heaven.  

  • 167 Raw

167 Raw draws a crowd daily to lower King Street. This New England-inspired oyster bar is popular with locals and area visitors. These folks only serve the freshest seafood, directly from the Atlantic waters from Canada to Charleston.  No reservations and closed Sunday so plan accordingly.  

For more great seafood restaurants in Charleston visit more of our Favorite Charleston Seafood Restaurants.

  • Rodney Scott’s BBQ

Rodney Scott’s BBQ King of the Pit and James Beard award-winning chef Rodney Scott serves up authentic pit-cooked whole hog BBQ on upper King Street at this downhome restaurant. Slow and slow, with lots of smoky goodness. 

The vinegar-based sauce speaks to his Carolina roots. Yummy mac n cheese, collard greens, and hushpuppies too!

Across the Bridge: Restaurants in Mt. Pleasant, Sullivans Island, IOP


Fresh seafood is always a top request by visitors and locals alike. There is no shortage of restaurants serving dishes featuring fresh fish, char-grilled burgers, local beer, and outdoor seating. Across the Ravenel Bridge from downtown Charleston SC, we adore these dining options.

  • The Obstinate Daughter

The Obstinent Daughter This culinary jewel on Sullivans Island comes up on every must-try restaurant list.

Chef Jacques Larson inspires every ingredient in this Italian-influenced coastal cafe.

The commitment to fresh local ingredients shines in the veggies, salads, and seafood selections. Saturday/Sunday brunch is a must!  

  • Nico

Nico Chef Nico Romo celebrates his french heritage and the abundance of local seafood ingredients in this Mt. Pleasant eatery at Shem Creek. 

Oysters and wood-fired fish aren’t the only stars here. Forbes magazine featured the Coleman Boulevardier cocktail with Campari, Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, Dolin Rouge Vermouth, and garnished with a wood-fired orange.

Elegant, and beautiful it’s perfect for a first date or Sunday brunch with your besties. 

  • Home Team bbq

Oh the ribs and smoked chicken! We love Home team bbq on Sullivans Island. Beer just tastes better at the beach with a plate of their grub. Takeout is available for a beach picnic or eat on their deck. The tacos made with house-made carnitas is mouth-watering.

  • Poes Tavern

Poes Tavern is our favorite spot for outdoor dining with friends is when we are on Sullivans Island. They serve the best fish tacos in Charleston, SC. The burgers are spot on too!

  • Sea Biscuit Cafe

If you are on the Isle of Palms (IOP) stop for breakfast at this island institution - Sea Biscuit Cafe.  All your breakfast favorites are here. House specialties include the Crab Cake Biscuit, Shrimp & Grits, and Tomato Pie. Oh my!   

Restaurants in West Ashley Charleston SC


Across the Ashley River, there are a number of eateries that are popular with the local community. From award-winning bbq to taco spots, sushi, famous chicken sandwiches, and Sunday Funday at Triangle char, don't miss these West Ashley restaurants.

  • The Glass Onion

The Glass Onion This West Ashley stalwart serves up comfort classics. 

Since 2008 chef/owner Chris Stewart has served up fresh locally sourced ingredients. 

Inspired by his upbringing in the south this neighborhood eatery brings it with deviled eggs, boiled peanuts, and Po-boys! 

 

  • Boxcar Betty's

If you can only have one chicken sandwich Box Car Betty's is the place to go.

Located on Savannah Hwy in a tiny building its location is unassuming.

The "Boxcar" with pimento, peach slaw, and house-made pickles is the only chicken sandwich we will ever want again!

  • The Red Orchid

When locals and visitors want some good Chinese food The Red Orchid is the place we always recommend. Located in a shopping center off Sam Rittenberg this unassuming location is the place for scrumptious classics and house specials like Indonesian Lamb, and Red Snapper with their signature sauce. No buffet here folks! 

  • Triangle Char and Bar

For years now locals gather for Sunday Funday at Triangle Char and Bar, a casual West Ashley spot in the 5 points district. They have lots of outdoor seating so bring your crew. Brunch menu items include all your breakfast favorites and the best grass-fed burger around. Draft beer pitchers are pouring all day and mimosas by the carafe, yes, please!

  • Swig and Swine

The wood-fired pit at Swig and Swine draws people from all over for the succulent low and slow meats here. Bring your crew and an appetite for some tasty Q. Smoked meats, ribs, pulled pork, pickled veggies, and Brunswick Stew are all here. 

By the pound and catering options offer a great option for home gatherings and parties. Charleston is known for its great BBQ restaurants.  

Here are more of our favorite Charleston BBQ restaurants.