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.
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!
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 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 from Charleston: 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 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 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!
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!
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.
Restaurants on Johns Island in Charleston SC
Local diners looking for a fun day trip, or vacationers on the Sea Islands will love the variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options on Johns Island. Dishes range from the sloppy KISS grit bowl to a perfectly prepared steak, or sushi you will find a bit of everything on Johns Island.
When you head across the Intercoastal waterway from Charleston to Johns Island and the Sea Islands it's a foodie paradise.
From casual outdoor breweries to award-winning eateries the choices are abundant.
Travel south to Freshfields Village at the head of Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island.
Freshfields Village dining features pizza, a wine bar, gourmet takeout, a sports bar, and upscale dining too.
Since 2009 the love and warmth of chef Jacque Larson’s Italian eatery is unsurpassed in Charleston.
This Johns Island gem is easily one of the best restaurants in the Holy City.
Seasonal menus with local ingredients mean the menu changes and it is always fresh and inspired. Paired with reasonably priced wines and stellar service this is the restaurant to visit on Johns Island.
The Royal Tern
Located in the heart of Johns Island this upscale seafood restaurant is housed in a beautiful building. The seafood tower is even more stunning! Steaks, a raw bar, tartare, salads, and such offer a bit of something for everyone at The Royal Tern.
Johns Islanders always ask where can we get breakfast or brunch. Kiss Cafe is a great option! Serving breakfast and lunch and brunch in a bright open space, with seasonal outdoor seating. The menu offers delicious, freshly prepared menu options that won’t leave you needing a nap before noon! Located in the Crowne Commons Plaza, just 15 minutes from downtown Charleston.
Angel Oak Restaurant
Named after the famous tree that is hundreds of years old, the Angel Oak Restaurant is building its own legacy. Family-owned for over 10 years the rustic, southern menu brings us back for more. If the Piggy Mac is featured order it. Trust us!
For more scrumptious Johns Island dining options visit our Johns Island Area Dining Guide.
Restaurants in Freshfields Village
At the southern border of Johns Island, Freshfields Village is a culinary mecca. As the population on Kiawah and Seabrook Island grows, the village continues to expand its offerings. From takeout to full-course dinners the village is bustling.
This elegant french bistro serves contemporary cuisine with a classic flair. Chef Richard Hege honors the ingredients offering scrumptious dishes that bring locals back year after year. The lively bar scene is a favorite of islanders.
Forty-Eight Wine Bar and Kitchen
Wine lovers may tour the world with a glass at Forty-Eight Wine Bar! Dozens of options by the glass or just a taste. The kitchen serves up small plates that accompany the wines beautifully. Forty-eight hosts special wine dinners and events too.
La Tela Pizzeria
For over 14 years this family-owned and operated restaurant in Freshfields Village continues to serve great food. La Tela offers house-made dough, a traditional wood fire oven, and local ingredients produce the best Neopolitan pizza in Charleston. House-made pasta and great service too.
This gourmet cafe and prepared foods outlet bring a Mediterranean flair to its menu. Picked shrimp, delicious salads, sandwiches, and charcuterie boards with fresh cheese and meats are standouts. If you are planning a get-together and don’t want to spend time in the kitchen your guests will be impressed with a spread from here.
Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island Restaurants
Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island offer island residents and Charleston beach vacationers a variety of dining outlets with stunning ocean, golf, or marsh views. Seabrook Island restaurants within the gated area require a Seabrook Island Club amenity card for access. Restaurants offered by the Kiawah Island Resort are open to the public.
Seabrook Island restaurants are the dining amenities of the Seabrook Island Club. Diners enjoy casual oceanfront dining at the Pelican's Nest.
The Island House hosts thirsty and hungry golfers after a day on Ocean Winds or Crooked Oaks Golf Courses.
The Palmetto Room is a favorite location for celebrations and upscale dining with family and friends.
Our complete Seabrook Island dining guide offers more information on island dining.
Outside the gated area of the island check out these options:
Salty Dog Cafe
Salty Dog Cafe is a popular, casual seafood restaurant in Bohicket Marina. The fish tacos and peel-and-eat shrimp are always tasty. Enjoy the best sunsets over Bohicket Creek from this location with lots of outdoor seating and occasional live music too!
Saveurs du Monde Seabrook Island
Savuers du Monde Seabrook is more than a mouth-watering patisserie. Lunch and dinner served in the old Red Sky Grill offers an intimate journey to France. Save room for dessert, or stop in and take home an assortment of treats.
Kiawah Island restaurants range from the renowned four-diamond Ocean Room at the Sanctuary hotel to Cherrywood BBQ at Osprey Point Golf Course. No matter what you are in the mood for Kiawah Island has great options such as these.
The Atlantic Room
The Atlantic Room is Kiawah’s premier seafood restaurant. Located in the Ocean Course Clubhouse, enjoy seasonal ingredients, fresh and practical dishes, and breathtaking ocean views. Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. Outdoor dining is available in season.
Tomasso at Turtle Point Golf Course
Tomasso is a family style Italian eatery serving up homemade pasta, pizza, and seasonal specials. Located just beyond the 18th green, at the Turtle Point Clubhouse. Warm and inviting with bar and table service. Outside seating is available in season.
For more Kiawah Island restaurant options see our Kiawah Island Restaurant Guide.