John and I frolicked to Charleston after the wedding for our "mini-moon" and it was seriously one of the best trips I've taken. I think after planning a wedding plus having quite a bit of work responsibility leading up to the wedding, a vacation anywhere would have been much appreciated. It was very nice to not have any plans and just relax. The weather in Charleston was perfect and it's such a charming, historic and beautiful city I can't wait to get back.
Before taking a trip, I always try and research food and drink options and see where the locals hang. Food is always a high priority of mine so I have to have enough time to prepare properly. Charleston is full of restaurants and bars...you can't really go wrong here. In fact, John had to remind me that we were only going to be in Charleston for a limited amount of time so all of the places that I wanted to try probably wasn't going to happen all in one trip. He was right. But the places we did try were magnificent. Not one bad meal...or drink. If you're thinking about visiting Charleston soon (do it), I've put together a little list of the places that we tried and a few that are still on our list. I hope this helps you as you prepare for a trip to one of the most romantic cities!
L O D G I N G
French Quarter Inn // 166 Church Street // 843-722-1900
This hotel was fantastic! The staff was attentive and courteous and the amenities were even better! The French Quarter Inn had a wine and cheese reception every evening for guests, breakfast every morning that you could have delivered to your room or enjoy on their patio, evening turn down service (with a special treat) and warm cookies and milk in the evening. I opted for a nightcap instead of the milk...which they provided as well. I was blown away by this place - no wonder it's been ranked by Travel & Leisure and TripAdvisor! Great location too; we never used the car the entire time! The hotel somehow found out we were newlyweds and left us the sweetest note and a bottle of bubbly while we were out for dinner. How sweet is that? At the time of our visit, there was construction going on next door; there's a Ruth's Chris coming. It wasn't terribly bothersome though.
Other hotels to check out:
Andrew Pinckney Inn // 40 Pinckney Street // 843.937.8800
The Vendue // 19 Vendue Range // 843-577-7970
F O O D
167 Raw // 289 E. Bay Street
Amen Street // 205 E. Bay Street
Amen Street was walking distance from our hotel and always seemed busy. They pride themselves on the oysters so if that's what you're into, be sure to try them. I went completely unhealthy and had a plate of fried seafood. Fried shrimp, flounder, oysters and I don't remember what else. It was pretty busy for a Tuesday evening; luckily we made reservations. Service was a little slow but a good time was had overall.
Hominy Grill // 207 Rutledge Avenue (pictured above)
Words just don't do this place justice. I loved, loved, loved Hominy Grill. Even though this is a weekend guide to Charleston, John and I were actually there for a few days during the week so, getting into most of these restaurants wasn't a big deal...just throwing that out there. I don't think I've ever eaten as much as I did at Hominy Grill. We noshed on jalapeno hushpuppies and I ordered the Charleston nasty biscuit, which still makes me drool every time I think about it. Obviously I had to try a cocktail while we were there so I ordered a Blackberry Collins - cool and refreshing. Definitely needed an Uber after we finished eating here; we weren't walking anywhere after that meal.
|outside of Hominy Grill|
Craftsmen Tap House // 12 Cumberland Street
We were looking for a bite to eat sort of late on a week night and we stumbled into Craftsmen Tap House. If you're into beer, this place has lots of craft beer on tap. I'm not a huge beer drinker and by the time we found this place, we'd had enough to drink anyway. We both indulged in water. For the beer enthusiast, this would be a great stop on your Charleston tour. One food tip if trying Craftsmen: try the burger. It's like a bacon cheeseburger but the bacon is cooked in the burger - I stole this description from our awesome waitress (hi Atlas!). It's so good. The burger has beef chuck and aged pork belly...it was ridiculous. Try it. Tuesday nights are $5 burger nights.
Husk // 76 Queen Street (pictured above)
The restaurants of all restaurants. The one everyone told us to visit. Husk is the restaurant I constantly read about. So, as soon as we decided on Charleston, I made a reservation. Husk was the first place we had dinner as a married couple so it will always hold a special place in my heart. The experience was fantastic as was the food. You must try the chicken skins. I was a little apprehensive but boy am I glad we ordered them. The skins are served with a warm bourbon honey drizzled on top. Yum! Husk's menu changes daily but whatever they have will be delightful. For dessert, try the strawberry lemon cake with strawberry sorbet. Wow.
Martha Lou's Kitchen // 1068 Morrison Drive
This place isn't hard to miss...it's pink! We had some pretty good meals and service while in Charleston but I'll say that Martha Lou's Kitchen was, in my opinion, the best customer service we had while in Charleston. Martha Lou's is like being in your aunt's or grandmother's kitchen. The staff is friendly, the food is made to order and the sweet tea is just sweet enough. Everyday they offer different food specials. John enjoyed the fried pork chop and I tried their famous fried chicken with mac & cheese, collard greens (so good) and cornbread that tasted like pound cake. We were stuffed when we left but were somehow convinced to take a piece of sweet potato pie to go. If you're headed to Martha Lou's Kitchen, BRING CASH...no credit cards.
Other restaurants to check out (but we didn't get a chance to try):
Social Wine Bar // 188 E. Bay Street
FIG // 232 Meeting Street
F R O L I C
The best time we had while in Charleston was simply walking around and getting lost. We just walked around and just observed the beautiful city that is Charleston. We found an olive oil shop (Lowcountry Olive Oil // 272A Meeting Street) and brought home a few treats. Be sure to stop in and taste a few oils and vinegars before you make a purchase.
We took a stroll through the St. Philip's Church cemetery. Sounds grim but it was very peaceful - it's also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Make time to visit Waterfront Park (located at 1 Vendue). If the weather is nice, have a picnic or just sit and watch the water, so relaxing. One place that we didn't get to visit but would love to visit the next time is the Charleston Tea Plantation (6617 Maybank Highway).
T R E A T S & D R I N K S
Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery // 32 Windermere Boulevard
On one of our walking adventures, we walked by a cute and quaint bakery. We stopped in to rest for a moment (it was really warm) and to try a sweet treat. The lemon bar did not disappoint. We were on our way to lunch so I didn't try any sandwiches but Normandy does offer some pretty tasty sandwiches.
The Gin Joint // 182 E. Bay Street
The Gin Joint had been on my list to try since we decided to go to Charleston. It's a small place but the cocktails pack a big punch. The drinks take a little longer than your "normal" cocktails (we're not talking cranberry and vodkas here) but it's OK - the snacks that they offer will keep you busy while you wait for your drinks. John and I tried the gin basil smash and the Monticello mule. Both very good. Another option on their menu allows guests to give the bartender two words and they'll make something based on the words you give them...I had to give it try. I gave the bartender refreshing and spicy. I can honestly say, the drink was a perfect balance of those two words. The spice definitely crept up on my taste buds. I later learned that there was a habanero pepper in the drink. Eeek! The duck empanadas were awesome and just what we needed to pass time as we waited for drinks. Great place...the playlist was fantastic too!
Belgian Gelato // 6 Vendue Range (there are two locations in Charleston)
After sitting in Waterfront Park, we decided that we deserved a treat so we walked to Belgian Gelato - located just a few steps from Waterfront Park. We tried a double chocolate gelato (or something like that) and it was heavenly. Perfect treat for a warm day.
The Vendue Rooftop // 19 Vendue Range (pictured above)
This was one of my favorite stops in Charleston. The Vendue is a boutique hotel but they also have a beautiful rooftop bar. Wow! The Vendue Rooftop has a gorgeous view of the city and great drinks. There are two levels to the rooftop and I think on certain days they have a DJ. Though we weren't super hungry, we had to try the deep fried Oreos. I've had fried Oreos before (don't ask) but these were something totally different. It tasted as if they were fried in funnel cake batter and they were super soft and served with little sticks of chocolate. Ahhhh. Our bartender, Allen, was so nice and attentive. I knew I was sold on The Vendue when we walked in and there was a wall of View Masters. Remember those? That entertained us for at least a minute. Definitely stop by the Vendue Rooftop for drinks!
Other bars to check out:
Proof // 437 King Street
Eliotborough Mini Bar // 18 Percy Street
Charleston was one of my favorite trips and I can't wait to go again!