It is time now — drumroll, trumpets, gongs — to announce the winners of the 2016 Eater Awards. In over a dozen categories in multiple cities, the winners comprise a diverse group of the finest and most interesting chefs, operators, and characters in the continent that have defined this year in dining. We applaud them. You are hereby instructed to applaud them.
To recap, Eater's local editors nominated candidates for three major local categories: Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Stone Cold Stunner, with the addition of local categories Bar of the Year and Bartender of the Year. Eater readers then voted on their favorites. The Eater editorial team also chose winners. Without further ado, here's who came out on top in Charleston.
Eater Awards 2016
Restaurant of the Year
Nominees: Lewis Barbecue, The Darling Oyster Bar, Harold’s Cabin, Little Jack’s Tavern, Le Farfalle
Reader’s Choice: Lewis Barbecue
Editorial Choice: No one made a bigger splash in 2016 than Lewis Barbecue. Pitmaster John Lewis woke up the the smoked meat scene with his Austin-style brisket and Tex Mex nights. Ever since he started popping up at breweries around Charleston, the town has been hooked.
Chef of the Year
Nominees: Sean Brock, Michael Toscano, Shuai Wang, John Amato, John Lewis
Reader’s Choice: John Amato
Editorial Choice: Even though this chef doesn’t have a bricks and mortar restaurant, Shuai Wang has redefined the Charleston food scene with his fresh take on Japanese food with Lowcountry ingredients. Catch him at the Short Grain food truck.
Cold Stone Stunner
Nominees: The Darling Oyster Bar, Henrietta’s/The Living Room, Harold’s Cabin, Little Jack’s Tavern, Lewis Barbecue
Reader’s Choice: The Darling Oyster Bar
Editorial Choice: If you haven’t been in the mid-century modern wonder that is The Dewberry hotel, then you must stop by the bar The Living Room and the restaurant Henrietta’s. Those Instagrams you’ve seen don’t do it justice, so go explore this stunner soon.
Bar of the Year
Nominees: The Living Room, Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen, Stems & Skins, The Watch Rooftop Kitchen and Spirits, The Best Friend Lounge
Reader’s Choice: Stems & Skins
Editorial Choice: Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen had the difficult task of turning a historic dive bar into a tropical oasis and it succeeded. In a town soaked with bourbon, Cane brought back rum and a bit of Instant Vacations.
Bartender of the Year
Nominees: Roger Gelis, Ryan Casey, Matt Tunstall, Philip Cohen, Jeff Chaffin
Reader’s Choice: Jeff Chaffin (Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen)
Editorial Choice: You can’t deny that Ryan Casey has something special going on at The Living Room at The Dewberry. Seductive cocktails in a slick space? Yes, please.