clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Charleston’s Eater Awards Winners 2018

The restaurants and chefs that made the city run wild this year

Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas, covering the food and restaurant scene across North and South Carolina.

After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the ninth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.

Here now are the establishments — from pizzerias to wine bars to a restaurant with “cheese ice,” — that have taken the Charleston food world by storm.

Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor’s Choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.

Restaurant of the Year

Tu, Eastside

Tu [Official]

When Xiao Bao Biscuit co-owners Josh Walker, Duolan Walker-Li, and Joey Ryan opened Tu, the refrain about the restaurant was “unlike anything in Charleston.” In the land of shrimp and grits, the trio brought eclectic flavor combinations from across the globe, like crudo with guava, “cheese ice,” and habanero. While the menu might be a bit out there for less adventurous diners, the undefinable food and festive space attracts plenty of Charlestonians and out-of-town visitors.

Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Chubby Fish

Chef of the Year

Evan Gaudreau
Renzo, North Central

Evan Gaudreau
Olivia Rae James

Chef Evan Gaudreau helms the kitchen at modern, buzzing pizzeria Renzo. his Neo-Neapolitan pie is a riff on the classic — it’s similar in style but not quite traditional. The main difference is his addition of a savory natural levain, which leads to a fermentation of the dough — the entire process takes about 60 hours. He’s also the mind behind the wild toppings, savory starters, and Fernet ice cream. Gaudreau keeps it weird, yet approachable.

Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Orlando Pagán (McCrady’s Tavern)

Design of the Year

Tradd’s, French Quarter

Leslie Ryann McKellar

Any hints of this East Bay Street building’s former life as fine-dining establishment Cypress are long gone after extensive work by local design firm Workstead and Charleston-based Lennon Construction. The bright dining room is refined yet unpretentious, with local art adorning the walls, brass fixtures, a long marble bar, and hints of animal prints. Tradd’s is now a sleek spot to sip champagne and meet well-heeled friends.

Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Basic Kitchen

Bar of the Year

Graft, North Central

Jesse McCann

Graft comes from advanced sommelier Femi Oyediran and sommelier and winery vet Miles White. Patrons expect interesting bottles and wines by the glass in a fun, hip hangout — maybe with LL Cool J or Prince on the speakers. It’s one part wine shop and one part chill bar. They took the stuffiness out of wine. Also, there’s always a killer pop-up or DJ party happening.

Bar of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Graft

Pizza of the Year

Melfi’s, North Central

Posh dining room with pops of green Leslie Ryann McKellar

While Melfi’s serves far more than pizza, the pies from chef John Amato really know how to bring a table together. Thin-crust pies come with fun names like Mr. Wally, Prosciutto Party, and Optimistic Chicken. Gather a party of four and let the merriment unfold over a few Negronis and a mid-course of pizza among the wood-fired sweet peppers and steak Florentine.

Pizza of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Uptown Social


167 East Bay Street, , SC 29401 (843) 414-7661 Visit Website


430 Meeting Street, , SC 29403 Visit Website


384 Huger Street, , SC 29403 (843) 259-2760 Visit Website

Graft Wine Shop & Wine Bar

700b King Street, , SC 29403 (843) 718-3359 Visit Website


721 King Street, , SC 29403 (843) 513-0307 Visit Website
North Carolina

Pure & Proper Is a Love Story Between Two Couples and an Old Gas Station in Black Mountain


Raleigh’s Acclaimed Cheeni Restaurant Expanding to Durham

North Carolina

Find the Triangle’s Buzziest New Restaurants Tucked Away on Neighborhood Streets