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The spread at Obstinate Daughter
Andrew Cebulka

18 Essential Restaurants in Charleston

Where to find fantastic ribs, seasonal pizzas, and fried shrimp

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The spread at Obstinate Daughter
| Andrew Cebulka

It’s time for the summer update of the Eater 18, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?”

This highly elite group of destinations are the places that you should go to tonight, tomorrow, and again and again. These are places that must exist, places that have impacted or represent the constantly evolving culinary canon of Charleston.

This carefully selected list showcases the spots that are making dining in the Lowcountry special during this unique moment. Removal from the Eater 18 does not mean a restaurant isn’t still great and won’t return in the future, but allows for new additions, keeping the 18 a fresh, inclusive, and representative list.

New to the map are seafood restaurants Nigel’s Good Food and Chubby Fish.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Nigel's Good Food

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3760 Ashley Phosphate Rd
North Charleston, SC 29418
(843) 552-0079
Visit Website

Nigel’s Good Food is a North Charleston staple. Every dish is made with a down-home feel, hence the use of its “just what your soul needs” slogan. The restaurant’s friendly service and casual dining room vibes make it feel like you’ve been invited to a family supper. The gumbo, deviled crabs, and fried green tomatoes are standouts, but make sure you order Nigel’s very popular Geechie wings. The signature dish comes battered, fried, and tossed in a homemade sweet-and-sour wing sauce.

2. Jackrabbit Filly

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4628 Spruill Ave #101
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 460-0037
Visit Website

Chinese-American restaurant Jackrabbit Filly comes from the minds behind the super sought-after food truck Short Grain. Corrie and Shuai Wang bring the flavors of Shuai’s Chinese family to the menu with some Japanese and American flavors thrown in. Some of the offerings conjure takeout menu comfort food vibes, like fried rice with ham and pineapple or pork and cabbage dumplings.

3. Bertha's Restaurant

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2332 Meeting Street Rd
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 554-6519

Established in 1979, iconic soul food stop Bertha’s Kitchen is known for its fried chicken, fish, and sides, like slow-simmered lima beans. Tourists and locals in search of Southern comfort makes the trek to the big turquoise house in North Charleston to take in the dishes established by the late founder Albertha Grant, like the smothered pork chops and oxtails. Bertha’s has even drawn its fair share of critical acclaim. In 2017, the restaurant took home the James Beard Award for America’s Classic.

4. Butcher & Bee

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1085 Morrison Drive
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 619-0202
Visit Website

Hip restaurant Butcher & Bee grew up along with the dining scene in Charleston. It began as a late night sandwich shop on Upper King, and now it offers a range of Southern-meets-Mediterranean fare. The menu showcases interesting riffs on traditional brunch fare like whipped ricotta toast with chili honey. Lunch could be heirloom beans with jalapeño vinaigrette and Jimmy Red cornbread or a massive roast beef sandwich with smoked onion jam. Dinner combines the midday elements with kebab platters and crispy half-chicken dinners. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure style of dining.

Butcher & Bee
Andrew Cebulka

5. Lewis Barbecue

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464 N Nassau St
Charleston, SC 29403

Pitmaster John Lewis brought the best-ever brisket to Charleston by way of Austin, and it’s been a hit since day one. The airy dining room is unlike any other barbecue space — it’s clean and modern with several nods to Texas and Mexico, including an 8’ longhorn head mounted on the wall and imported Oaxacan tile on the service counter. Some of the most popular dishes include the hot guts (sausage links), fatty brisket, green chili corn pudding, and super-moist turkey slices.

Bill Addison/Eater

6. Rodney Scott's BBQ

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1011 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

James Beard-winning pitmaster Rodney Scott brought whole hog barbecue to Charleston by way of Hemingway, South Carolina, and it was an instant hit. Settle into a red booth at the North Central restaurant and order smoky pulled pork with a hint of vinegar or a comforting ribeye sandwich — don’t forget the collards and cornbread. There’s plenty of picnic tables outdoors and takeout is easy at Rodney Scott’s BBQ.d.

7. Maison

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708 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 990-9165
Visit Website

Breezy French restaurant Maison highlights the precision and craft from chef Vandy Vanderwarker (formerly of the Ordinary). The seasonal menu is likely to offer steak tartare, mussels bourride, or dry-aged duck. Regardless, all of the plates are so beautiful that they are sure to shine on any Instagram feed. Stop in for the $5 champagne happy hour and stay for dinner.

Maison
Leslie Ryann McKellar

8. Hannibal's Kitchen

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16 Drake St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-2256
Visit Website

Tucked away in the Eastside neighborhood, this Lowcountry legend has served classic Charleston dishes since 1985. Off the tourist path on Blake Street, try Gullah cuisine staples, like crab rice, lima beans with smoked turkey neck bones, okra soup, and local shark. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this casual spot meets the need for Lowcountry flavors any time of the day.

A plate of lima beans on a table
Lima bean supper with rice and smoked turkey necks at Hannibal’s Soul Kitchen
Bill Addison/Eater

9. Leon's Oyster Shop

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698 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 531-6500
Visit Website

Combine fancy champagne, cheap beer, fried chicken, and a casual raw bar — all housed in a retrofitted auto body shop — and you get Leon’s Oyster Shop. The menu has plenty of salads, like the iceberg stack covered in buttermilk dressing, for the lunch crowds and soft serve for the kids. The owners put a lot of thought into every detail, so go marvel at the wondrous interiors of the former auto body shop, full of custom art and thrift store finds, in between chargrilled oysters.

Leon’s Oyster Shop/Official

10. Chubby Fish

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252 Coming St
Charleston, SC 29403
(854) 222-3949
Visit Website

Cannonborough/Elliotborough restaurant Chubby Fish is tucked away from the normal downtown cluster of eateries, so it almost feels like a secret when diners find it. The sailor-themed dining room is always packed with customers looking to discover what chef James London has created with the day’s fresh catch. Wahoo crudo, poached black grouper, and grilled oysters with lamb sausage round out the menu worth the wait (Chubby Fish doesn’t take reservations, so expect a wait).

11. The Ordinary

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544 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow created an homage to all things from the ocean with their fancy fish house the Ordinary. Housed in a 1920s bank on Upper King, the dining room retains much of the charm of the era with vintage sea decorations, bistro tables, white marble, and a sparkling mezzanine overlooking the space. As one of the best raw bars around, customers dining at the Ordinary should go big with a triple tower full of fresh shellfish and perfectly executed mignonettes or the traditional caviar service.

12. Chez Nous

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6 Payne Ct
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 579-3060
Visit Website

At this romantic and rustic French destination, chef Jill Mathias serves a concise selection of two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. The staff posts the menu daily on Instagram, but it’s usually a safe bet to grab a table without knowing what plates will delight the dining room that day. Just recently, the offerings included seared scallops with cauliflower puree and fresh peas, a tomato tart, and a veal cutlet with a green salad.

Erin Perkins/Eater Charleston

13. Xiao Bao Biscuit

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224 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403

Asian soul food spot Xiao Bao Biscuit was one of a kind when it opened on Spring Street in 2012. The kitchen offers items not commonly seen in downtown Charleston, like okonomiyaki covered in “pork candy” and the extra spicy mapo tofu. The menu pulls inspiration from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, so there’s always something new and interesting to sample.

Som tum with chicken at XBB
Mike Ledford

14. Dave's Carry-Out

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42 Morris St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 577-7943

The little corner fish shack is a laid-back stop off the hectic hustle of King Street. As the name implies, the kitchen is very adept at the carryout game. For years, this corner shop has consistently served up big plates of crisp, golden-fried fresh catch and fixin’s. Those in the know pair the buttery flounder with a side of creamy lima beans and rice.

Dave’s Carry-Out
Mike Ledford

15. FIG

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232 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 805-5900
Visit Website

Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow opened FIG in 2003, and the Ansonborough restaurant continues to be a top destination for pristinely executed plates in Charleston. Go for innovative takes on seasonal produce, like the fall salad with a young ginger vinaigrette, and always opt for the chicken liver pâté or the ricotta gnocchi topped with lamb bolognese. Make a reservation far in advance for one of the white-clothed tables.

Leslie Ryann McKellar

16. Le Farfalle

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15 Beaufain St
Charleston, SC 29401

Le Farfalle is the sort of eatery everyone wishes was in their neighborhood — the food is comforting, the airy interior full of blue booths and bright paintings is relaxed, and there’s always a regular from Harleston Village at the bar. The menus are full of pastas, like agnolotti with duck confit, and smaller plates, like octopus carpaccio, which allow patrons to choose if the meal experience will be a big Italian feast or a light snack.

Brian Stetson

17. Kwei Fei

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1977 Maybank Hwy
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 225-0094
Visit Website

Charleston was severely lacking in Sichuan options before chef David Schuttenberg came to town via multiple venerated kitchens in New York. His restaurant Kwei Fei brings the heat on James Island to adoring fans looking for lamb dumplings, spicy noodles, and mapo tofu. Order several dishes, like dan dan noodles and lamb dumplings, because leftovers are just as good the next day.

Kwei Fei
Andrew Cebulka

18. The Obstinate Daughter

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2063 Middle St
Sullivan's Island, SC 29482
(843) 416-5020
Visit Website

Visitors to Sullivan’s Island can dine on wood-fired pizza, filling pasta, and fresh seafood by the ocean in a stylish, nautical-themed dining room. The Obstinate Daughter offers a bright space to spend the lunch, brunch, or dinner hour. The menu includes the signature William Moultrie cocktail made from local gin and key lime juice, oysters on the half shell, and a sumptuous ricotta gnocchi with short rib ragu.

The Obstinate Daughter
The Obstinate Daughter
Andrew Cebulka

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1. Nigel's Good Food

3760 Ashley Phosphate Rd, North Charleston, SC 29418

Nigel’s Good Food is a North Charleston staple. Every dish is made with a down-home feel, hence the use of its “just what your soul needs” slogan. The restaurant’s friendly service and casual dining room vibes make it feel like you’ve been invited to a family supper. The gumbo, deviled crabs, and fried green tomatoes are standouts, but make sure you order Nigel’s very popular Geechie wings. The signature dish comes battered, fried, and tossed in a homemade sweet-and-sour wing sauce.

3760 Ashley Phosphate Rd
North Charleston, SC 29418

2. Jackrabbit Filly

4628 Spruill Ave #101, North Charleston, SC 29405

Chinese-American restaurant Jackrabbit Filly comes from the minds behind the super sought-after food truck Short Grain. Corrie and Shuai Wang bring the flavors of Shuai’s Chinese family to the menu with some Japanese and American flavors thrown in. Some of the offerings conjure takeout menu comfort food vibes, like fried rice with ham and pineapple or pork and cabbage dumplings.

4628 Spruill Ave #101
North Charleston, SC 29405

3. Bertha's Restaurant

2332 Meeting Street Rd, North Charleston, SC 29405

Established in 1979, iconic soul food stop Bertha’s Kitchen is known for its fried chicken, fish, and sides, like slow-simmered lima beans. Tourists and locals in search of Southern comfort makes the trek to the big turquoise house in North Charleston to take in the dishes established by the late founder Albertha Grant, like the smothered pork chops and oxtails. Bertha’s has even drawn its fair share of critical acclaim. In 2017, the restaurant took home the James Beard Award for America’s Classic.

2332 Meeting Street Rd
North Charleston, SC 29405

4. Butcher & Bee

1085 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC 29403
Butcher & Bee
Andrew Cebulka

Hip restaurant Butcher & Bee grew up along with the dining scene in Charleston. It began as a late night sandwich shop on Upper King, and now it offers a range of Southern-meets-Mediterranean fare. The menu showcases interesting riffs on traditional brunch fare like whipped ricotta toast with chili honey. Lunch could be heirloom beans with jalapeño vinaigrette and Jimmy Red cornbread or a massive roast beef sandwich with smoked onion jam. Dinner combines the midday elements with kebab platters and crispy half-chicken dinners. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure style of dining.

1085 Morrison Drive
Charleston, SC 29403

5. Lewis Barbecue

464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
Bill Addison/Eater

Pitmaster John Lewis brought the best-ever brisket to Charleston by way of Austin, and it’s been a hit since day one. The airy dining room is unlike any other barbecue space — it’s clean and modern with several nods to Texas and Mexico, including an 8’ longhorn head mounted on the wall and imported Oaxacan tile on the service counter. Some of the most popular dishes include the hot guts (sausage links), fatty brisket, green chili corn pudding, and super-moist turkey slices.

464 N Nassau St
Charleston, SC 29403

6. Rodney Scott's BBQ

1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

James Beard-winning pitmaster Rodney Scott brought whole hog barbecue to Charleston by way of Hemingway, South Carolina, and it was an instant hit. Settle into a red booth at the North Central restaurant and order smoky pulled pork with a hint of vinegar or a comforting ribeye sandwich — don’t forget the collards and cornbread. There’s plenty of picnic tables outdoors and takeout is easy at Rodney Scott’s BBQ.d.

1011 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

7. Maison

708 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Maison
Leslie Ryann McKellar

Breezy French restaurant Maison highlights the precision and craft from chef Vandy Vanderwarker (formerly of the Ordinary). The seasonal menu is likely to offer steak tartare, mussels bourride, or dry-aged duck. Regardless, all of the plates are so beautiful that they are sure to shine on any Instagram feed. Stop in for the $5 champagne happy hour and stay for dinner.

708 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

8. Hannibal's Kitchen

16 Drake St, Charleston, SC 29403
A plate of lima beans on a table
Lima bean supper with rice and smoked turkey necks at Hannibal’s Soul Kitchen
Bill Addison/Eater

Tucked away in the Eastside neighborhood, this Lowcountry legend has served classic Charleston dishes since 1985. Off the tourist path on Blake Street, try Gullah cuisine staples, like crab rice, lima beans with smoked turkey neck bones, okra soup, and local shark. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this casual spot meets the need for Lowcountry flavors any time of the day.

16 Drake St
Charleston, SC 29403

9. Leon's Oyster Shop

698 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Leon’s Oyster Shop/Official

Combine fancy champagne, cheap beer, fried chicken, and a casual raw bar — all housed in a retrofitted auto body shop — and you get Leon’s Oyster Shop. The menu has plenty of salads, like the iceberg stack covered in buttermilk dressing, for the lunch crowds and soft serve for the kids. The owners put a lot of thought into every detail, so go marvel at the wondrous interiors of the former auto body shop, full of custom art and thrift store finds, in between chargrilled oysters.

698 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

10. Chubby Fish

252 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403

Cannonborough/Elliotborough restaurant Chubby Fish is tucked away from the normal downtown cluster of eateries, so it almost feels like a secret when diners find it. The sailor-themed dining room is always packed with customers looking to discover what chef James London has created with the day’s fresh catch. Wahoo crudo, poached black grouper, and grilled oysters with lamb sausage round out the menu worth the wait (Chubby Fish doesn’t take reservations, so expect a wait).

252 Coming St
Charleston, SC 29403

11. The Ordinary

544 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow created an homage to all things from the ocean with their fancy fish house the Ordinary. Housed in a 1920s bank on Upper King, the dining room retains much of the charm of the era with vintage sea decorations, bistro tables, white marble, and a sparkling mezzanine overlooking the space. As one of the best raw bars around, customers dining at the Ordinary should go big with a triple tower full of fresh shellfish and perfectly executed mignonettes or the traditional caviar service.

544 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

12. Chez Nous

6 Payne Ct, Charleston, SC 29403
Erin Perkins/Eater Charleston

At this romantic and rustic French destination, chef Jill Mathias serves a concise selection of two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. The staff posts the menu daily on Instagram, but it’s usually a safe bet to grab a table without knowing what plates will delight the dining room that day. Just recently, the offerings included seared scallops with cauliflower puree and fresh peas, a tomato tart, and a veal cutlet with a green salad.

6 Payne Ct
Charleston, SC 29403

13. Xiao Bao Biscuit

224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
Som tum with chicken at XBB
Mike Ledford

Asian soul food spot Xiao Bao Biscuit was one of a kind when it opened on Spring Street in 2012. The kitchen offers items not commonly seen in downtown Charleston, like okonomiyaki covered in “pork candy” and the extra spicy mapo tofu. The menu pulls inspiration from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, so there’s always something new and interesting to sample.

224 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403

14. Dave's Carry-Out

42 Morris St, Charleston, SC 29403
Dave’s Carry-Out
Mike Ledford

The little corner fish shack is a laid-back stop off the hectic hustle of King Street. As the name implies, the kitchen is very adept at the carryout game. For years, this corner shop has consistently served up big plates of crisp, golden-fried fresh catch and fixin’s. Those in the know pair the buttery flounder with a side of creamy lima beans and rice.

42 Morris St
Charleston, SC 29403

15. FIG

232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Leslie Ryann McKellar

Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow opened FIG in 2003, and the Ansonborough restaurant continues to be a top destination for pristinely executed plates in Charleston. Go for innovative takes on seasonal produce, like the fall salad with a young ginger vinaigrette, and always opt for the chicken liver pâté or the ricotta gnocchi topped with lamb bolognese. Make a reservation far in advance for one of the white-clothed tables.

232 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401

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16. Le Farfalle

15 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401
Brian Stetson

Le Farfalle is the sort of eatery everyone wishes was in their neighborhood — the food is comforting, the airy interior full of blue booths and bright paintings is relaxed, and there’s always a regular from Harleston Village at the bar. The menus are full of pastas, like agnolotti with duck confit, and smaller plates, like octopus carpaccio, which allow patrons to choose if the meal experience will be a big Italian feast or a light snack.

15 Beaufain St
Charleston, SC 29401

17. Kwei Fei

1977 Maybank Hwy, Charleston, SC 29412
Kwei Fei
Andrew Cebulka

Charleston was severely lacking in Sichuan options before chef David Schuttenberg came to town via multiple venerated kitchens in New York. His restaurant Kwei Fei brings the heat on James Island to adoring fans looking for lamb dumplings, spicy noodles, and mapo tofu. Order several dishes, like dan dan noodles and lamb dumplings, because leftovers are just as good the next day.

1977 Maybank Hwy
Charleston, SC 29412

18. The Obstinate Daughter

2063 Middle St, Sullivan's Island, SC 29482
The Obstinate Daughter
The Obstinate Daughter
Andrew Cebulka

Visitors to Sullivan’s Island can dine on wood-fired pizza, filling pasta, and fresh seafood by the ocean in a stylish, nautical-themed dining room. The Obstinate Daughter offers a bright space to spend the lunch, brunch, or dinner hour. The menu includes the signature William Moultrie cocktail made from local gin and key lime juice, oysters on the half shell, and a sumptuous ricotta gnocchi with short rib ragu.

2063 Middle St
Sullivan's Island, SC 29482

Related Maps