James Island — the throughway to Folly Beach where there’s a visible shift from downtown energy to casual beach-y vibes. A place where must-try restaurants are often found in strip-centers and patrons are known by their first names. This Charleston suburb is home to eclectic eateries, casual lunch spots, and date-night go-tos that should not be overlooked. Whether it’s a pit stop on the way to Folly Beach or an adventure in search of delicious, no-frills food, these 14 essential James Island destinations are worth a try.Read More
14 Essential James Island Restaurants
From burgers to pho
Crust Wood Fired Pizza
The name says it all, as the wood-fired oven is the star forming charred crust and sizzling cheese. Chef Dusty Chorvat tops his pizzas with locally-sourced ingredients meant for high-heat cooking. Squash and onions caramelize before being finished with truffle oil on one called the Butternut, while five meats roast to perfection to make up the Crustavore.
Find strong margaritas and shareable Mexican dishes at Zia Taqueria. Nachos come topped with heaping scoops of proteins like pastor or beef barbacoa, and enchiladas arrive in pairs with two sides. Nightly specials and a casual environment make Zia a must for the next social gathering.
Maybank Public House
This gastropub offers lunch, dinner, and brunch alongside nearly 20 beers on tap. The wide-ranging menu is full of shareable starters like calamari, spinach and crab dip, and Asian-glazed baby back ribs. Patrons can’t go wrong with the inventive burgers at Maybank Public House, as they are stacked with fresh ingredients — like the pepperjack cheese and fried green tomato Southern burger — and served with house cut french fries.
Ramen shops are the current trendy rage, but what’s better than a classic Vietnamese pho restaurant? Find nine varieties of the aromatic soup, alongside a menu full of Vietnamese hits like pork spring rolls and stir-fried noodles. Great for dining in or taking to go for a cozy dinner on the couch.
Order a fried chicken sandwich or totchos at James Island sports bar The Break. Pool tables, numerous TVs, and cheap beer make this bar and restaurant a local favorite.
Hen and The Goat
Chef Thomas Smith stuffs guilty pleasures in between several varieties of doughy bread at Hen and the Goat. Pork belly pairs with gouda and beer mustard, while the restaurants namesake sandwich, The Hen, features turkey, pancetta, and brie.
Mondo's Italian Restaurant
Find hearty baked dishes and a variety of pasta sauce options at this James Island eatery. Mondo’s may not get the same attention as some of the downtown destinations, but it delivers, as the main dishes have layers of flavor. Starters, like the spicy sausage risotto balls, are ideal for sharing.
This unexpected gem truly has no boundaries when it comes to underlying flavor profiles, allowing patrons to experience something a little different in an approachable format. The meatballs have green curry, the chicken noodle soup has a Thai coconut broth, and the tacos are Vietnamese-inspired. If tonight’s not the night to tread unfamiliar waters, head for chef Joel Lucas’ Cholula butter-topped chicken and waffles.
Paisano's Pizza Grill
Paisano’s menu is a dream for fans of casual Italian joints. Find fried appetizers and loaded subs alongside a variety of oven baked pizzas with endless toppings. Expect more than the average red sauce, as the Ranchzilla has a ranch base topped with taco-style chicken and hot sauce, while the Green Thumb is highlighted by a sun-dried tomato pesto sauce.
Black Magic Cafe
This breakfast and lunch roadside cafe caters to those looking for house-made granola, hearty omelets, and loaded salads among other options. Sandwiches and wraps come piled with clever combinations, and the espresso bar serves up strong varieties to satisfy that caffeine-fix.
Count on consistent comfort food at family-friendly Screen Door. The large menu offers something for everyone, and the outdoor seating area will make this a favorite for the kids.
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Famulari’s Pizzeria opened its first location in 2008 in Summerville and now has five throughout the Lowcountry. The James Island location is the only one doubling as a brewery, offering up several stouts, pilsners, and pale ales brewed on-site. The restaurant is known for their New-York- and Chicago-style pizzas and also offers hearty sandwiches, salads, and oven baked pastas.
Angie Bellinger serves up soul food in unassuming digs to hungry locals in the know. Look for platters of ribs and fried chicken with sides like mac and cheese or Bellinger’s freshly baked cornbread. This affordable, feel-good cuisine is old school Charleston at its core.
The ground-in-house burgers are the way to go at this tavern and beer garden, as a blend of brisket and chuck is piled high with hearty combinations — the That’s My Jam comes with bacon jam, pepper jack pimento cheese, and a fried green tomato. 31 rotating craft beers and a surprising collection of bourbon and whiskey make Bohemian Bull a hit in the James Island community.