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14 Underrated Restaurants Away From Downtown Charleston

Go off the beaten path

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Kanpai
| A Taco Lips Now

Across Charleston there is great food far from the obvious places. These are the type of restaurants that are driven by and wondered about or mentioned by a friend in conversation but eventually never sought out. Don’t be the one to miss out because these spots are tucked away in strip malls.

Note: Map points are listed in geographical order and are not ranked. Did we miss your favorite spot? Show it some love in the comments or send us an email.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Myles and Jun Yakitori

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Myles and Jun Yakitori is labeled as a Japanese char grill, and it is fitting. There are over 20 different options of meat (ordered by the skewer) to be cooked over hot coals from chicken gizzard to beef heart to duck breast plus more standard items like shrimp, salmon, and ribeye. The menu is filled out with noodle, rice, and hibachi dishes.

El Centro Americano

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Located next to a Fred’s and a bingo hall, to get back to the restaurant requires a short walk through its small convenience store. The focus is on Central American food, specifically from El Salvador, so go with an order of each of the pupusas. Don’t sleep on their soups, like caldo de res.

Charleston Bakery & Delicatessen

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A Jewish deli and bakery located in Summerville near Bacon’s Bridge and Dorchester Road, this restaurant serves deep dish spinach pie, massive pastrami sandwiches, knishes, as well as breakfast. This means Charleston Bakery & Delicatessen is worth a stop any part of the day. Oh, it’s also an ice creamery.

Nigel's Good Food

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This restaurant is on the far left side of a strip mall anchored by a Food Lion. Meat and three is probably the smart move on a first trip, but don’t miss out on the Geechie wings, oyster stew, any of the seafood platters, and Trenton’s bourbon pecan pie. Repeat visits are always recommended.

Southern Seafood & Grill

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Fans of Roadside Seafood that live further west down 26, should make a (shorter) trip here. The restaurant is surrounded by a Hardee’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut, but victory awaits just pass those chains. The menu is split between the grill elements and the seafood offerings but is forgiving for someone who wants to try a couple items. Order extra hush puppies.

Pho #1

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Located within the H&L Grocery store, this is the spot for noodle slurping in North Charleston. The menu is mostly Vietnamese dishes with pho (rhymes with duh, not faux). Order by letter and number combination: P1 is the standard bowl of pho with every meat option and M1 is duck with egg noodles. After eating, walk the aisles in what has the largest selection of Asian, as well as other international cuisine, foodstuffs in the Lowcountry.

Jerusalem Market and Deli

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After a few hours shopping at the Tanger Outlets, hunger sets in, and luckily there is a place nearby deserving of a visit. Falafel, kofta, gyro, and kibby await at Jerusalem Market and Deli, as well as baklava. The restaurant also features a store with goods needed to do an inspired version at home.

Reggae Grill

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This Jamaican restaurant keeps it simple with four daily specials that range from jerk chicken and curry goat to oxtails and stewed turkey wings. A large plate comes with rice and peas, but add extra sides to get the full experience. A Sorrel or Kola Champagne will wash it all down.

Pollo Loko

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Peruvian chicken (whole birds cooked on a rotisserie) is the main draw at Pollo Loko, but plenty of other items on the menu are worth a look, like lomo saltado and bandeja paisa. Get the fried yucca to start, ask for the red sauce in the squirt jar, and end it with a walk next door to the butcher shop and store.

Saveurs Du Monde Café

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Tucked away in the Seaside Farms shopping center is a French cafe located in Mount Pleasant, in address only. Hours from morning until early evening allows customers to try Saveurs Du Monde’s wide-ranging menu that includes items like sweet crepes and waffles to galletes, quiches, and tartines. A second location is in the Belle Station Plaza.

Ko Cha Korean Restaurant

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Set in front of a strip mall this gas station/restaurant hybrid in West Ashley allows an empty tank and hunger to be satiated. One side of the menu is Korean (think bulgogi, bibimpab, kimchi soup) and the other is more standard Chinese fare with the Singapore mei fun being a standout.

Red Orchids

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Fan of the departed Lee Lee’s downtown or Aya in Mount Pleasant should cross the Ashley and eat at Red Orchids. Mostly focusing on Chinese dishes, the restaurant also offers Indonesian, Singaporean, Filipino, and other Southeast Asian dishes on the menu. Try the various flavors of Cirsea ice cream that use dairy sourced from within 150 miles of Charleston.

Kanpai Japanese Restaurant

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“Where do you get good sushi?” is a question heard often in this town. Kanpai should be one of the first places to explore. Chef Park was the executive chef at O-Ku before striking out on his own. Sharing a U-shaped business plaza with a Play It Again Sports and Molly Maid, Kanpai offers sushi as well as other Japanese and Korean dishes.

Baguette Magic

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Baguette Magic is part French bakery and part breakfast and lunch cafe. On James Island, the restaurant catches the attention with small neon “open” sign from Folly Road. The menu is compact featuring various baguette sandwiches (pate and cornichons for traditionalists), croisandwiches, salads, and various egg dishes (sandwiches, omelets, and French toast).

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Myles and Jun Yakitori

Myles and Jun Yakitori is labeled as a Japanese char grill, and it is fitting. There are over 20 different options of meat (ordered by the skewer) to be cooked over hot coals from chicken gizzard to beef heart to duck breast plus more standard items like shrimp, salmon, and ribeye. The menu is filled out with noodle, rice, and hibachi dishes.

El Centro Americano

Located next to a Fred’s and a bingo hall, to get back to the restaurant requires a short walk through its small convenience store. The focus is on Central American food, specifically from El Salvador, so go with an order of each of the pupusas. Don’t sleep on their soups, like caldo de res.

Charleston Bakery & Delicatessen

A Jewish deli and bakery located in Summerville near Bacon’s Bridge and Dorchester Road, this restaurant serves deep dish spinach pie, massive pastrami sandwiches, knishes, as well as breakfast. This means Charleston Bakery & Delicatessen is worth a stop any part of the day. Oh, it’s also an ice creamery.

Nigel's Good Food

This restaurant is on the far left side of a strip mall anchored by a Food Lion. Meat and three is probably the smart move on a first trip, but don’t miss out on the Geechie wings, oyster stew, any of the seafood platters, and Trenton’s bourbon pecan pie. Repeat visits are always recommended.

Southern Seafood & Grill

Fans of Roadside Seafood that live further west down 26, should make a (shorter) trip here. The restaurant is surrounded by a Hardee’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut, but victory awaits just pass those chains. The menu is split between the grill elements and the seafood offerings but is forgiving for someone who wants to try a couple items. Order extra hush puppies.

Pho #1

Located within the H&L Grocery store, this is the spot for noodle slurping in North Charleston. The menu is mostly Vietnamese dishes with pho (rhymes with duh, not faux). Order by letter and number combination: P1 is the standard bowl of pho with every meat option and M1 is duck with egg noodles. After eating, walk the aisles in what has the largest selection of Asian, as well as other international cuisine, foodstuffs in the Lowcountry.

Jerusalem Market and Deli

After a few hours shopping at the Tanger Outlets, hunger sets in, and luckily there is a place nearby deserving of a visit. Falafel, kofta, gyro, and kibby await at Jerusalem Market and Deli, as well as baklava. The restaurant also features a store with goods needed to do an inspired version at home.

Reggae Grill

This Jamaican restaurant keeps it simple with four daily specials that range from jerk chicken and curry goat to oxtails and stewed turkey wings. A large plate comes with rice and peas, but add extra sides to get the full experience. A Sorrel or Kola Champagne will wash it all down.

Pollo Loko

Peruvian chicken (whole birds cooked on a rotisserie) is the main draw at Pollo Loko, but plenty of other items on the menu are worth a look, like lomo saltado and bandeja paisa. Get the fried yucca to start, ask for the red sauce in the squirt jar, and end it with a walk next door to the butcher shop and store.

Saveurs Du Monde Café

Tucked away in the Seaside Farms shopping center is a French cafe located in Mount Pleasant, in address only. Hours from morning until early evening allows customers to try Saveurs Du Monde’s wide-ranging menu that includes items like sweet crepes and waffles to galletes, quiches, and tartines. A second location is in the Belle Station Plaza.

Ko Cha Korean Restaurant

Set in front of a strip mall this gas station/restaurant hybrid in West Ashley allows an empty tank and hunger to be satiated. One side of the menu is Korean (think bulgogi, bibimpab, kimchi soup) and the other is more standard Chinese fare with the Singapore mei fun being a standout.

Red Orchids

Fan of the departed Lee Lee’s downtown or Aya in Mount Pleasant should cross the Ashley and eat at Red Orchids. Mostly focusing on Chinese dishes, the restaurant also offers Indonesian, Singaporean, Filipino, and other Southeast Asian dishes on the menu. Try the various flavors of Cirsea ice cream that use dairy sourced from within 150 miles of Charleston.

Kanpai Japanese Restaurant

“Where do you get good sushi?” is a question heard often in this town. Kanpai should be one of the first places to explore. Chef Park was the executive chef at O-Ku before striking out on his own. Sharing a U-shaped business plaza with a Play It Again Sports and Molly Maid, Kanpai offers sushi as well as other Japanese and Korean dishes.

Baguette Magic

Baguette Magic is part French bakery and part breakfast and lunch cafe. On James Island, the restaurant catches the attention with small neon “open” sign from Folly Road. The menu is compact featuring various baguette sandwiches (pate and cornichons for traditionalists), croisandwiches, salads, and various egg dishes (sandwiches, omelets, and French toast).

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