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The cheeseburger at H&R Sweet Shop
Robert Donovan

18 Oldest Restaurants in Charleston Worth a Visit

From 1930 to 1999

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The cheeseburger at H&R Sweet Shop
| Robert Donovan

Charleston is one of the oldest cities in America, but doesn't boast many long-standing restaurants. For a quick history of Holy City dining rooms, writer Robert Moss has a brief timeline, starting in the early 20th century. Most of what's still around today began when the Spoleto Festival USA came to town. With the influx of performers and patrons came a hunger for continental cuisine. After a French trend moved through, Lowcountry menus became popular. A mixture of fine dining, Southern cooking, and — above all — hospitality has survived through the years.

Everyone on this map opened before 2000. If we missed your favorite, let us know in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bertha's Restaurant

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2332 Meeting Street Rd
North Charleston, SC 29405-6114
(843) 554-6519

Established in 1979, iconic soul food stop Bertha's Kitchen is known for their fried chicken and fish, and heralded for their Southern sides. Everyone from famous chefs and food writers to locals and tourists seems to make the trek to Bertha's to take in the now-famous dishes created by the late founder Albertha Grant.

Bertha's
Bertha’s
Bill Addison

2. Martha Lou's Kitchen

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1068 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 577-9583

Since 1983, the tiny pink restaurant on Morrison Drive has been home to some of the best fried chicken in the South. Macaroni and cheese, collard greens, catfish — name a true Southern comfort food and Martha Lou’s will probably have it. Wash it down with a glass of iced cold sweet tea for pure Southern bliss.

3. Hannibal's Kitchen

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

Hannibal's Kitchen has served the Charleston community for over 40 years. The casual soul food restaurant is located on the Eastside of town, away from the normal tourist path, but locals know that this is the place to seek out for okra soup, shark steak, and a lima bean plate.

4. Dave's Carry Out

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

The little corner fish shack Dave’s Carry-Out is unassuming with their plastic tablecloths and styrofoam platters, but they have consistently served up big plates of fried fresh catches and fixin’s since 1987. The current address is their third location, but the shrimp platters and deviled crab recipes are the same.

5. H&R Sweet Shop

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102 Royall Ave
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

Started in 1947, Old Village institution H&R Sweet Shop still serves up classics for retro prices. The kitchen serves one of the best cheeseburgers or pork sandwiches around for under $5. The place doesn’t look like it’s had any work done to it in 20 years, and the decor is sparse — but you’re there to taste a piece of history.

6. Gene's Haufbrau

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817 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 225-4363
Visit Website

Established in 1952, Gene’s Haufbrau is the area’s oldest bar still in operation. It’s a dive with the standard selection of bar snacks, pool tables, and an extensive beer list with plenty of local selections on tap. Lots of character (and characters) in this establishment.

7. Hank's Seafood

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10 Hayne St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-3474
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The youngest restaurant on this list, Hank's Seafood opened in 1999 to critical acclaim. The menu serves classic, fresh from the ocean dishes, like Seafood a la Wando or curried shrimp, and traditional fried shrimp plates. Chef Frank McMahon sought to recreate Charleston fish houses of the past and succeeded with Hank's.

8. Peninsula Grill

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112 N Market St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-0700
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Dining at the Peninsula Grill is a special, opulent experience. Jackets are preferred in the velvet-lined dining room, but not required to indulge in the classics. If you simply want to dip your toe in luxury, before diving in, stop by the champagne bar for a slice of their world-famous coconut cake. Peninsula Grill joined the dining scene in 1997.

9. Charleston Grill

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224 King St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-4522
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Charleston Grill is fine dining at its best. Located in the stunning Belmond Charleston Place, the Grill is home to one of the most elegant menus in Charleston. The seasonal menu has four categories: Pure, Southern, Cosmopolitan and Lush, but you can mix and match and create the perfect meal. Chef Michelle Weaver has been with the restaurant since 1997.

charleston grill

10. Fulton Five

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5 Fulton St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 853-5555

Italian restaurant Fulton Five is consistently voted "Most Romantic" year after year. The slightly hidden entrance and intimate interiors of the restaurant (built in 1991) are a hit with locals and couples looking for a quiet date night.

Erin Perkins

11. The Griffon Pub

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18 Vendue Range
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-1700
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The little dive bar near Waterfront Park started in 1996, which was also when the practice of stapling dollar bills to the wall began. The Griffon has deals on beer and some of the best fish and chips around. Go for a pint if you're near East Bay.

The Griffon

12. Marina Variety Store Restaurant

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17 Lockwood Dr
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-6325
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Marina Variety Store has served some of the same dishes since 1963. It’s a bit like a diner by the water. Breakfast and brunch are always popular — order the shrimp and grits at least once.

13. Poogan's Porch

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72 Queen St.
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-2337
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Established in 1976, Poogan's Porch has been a place to go for Charleston hits like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup ever since. The restaurant is housed in a grand Victorian home, so guests get a taste of the genteel Southern life.

14. 82 Queen

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82 Queen St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-7591
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Southern spot 82 Queen opened in 1982. Out-of-towners still flock to the courtyard or one of the 11 dining rooms for she-crab soup or fried green tomatoes. It’s a Charleston institution.

82 Queen

15. The Barbadoes Room Restaurant

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115 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401

Nestled in the Mills House Hotel, The Barbadoes Room has seen some changes since its opening in the ‘70s. Once a hotspot in the early days of Spoleto, the bar is a little quieter than it once was, but the updated restaurant menu utilizes local products to offer guests options like a Johns Island tomato salad or a purloo with shrimp, scallops, mussels, and local fish.

16. The Boathouse at Breach Inlet

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101 Palm Blvd
Isle of Palms, SC 29451
(843) 886-8000
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The Boathouse rooftop bar has been the home to one of the best views of the water since 1997. Local seafood is the draw for many vacationers and beach bound locals. Take in the sights with the day's fresh catch and a glass of wine.

17. Gaulart & Maliclet/Fast & French 

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98 Broad St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-9797
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Gaulart & Maliclet, better known as Fast & French, transports patrons to Europe for less than $10 a plate. Choose the special of the day, and you'll be treated to a sandwich or light entrée with a soup, fresh fruit, and a glass of wine. The atmosphere of the cozy café has remained a mainstay on Broad Street since 1985.

fast and french building

18. Bowen's Island Restaurant

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1870 Bowens Island Rd
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-2757
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Seafood shack Bowen's Island has served up steaming oysters since 1946. The restaurant has survived fires, hurricanes, and changing tastes to remain a go-to for bivalve lovers seeking the smell of pluff mud while they slurp on fresh catches.

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1. Bertha's Restaurant

2332 Meeting Street Rd, North Charleston, SC 29405-6114
Bertha's
Bertha’s
Bill Addison

Established in 1979, iconic soul food stop Bertha's Kitchen is known for their fried chicken and fish, and heralded for their Southern sides. Everyone from famous chefs and food writers to locals and tourists seems to make the trek to Bertha's to take in the now-famous dishes created by the late founder Albertha Grant.

2332 Meeting Street Rd
North Charleston, SC 29405-6114

2. Martha Lou's Kitchen

1068 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403

Since 1983, the tiny pink restaurant on Morrison Drive has been home to some of the best fried chicken in the South. Macaroni and cheese, collard greens, catfish — name a true Southern comfort food and Martha Lou’s will probably have it. Wash it down with a glass of iced cold sweet tea for pure Southern bliss.

1068 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403

3. Hannibal's Kitchen

16 Drake St, Charleston, SC 29403

Hannibal's Kitchen has served the Charleston community for over 40 years. The casual soul food restaurant is located on the Eastside of town, away from the normal tourist path, but locals know that this is the place to seek out for okra soup, shark steak, and a lima bean plate.

16 Drake St
Charleston, SC 29403

4. Dave's Carry Out

47 Morris St, Charleston, SC 29403

The little corner fish shack Dave’s Carry-Out is unassuming with their plastic tablecloths and styrofoam platters, but they have consistently served up big plates of fried fresh catches and fixin’s since 1987. The current address is their third location, but the shrimp platters and deviled crab recipes are the same.

47 Morris St
Charleston, SC 29403

5. H&R Sweet Shop

102 Royall Ave, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

Started in 1947, Old Village institution H&R Sweet Shop still serves up classics for retro prices. The kitchen serves one of the best cheeseburgers or pork sandwiches around for under $5. The place doesn’t look like it’s had any work done to it in 20 years, and the decor is sparse — but you’re there to taste a piece of history.

102 Royall Ave
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

6. Gene's Haufbrau

817 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407

Established in 1952, Gene’s Haufbrau is the area’s oldest bar still in operation. It’s a dive with the standard selection of bar snacks, pool tables, and an extensive beer list with plenty of local selections on tap. Lots of character (and characters) in this establishment.

817 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

7. Hank's Seafood

10 Hayne St, Charleston, SC 29401

The youngest restaurant on this list, Hank's Seafood opened in 1999 to critical acclaim. The menu serves classic, fresh from the ocean dishes, like Seafood a la Wando or curried shrimp, and traditional fried shrimp plates. Chef Frank McMahon sought to recreate Charleston fish houses of the past and succeeded with Hank's.

10 Hayne St
Charleston, SC 29401

8. Peninsula Grill

112 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401

Dining at the Peninsula Grill is a special, opulent experience. Jackets are preferred in the velvet-lined dining room, but not required to indulge in the classics. If you simply want to dip your toe in luxury, before diving in, stop by the champagne bar for a slice of their world-famous coconut cake. Peninsula Grill joined the dining scene in 1997.

112 N Market St
Charleston, SC 29401

9. Charleston Grill

224 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
charleston grill

Charleston Grill is fine dining at its best. Located in the stunning Belmond Charleston Place, the Grill is home to one of the most elegant menus in Charleston. The seasonal menu has four categories: Pure, Southern, Cosmopolitan and Lush, but you can mix and match and create the perfect meal. Chef Michelle Weaver has been with the restaurant since 1997.

224 King St
Charleston, SC 29401

10. Fulton Five

5 Fulton St, Charleston, SC 29401
Erin Perkins

Italian restaurant Fulton Five is consistently voted "Most Romantic" year after year. The slightly hidden entrance and intimate interiors of the restaurant (built in 1991) are a hit with locals and couples looking for a quiet date night.

5 Fulton St
Charleston, SC 29401

11. The Griffon Pub

18 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401
The Griffon

The little dive bar near Waterfront Park started in 1996, which was also when the practice of stapling dollar bills to the wall began. The Griffon has deals on beer and some of the best fish and chips around. Go for a pint if you're near East Bay.

18 Vendue Range
Charleston, SC 29401

12. Marina Variety Store Restaurant

17 Lockwood Dr, Charleston, SC 29401

Marina Variety Store has served some of the same dishes since 1963. It’s a bit like a diner by the water. Breakfast and brunch are always popular — order the shrimp and grits at least once.

17 Lockwood Dr
Charleston, SC 29401

13. Poogan's Porch

72 Queen St., Charleston, SC 29401

Established in 1976, Poogan's Porch has been a place to go for Charleston hits like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup ever since. The restaurant is housed in a grand Victorian home, so guests get a taste of the genteel Southern life.

72 Queen St.
Charleston, SC 29401

14. 82 Queen

82 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
82 Queen

Southern spot 82 Queen opened in 1982. Out-of-towners still flock to the courtyard or one of the 11 dining rooms for she-crab soup or fried green tomatoes. It’s a Charleston institution.

82 Queen St
Charleston, SC 29401

15. The Barbadoes Room Restaurant

115 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

Nestled in the Mills House Hotel, The Barbadoes Room has seen some changes since its opening in the ‘70s. Once a hotspot in the early days of Spoleto, the bar is a little quieter than it once was, but the updated restaurant menu utilizes local products to offer guests options like a Johns Island tomato salad or a purloo with shrimp, scallops, mussels, and local fish.

115 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401

Related Maps

16. The Boathouse at Breach Inlet

101 Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451

The Boathouse rooftop bar has been the home to one of the best views of the water since 1997. Local seafood is the draw for many vacationers and beach bound locals. Take in the sights with the day's fresh catch and a glass of wine.

101 Palm Blvd
Isle of Palms, SC 29451

17. Gaulart & Maliclet/Fast & French 

98 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401
fast and french building

Gaulart & Maliclet, better known as Fast & French, transports patrons to Europe for less than $10 a plate. Choose the special of the day, and you'll be treated to a sandwich or light entrée with a soup, fresh fruit, and a glass of wine. The atmosphere of the cozy café has remained a mainstay on Broad Street since 1985.

98 Broad St
Charleston, SC 29401

18. Bowen's Island Restaurant

1870 Bowens Island Rd, Charleston, SC 29412

Seafood shack Bowen's Island has served up steaming oysters since 1946. The restaurant has survived fires, hurricanes, and changing tastes to remain a go-to for bivalve lovers seeking the smell of pluff mud while they slurp on fresh catches.

1870 Bowens Island Rd
Charleston, SC 29412

Related Maps