Six of the best places to eat and drink in Charleston, South Carolina

167 RAW

A set-up as simple as it is magnificent, this unpretentious nook is little more than a row of chairs facing a bar counter. The emphasis here is on quality produce and service, with a team of well-trained staff multi-tasking with refreshing efficiency, taking orders, shucking oysters and joking with customers; it's the kind of environment that instils confidence the moment you walk through the door. While the menu is centred around raw oysters, there are plenty of other options available including po'boys, ceviche, killer tacos, fresh lobster rolls and more. With so many types of oysters to choose from, you might want to try a sampler plate but the extensive beer selection also aides with the decision-making process. See 167raw.com

THE OBSTINATE DAUGHTER

Describing itself as a low country "Food Fort", the Obstinate Daughter takes influences from Spanish, Italian and French cuisine, mixes them together and puts its own playful southern spin on things. The results are impressive, with flavourful shared plates such as dirty rice, griddled octopus with green olive tapenade and crispy duck with red pea cassoulet complimenting robust pizzas such as the Italian Stallion, a hearty blend of pork meatball, Italian sausage and chili flakes on a thin crisp base. The signature cocktails take some beating too; try the Thunder and Friend, a sublimely balanced blend of bourbon, yellow chartreuse, lemon and Lambrusco. See theobstinatedaughter.com

REVELRY BREWING COMPANY

 In Charleston's industrial area, this fun hangout is easily the best spot in town for a sundowner. The rooftop bar is ideal for watching the sky change colour over town with heating lamps, plenty of space welcoming, friendly staff – not the "too cool for school" types you'll find at some brew pubs. The beer selection is extensive with some solid NE style and Belgian IPAs, American Pale Ales and a handful of more outlandish varieties such as the Gullah Cream Ale and the Ginger and Jasmine Ginjo beer with Sake Yeast. Fancy snack food is on hand too, mostly Asian-inspired treats such as the Sexy Roll, a mix of crab meat, coriander, shrimp and jalapenos topped with black caviar and wasabi and a host of Latin-inspired options too. See revelrybrewingco.com

THE BELMONT

Yes, the cocktails here are ridiculously good but it's also the Belmont's warm atmosphere that sets it apart (especially when combined with the warming effects of a cocktail). It's all about distressed brick, cosy booths, low lighting and knowledgeable staff who genuinely understand how to mix a proper drink. If you're not up for a full dinner, it's also a great place for light bites such as cured meats, cheeses and a vaguely eccentric mix of home-made pop tarts including mac-n-cheese, sweet peas, smoked prosciutto. It shouldn't work, but it does. This is a great place to gear up or wind down a night out, it's the kind of urbane setting where you can actually hear each other speak. See thebelmontcharleston.com

MELFI'S

Advertisement

Dubbing itself a kind of "pizza for grown-ups", this downtown Italian restaurant is a swish take on wood-fired Italian pizza. The decor centres around white linen table cloths, green leather benches, exposed brick and industrial lighting, with plenty of natural light flooding in through expansive front windows. There's a buzzy atmosphere about this place, it's busy and convivial but under control, everyone knows what they're doing. Since opening in 2018, Melfi's has gained a loyal following – at least two locals recommended the place – and looks set to remain a favourite on the more upmarket Charleston dining scene. See eatatmelfis.com

XIAO BAO BISCUIT

Asian soul food, Asian fusion food; call it what you will, but this innovative uptown restaurant is somehow managing to showcase dishes from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, "inspired by kick-ass grandmothers everywhere". Spearheaded by a husband and wife team who quit their New York jobs to spend seven months delving into the food scene throughout Asia, the restaurant was launched on the back of several successful pop-up ventures in Charleston and the now permanent fixture is making waves. Dinner menu highlights include chao shou, Sichuan style pork dumplings in chili broth and okonomiyaki, a cabbage pancake topped with optional extra goodies such as pork candy and egg. See xiaobaobiscuit.com

Guy Wilkinson travelled at his own expense

Comments