Charleston Foodie Neighborhoods
Charleston is every foodie’s dream come true. Jam-packed with award-winning restaurants, world-renowned chefs and homegrown flavor at every turn, the Holy City’s food scene has something for every food enthusiast to enjoy.
Although good eats are everywhere in historic downtown Charleston, some neighborhoods stand above the rest when it comes to their food. If you’re a foodie interested in Charleston real estate, be sure to check out these neighborhoods:
Explore the Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood and you’ll discover a mix of modern townhomes and condominiums alongside historic homes. The living options reflect the mix of residents in this up-and-coming area, which consists of young families, blue collar workers, students and retirees.
Cannonborough/Elliotborough borders the Upper King Street restaurant district, which means that residents are never far from some of the best dining on the Charleston peninsula.
One of Charleston’s most beloved restaurants, Hominy Grill attracts foodies from across the globe to try its traditional Southern fare. Located inside a free-standing historic house, the cozy and lively atmosphere pairs perfectly with the Lowcountry classics served at this renowned establishment.
Chef/owner Robert Stehling won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast in 2008 for his simple yet authentic Lowcountry-style specialties. From his she-crab soup and fried green tomatoes to his sesame fried catfish po’ boy, everything on the menu at Hominy Grill is a home run.
If the wait at Hominy Grill is too long, consider trying Fuel Charleston, located right across the street Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” the laid-back pub with a Caribbean-style menu makes for a great casual lunch spot.
Sip a Guava Mojito or Fuel Island Tea as you nosh on braised pork tacos or a fried fish sandwich. They also have a delicious brunch menu featuring Lowcountry classics such as local shrimp and stone-ground grits.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
Set in a former gas station, Xiao Bao Biscuit brings a fun and creative mix of flavors to Charleston’s rising food scene. Featuring a variety of comfort foods from Thailand, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan, this hip eatery offers variety to a city packed with Southern classics.
One of the dishes people can’t get enough of is their okonomiyaki covered in “pork candy,” a savory Japanese pancake made with flour, eggs and shredded cabbage. If spicy food isn’t your thing, be sure to ask the friendly wait staff for recommendations.
Considered one of the best oyster bars in the Lowcountry, The Ordinary is a hotspot in Cannonborough/Elliotborough. Operated by the same people who run farm-to-table favorite FIG, The Ordinary has won many accolades for its great selection of fresh, local seafood.
Led by chef Mike Lata, The Ordinary is housed in a former 1920s bank that features a dramatic setting, complete with high ceilings and rounded windows. With a wide variety of hot and cold items on the menu, this oyster hall has something for everyone.
Harleston Village is one of Charleston’s oldest neighborhoods. Boarded by Calhoun, Broad and King streets and the Ashley River to the west, this vibrant neighborhood was established in 1770, the same year as the College of Charleston.
Diverse and lively, Harleston Village neighborhood is home to families, college students and professionals alike. With its close proximity to shopping, dining, prestigious schools and well-kept public parks, Harleston Village is a great place to live, work and play in historic downtown Charleston.
As if that weren’t enough, this neighborhood is known for its amazing restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood to sip French wines while snacking on cheese and charcuterie or you prefer to dine at Charleston’s most romantic restaurant, this vibrant neighborhood has your epicurean needs covered.
Full of natural light and trendy décor, Basic Kitchen serves healthy dishes in a low-key, modern atmosphere. But make no mistake, there is nothing basic about the diverse flavors at this hip eatery.
From scrumptious fish tacos to rainbow veggie bowls, Basic Kitchen uses seasonal, local produce to create dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian — or you simply want to enjoy a healthy meal — this little gem is a great spot for brunch or dinner.
Wait times can be long, but the food is worth it. Order the cauliflower wings and their famous beet margarita — you won’t regret it!
Charleston has no shortage of Italian restaurants, but Le Farfalle is a worthy addition to the city’s dynamic food scene. Located at 15 Beaufain Street, this regional Italian restaurant has a delicious menu tailored perfectly to Charleston.
In addition to their house-made pasta and extensive wine list, Le Farfalle offers many dishes that are reimagined with a Lowcountry flare. The menu is always changing, but you’ll find cuisine such as the roasted duck rice bowl featuring Charleston Gold Rice and a fresh catch of the day, which highlights the city’s impeccable seafood.
The Rise Coffee Bar
If you’re a coffee or tea aficionado, The Rise Coffee Bar at the Restoration Hotel is a must-try. This lovely coffee shop on Wentworth Street offers a European sip-and-stroll experience, complete with artisan coffee, tea, cold-pressed juices and freshly baked pastries.
The Rise Coffee Bar partners with small batch coffee roaster Toby’s Estate and artisan tea maker Bellocq to deliver the finest coffees and teas in the Holy City. From lattes and cortados to their special Charleston tea blend, everything on the menu is bound to please any beverage enthusiast.
If you’re a professor or student at the nearby College of Charleston, you can enjoy a special discount. Another added bonus: The Rise Coffee Bar has two outdoor tables that are dog friendly!
It doesn’t get more romantic than Circa 1886. Located in the original carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion, this polished restaurant oozes romance and old Charleston charm.
Much of the original design of the carriage house remains, including the wood-burning kitchen fireplace, wide pine floor boards and stable doors. Intimate without being crowded, Circa 1886 delivers a fine dining experience that makes it a hotspot for fancier date nights.
Chef and co-owner Marc Collins, founder of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, creates innovative Lowcountry dishes using seasonal ingredients. From buttermilk fried artichokes to white cheddar infused grits, anything you choose from the menu is sure to delight your taste buds.
Charleston’s French Quarter is known for its cobblestone streets, beautiful courtyards, copious art galleries and stunning architecture. This charming district is bounded by the Cooper River, Broad Street, Meeting Street and Market Street.
Named for the high concentration of French Huguenots in the area, the French Quarter is steeped in history. But in addition to its rich history, the small, quiet neighborhood also has a stellar reputation for refined restaurants and eclectic craft cocktails.
For an exceptional dining experience in Charleston, it doesn’t get much better than McCrady’s. Helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock, both McCrady’s Restaurant and McCrady’s Tavern delight diners with bold combinations and complex flavors.
The two establishments are located side by side and provide two different dining experiences. McCrady’s Restaurant became Charleston’s only five-diamond-rated restaurant earlier this year and offers an upscale, experimental tasting experience. McCrady’s Tavern has a more casual vibe yet still provides an incredible menu with an amazing wine selection.
A local favorite, this upscale restaurant serves refined Lowcountry cuisine that’s both exquisite and flavorful. Magnolia’s focuses on every small detail, from creation to presentation to service.
Magnolia’s is great for a fancy night out or a special occasion. While a place like Magnolia’s might seem pretentious on the outside, the welcoming atmosphere and waitstaff are the perfect example of authentic Southern hospitality.
Helmed by Culinary Arts Director Donald Drake and Executive Chef Kelly Franz, the menu at Magnolia’s will have your mouth watering. From classics such as shellfish over grits and the Down South egg roll to Lowcountry dishes with modern interpretations such as boiled peanuts, Magnolia’s menu is topnotch.
The Gin Joint
Fancy yourself a craft cocktail? The Gin Joint is a budding mixologist’s paradise. Tucked away on East Bay Street, this cozy cocktail bar has amazing drinks made from scratch and delicious small plates to match.
The Gin Joint opened in 2010 and was one of the first cocktail bars to begin serving the Holy City after the repeal of the mini-bottle law. Eight years have passed, but the Gin Joint remains a French Quarter hotspot for locals.
Their spirits list is both creative and extensive, featuring drinks using local herbs and other local ingredients. Combined with the speakeasy vibe throughout the bar and an impressive list of elevated bar fare, the Gin Joint can do no wrong.
Insider Tip: If you enjoy wine tasting and art, check out the French Quarter Art Walk. Held the first Friday of March, May, October and December in Charleston’s French Quarter district, attendees can sample tasty wines as they browse more than 40 art galleries located on the historical streets of Charleston.
Also known as Hampstead Village, this up-and-coming neighborhood has investment potential for new home buyers. This neighborhood has cleaned up well in the last decade and is now transformed into a hipster-driven haven.
The modern, hipster vibe has influenced the restaurant scene in Eastside significantly. From craft cocktails at Mercantile and Mash to a savory bagel at Eastside Bagel, Hampstead has much to offer.
Mercantile and Mash
Mercantile and Mash is located at the Cigar Factory. Once a cotton manufacturing facility in the 1880s, the Cigar Factory is now a mixed-used building that features high-end retail, professional offices and culinary delights.
Venture through the Mercantile door to discover its gourmet food retail space, where patrons can order a stock of local culinary items, baked goods, fresh pastas, sandwiches, coffee and dessert. From the flaky chocolate croissants to the charcuterie selections, you won’t be leaving Mercantile hungry.
Now step inside Mash, a cozy, laid-back bar serving a wide selection of domestic whiskeys and local beers. The knowledgeable bartenders are always ready to talk whiskey and will make you an amazing Old Fashioned using a type of whiskey exclusive to Mash. Along with its boozy offerings, Mash also boasts an indoor bocce court, shuffleboard and arcade games.
This festive Mexican bar and restaurant is a solid addition to Charleston’s growing food scene. Not only are the tacos unique and delicious, but the staff are always friendly and accommodating to all.
Whether you’re a vegetarian, a carnivore or gluten-free, you’ll love Taco Boy. The roasted cauliflower taco and tempura avocado are scrumptious, and the guacamole is a must! If you’re a meat-lover, the carne asada quesadilla and street tacos won’t disappoint.
For a cheap but delicious meal, Eastside Bagel is the place to go. Tucked away a few blocks from Meeting Street, this one-of-a-kind bagel shop offers large steamed bagels that are packed with flavor and utterly unique.
From its cheeses and meats to the bagel bread, Eastside Bagel takes its ingredients seriously. Whether you choose the traditional breakfast bagel with ham, egg and cheese or the Nassau, a salami and veggie cream cheese bagel, it’s guaranteed to hit the spot. If you’re hungry for lunch, they also have plenty of satisfying options that will turn you into an Eastside Bagel convert. However, you may want to take your food to go. The shop is small with not much seating.
As you can see, culinary delights abound in Charleston. With our award-winning restaurants and tasty craft beverages, it’s not surprising that so many chefs are flocking to the Holy City.
If you’re getting ready to put down roots in Charleston and you are passionate about food, you’ll fit right in here. We promise that you won’t be disappointed with the rich culinary offerings in these Charleston foodie neighborhoods.