Looking to indulge in the top restaurants in Charleston? Pockets of South Carolina are well-known meccas for foodies and it would be an atrocity not to share these delectable goodies with you. Soon you’ll know why we’ve listed these as our top restaurants.
This port city is not only a local destination for mingling with some of the country’s top-rated chefs, but these restaurants are also popular with travelers and bloggers who’ll make special trips to Charleston restaurants just to indulge.
That’s a pretty amazing feat considering Charleston has a relatively small population, just cresting the 150,000 mark. But with nearly 4 million visitors a year, there better be some good eats. And this city caters to those who want culture, history, and a damn good meal tossed into the mix.
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Unless it’s a damn good meal in Charleston.– maybe Clark Gable
We’d say the charm of this historic city creates a certain expectation, one that demands top-rated restaurants adorn the quaint, cobblestone streets in downtown Charleston.
Also, local foodies expect there to be chefs who are absolute in their commitment to mimic that easygoing Southern hospitality Charleston is known for. Done and done. So let’s get into it.
Halls Chophouse – Top Charleston Restaurant for Steak
434 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
The name says it all, we’re going to be talking about prime steaks here. Specifically, hand-selected meticulously aged, hand-cut portions. But to fully understand the quality Halls serves up, you need to know about the Allen Brothers of Chicago.
Since 1893, Allen brothers is synonymous with top quality USDA Prime beef, which is the top 2% of all beef that earns the coveted USDA Prime rating.
And here you thought great pizza and stellar interior designers were the only things coming from Chicago. Cattle stockyards were a bit of a surprise to us. And this friend is where the Chophouse gets its beef.
Serving perfectly trimmed and consistently cut steaks and roasts beyond compare in this top Charleston restaurant, and their signature aging technique is where the flavor is.
This gives their dry-aged steaks that rich, buttery texture and savory taste. Pair it with a nice, full-bodied red wine and you’ll get a taste of what heaven’s like.
With a background in the hospitality industry, The Halls family ensures you’ll experience great food served with Southern warmth.
Circa 1886 – Top Lowcountry Cuisine in Charleston
149 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401
This top restaurant in Charleston offers Lowcountry cuisine with extensive wine choices and as they say, “a journey through the foodways.” In a nutshell, foodways are where food gets its inspiration from local culture and history, and Charleston has no shortage of either.
On that note, to further appreciate the fine dining Circa 1886 offers, it helps to know a little about the region. South Carolina is rich in farmland so you know you’re getting fresh, farm-to-table ingredients with your meal.
In fact, For over a decade, Executive Chef Marc Collins has worked with a network of local farmers and fishermen to prepare his memorable dishes.
Circa 1886 doesn’t hold back on its Southern tradition either when it comes to food. Port towns are rich in multinational flair, and Circa 1886 infuses some African food influences into the menu, giving us unique cuisine and a delicious experience.
Some of this is similar to the spicy Cajun taste you’d find in our top restaurants in New Orleans. Normally, that would be enough background to have you pulling out the phone for reservations.
But let’s not lose sight of the charm this place offers as well. Located in historic downtown Charleston, the restaurant is inside the original carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion.
This is the quintessential elegance of a Southern mansion, slightly toned-down to a warm simmer of cozy familiarity. Off the charts, ambiance encompasses this charming space.
Remember to save room for the apple rum souffle served with hot toffee sauce and candied praline ice cream. Don’t say you weren’t given a heads up on that one.
Revival – Rare Ingredients Make This a Top Restaurant in Charleston
162 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
Revival is located in the Vendue Hotel, against the background of the French Quarter neighborhood. With brick walls and large windows that open up to East Bay Street, a cozy ambiance is a par for the course.
Here you’ll find tasty cuisine made with Lowcountry ingredients and the freshest seafood right off the docks.
Revival takes its name from how the dishes revive some previously extinct ingredients. This of course with help from the local farmers.
Some of these ingredients include the previously extinct Nostrale rice, Jimmy Red grits, and the Bradford Watermelon. Back in the 1840s, a gent named Bradford crossed the legendary Lawson watermelon with the Mountain Sweet watermelon.
The result was such delicious watermelon that growers had to electrify the melons to prevent people from stealing them.
That’s brutal, but that’s also must have been a damn good melon. On that note, Revival brings us scrumptious ingredients that once could only be enjoyed during days gone by.
Revival is known for creating some amazing seafood dishes, concocted from the daily hauls from the local fisherman. This includes an all-time favorite, the LOWCOUNTRY PIRLOU made with lobster in a buttery sauce…yum!
167 Raw Oyster Bar – Top Oyster Bar in Charleston
193 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
There’s a benefit of being a seaside town, where just down the street oysters are plucked from the sea – a good sign there’s going to be a great oyster bar in Charleston. Yep, we found it. It’s called 167 Raw.
There are actually many places you can get these tasty delights, but 167 Raw raises the (oyster) bar, in fact, this was Eaters Restaurant of the Year in 2015.
Not bad, being picked the best of the best out of what, a bazillion restaurants? That’s about the same number Jethro’s home sold for from the Beverly Hillbillies. So let’s talk about what makes 167 Raw so great.
Considering this top Charleston restaurant grew from a wholesale seafood company, the transition was natural. When it comes to food, sometimes it’s better to listen to the masses as we did with these Los Angeles restaurants. And the voices are loud and clear.
When it comes to 167 Raw’s cerviche – there’s no better way to enjoy the bounties of the sea. You’ll also find the shrimp and fish tacos are to die for, but you gotta have the raw oysters – these are the freshest you’ll ever experience.
FIG Restaurant – Top Bistro For Southern Classics
232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Getting a table here could be as tough as getting one in these celebrity hang-outs in Los Angeles. 4 weeks in advance seems to be the norm for reservations, but well worth it.
FIG stands for Food Is Good, and this is the mantra Chef Mike Lata seems to live by. Chef Lata sources his ingredients locally to expertly serve up seasonal Southern classics.
Starting as a humble corner bistro in 2003, FIG is now known as one of the top culinary destinations in the Southeast.
Chef Lata is a true insider when it comes to having one of the best seafood sources around. Rumor has it he communicates with the local fishermen via satellite phones to know what the haul’s going to be, and pivots on that.
A James Beard Award winner in 2009 for Best Chef in the Southeast, Chef Lata has also been on an accolade binge – including “best new restaurant” by the Charleston City Paper, kudos the New York Post, and “Where to eat right now in America” 2004, by Gourmet Magazine.
Think hard before skipping over the Lowcountry bourride, a fish stew that’s perfectly mixed with white shrimp, mussel, Carolina gold rice, and butter beans. This is a local fave, and as the saying goes, when in Rome…
In an area known for rich culture and history, these top restaurants in Charleston all incorporate the foodways of the Lowcountry in their cuisine, so you know you’re getting the freshest ingredients around when you order up.
This town is a destination that leans towards seafood, but don’t you worry – Charleston doesn’t skimp from perfection when it comes to any quality dish you happen to be in the mood for, and these top restaurants in Charleston will help you find your way.