It was billed as a food tour, but somehow the star of the show ended up being cocktails. How very Charlestonian of us. There are so many places to eat in Charleston SC that it’s hard to decide where to go, especially when you’ve ditched the kids and the husbands and are headed out on a girls weekend. Best to start your trip to the Holy City with a guide from Charleston Culinary Tours. They’ll give you the lowdown on the hot spots, with a little history and humor, and of course show you where to get a darn good drink.
Places to eat in Charleston SC
On a recent girls trip to Charleston, a friend and I began our adventure with a food tour from Charleston Culinary Tours. I’ve never done a food tour, but it’s been on my bucket list. It was so much fun, I can’t wait to do it again in another city. Here’s a glimpse of what we did in Charleston.
Charleston Culinary Tours
Perhaps it was the company. The couple with us was from Minnesota and enjoying the warm southern sunshine, by the end of the evening we were old friends. Our tour guide Susan was super knowledgeable about the restaurants, the food and Charleston in general. In fact, in addition to Culinary Tours, she gives ghost tours, historical tours and works at the local theatre company. And she shared knowledge from all of those places with us as we noshed on Charleston specialties.
Our Culinary Tour started at HoM, a burger boutique and ping pong lounge. Now that I think of it, we didn’t try the burgers, which are ground in house, but I do remember the tender calamari, brined in buttermilk. I don’t even like calamari, but was reaching for seconds.
The next stop was Prohibition, where the house made cocktails took first prize, and the smokey shrimp and grits, made with local ‘adluh’ smoked gouda grits and sprinkled with crushed frozen popcorn, had us considering a second helping the next evening. The bacon maple old fashion, with double smoked bacon bourbon, maple syrup, bitters, and citrus zest was top notch, and looked pretty too. The Itty Bitty with Tito’s vodka, cocchi Americano, lemon, honey, and basil was sweet and feminine in its old fashion champagne glass. I’m a wine drinker, but this place has me re-thinking that and considering switching to cocktails. Come to find out, they have free swing lessons on select nights too. I love this place.
Calamari and mixed drinks aren’t my regular fare, but the next two stops, Smoke BBQ and Jeni’s ice cream, now that’s in my wheelhouse. Smoke’s started as a food truck, but became so popular that brothers Roland and Michael Feldman decided to make it a free standing restaurant. Make sure to order a side of smoked confit chicken wings with your Que. These tiny morsels of goodness slip off the bone at the slightest touch. My friend loved the house-made pickles. I prefer bread, and the Smoke’s BBQ sandwiches come on freshly made rolls from local Charleston favorite Brown’s Country Court Bakery. Yum.
Jeni’s Ice Cream
We finished off our tour at Jeni’s ice cream. What can I say? I had five taster spoons before it was all over and still had a hard time deciding on the pralines and cream. We ended the evening with a glass of wine in the Carriage House at Husk.
The next evening we dined down Hutson Alley at Vincent Chicco’s, an Italian restaurant with a great back story. Like many Charlestonians, Vincent Chicco, an immigrant from Italy, disagreed with prohibition. His fight to repeal it, as well as his illegal drinking establishments, led to his arrest, which lead to instant fame. When prohibition ended, Chicco found himself on the right side of the law and served consecutive terms as a City Councilman. His namesake restaurant does his colorful history proud.
We had primed our palette with a glass of wine at The Ordinary before heading to Vincent Chicco’s. The warm Charleston air made the walk down King Street part of the fun. Vincent Chicco’s is down a vibrant alley, which seems an appropriate nod to its prohibition roots. The restaurant itself is beautiful with two story ceilings, exposed brick and dark wood beams.
Our perfect evening continued with a great, yet affordable wine suggested by our waiter Parker, who is studying to be a sommelier and all too happy to assist us in our wine selection, as well as steering us toward a fantastic dinner. We started with the bruschetta appetizer, which is toasted twice to keep it firm under the tomato topping. It was delicious and I’d go back again just for this dish. My friend ordered the Chicken Piccatta and said it was the best she’d ever tasted. I tried the Sunday Gravy, which was a meaty tomato-based dish with house made ricotta. We finished off with the Zeppole, a basket of Italian donuts, which was ok, but a little bland. I’d opt for the tiramisu, the dark chocolate crème brulee or maybe the carrot cake deconstructed next time. After dinner we headed next door to the Victor Social Club, which was buzzing with patrons and activity.
More Places to Eat in Charleston SC
As part of our research before the trip, my friend and I asked several folks where to eat in Charleston SC. Here are some of the suggestions.
Artisan Meat Share – According to our Charleston Culinary tour guide Susan, this place has the best Ruben in Charleston.
Slightly North of Broad (SNOB)
The Ordinary – This place is anything but ordinary. We did not eat here, but did poke our heads in to this former bank.
Macintosh – We had drinks here and enjoyed the large window to watch folks walk by, the menu looked enticing, but we already had reservations at Vincent Chiccos.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits – Seems they have a location in Atlanta too! Going to have to try this.
The Grand Bohemian, According to Susan, our culinary guide they do wine making classes. I looked online but didn’t see anything mentioned, maybe you need to call and ask.