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South Carolina Restaurants

12 Anson Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 577 0551

This chic, gilt-trimmed dining room frequented by society types is the city's finest. Although Anson is adjacent to touristy Old City Market, it's frequented by Charlestonians, who come for the fresh, creative spins on traditional dishes: barbecued grouper, shrimp and grits (ground in Anson's own kitchen), and crispy flounder. The setting is a century-old warehouse jazzed up with plantation shutters, gold ballroom chairs, an authentic cypress fireplace mantle, and planters. Huge French windows provide a passing scene of horse-drawn carriages clip-clopping through the streets. Request a table upstairs.

The Boathouse at Breach Inlet
101 Palm Boulevard
Isle of Palms , South Carolina
Tel: 843 886 8000

This is the best spot to watch the sunset, making it well worth a jaunt over the bay to the Isle of Palms. The cozy Boathouse feels like a comfortably sprawling beach house, with views of lush marshland, the intercoastal waterway to the west, and the Atlantic to the east. Request a table on the enormous screened-in back porch to enjoy the warm salty breezes off the water, then go upstairs to grab a pre-dinner cocktail at the roof bar. When the sun goes down, if you're still waiting for your table (and you might be even if you have a reservation), head down to the friendly dockside bar to spy boats heading back to their piers in the twilight. The mostly seafood menu is full of local favorites, simply prepared: Get the catch of the day grilled, with collards and a creamy blue cheese slaw; or the can't-miss crab cakes with grits. The same owners also serve up local seafood at the Boathouse on East Bay Street in Charleston, but the relaxed vibe of the waterfront location is a better way to wind down after a day of exploring the dunes.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays, 5 to 11 pm, Sundays 11 am to 2 pm.

Bowens Island Seafood
1870 Bowens Island Road
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 795 2757

The menu at Bowens—a local institution near Folly Beach—couldn't be simpler: fried seafood year-round and fire-roasted oysters when the chill hits the Lowcountry salt marshes. The local favorite had the ultimate roller-coaster year in 2006, when owner Robert Barber accepted a James Beard award as an American culinary classic, and the old cinder-block structure that housed the restaurant caught fire and burned to the ground. The temporary digs—essentially a huge screened-in boathouse—make for magical evenings in warmer weather. (A full-scale renovation of the main building is expected to be completed in the spring of 2009.) Get a beer and hang out on the docks anytime around sunset and watch water-skiers skim by as shrimp boats chug along the dockside canal. Until they rebuild the old dining space, the waterfront work-around will do just fine.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 5 to 10 pm.

Charleston Grill
224 King Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 577 4522

Bob Waggoner's inventive New South cuisine, consistently a favorite among critics, is showcased in this plush dining. Tucked into Charleston Place hotel, the grill is a magnet for executives and celebs who flock here for the cushy atmosphere (club chairs, dark wood paneling, and nightly jazz), hearty food, and impeccable service. Wagonner, a culinary rock star, has been lauded for bold takes on old favorites: collards cooked with pigs' feet in amber beer; a version of Frogmore Stew that uses homemade sausage and lobster tempura on lemon grits. The wine list features 950 selections, and is among the state's most extensive; two sommeliers assist with pairings. For a quieter meal, choose the more secluded bar area over the bustling main room.

EVO Wood-Fired Pizza
1075 East Montague Avenue
North Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 225 1796

It might be borderline sacrilege to suggest pizza in a coastal town full of fresh seafood joints, but EVO's featherlight, cracker-crisp pies would be required eating anywhere. This North Charleston pizzeria started out when two flatbread-crazed chefs traded high-end culinary gigs at FIG and Normandy Farms for a wood-fired pizza cart at Marion Square's weekly farmers market. Now in permanent digs in historic North Charleston, EVO uses locally grown ingredients on top of a complex, bready crust that melts on the tongue. Start off with crisp salad and a cold pint of Highland Brewing's locally brewed oatmeal porter, then choose between the classically simple tomato, basil, and cheese Margherita pie or the meaty pork trifecta (topped with house-made sausage, pepperoni, and smoky bacon).

Open Tuesdays through Fridays 11 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Saturdays 6 to 10 pm.

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232 Meeting Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 805 5900

The name stands for Food Is Good, and nightly crowds at this hip local hot spot can attest to that statement. Rich but unfussy dishes are prepared with fresh organic produce and farm-raised meats. Chef Mike Lata focuses on seasonal ingredients for the daily menu, like a dessert of blueberry peach crisp studded with roasted pecans served with a custardy lemon ice cream. A stable of favorites are always on offer as well; the Wagyu bistro steak dripping with herbed butter is not for the fainthearted. The bar scene is lively on weekends, when the kitchen stays open until midnight.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 6 pm to 12 am.

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Hominy Grill
207 Rutledge Avenue
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 937 0930

Chef Robert Stehling shocked genteel Charlestonians with his irreverent take on traditional Lowcountry fare when he opened Hominy in 1996. Since then, he's ingratiated himself with the locals and garnered national raves for such tweaked classics as grilled soft-shell crab with apricot almond slaw, creamed collard greens, fried chicken with spiced peach gravy, and rich buttermilk pie. The prices are equally delicious: Most dishes are under $15. Housed in an old barbershop off King Street, Hominy's tin ceilings, hardwood floors, oak tables, outdoor patio, and blackboard menus add to the down-home appeal. Breakfast is popular, so get there early for the country ham, hominy grits, and homemade ginger pumpkin bread (they take reservations for dinner only).

Open Mondays through Fridays 7:30 am to 9 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 9 am to 3 pm.

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76 Queen Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 577 2500

Local hero Sean Brock is the most award-winning chef in Charleston, and Husk, his labor of love, topped Bon Appétit's list of the best American restaurant debuts of 2011. The menu, which changes daily, focuses on fresh, exclusively Southern ingredients and invigorating reinterpretations of Southern and Lowcountry cuisine, from fried green tomatoes with pimiento cheese and country ham to knockout crispy pig ears and fried chicken skins. There are some all-American classics on the menu, too, including the signature Husk cheeseburger, a kind of haute upgrade of In-N-Out's. Much like the cuisine, the restaurant's digs—on Queen Street, at the tip of downtown Charleston's main shopping drag—combine the traditional with the new. The two-story, columned exterior is straight out of Gone With the Wind, yet the airy main room presents diners with an open kitchen and minimalist glass artwork. If weather permits, request a table on the second-floor porch. And be sure to arrive early (or stay late) enough to sip a cocktail at the bar next door—the Herbal Tea cocktail, made of chamomile-infused vodka with a splash of fresh lemon juice and lime caviar, is particularly recommended, as is the Carrot Apple Slaw, with house-made apple brandy, rum, Pernod, and carrot and lemon juice over ice with fennel fronds.—Carolina Santos-Neves, originally published on

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 10 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm. Bar open daily 4 pm to close.

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Jestine's Kitchen
251 Meeting Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 722 7224

Everything's cheap, hearty, and fried at this funky blue-plate café decked out with vintage kitchen utensils and featuring old-timey jazz music. Comfort food is concocted from family recipes handed down to its founder, Dana Berlin, by Jestine Matthews, the woman who cared for her family. Jestine's artery-clogging fare didn't hamper her health—she passed away at the age of 112 in 1997. Popular items include signature fried green tomatoes, a slab of meatloaf, and pecan-fried whiting; almost everything comes with a side of fried okra. The Coca-Cola Cake is a must. Get there early for dinner; Jestine's doesn't take reservations and the line forms at 5 p.m.

185 E. Bay Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 577 7771

Magnolia's is a perfect lunchtime break when you find yourself on the tourist-heavy expanse of Bay Street. Chef Donald Barickman's cuisine has been dubbed "Uptown Down South," which seems to mean refined Southern classics served with a white-linen sensibility and a dollop of good humor on the side. His classic "Three Little Pigs" is a trio of slow-cooked barbecue pork sliders on house-baked buns with a spicy-and-sweet coleslaw on the side. The rich chive-spiked blue crab bisque is worthy of a visit all by itself.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Sundays 11 am to 3:45 pm.

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2 Unity Alley
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 577 0025

There aren't many accolades that McCrady's and its chef Sean Brock haven't won: Brock was the recipient of the 2010 James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast, among other honors, and sommelier Clint Sloan's wine list is nationally renowned. Make no mistake, McCrady's is still the big-night-out restaurant in Charleston, and it helps that the space itself is gorgeous, with a bootlegger-worthy entrance, tucked away in a romantic brick alley off historic East Bay Street, that gives virtually no hint of the expansive rustic-chic interior within, all brick arches, exposed beams, and candlelight. The food is perfectly seasonal and stringently local, and every farmer, harvester, fisherman, and local food-crafter who contributed to it is duly thanked in the menu. You might be tempted to write a few thank-you notes yourself after tasting what's on offer: Familiar ingredients are prepared in ways designed to surprise and inspire, as with an heirloom tomato salad made spicy and tangy with jalapeño and smoked corn; or juicy, perfectly brined roast chicken atop strips of grilled cucumber. The chef's tasting menu changes nightly but is always a great bet, jam-packed with local seafood and produce.—Siobhan Adcock, originally published on

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5 to 9:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10:30 pm.

Peninsula Grill
112 N. Market Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 723 0700

This award-winning restaurant in the chic Planters Inn oozes sexy sophistication. Rich velvet walls, dramatic chandeliers, a lush courtyard with reflecting pool, and doting but unobtrusive waitstaff make it a popular spot for romantic trysts. Canoodling couples pack its trendy champagne bar. The cuisine is sensuous, too; Robert Carter turns up the heat on low-country dishes with oysters Rockefeller in velvety Asiago cheese, wahoo in curried cream, grouper tarts and design-your-own dish with meats, seafoods and 10 different sauces. Save room for the famed seven-layer coconut cake, adapted from Carter's grand mom's recipe, which the restaurant ships to dessert lovers around the country.

Red Drum Gastropub
803 Coleman Boulevard
Mount Pleasant , South Carolina
Tel: 843 849 0313

The gastropub craze of high-end cuisine paired with craft-brewed beer has reached all the way across the Cooper River into suburban Mount Pleasant. Chef-owner Ben Berryhill, a Texas transplant, brings a combination of influences to the upscale beer and food genre—plenty of punchy, chile-based Mexican flavors that play well with the deep selection of equally complex Belgian brews. Seared scallops with wild mushrooms and red mole enchiladas are both exceptional, but sometimes nothing beats the classic "meat and suds" combo, be it a hefty burger topped with Gruyère or a juicy bistro-style steak frites. The place is hopping all week long with Charleston's beautiful people packing the cavernous bar.

Open Mondays and Tuesdays from 5:30 to 9 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5:30 to 10 pm.

Robert's of Charleston
182 E. Bay Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 577 7565

It's prix fixe and formal at this Charleston institution, owned and operated by chef Robert Dickson, whose claim to fame is food—and singing. A classically trained baritone, Dickson serenades guests with Broadway tunes while whipping up such creations as sea scallop mousse and chateaubriand with port reduction. The long, narrow room with white-clothed tables is made intimate by a friendly waitstaff, Dickson's sudden bursts of song, and warm Tuscan colors. Don't leave without a bottle of the restaurant's famous seasoning. Reservations required.

192 E. Bay Street
Charleston , South Carolina
Tel: 843 723 3424

Don't expect anything haughty from this East Bay Street standby—the playfully misleading acronym stands for Slightly North of Broad, a description of location rather than the crowd. In a renovated historic warehouse, chef Frank Lee updates Southern and Lowcountry standards with influences from around the globe. The shrimp and grits comes with house-made sausage and country ham, and the Carolina quail breast is served in a port wine reduction with a side of cheese grits. Vegetarians accustomed to thrown-together meatless options will revel in the garden-fresh vegetable plate—the platter comes heavy with stewed tomatoes, garlicky sautéed spinach, chile-spiked tofu, and grilled summer squash. If you're up for a show, belly up to the bar-style chef's table near the lively open kitchen.

Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm for dinner, Saturdays and Sundays, 5:30 to 10 pm.

901 Island Park Drive
Daniel Island , South Carolina
Tel: 843 881 8820

Five-star food without attitude has propelled Sienna into the ranks of the country's hottest restaurants. Award-winning chef Ken Vedrinkski (formerly of the dining room at Woodlands Resort) works his magic at this chic eatery on Daniel Island, well worth the five-mile drive from downtown. Diners feast on contemporary Italian cuisine in an open-air dining room with vaulted ceilings, arches, and intimate nooks. The affordably priced menu was inspired by family recipes. Try the $46 tasting menu, or come Monday nights for Grandma Volpe's Italian feast, a family-style dinner.

Wreck of the Richard and Charlene
106 Haddrell Street
Mount Pleasant , South Carolina
Tel: 843 884 0052

This hard-to-find dive (without a sign) behind the Shem Creek docks is worth the hunt. It serves up some of the freshest seafood in the Charleston area. Munch on boiled peanuts while waiting for heaping platters of fried shrimp, stone crab claws, oysters, and other just-caught bounty. The Wreck is named for a boat that washed up next to the restaurant when Hurricane Hugo passed through several years ago. And the ambiance lives up to the name—concrete floors, paper plates, no A/C, no reservations, and no credit cards. Call for directions.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.