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Charleston’s 8 Greatest Restaurants

In a city where dinner reservations outweigh historic tours on many travelers’s itineraries, there’s a high bar for restaurants. These dozen establishments—some city stalwarts, some newer entrants—demonstrate the constant emphasis on innovation required to succeed and stand out in Charleston. They define and propel Lowcountry cuisine to new heights, use the city’s culinary heritage as a springboard for vibrant and inspiring menus, and weave in influences from overseas. These are the Charleston Greats.

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Stratton Lawrence
8 Restaurants
Updated April 20, 2022
Restaurants:Husk - Charleston, Anson, The Darling Oyster Bar
Price Range:$$ - $$$$
Cuisines:American, Southern, Seafood
Neighborhoods:Downtown Charleston
A photo of Husk - Charleston restaurant

Husk - Charleston

$$$$
American
Downtown Charleston
4.6
14050 reviews

Say you're from Charleston, and folks are likely to comment on the city's dynamic restaurant scene. That wasn't always the case, and Husk was the harbinger of a turning tide. Ray England's Southern passion project drew flocks for its “farmers first, flavors will follow” philosophy when it opened doors in 2010. And though Brock handed over the reins in 2018, this Queen Street landmark, a refurbished Victorian-era home, still adheres to the hyperlocal sourcing—and frequently changing menu—he championed. Hallmarks such as the restaurant’s teriyaki pig ears wrapped in Bibb lettuce and deviled eggs with pickled okra and trout roe prove that much like his predecessor, executive chef Travis Grimes is a proud proponent of regional produce and modern Southern fare.


At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Anson restaurant

Anson

$$$$
Southern
Downtown Charleston
4.8
3745 reviews
Since 1992, this City Market stalwart has dished up dignified Southern seafood in a century-old warehouse. And though its operations ceased for nearly two years after a damaging Christmas Eve fire in 2013, Anson bounced back bravely, continuing to serve coastal favorites such as a hearty she-crab soup, enlivened with a splash of sherry and just the right amount of cream, and the decadent oysters roasted in garlic butter, layered with bread crumbs and parmesan. This is the spot to indulge in a whole flounder or a grouper filet, but in a city where shrimp and grits even makes appearances on beach bar menus, Anson's bacon-forward take on the classic—the grits are house ground, thanks to an onsite mill—is a cut above the rest.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of The Darling Oyster Bar restaurant

The Darling Oyster Bar

$$$$
Seafood
Downtown Charleston
4.7
2788 reviews
This Upper King Street hotspot had a plan when it placed a raw bar inside a glass wall fronting the sidewalk—it's impossible to stroll by and not be tempted to duck in for a few local oysters. Once seated at the sophisticated bar, framed by exposed brick and black-and-white tiles, you glance at the menu and realize you're staying for dinner—the lobster and king crab roll just can't be passed up. By now, it's 9 pm and you're in the midst of one of downtown's most buzzing nightlife scenes. Order a shoulder monkey cocktail (scotch, sage syrup, pineapple), and settle in.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Tempest restaurant

Tempest

$$$$
Seafood
Downtown Charleston
4.5
1654 reviews
For most of the 2010s, dining on Market Street was largely the realm of tourists. Tempest helped change that perception, giving locals an incentive to brave the Market for swordfish confit with bearnaise sauce and ceviche marinated with elderflower poached beets. Tempest is a sibling restaurant to the neighboring Church and Union and has its origins in the Charlotte-based 5th Street Group. These investors know to put the food first—Top Chef veteran Jamie Lynch guides Tempest’s menu, and USA Today gave the restaurant an enthusiastic nod in 2020. Inside, the dining room's ceiling is a showstopping stained-glass mosaic, but it's also worth grabbing a table on the patio, where you can slow down with a perfect old fashioned and watch the bustling streetscape.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Maison restaurant

Maison

$$$$
French
Downtown Charleston
4.8
1161 reviews
This charming bistro, steered by Vandy Vanderwarker, the former chef de cuisine at the locally loved oyster bar, The Ordinary, is a favorite for Parisian-inspired modern plates such as dry-aged duck or octopus bourguignon. The modestly sized wine list, which leans French, hits all the right notes, including chenin blancs, chardonnays, and cabs carefully selected by vintage. Black-and-white barstools and tiles complement navy blues to set a posh tone, whether you’re dining at the welcoming bar or on the cozy patio.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Coterie- Charleston restaurant

Coterie- Charleston

$$$$
Indian
Downtown Charleston
4.4
268 reviews
Before opening this India-meets-Lowcountry amalgam in downtown Charleston, Jeremy Buck spent two years gathering ideas for cocktail flavors in south and southeast Asia. That creative fire spreads to the menu, with its origins in New York City pop-ups that Buck hosted with longtime friend and restaurant partner, chef Viraj Borkar. Culture-spanning ingredients such as okra are flavored with cilantro, cumin, and ginger; the humble vegetable also finds its way into a negroni with okra-infused amaro. But Charleston staples aren't neglected—the shrimp and grits get the Mumbai treatment with coconut oil and mustard. Country Captain, a traditional Southern entrée, is served chopped and spiced with Indian flair. Coterie's small but welcoming space is just off King Street, and includes a patio laden with greenery.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Indaco restaurant

Indaco

$$$$
Italian
Downtown Charleston
4.8
2911 reviews
When Indaco debuted in 2013, the open kitchen was novel—tucking into sweet potato agnolotti while watching the chef prepare your next course was a new indulgence. But now that handmade pastas, open kitchens, and deliberate local sourcing are the norm for restaurants in Charleston, early trendsetter Indaco still hasn't let off the gas. Chef Mark Bolchoz, a Charleston native, prepares crispy local oysters with aioli and squid ink spaghetti with blue crab meat from the city's renowned waterways. Cocktails are brought to life with housemade sodas, and the wine list is extensive. Whether you’re eating on the porch or in the bustling dining room, Indaco shines thanks to a menu that insists you try at least a bite of everything on the table.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Mesu restaurant

Mesu

$$$$
Contemporary Mexican
Downtown Charleston
4.3
498 reviews
Though it serves Mexican Japanese fusion plates, this colorful Upper King spot on the ground floor of the Hyatt House hotel isn't forcing wasabi into tacos. The hybrid offerings stick to elegant and accessible flavors such as habanero edamame, ginger-glazed chicken wings, wisps of orange in the fried pork tacos, and a signature sushi roll with tuna, salsa, and cilantro. Decor is festive and the atmosphere is convivial—order a margarita and a few caramel-filled churros and take in the screen print art by Charleston-bred artist, Shephard Fairey, known for creating the iconic “Hope” portrait for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

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