Our staff shares some of their favorite places to eat in Charleston, SC

eat in Charleston
eat in Charleston at Leons

Besides its breathtaking beaches, historic colonial architecture, and buzzing nightlife, Charleston is known for its remarkable culinary scene, and this is our short list of the best places to eat in Charleston.

The “Holy City” is a staple of the South and popular for world-renowned chefs, known for their dedication to craft as well as locally-sourced ingredients. When in Charleston, expect a unique atmosphere and classic southern cooked food.

Chez Nous

Chez Nous, “our home”, is a classic French style restaurant located in Downtown Charleston. Come here for the daily changing menu and locally sourced ingredients. The homey atmosphere will give you the illusion of dining in a quaint European home. The cuisine features food from Southern France, Northern Italy and Northern Spain. There are two different options between starters, entrees and desserts, which change daily. 

Our reason to visit: Visit Chez Nous for a romantic dining experience. While you’re there, be sure to order a unique, authentic European dessert. 

The Ordinary

When in Charleston, be sure not to miss out on the exquisite seafood cuisine! The Ordinary is the perfect restaurant to experience the fancy seafood scene that the Holy City is known for. Located on King Street, The Ordinary is a popular Oyster Bar with an artistic atmosphere. Here you can sample exotic seafood such as octopus and razor clams. With a full wine and beer list, The Ordinary also sports specialty cocktails such as the ‘Yoga Flame’ or the ‘For Sharks”. 

Our recommendation: If you and your friends love shellfish, try the gigantic double or triple Shellfish Tower!


eat in Charleston

Mesu

Mesu is located on King Street in the Historic District downtown Charleston. It is the first Mexican and sushi infusion restaurant in the Holy City. The atmosphere is bubbly and colorful to match its unparalleled menu. With bold flavors, unique cocktail menu and exotic plates, Mesu is the perfect place for when you can’t decide what you’re in the mood to eat. Grab a roll of sushi such as the Lobster Rangoon Roll, a side of chips and queso, and sip on a frozen Mesu Margarita. 

Our recommendation: Get the best of both cuisine worlds by pairing a bold sake with the fresh flavor of the Clothespin tacos!

Food Fight

When it’s time to eat in Charleston, head down to Folly Road near James Island to experience the culinary enigma of Food Fight. Food Fight is a collaboration cafe by renowned pizza chef Dusty Chorvat and wife Lori Milligan-Chorvat. The eclectic atmosphere of the neighborhood cafe is brought to life with the extraordinary food made with locally sourced fare. Order anything from expertly crafted pizzas to a pork belly ramen dish, or something light but full of flavor like the deviled eggs or the arancini. 

Our recommendation: Get ready to feast on a unique plate such as the KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). 

Five Loaves

Located right off of King Street, Five Loaves is popular for its lunch-to-dinner versatility. This American eatery is known during lunch for its deli sandwiches, soups, and stacked salads. For dinner, Five Loaves has full-flavored fish, chicken, and curry dishes for a robust and filling meal. This hot spot is perfect for those looking for local cuisine. Plus, Five Loaves sports a healthy and sustainable vegan/vegetarian-friendly menu. Five Loaves has hearty portions for affordable prices, making it the perfect place for a quick bite or a dinner out. 

is popular for its lunch-to-dinner versatility. This American eatery is known during lunch for its deli sandwiches, soups, and stacked salads. For dinner, Five Loaves has full-flavored fish, chicken, and curry dishes for a robust and filling meal. This hot spot is perfect for those looking for local cuisine. Plus, Five Loaves sports a healthy and sustainable vegan/vegetarian-friendly menu. Five Loaves has hearty portions for affordable prices, making it the perfect place for a quick bite or a dinner out. 

Our recommendation: Eat at Five Loaves for brunch and order the ‘Southern Benny’, crab cakes with fried green tomato, pimento cheese with herb hollandaise and poached eggs on a toasted english muffin with grits. 

Trattoria Lucca

A trip to Charleston wouldn’t be complete without divulging in some authentic Italian cuisine. Chef Ken Vedrinski is an acclaimed chef who has crafted the perfect Tuscan comfort restaurant on the corner of Bogard Street in Cannonborough / Elliotborough. With locally sourced fare, Trattoria Lucca daily specials as well as menu classics and a full, robust wine list. Fresh pasta made in house with Organic Semolina flour will pair perfectly with the warm-lit and homey atmosphere of the corner restaurant. 

Our Recommendation: Trattoria Lucca is the perfect place for a romantic date. Sit at the corner bench among pillows and candlelight and enjoy hand-made pasta. 

Charleston palmettos decorated for the holidays

Husk

A staple in Charleston cuisine, Husk features renowned chef Sean Brock who artfully installs local fare and a contemporary twist on classic Southern ingredients into lowcountry style food. Husk is known for recreating the concept of traditional Southern food with heirloom products and local suppliers. Beyond the tasty food, Husk is unique in that it creates the perfect Southern atmosphere. The restaurant is set in an 1893 Victorian-style house right in the heart of Historic Downtown Charleston on Queen Street. Husk has collected many awards for their cuisine including the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. 

features renowned chef Sean Brock who artfully installs local fare and a contemporary twist on classic Southern ingredients into lowcountry style food. Husk is known for recreating the concept of traditional Southern food with heirloom products and local suppliers. Beyond the tasty food, Husk is unique in that it creates the perfect Southern atmosphere. The restaurant is set in an 1893 Victorian-style house right in the heart of Historic Downtown Charleston on Queen Street. Husk has collected many awards for their cuisine including the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. 

Our Recommendation: Order the ‘Real Cornbread’, which arrives fresh in a skillet with Benton’s bacon crumble to start. For supper, the ‘Sweet and Spicy Glazed Duck Leg, XO-Fried Cauliflower, Garden Radish, Satsuma Orange, and Pepper Broth’ is a staple on the menu.  

Malagón Mercado y Tapería

Malagón is the perfect place for those interested in authentic Spanish cuisine. The sister restaurant of Chez Nous, the team is led by chef Juan Casalett. The market part offers authentic Spanish cheeses, Spanish wines, as well as seafood of all sorts. The atmosphere is quaint and welcoming, and you will feel right at home with the rich textures and tastes of Spain. The Tapería’s small plates heavily incorporate pork, like most authentic Spanish cuisine, but the menu also can accommodate dietary restrictions. The beer and wine list is also strict in nature, featuring bold tastes exclusively from Spain.

Our Recommendation: For the lover of Spanish and seafood cuisine, we suggest the ‘Pulpo a feira’, octopus with potatoes and paprika. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Chicharrones de Cádiz, fried pork belly topped with cumin.

Chubby Fish

Located in Cannonborough, just a block off of King Street, Chubby Fish is the perfect casual seafood restaurant. The daily-changing menu is packed with warm flavors delivered to your table with innovative preparations. Chubby Fish prides themselves in serving fresh fish caught straight from the waters of Charleston in their partnership with local fishermen and farmers. Don’t forget to grab a glass of wine from the full wine list and oysters from the raw bar. 

Our Recommendation: Stop by the neighborhood seafood joint and grab the menu staple ‘Smoked Mahi-Mahi Curry’, with fresh flavors of peanut, eggplant citrus and rice. 

Fig

Top off your visit to Charleston with another Southern-inspired restaurant in the Downtown Historic Charleston district. Fig, or “Food Is Good”, boasts the lowcountry chef favorite Mike Lata who crafts new and contemporary dishes with classic and locally sourced Southern ingredients. With an upscale-bistro setting and a menu that pays homage to the lowcountry, you will understand why Fig is so popular with the locals. Their wine list focuses on relevance and quality over quantity. 

Our recommendation: Fig is the perfect Charleston restaurant for an upscale Southern-style dinner. We recommend trying the ‘Mustard Crusted Amberjack’, with yukon gold puree, fall grenobloise, and jus roti. 

Read more: What to See and Do in Charleston