Who knew Charleston was such a foodie haven?!
The south is known for grits, fried okra, biscuits, and BBQ. Traveling around Charleston, almost everything emphasizes the Lowcountry territory: the marshlands, pretty piers, street names like "Sweetgrass Blvd," plantations that have been featured in movies, and gorgeous 3-story, pastel colored, old-fashioned houses casually clustered in downtown.
But do a quick yelp search for any eatery in Charleston, and you'll see the most incredible (and accessible!) restaurants, cafes, dessert bars (yes, there are literally places to eat dessert and sit outside by the waterfront), and sooo many more.
|A donut (baked that morning) from "Glazed" -- King Street|
I went to Glazed on a Sunday around noon. I was looking at the menu at some super interesting rum apple custard donut, and then the girl at the counter told me the only things left were: honey buns, these chocolate covered cherry donuts, and I think some other biscuit thing .. what?! Apparently they sell out real quick, and on Sundays especially, the church crowd kinda empties them out.
TIP: If visiting Glazed, get there as early in the morning as possible! Once they sell out, they close. Also, try to avoid Sundays so you skip the church rush.
|Flavor: Chocolate covered cherry|
|Left: Jalapeno chocolate Right: Amaretto chocolate (From City Market)|
Charleston is apparently known for its gourmet chocolates - and now I know why! Seriously incredible chocolates. I got these from a City Market stall, along with some dehydrated okra. It's hard to find the dehydrated okra anywhere else (even in Charleston), so def pick some up there!! The guy at the counter even let me sample one before I purchased.
SIDENOTE: If you're generally vegetarian and not a big fan of meat, DO NOT get pulled pork just to "try BBQ cause I'm in the south." That was my worst decision of the trip, as I watched a guy stuff meaty, juicy, dripping-in-fat pieces of whole meat and skin into a cup for me. My maybe once a month grilled chicken meals did not prepare me for that.
|The amaretto flavor was incredible! And what a perfect ganache filling|
|View from boardwalk at Battery Park|
In my dreams, I live in one of the huge beautiful houses (ALL with Mercedes. Is there some prerequisite I don't know about?) near this pier. And run the length of this boardwalk everyday. And then pick up some pistachio belgian gelato later on.
|Chocolate Mandarin cupcake|
We went to a smoothie place (called Main Squeeze) in Mount Pleasant and nearby was a cupcake place. We picked this up and obviously, it was delicious, just as every other thing I've eaten in the area. I'm convinced that you could literally go anywhere in Charleston/surrounding area and find something wonderful.
|Tiny canelé -- "Christophe Artisan Chocolatier" -- Society Street|
In regards to this last dessert - ever since hearing about it, I have never found it at any bakeries by me. NEVER. Not even some of the French bakeries I checked out in New York City. And when I found out they sold canelés at Christophe Artisan Chocolatier in Charleston, I HAD to go. The place is a very upscale (artisan, as the name implies) French dessert place. By upscale, I mean a bar of 91% dark chocolate cost $10. But I also never see 91% bars commercially available. They had cherry almond tarts, financiers, florentines, almond meringues, ETC, as well as an incredible and expansive array of truffles.
The canelé was fantastic (if smaller than expected). Golden crust and custardy center, just as I imagined.
Charleston is not kidding around when it comes to food, and the history, beauty, and culture of the city are so wonderful! It is a great place to visit and stay for a few days - you don't even need a whole week to explore the many areas. If you choose to visit, here are some places that warrant a visit and that I enjoyed: (included prices because that's always helpful)
- Fort Sumter (by ferry) $19 -- this was nice, although I learned nothing from my tour guide (who droned on) and the Fort was heavily used/barraged, so there's not much left! I actually enjoyed Fort Moultrie a lot more. The ferry DID give a great view of the Ravenel Bridge, though. There are 2 areas from which the ferry leaves - one in downtown, and one at Patriots Point. I did the latter, so there was less traffic/crowd.
- Fort Moultrie (nearby Patriots Point) $3/person -- learned so much more from here. We had a woman guide us, and she knew her stuff. The fort also has real cannons, this cool brick barrier for their gunpowder store, and a little museum with a huge map that clearly shows the many forts and areas of Charleston.
- Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon (in downtown by Broad St) $10/adult and $5/student I think? .. I had a soon-to-be grad student majoring in history give the tour. He knew a lot.
- City Market (Market St) $$ for buying things -- there is a FANTASTIC lemonade place. They literally squeeze lemons in front of you, and then mix lemon juice/pulp + cane sugar syrup + water in a shaker before pouring over ice. Wonderful.
- Boone Hall Plantation (on way to Patriots Point) $20/adult, no student discount -- oldest plantation apparently! This was Allie's summer house in the Notebook. The driving tour was very nice, and nearby Boone Farms (the little shop with produce, etc.) is so cute. [Boone Farms: They have enormous cakes which they can slice for you, as well as a cafe that closes at 6pm. They also have this peanut butter machine that grinds honey roasted peanuts - they have little sample cups for you to try and IT'S AMAZING.]
- Palmetto Island County Park, $1/person -- fun for a quick walk if you want something extra to do during your stay
- Folly Beach (quite far from downtown) $7/parking, but we went in off season so we paid nada -- the County Park side was less packed and is pretty much ALL beach, not really houses in the background or anything. Black Magic Cafe near there is also supposed to be good, but it closed (by 3pm) before we got there.
- Brickhouse Kitchen (restaurant) -- If you visit Folly Beach, you must make a reservation for this place. The food was so fresh and delicious, and the staff was very friendly. I ate the best eggrolls, crab cakes, and strawberry shortcake (true Southern style) I've ever had. The restaurant looks like a house, which at first is weird and then it's awesome. There's live music outdoors, and it's just great.
- Isle of Palms (the County Park area), off season so didn't have to pay for parking -- has a beautiful beach.