This past March the hubs and I returned to one of our favorite cities in the U.S.- Charleston, SC. We are completely in love with the old Southern Charm, the incredible food scene, and the relaxed vibe of the city. Ever since we visited for the first time back in 2015 we knew this city would be a place we continued to come back to over and over again. Today I’m going to share part one of a two part post highlighting all the awesome food and drinks we experienced while we were there.
Obviously, I have brought some specific outfits for the trip, I’ll be spreading picture through out this post and all of them are linked with details in the Shop My Favorites section of my blog.
We have to start with the food because this is literally one of the primary reasons that we god to Charleston. We planned our dinners well in advance- which I would recommend if you’re looking to try some of the upscale dining in this city. Coming in to the trip we had dinner reservations at McCrady’s, The Grocery, and FIG.
We also made stops in at The Bar at Husk, 167 Raw, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, Minero, and the hubs hit up Xiao Bao Biscuit without me one day (let’s just saw I was feeling a little rough that morning). Overall, I would recommend all but one of these restaurants (and I’m going to tell you a bit about that) so I’m going to highlight just a few below.
Let’s start with the not so great, so we can get that over with. I am so sad to say that I did not love our experience at McCrady’s. We LOVE Sean Brock and food; and we LOVED McCrady’s when we went to it in 2015. Since 2015, they’ve split the restaurant in to McCrady’s (tasting room) and McCrady’s Tavern. McCrady’s Tavern is a bit more accessible whereas McCrady’s (tasting room) is a very upscale dining experience. We went to McCrady’s (tasting room) and were hoping to have an incredible, intimate, and delicious experience similar to what we’d had when we visiting in 2015. Unfortunately, we walked away disappointed. The dishes were good, but few were mind blowing. The atmosphere was interesting at best and mildly uncomfortable at worst- this was probably the piece for me that caused me to walk away and say that I wouldn’t be super excited to go back (for the price). We sat at a U-shaped, high top bar. At the top of the U was the kitchen where each dish was being meticulously compared. The guest’s reservations were all staggered so those on either side of us were either just ahead or just behind in the tasting menu (which makes sense right- it would be a disaster to have to get 20 of the same dish out all at once). Unfortunately, the setting caused it to lose all the the intimate, special feeling that I had the first time and instead made me feel like it was an almost clinical operation with each cook and server having their own very specific responsibilities and nothing more. It makes me very sad to say this but, for the price, I would not recommend McCrady’s.
Alright let’s move on to the good stuff now! It was so difficult for me to choose between FIG and The Grocery for which dinner experience I enjoyed more. They were both incredible. I think I have to go with FIG but The Grocery was delicious- it is also a slightly lower price point and a bit more familiar dishes made with fantastic locally sourced ingredients.
FIG has an ever-changing menu with a few staples that never leave. The Chef has won Best Chef Southwest (after being nominated multiple times) and also owns The Ordinary- an oyster bar that was nominated for James Beard Best New Restaurant in 2013. The food is always locally sourced and the staff is extremely knowledgeable. The intimate setting that I was missing at McCrady’s, I found this time in FIG. We love menu’s that are made up of a number of “small” dishes that allow us to try as much food as possible. Our server helped us plan out our meal and even offered her wine expertise in helping us choose our wines for the night. The highlight dish for me was probably the Tartine of Beef and Preserved Tuna. I’m a sucker for an incredibly well done raw beef dish and this one did not let me done. We also loved the Ricotta Gnocchi al Bolognese (which is one of those staple items).
FIG only accepts reservations 30 days out and the WILL book solid on that 30th day out so you must plan accordingly if you’re going to grab a table here.
And last, I have to highlight 167 Raw. We were told about this spot in 2015 but didn’t get a chance to visit then. I am so glad we got to go this time. 167 Raw is a TINY restaurant that does seafood and (of course) specialize in oysters. We decided to go here on Saturday forgoing a more traditional brunch and instead getting in line a half hour before they opened. This strategy got us seated immediately upon open (and no we were not the first people in line). I had a delicious Scallop Crudo to start and followed it up with their famous Lobster Roll. It was incredible. That said, the hubs got the Scallop Po Boy and I think it was even better than the Lobster Roll!
We had drinks at all of the restaurants I’ve already mentioned but we also stopped by The Gin Joint, and The Roof Top at Vendue. That said, I’m going to highlight a couple of the spots I mentioned above in addition to one of these because they were my personal favorites.
The Bar at Husk, honestly, is a must stop spot. We’ve eaten at Husk previously but were not fortunate enough to snap a reservation this time. Luckily, The Bar at Husk is a separate side building that serves awesome cocktails AND a small food menu. Husk was right across the street from our hotel so this was the first stop we hit up upon arriving in Charleston on Wednesday. We snagged to seats at the bar (the best because then you can befriend the bartender and get them to make you deliciousl off menu drinks) and settled in for quite a first night. I started dark, stormy, and boozy as I typically do with a Manhattan and hubs jumped right in to the straight bourbon as Husk has quite the collection of hard to find pours. We also shared their Husk Cheeseburger. As a burger-addict, I have to say this is one of THE BEST burger’s I’ve ever had. Highly recommend.
Other favorites included The Gin Joint- fantastic cocktail bar specializing in Gin but delivering incredible cocktails in any base alcohol you might want. They also have a pretty decent bourbon collection if that’s your thing. And Minero. This Sean Brock ownerd restaurant had moved since we had been to it in 2015, it now sits on top of McCrady’s/McCrady’s Tavern. It’s a casual, Mexican-style restaurant, very affordable and delicious. I had an awesome Mescal drink while we were there and we even snuck in a little food- the Carnitas Sliders and some chips at guac. Definitely a great lunch/snack spot during the day. BTW- both Husk and Minero are Sean Brock spots, I told you we love him!
That wraps up part one. Check back next week for part two about all the fun things we did and where we stayed. AND if you're curious to see how this year's trip compared to our trip in 2015, there are actually three posts on my old blog about our trip. Lucky for you- I haven't taken them down so you can pop over there and give those a read.