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Charleston Tourism: Best of Charleston
Charleston delivers small-town charm in spades, from the shady courtyards and old Victorian homes to the horse-drawn carriages and six—yes, six—gorgeous beaches. But while the classic southern backdrop is a huge draw, this coastal stunner has plenty of big city attractions. So go ahead and do the historic sites—Middleton Place, Fort Sumter National Museum, the French Quarter, to name a worthy few—but work in time for checking out the city’s contemporary side. There’s the International African American Museum, 30-plus art galleries, and a dynamic, ever-evolving food scene, serving everything from Lowcountry staples (hello, fried chicken) to modern tapas.
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A high-low eating tour of Charleston
In the almost two decades I've called this city home, there's one thing I can say for sure: Charleston may have deep roots but its culinary scene is always evolving. From classic soul food spots to some of the best local seafood and Carolina BBQ, here's my rundown of top eats.
Jai Jones, Charleston, SC
- Jackrabbit Filly16I always recommend to go beyond the usual tourist map. One of my favorite spots is Jackrabbit Filly, a heritage driven Chinese-American restaurant in Park Circle. Get the O.G. chirashi rice bowl for lunch, or go for dinner with friends and order the entire menu—seriously. Karaage (Japanese fried chicken) and dumplings are always a good way to start off.
- FIG2,387This neighborhood bistro is run by Jason Stanhope, a James Beard Award-winning chef who uses locally sourced ingredients to create his menu. Don't miss the classic chicken liver pate, followed by the ricotta gnocchi alla Bolognese. And for your main, make sure to order at least one fish dish (I love the steamed snapper).
- Rodney Scott's BBQ617The South is known for whole hog bbq, and this is a top stop for good reason. Pitmaster Rodney Scott’s team smokes entire pigs right behind the restaurant, serving pulled pork, ribs, and more to fans. My go-to order? The 2 Meat Combo with mac & cheese + collard greens. If you're coming with a group, go for the Pitmaster Combo (whole hog, pork shoulder, chicken, turkey, brisket and ribs, alongside four classic sides).
- Chubby Fish81Chubby Fish has been a local favorite since it opened in 2018. Chef James London's focus is all about locally caught seafood. I always recommend the whole fish (usually a b-liner snapper), yellowfin tuna crudo, and oysters. Come early to put your name down for a table since they don’t take reservations.
- Hannibal's Kitchen151Soul food is core to Charleston—and the south in general. The 40-year-old Hannibal’s may look small and unassuming, but this family-run kitchen turns out incredible dishes like pork chops and crab rice.
- Sorelle42Sorelle opened a few months ago and was an instant hit. The multi-concept experience includes the first floor Mercado, where you can stop for a morning coffee and pastry; a main bar with a wine room tucked behind it; and a dining room, with Southern-Italian dishes like ricotta tortellini (lovingly referred to as “Pillows of Gold”).
- Daps Breakfast And Imbibe37Daps is a laid-back breakfast spot in downtown. Some of your childhood (or current) cereal favorites make an appearance, but not in the way you might think. The berry French toast is griddled in Fruity Pebble batter. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is baked inside a Hawaiian roll. If you're looking for something a bit heartier, order the breakfast club sandwich with coffee-rubbed turkey and bacon whipped cheese.
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