comes to narrowing down this unrivaled selection. Just know that you really can’t go wrong no matter where you go. Seafood reigns supreme in the Lowcountry, from steam ‘em and eat ‘em shrimp to Carolina crab prepared a dozen different ways. And if you’re an oyster lover, you’re in good company, as they are found on practically every menu in one form or another.
Dixie Supply Bakery & Café, a hole-in-the-wall eatery featured in Southern Living, is known for its tomato pie, creamy stone ground grits, bacon bourbon pecan pie and sweet potato cornbread. Charleston Crab House, another favorite dining establishment and watering hole, has been serving local seafood for twenty years. Its Lowcountry shrimp, collard greens, Carolina lump crab cakes, grits and melt-in-yourmouth hush puppies are just a few of the restaurant’s popular dishes. Fleet Landing is another favorite. The building it’s housed in used to be the home of the Cooper River Ferry before being taken over by the U.S. Navy. In 2003, it became a restaurant with prime waterfront location, serving shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage, fresh yellowfin tuna, okra fries, seafood gumbo, fried oysters with Southern Comfort BBQ sauce and crispy whole fried Southern flounder with apricot glaze. For your meal’s finale, try the key lime pie or decadent white chocolate bread pudding. One of the best meals I had during my stay was at Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar, a casually hip place serving up such specialties as She Crab soup with sherry, pan roasted wreckfish, popcorn rice, shrimp corndogs and fried green tomatoes, along with an extensive selection of chilled seafood cocktails.
For an overview of Charleston’s food scene, I’d recommend taking Bulldog Tours’ Savor the Flavors Tour, which will introduce you to the area’s varied culinary influences, from Gullah and Native American to French, African and British. You’ll walk, talk and taste your way through the city, sampling tasty specialties from local restaurants, markets, bakeries and other culinary landmarks, as your guide explains the evolution of Charleston’s cuisine over the past 300-plus years. No need for lunch if you take this tour, as you’ll get plenty of goodies to sample along the way. And your sweet tooth will definitely be satisfied, too, with opportunities to try pralines, Charleston Benne wafers and, of course, the proverbial sweet tea that so many Southerners can’t live without.
No trip to Charleston is complete without a visit to one of the area’s fabled plantations: Middleton Place, Magnolia or Drayton Hall. It’s a colonial era Lowcountry experience that gives you a glimpse into the lifestyle of the land barons and their belles. Middleton Place, for example, is home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens. Known as one of South Carolina’s most enduring icons, these enchanting and graceful gardens or garden “rooms” are laid out with precise symmetry and balance, leading to a climactic view of the well-known Butterfly Lakes and the winding Ashley River beyond. Owner Henry Middleton served as the second President of the First Continental Congress and his son Arthur was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The main house is a museum of rare family furniture and portraits, while the stable yards are full of craftspeople demonstrating the skills once performed by slaves.
Throughout your stay in this sultry gem of a city, you’ll find yourself continually embraced by the hospitality of its residents. Charlestonians are genteel folks who are proud of their history and culture, and they are always more than happy to share it with visitors. And if you ask politely, you might just get them to tell you the secrets of their slow, congenial lifestyle.
If you go:
For all things Charleston, contact the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at: 800-774-0006 or