Charleston South Carolina has been on my list for years. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the food scene and how beautiful the city is. Over the holidays, Derika and I had a crazy idea to take a road trip from New York City to Clearwater, FL. If we were going to drive 19 hours to find a little bit of sunshine, I was going to make sure that we had enough time on the backend of the trip to pop into Charleston on our way home. There was no way that we were going to drive that distance, and not eat our way through one of the top foodie cities.
Since I did not know how much time we would have in Charleston, I did not plan anything for our quick trip. Instead I hit up Facebook and Twitter once we were about one hour outside of Charleston, to see what the community recommended we check out. I have to say that with very little planning and only about 15 actual hours spent zipping, sipping, and eating our way around the city, I think that we covered a lot of ground.
Now let’s see what we got into!
1. Visit the Historic Charleston City Market.
I read about the Historic Charleston City Market while I was waiting for my pals to lead the way with recommendations on Facebook and Twitter. We were headed to Charleston at a leisurely pace, until I realized that this market closed at 5:30. Derika knew that this was the only thing that I really wanted to check out, because she likes me a lot she put the pedal to the metal and we made it there by 5:15. We made it there just in time to catch a couple of open booths and to watch everyone else pack up. It was kind of a bummer. We strolled through what was still open in the market, and just made a plan to get up a bit earlier the next day so that we could check out the rest before breakfast. It ended up being a win win situation, because then I got to check it out twice! I love local markets, even if I don’t buy anything. I would highly recommend a stroll through this market, so that you can work up an appetite for all of the amazing food that you are about to eat!
2. Grab Dinner at Minero.
Ok, so I know that Minero is a mexican restaurant. What weirdo goes to a Mexican restaurant in a city that is known for their southern food? I know it is weird, but a friend recommended it and I really really love Mexican food. Also the chef at this restaurant is kinda famous and a James Beard Award Winner, so I was curious. The food was awesome, and I have to say that my mouth is watering just thinking about this place.
Derika and I lived in San Diego for three years and we take our burritos VERY seriously… OK, so this burrito is huge, see photo above! Once you unwrap the foil wrapper of the burrito, you reveal a mouth-watering soft flour tortilla that is warm, chewy and buttery. To seal the tortilla, they put a thin later of cheese that is crisped to perfection to keep the burrito held together (you can kind of see the crispy cheese in my half eaten burrito above). This cheezy amazingness is what makes the burrito. Don’t doubt it, just try it and make sure you get it with a couple of margaritas and their amazing chips and guacamole. Soooo good!
3. Grab an After Dinner Cocktail at Husk.
We went to Husk based off another recommendation from a friend. Their menu changes every day, which intrigued the heck out of me. However, they did not have much for this vegetarian to eat so we decided to just swing by for a drink. I have to say that Husk did not disappoint. If you are not in the mood to go to the restaurant for food and drinks, you can head next door to their awesome bar and just grab a beverage. They had one of the biggest bourbon lists that I have ever seen and their bartenders really knew their stuff. You can basically tell them what you like and they do the rest. I had one of the best Manhattans of my life here.
We had a great seat at the bar, the lighting and service was perfect. We seriously could have hung out here all night. However, we did not want to spend our only night in Charleston in the same place. So I asked the bartender if he only had 24 hours in the city where would he go for a drink? I thought that he would just tell us to stay where we were, but he was super cool and actually recommended the next place on my list.
4. Grab One Last After Dinner Cocktail at The Gin Joint.
I loved The Gin Joint! I don’t know how it was even possible, but I was a bit snacky when we got there so I ordered up some pretzels with an amazing sriracha cheese sauce. Run, don’t walk and go try this cheese sauce, I wanted to bathe in it. In addition to having really great snacks, they had a killer craft cocktail menu. My favorite part about the menus was the Bartender’s Choice section. Basically you pick two words off their list to describe your perfect cocktail, the server asks you if you favor any alcohol and then the bartender concocts your dream cocktail. So fun, so good, and sooooo DANGEROUS!
5. Grab a Night Cap at Pavilion Bar.
Ok, so I know we have had a decent amount of cocktails at this point, but we only had one night in this amazing city and decided to make the most of it. We were walking back to our hotel and we noticed the Pavilion Bar, a rooftop bar that was open in December! We felt that it was our duty to go check it out, so that I could report back to you. Let’s just call it research. We took an elevator to the top of the Market Pavilion Hotel. Once we got off the elevator, we noticed that the bar was enclosed in Plexiglas but the roof was still open. They also had a ton of heaters so you could comfortably hang out outside in December. I think that the Plexiglas comes down in the summer, and from the looks of it, this is probably the place to be in the summer. I just thought that it was neat that we could sit outside on a chilly evening and enjoy a cocktail. I have to say that the cocktails were not too shabby either.
6. Enjoy an Epic Brunch with Mind-Blowing Biscuits at Poogan’s Porch
We got up early on Sunday morning so that we could check out the Historic Charleston Market one last time, and then we headed over to Poogan’s Porch for a southern style brunch. We made reservations, which I would recommend. The word on the street is that this place gets slammed on the weekend. We really liked our breakfast, but the real stars of the show were the homemade biscuits and the fried green tomatoes. I’m not even a huge biscuit fan, but these were amazing! They were light and fluffy and the butter that was served with them was so so good! Of course I had to try the fried greed tomatoes; they are on my all time favorites list. I loved the aioli that came with them, and I could have had two plates of fried green tomatoes and nothing else.
7. Check out Rainbow Row on Your Way Out-of-Town.
We left Charleston right after brunch, and on our way out-of-town we zipped by Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is basically a group of 13 colorful houses in downtown Charleston. There is nothing really happening here, it is just a really pretty part of town and an easy place to just drive by and check out on you way out. That is why you don’t see a photo, because we literally just drove by the colorful houses. Check out my link above to see some pictures.
We had a long ride ahead of us, so we did not get to spend as much time in Charleston as I would have liked. There is still so much in Charleston and the surrounding area that I want to check out. Bummer, I guess we will have to go back. Thanks to all of the Facebook and Twitter folks for your great recommendations, it was definitely a fun way to see a city. I am totally going to use social media again to find the local hotspots on our next travel adventure.