Charleston’s gastronomic scene is off the charts to say the least and narrowing down the list of must-try spots can pose some challenges. So, we’ve highlighted the best new places to eat and drink for your next trip in the Holy City.
Downtown Charleston’s award-winning, European-style boutique hotel in a restored circa 1804 building, Zero George, has added yet another elevated element to the guest (and local) experience: The Caviar Bar. Overseen by Zero Restaurant + Bar Executive Chef Vinson Petrillo and Beverage Director Megan Mina, this intimate caviar tasting experience takes place at a custom-built, eight-seat mahogany bar on the picturesque piazza overlooking the property’s lush gardens. There are two seatings that take place Tuesday-Sunday, each beginning with Zero’s signature presentation of .5 oz of Regiis Ova caviar with classic accompaniments. Guests are invited to pair this indulgent selection with wine or cocktails, as well as the à-la-carte menu offerings. Those lucky enough will even get a chance to do a bump with Chef Petrillo––a caviar bump, that is.
About a 20 minute drive from the heart of Charleston sits the laidback locale known as Sullivan’s Island. This two and a half mile long island offers buzzy storefronts and no-nonsense restaurants; the most recent opening on the island comes from Charleston-based hospitality group Basic Projects in the form of Sullivan’s Fish Camp. Housed in what was once the iconic family-run Sullivan’s Seafood Restaurant, the team collaborated with island residents and local artists to create nautical-themed decorations and furniture. Executive Chef Davis Hood’s menu is filled with fresh, playful iterations of Fish Camp classics, while Bar Manager Jordan Morton’s cocktail program draws inspiration from the 1970’s tiki craze.
Ask any Charlestonian where to find the best barbecue in town, and without missing a beat, they’ll offer Lewis Barbecue. Pitmaster John Lewis is now trying his hand at Mexican cuisine at Rancho Lewis. The 7,400 square foot eatery is complete with a bronze-wrapped bar (one of the biggest in Charleston!) and a walk-up tortilleria for guests to watch fresh tortillas being made. Many of the design elements were either handpicked by Pitmaster Lewis himself during scouts to North Mexico and Texas, handmade by local artisans, or collected from Lewis’ own ranch in El Paso. The menu pays homage to the “Tex-Mex” dishes of Lewis’ childhood, with fajita samplers of his parents’ favorite meats, as well as Queso Asado and Chiles Rellenos. The bar menu is extensive, but the standout cocktail is the Rattlesnake Milk: a tequila and white rum cocktail finished with egg white foam.
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the beloved fine dining establishment McCrady’s and the cozy Tuscan restaurant Trattoria Lucca both shuttered their doors. Former McCrady’s employees Dano and Bethany Heinze have capitalized on their hospitality learnings to open Vern’s, a buzzy restaurant in the former Trattoria Lucca space serving eclectic American fare. Dano utilizes his connections to hyperlocal Lowcountry and California farmers to source ingredients for the dinner and brunch offerings (the only times the restaurant is open). Reservations are coveted, so be sure to set Resy notifications well in advance.
Travelers will be hard-pressed to find natural wine bars in Charleston, but Bar Rollins is providing the first dedicated biodynamic vino spot to the Holy City. It’s impossible to get lost on the way to this East Side spot, as “Bar Rollins loves you” is inscribed into the sidewalk. Settle into a seat on one of the casually mismatched bistro chairs and tables in this single home-turned-”wine dive bar.” This hip spot also has a small outdoor porch and patio seating, ideal for sips in the sunshine (weather permitting).
Leading hospitality management company Charlestowne Hotels opened its first dedicated restaurant on Market Street, a vibrant, yellow-washed Latin- and South American-focused canteen. Meant to evoke the same vibes as a tropical vacation, Chef Taylor Cunningham serves ceviches, Cubanos, and Peruvian skewers to diners perched on purple stools, or outside on the patio below beachy white-fringed umbrellas. General Manager Maureen Samu doubles as the Bar Manager, with a special affinity for crushed ice drinks such as the “Coco Piña” or the “Chicha Chilcano.”
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