Hi, friends! Better late than never, right? Here’s a post on everything we ate during our trip to Charleston last month. I didn’t title this post “what you should eat in Charleston” since there is an overwhelming number of great restaurants in Charleston, many of which I have yet to try. If you’re considering any of the places we went to, I hope my “review” is helpful!
If you are looking to visit Charleston this summer, I recommend making reservations for a few spots you really want to visit. When we were coming up with an itinerary the week before our trip, a lot of the recommended places were booked out for the next few weeks (I am guessing due to increased travel with vaccinations and the restaurant capacity still below “normal”). At some places (looking at you, The Ordinary), reservations open up three weeks in advance so I would plan ahead if I were you.
Huge thank you to Heather and Joey for telling us about this spot! Jackrabbit Filly is in North Charleston so it was an easy stop for us coming down from North Carolina. We came for Sunday brunch and were able to get seated upon arrival without a reservation around 1pm (keep in mind that it was the beginning of the season and Jackrabbit Filly is still newer so the wait time might get worse).
After some research online, I ordered the Sichuan Hot Karaage-Don (karaage is Japanese fried chicken). While I enjoyed the dish, it wasn’t as spicy as I wanted it to be! Alex, who was determined to eat seafood at every meal, got The O.G. Chirashi Bowl. Since Jackrabbit Filly is not a seafood or sushi restaurant, I would have never tried their Chirashi Bowl (I know, I am being snooty) but it was one of the best things we ate during the entire trip! Definitely coming back to Jackrabbit Filly during our next trip!
To be honest, I was not impressed with Topsail. We were having some trouble finding a restaurant that had openings for Sunday dinner and had a menu Alex liked (for his seafood mission, you know). It is a “nicer” restaurant but the dining experience and most of the food did not warrant the price tag in my opinion. Alex ordered Firecracker Shrimp and Grits, which was one of the specials, and we loved it–perfect amount of jalapeños in every bite and large shrimps!
Everything else was mediocre including my tuna, the service (I felt uncomfortable and awkward every time the waiter came by because of him), the way the complimentary appetizer came out after we finished eating (we went for early dinner, and they were not busy so this was just due to poor planning on their part I think), and the way in which the waiter insisted on setting our to-go back on the tiny dining table (this was after he set the to-go back on the ground for our table next to ours which was the same size as our so wtf). This was also the first of quite a few businesses where there were absolutely no masks worn by employees, which takes off a full star rating for me personally.
Xiao Bao was on almost every “What to Eat in Charleston” list! Everyone raves about their okonomiyaki, which we got to try thanks to Joey and Heather who treated us to dinner here! Joey ordered the eokonomiyaki, a type of cabbage pancake, with their pork candy which is dried/shredded pork with light, fluffy, airy texture! We also tried the Fancy Boy Rice with scallops and Pad Kra Pow (spicy Thai beef over rice), and really everything was good!
This was the most underwhelming meal we had while in Charleston. We tried the “El Sancho” with pulled pork and the sliced beef brisket sandwich with sides of cowboy pinto beans and green Chile corn pudding, and everything was just okay. The only thing I kind of enjoyed was the sausage on the “El Sancho.” The food is not terrible but I didn’t find it to be worth the hype and wish I had tried another place instead.
If you care about the pandemic, you should know that they do not. No masks worn by the staff, and no masks required of customers. They have ample seating including outdoor tables as well as a private parking lot (there is an overflow as well), which I appreciated.
Heather told us about The Gin Joint and their Bartenders Choice! You pick any two words from the menu, and the bartender whips up a drink for you! Naturally, we had to go for the Bartenders Choice–I was very basic and went with “Refreshing” and “Fruity.” Alex’s words were “Sweet” & “Floral” and “Boozy” & “Unique.” They also have a small food menu and drink specials for their cocktail hour (5-7pm Mon-Fri). The Gin Joint is a short walk away from the Rainbow Row and the Pineapple Fountain, and their cool space was a welcome reprieve from the humidity and the heat!
We almost didn’t go The Grocery but were able to squeeze it in on our last night in town. They didn’t have a lot of reservations open but when we went in, it looked like they reserve some high tables for walk-ins so it might be worth a try to call them even if there are no reservations available. The Grocery has a relatively small menu that is divided into Produce, Seafood, and Meat, which are pretty self-explanatory. Some of the dishes in each section are more appropriate for appetizer while some are full entrees. It seemed like the menu changes pretty frequently/seasonally. We shared Sea Scallop Crudo, Fried Oysters and a type of whitefish we can no longer recall. Our dining experience at The Grocery was lovely, and we will be back!
I don’t know about you but I love a good biscuit sandwich! I also like ending a trip with a biscuit sandwich brunch before heading home. Vicious Biscuit has two locations–one in Mount Pleasant and one in Summerville. We began our drive home and made a stop at their Summerville location. Alex had the Vicious Biscuit (pictured in the back; fried chicken with maple sausage gravy and other things) and I got the Flame Thrower (fried chicken with Franks Red Hot and other things). Both were delicious and satisfying. I saw someone eating Shrimp & Grits, and that looked fantastic too.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Charleston? If you’re looking for things to in Charleston, check out my blog post here.