I like to think of myself as a foodie. Kind of. I mean, I'm not to the point where I'm willing to eat a runny egg yolk. And I think that is like the pinnacle of foodieism. Every food show I watch shows someone making something with a runny egg yolk and people ooooing and ahhhing over how perfectly cooked it is and how wonderfully delicious the runny yolk tastes. Blech! Just not there yet.
Even thought I'm not quite the foodie I want to be I can definitely claim to love food! I've been fortunate enough to live in Charleston for the last 6 years. If Charleston isn't the Mecca of good food then I don't know what is. We have some seriously good stuff here. Most of the restaurants we frequent are places we have heard by word of mouth. Here are my top 10 places to eat in Charleston (and what I order!!)
Rita's is a new burger joint on James Island in front of the Holiday Inn. Peter and I both have a penchant for burgers and this place definitely delivers. They are so big you can barely get them in your mouth. Plus anywhere willing to put guac on a burger makes me happy! Totally worth the drive for the yummy food and outside seating.
This is not a traditional Charleston restaurant. However I can get almost all of my favorite foods in one dish here. Therefore it makes the list! I can't remember what it is called but it is a pita stuffed with shrimp, basil pesto, artichoke hearts and cheese. Yummy!!....and there is outside seating!
This is a funny little Italian place in Mt. Pleasant. I'm not sure how we found it but after eating an amazing spinach salad there I'd say it is our most used "stolen" recipe. Whenever I have a good meal somewhere I do my best to figure out what the ingredients are so I can make it at home. This spinach salad has strawberries, green apples, almonds, strawberry dressing and goat cheese. I'm pretty sure eating this salad started my love of goat cheese.....my #1 "must have" pantry staple.
You can't have a top ten list and not include a pizza place. I definitely like what Peter calls "girl" pizza; thin crust, fancy ingredients, wood fired....you get the picture. EVO is in Park Circle and has this amazing pistachio pesto pizza with cream. You probably think it sounds weird....you are wrong. This pizza is fabulous! And to top it off EVO offers a nightly list of "chocolates" for dessert. Some of my favorite combinations are the chocolate rosemary and the salty caramel chocolate. I've even had a bacon chocolate. You probably think that sounds weird....again, you are wrong.
6. Cru Cafe
This is a more recent discovery for me and I'm mad that it took me so long to eat here. The food here is amazing! Lots of variety, fancy and fabulous! My favorite is a mescalin salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, tomatoes, red onions, grilled shrimp and goat cheese rolled in pine nuts. It's down in the historic district and you can eat on the porch. Do you see a trend here? I LOVE outdoor seating!
5. Fleet Landing
I'm sure of all the amazing seafood restaurants in Charleston this isn't on everyone's list. They make my list for one reason and one reason only-crabcakes. During the last month of my pregnancy I wanted crab cakes daily. Fleet Landing makes cakes that are about 99% crabmeat and 1% whatever else. This is rare! Plus there are no green peppers (my #1 hated food). I've tried crab cakes all over Charleston and these are the best I can find. If you know of better please let me know! Outdoor seating on the harbor makes this one a no brainer for me!
4. Taco Boy/Zia Taqueria
Ok I realize this is cheating. These are two different restaurants. And if I had done this list a couple of weeks ago the Taqueria wouldn't have made it....for the simple reason that I had never been there! After recommendations from a few friends we decided to check it out. Wow! Amazing fish tacos. The verdict is still out however because we didn't order nachos. And we have yet to find nachos anywhere that compare to the wonderfulness that is the Taco Boy Nacho. Regardless, if you are looking for amazing fish tacos either of these places will do the trick. Did I mention that both have outdoor seating??
3. Hominy Grill
I love the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill so much that I've never ordered anything else on their menu. (Other than the chocolate pudding!) I love the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill so much that I served their recipe as the main course at my wedding. I love the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill because I can eat them outside. I LOVE the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill!
2. Bull Street Deli
I don't particularly like deli's. I think they are kind of boring and mostly I think lunch meat is gross. Bull Street Deli isn't a typical deli. This little hole in the wall near the CofC campus serves THE BEST caprese sandwich on the planet. I know because I've tried them all! I have tried and tried to replicate this one at home but to no avail. It comes on ciabatta bread with a walnut pesto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, balsamic drizzle and some type of marinated tomatoes....the secret ingredient. If I could figure out how to replicate those tomatoes I would each this sandwich every day of my life!
I started with a burger and I'll end with a burger. There is no place that makes Peter or I happier than Poe's. Their burgers are the best and they also have other menu items that are equally as good-nachos, blue cheese coleslaw and the shrimp and fish tacos. This is one of the only places I go where I actually have to decide what to order. If I get a burger though it's got to be the Amontillado. It is perfection on a plate-especially since I can eat it outside!!
Where are your "must eats"? I'm always looking for new restaurants to add to this list!