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How to spend three days in downtown Charleston

Downtown Dalliance

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It's time for a weekend getaway, but a quick one. Whether you're flying in from D.C. or driving over from Johns Island, the Charleston peninsula is tailor-made for a 36 hour trip that revolves around eating and drinking. Downtown lodging is available for any budget or desired experience, from cozy Airbnbs to the fancy new Hotel Bennett. A focus on local ingredients means Charleston chefs are sure to be using fresh spring flavors this time of year, and many establishments offer seating outdoors to take advantage of warmer weather. Three days will be gone in a flash, but fear not, we've got you covered with options throughout the day to ensure you take advantage of each minute.

Friday, 4 p.m. — A breath of the fresh Lowcountry air will instantly have you hankering for a snack that reminds you of your surroundings. Head to Leon's Oyster Shop (698 King St.) for fresh bivalves that come raw, baked, or char-grilled with parsley, butter, and parmesan. For drinks, try a refreshing cocktail like their frozen gin and tonic.

Friday, 6 p.m. — Make a right out of the Leon's parking lot and head toward Charleston's unofficial "Brewery District" where you'll find Munkle Brewing Company (1531 Meeting Street Road), which offers Belgian beers in a space that features a pool table and spacious outdoor area with rocking chairs.

If you or your companion(s) would rather sip on vino and cocktails, look no further than goat.sheep.cow.north. where you can enjoy Old World wine and cheese from small producers on the quaint patio.

Friday, 8 p.m. — Grab one of about about 35 seats at Renzo (384 Huger St.), where chef Evan Gaudreau (a 2019 James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist) serves a menu of wood-fired pizzas and creative plates like boquerones with grapefruit or roasted radishes with kefir ranch. Gaudreau's use of S.C. ingredients means that seasonal specials rotate daily, and a beverage list full of natural wine offers a light and refreshing companion for the dishes.

If you're feeling adventurous, head to Tu (430 Meeting St.), a slightly hidden Meeting Street destination offering a menu of Indian flavors. Find street snacks like vada pav, a fried potato milkbread sandwich, along with an everchanging selection of dosa, naans, and curry dishes.

Head to Tu for dinner — order from an Indian-inspired menu featuring dosa, naans, and curries - RUTA SMITH FILE
  • Ruta Smith file
  • Head to Tu for dinner — order from an Indian-inspired menu featuring dosa, naans, and curries

Friday, 10 p.m. — After dinner, make your way to Vintage Lounge (545 King St.) where you'll find an expansive list of reds and whites by the glass or bottle. Vintage has live music on the weekends, and Spanish porron pitchers filled with beer or wine keep guests entertained in the fresh air out back on the patio.

Saturday, 8:30 a.m. — Early risers can head to Huriyali (401 Huger St.) for smoothies and açaí bowls in the tree covered garden out back. The cafe offers six specialty bowls like the Aloha, which combines an acai base with banana, mango, coconut, and granola.

Saturday, 11 a.m. — Today is the day for brunch if you are taking off early Sunday morning. When it's nice out, head to Daps Breakfast & Imbibe (280 Ashley Ave.). Enjoy playful spins on breakfast classics like their Fruity Pebble Pancakes in the sunlit space, which also has a cozy patio.

Saturday, 2 p.m. — It's time for a late lunch, and Xiao Bao Biscuit (224 Rutledge Ave.), which is housed in a repurposed gas station, is the place to go for a meal that isn't quite like anything else in Charleston. The menu highlights food from regions of China, Thailand, and Japan. It's hard not to go with XBB's okonomiyaki cabbage pancake, which can be topped with a fried sunny side up egg and salty pork "candy."

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Kudu (4 Vanderhorst St.) may be filled with College of Charleston students, but don't let that deter you from stopping by for a midday nitro cold brew pick-me-up. Grab a seat on the spacious outdoor patio, and those looking for something stronger can sip a draft from local breweries like Revelry or Lo-Fi.

Saturday, 5 p.m. — It's time for happy hour, so make your way to Container Bar (2130 Mt. Pleasant St.) for drinks outside and snacks from food trucks like Sap Lai or Holy City Waffles, which gather around the space that's made up of an old auto body shop and three repurposed shipping containers.

If you'd rather happy hour in the French Quarter, stop by the Blind Tiger Pub (334 Meeting St.) for a Guinness or local craft beer in the sprawling courtyard behind the Broad Street staple.

Saturday, 8 p.m. Parcel 32 (442 King St.) is housed in a 19th century Charleston single and manages to still feel like a hidden escape despite being in the middle of the King Street action. Chef Shaun Brian's plating ability is on display each time a dish rolls out of the kitchen, as he utilizes bright vegetables to pair with seasonal mains from the land or sea. If there's time, stop at the bar before dinner for a drink and the slider-sized smash burger, which is one of a kind thanks to a 75/25 ground beef to mushroom ratio and a Russsian dressing-style "smash sauce" that brings it all together.

Or if you are looking for something away from the King Street crowd, executive chef Bob Cook offers creative plates at Edmund's Oast (1081 Morrison Drive), which also has an outdoor biergarten stocked with Peanut Butter and Jelly beer that's brewed in-house. Start with charcuterie before diving into an inventive main like the green curry salt chicken or juicy hanger steak with crispy shallots.

Saturday, 11 p.m. — Reserve a seat at the Citrus Club (334 Meeting St.) for a nightcap on The Dewberry's eighth floor terrace, finishing the weekend in style while gazing over the church steeples in the night sky.

Sunday, 8 a.m. — Make a pit stop on the way to the airport for coffee and a baked good from The Harbinger Bakery and Cafe (1107 King St.). Colorful plants and other greenery surround the wooden tables where guests converse over cappuccino or "Pom Bomb," a sweet and salty bar made up of bananas, walnuts, rolled oats, and apple miso granola.

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