Best of Charleston 2008 » Eating Out

Reader's Picks: Eating Out


Listen up, zombies. It can't be red meat all the time. Actually, we'd rather it not be red meat any of the time, that is if eating red meat means you're chomping on people parts. (Cow's fine, the madder the better.) But seriously, you've got to get out there and experience other foods, like the oysters at Pearlz. Or the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill. Or the she-crab soup at 82 Queen. All readers' picks in the 2008 Best of Charleston poll.

Best Restaurant
Peninsula Grill
112 N. Market St. Downtown
(843) 723-0700

Chef Robert Carter has built a veritable institution with this modern Southern belle, a perennial winner.

Best New Restaurant
Fat Hen
3140 Maybank Hwy. Johns Island.
(843) 559-9090

You know a restaurant is good when people from Mt. Pleasant make regular treks to Johns Island to eat.

Best Restaurant When Someone Else is Paying
Peninsula Grill
112 N. Market St. Downtown.
(843) 723-0700

It's still the best place to make your parents take you when they come to town for a visit.

Best Chef
Bob Waggoner, Charleston Grill
224 King St. Downtown.
(843) 577-4522

A new menu and concept have renewed interest in Chef Bob and his crew at the Grill, an old stand-by that continues to stay fresh and relevant.

Best Wait Staff
Charleston Grill
224 King St. Downtown.
(843) 577-4522

Headed up by the incomparable Mickey Bakst, Charleston Grill's staff provides impeccable, professional, discrete service.

Best Sommelier
Rick Rubel, Charleston Grill
224 King St. Downtown. (843) 577-4522

An exhaustive knowledge of wine, a readable column in Charleston magazine, and a sterling reputation add up to one hell of a wine guy.

Best Caterer
Cru Catering
18 Pinckney St. Downtown.
(843) 534-2434

John Zucker and his catering "cru" win this by a landslide every year. We think it's because of that gooey mac and cheese they do so well.

Best Downtown Restaurant
Charleston Grill
224 King St. Downtown. (843) 577-4522

The old girl got a facelift this year and has been wooing diners and jazz fans ever since.

Best James Island Restaurant
Mustard Seed
1978 Maybank Hwy. James Island.
(843) 762-0072

Sal Parco's place remains one of the few bright spots in James Island's limited dining scene.

Best Folly Beach Restaurant
Taco Boy
15 Center St. Folly Beach. (843) 588-9761

A hopping place on Folly Beach for sandy gringos to get fish tacos and strong margaritas.

Best Mt. Pleasant Restaurant
The Red Drum Gastropub
803 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 849-0313

Chef Ben Berryhill's take on southwestern cuisine has found a happy audience in Mt. Pleasant.

Best Sullivan's Island Restaurant
Poe's Tavern
2210 Middle St. Sullivan's Island.
(843) 883-0083

There's no better place to visit on Sullivan's than this bustling little cottage full of goth history.

Best IOP Restaurant
The Boathouse at Breach Inlet
101 Palm Blvd. Isle of Palms.
(843) 886-8000

A stunning view and deliciously-prepared seafood add up to everyone's favorite place to eat on IOP.

Best West Ashley Restaurant
Al di La
25 Magnolia Road. West Ashley.
(843) 571-2321

A change in ownership did nothing to diminish our love for this little trattoria.

Best North Charleston Restaurant
EVO Pizzeria
1075 E. Montague Ave. North Charleston. (843) 225-1795
The little pizza shop that could vanquish the chain domination! Bravo.

Best Summerville Restaurant
The Dining Room at Woodlands
125 Parsons Road. Summerville.
(800) 774-9999

It may not be as populist as Oscar's, last year's winner, but the Woodlands' stunning dining room delivers a world-class experience.

Best Romantic Restaurant
Fulton Five
5 Fulton St. Downtown. (843) 853-5555

It must be the hidden location, tucked away on Fulton Street, that makes this little dining room feel so damn sexy.

Best Waterfront Dining
Fleet Landing Restaurant
186 Concord St. Downtown.
(843) 722-8100

The only place to eat on the harbor in downtown proves good enough to beat out the Shem Creek favorites.

Best Outdoor Patio
Vickery's Shem Creek Bar & Grill
1313 Shrimp Boat Lane. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 884-4440

The downtown patio has long been a favorite of the after-work crowd, and Shem Creek's water views can't be beat.

Best Restaurant for Children
Chuck E. Cheese's
1610 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley. (843) 763-0663

The singing rat, the habit trail, the skeeball, and the pizza make this your favorite place to take kids.

Best Japanese Restaurant
Wasabi Japanese Steak House
61 State St. Downtown (843) 577-5222

Hibachi cooked before your very eyes means good Japanese food around these parts.

Best Indian Restaurant
Nirlep Indian Restaurant
908 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley.
(843) 763-9923

A fresh, fragrant, and expansive lunch buffet packs them in with curries, nan, and lots of vegetarian options.

Best Chinese Restaurant
Red Orchids
1401 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley. (843) 573-8787

One dish says it all: crispy flounder with black bean sauce. Order it. You won't be sorry.

Best Thai/Vietnamese Restaurant
Basil Thai Restaurant
460 King St. Downtown. (843) 724-3490

A small space with big-city style that packs them in night after night.

Best French Restaurant
39 Rue de Jean
39 John St. Downtown. (843) 722-8881

The mussels, the bread, the onion soup. We love Rue for so many reasons.

Best Italian Restaurant
Al di La
25 Magnolia Road. West Ashley.
(843) 571-2321

Mark Kohn keeps John Marshall's legacy alive at the cutest trattoria this side of Italy.

Best Mexican Restaurant
La Hacienda Grill
8530 Dorchester Road. North Charleston. (843) 767-1097
5070 International Blvd. North Charleston. (843) 746-8699
6322 Rivers Ave. North Charleston. (843) 569-6844
205 N. Goose Creek Blvd. Goose Creek. (843) 569-3834
1205 N. Main St. Summerville. (843) 873-0747
808 Folly Road. James Island. (843) 406-4919
1035 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 856-7223
354 King St. Downtown. (843) 723-3333

Whether you go for the #8, the #18, or the #28, you'll get your fill of beans here.

Best Greek Restaurant
Athens Restaurant
1939 Maybank Hwy. James Island.
(843) 795-0957

A spacious new location only adds to the appeal of Athens, which specializes in the classics: pizza, salads, moussaka, and lots of feta cheese.

Best Tapas
Chai's Lounge & Tapas
462 King St. Downtown. (843) 722-7313

The sliders rule, the patio is tops, and Chai is one cool dude.

Best Cheap Meal
Moe's Southwest Grill
381 King St. Downtown. (843) 577-7727
1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley. (843) 225-6637
7800 Rivers Ave. North Charleston. (843) 569-0688
900 Houston Northcutt Blvd. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 388-2200
612 Long Point Road. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 216-9885
310 Azalea Square Blvd. Summerville. (843) 486-0553

So cheap that kids eat free after 5 p.m. on Tuesday nights.

Best Restaurant for Vegetarians
Mustard Seed
1978 Maybank Hwy. James Island.
(843) 762-0072
43 Courtenay Drive. Downtown.
(843) 792-9254
1036 Chuck Dawley Blvd. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 849-0050

Enough menu items to satisfy the vegan in the house (and the carnivores too).

Best Pub Food
Moe's Crosstown Tavern
714 Rutledge Ave. Downtown.
(843) 722-3287

Fat, greasy french fries, burgers with gourmet toppings, and wings hot enough to melt your eyeballs.

Best Sunday Brunch
A.C.'s Bar & Grill
467 King St. Downtown.
(843) 577-6742

The chicken and waffles combo has definitely found a receptive audience.

Best Breakfast
Hominy Grill
207 Rutledge Ave. Downtown.
(843) 937-0930

Robert Stehling's housemade sausage, fluffy biscuits, and stone ground grits add up to one hell of a satisfying breakfast.

Best Late Night Menu
Waffle House
325 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley. (843) 766-0717
7391 Northwoods Blvd. North Charleston. (843) 572-7440
8994 University Blvd. North Charleston. (843) 572-0070
5020 Rivers Ave. North Charleston. (843) 744-5200
2229 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley. (843) 556-9712
2357 W. Aviation Ave. North Charleston. (843) 744-5200
609 Long Point Road. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 856-9599
4755 Arco Lane. North Charleston. (843) 744-1814
3565 Savannah Hwy. Johns Island. (843) 556-0087

Did you know that their waffle batter is so thick you can make a cake with it?

Best Meat and Three
Jestine's Kitchen
251 Meeting St. Downtown.
(843) 722-7224

For a taste of country cooking, there's no place better than Jestine's. The specials and sides change daily, but the good food is a constant.

Best Soul Food
Gullah Cuisine
1717 Hwy. 17 N. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 881-9076

Charlotte Jenkins serves up the soul of the Lowcountry at this Mt. Pleasant gem. The stuffed pork chops and fried okra are tops.

Best Fried Chicken
Jestine's Kitchen
251 Meeting St. Downtown.
(843) 722-7224

Battered and crispy, the chicken at Jestine's can't be beat — even by the old colonel.

Best Sweet Tea
Jestine's Kitchen
251 Meeting St. Downtown.
(843) 722-7224

Not too sweet, not too strong. Just right. Like mama always makes.

Best Burger
Poe's Tavern
2210 Middle St. Sullivan's Island.
(843) 883-0083

An honorable win for this little tavern with a big reputation. Will they be able to stave off the competition? It's heating up.

Best Cheesesteak
DB's Famous Cheesesteaks, Burgers, & Fries
915 Folly Road. James Island.
(843) 762-7232

You'll find lots of Yankees hanging out in this James Island eatery, where the cheesesteaks are authentic and feature finely shaved beef on fresh Amoroso rolls.

Best French Fries
39 Rue de Jean
39 John St. Downtown. (843) 722-8881

Wow. This is an historic moment. The first year a non-chain establishment has beaten McDonald's for best french fries — a deserved win as Rue's pommes frittes are hand cut, deep fried, and anointed with chunks of salt.

Best New York Style Pizza
Andolini's Pizza
82 Wentworth St. Downtown. (843) 722-7437
967 Folly Road. James Island. (843) 576-7437
1117 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley. (843) 225-4743

They say it best: world's best pizza, great calzones, and salads too!

Best Gourmet Pizza
Mellow Mushroom
309 King St. Downtown. (843) 723-7374

They've taken gourmet to the extreme, with new creations by guest chefs. A good idea that shows off their delicious whole wheat crust.

Best Sub Sandwich/Hoagie
Jersey Mike's Subs
1909 Hwy. 17 N. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 388-6300
280 W. Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 881-7996
64 Sycamore Ave. West Ashley.
(843) 766-2999

The only way to eat these is Mike's Way, with salt, pepper, spices, and oil and vinegar. Mayo and mustard are for pansies.

Best Wings
Wild Wing Café
36 N. Market St. Downtown. (843) 722-9464
644 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 971-9464
7618 Rivers Ave. North Charleston. (843) 818-9464

So popular they won our first Best of Charleston survey by write-in votes (when the category didn't exist yet).

Best Seafood
Hank's Seafood Restaurant
10 Hayne St. Downtown. (843) 723-3474

In a town rife with mediocre seafood restaurants, this fresh face stands head and shoulders above the crowd and nets another win.

Best Place to Buy Local Seafood
Crosby's Seafood
382 Spring St. Downtown. (843) 937-0029
2019 Cherry Hill Lane. North Charleston. (843) 577-3531
2223 Folly Road. Folly Beach. (843) 795-4049

They're always open and always stocked with oysters, shrimp, flounder, and any other local catch you might want.

Best Oysters/Best Raw Bar
Pearlz Oyster Bar
153 East Bay St. Downtown.
(843) 577-5755

These folks know what we want and how we want it — super fresh, ice cold, and shucked for our pleasure.

Best Sushi
Wasabi Japanese Steak House
61 State St. Downtown. (843) 577-5222
Go ahead. Sit at the sushi bar, order the big boat of raw fish, and stuff yourself full.

Best Buffet
7321 Rivers Ave. North Charleston.
(843) 553-9693
829 Saint Andrews Blvd. West Ashley. (843) 571-5685

We tend to avoid this place because of the damn sundae bar. Who wants to eat roast beef and veggies when you can skip right to the dessert buffet?!

Best Salad
California Dreaming Restaurant
1 Ashley Point Drive. West Ashley.
(843) 766-1644

Their salads are so big and brawny they should be dubbed man-salads. Not for the light of appetite or those looking to save some calories.

Best Steak
Oak Steakhouse
17 Broad St. Downtown. (843) 722-4220

Brett McKee's steaks have become legendary, and for good reason. Their Prime beef is cooked to perfection.

Best Shrimp and Grits
Hominy Grill
207 Rutledge Ave. Downtown.
(843) 937-0930

It's a pretty simple dish that gets ruined at various spots. Hominy keeps it simple with a little bit of bacon, some mushrooms, local shrimp, stone-ground grits, and a whole lot of flavor.

Best Ice Cream
Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream and Sandwich Café
306 King St. Downtown. (843) 727-1227
209-A St. James Ave. Goose Creek. (843) 553-8833
1502 Hwy. 17 N. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 849-3698
6554 Rivers Ave. North Charleston. (843) 797-7760
602 Old Trolley Road. Summerville. (843) 871-7859
1205 Main St. Summerville. (843) 871-7880
474 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley. (843) 766-4854
2204 Portside Way. West Ashley. (843) 763-7958

At this good old ice cream shop, the sundaes gets stuffed into enormous styrofoam cups and the families line up for their favorite toppings and flavors.

Best Barbecue
Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ
1205 Ashley River Road. West Ashley. (843) 225-7427

Aaron Siegel does his 'cue up right. Perfectly smoked with a nice selection of sauces, his barbecue has quickly ascended to the top of the heap.

Best Ribs
Sticky Fingers
235 Meeting St. Downtown.
(843) 853-7427
7690 Northwoods Blvd. North Charleston. (843) 797-7427
341 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 856-9840

So good people order those hickory-smoked ribs online and have them shipped all over the country. Three slabs of ribs, a bottle of sauce, and some dry rub will set you back $86 via the web, so it's a good thing we've got three locations right in our backyard.

Best Hotdog
Jack's Cosmic Dogs
2805 Hwy. 17 N. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 884-7677

The hotdog competition has become heated, but Jack staves them off with his retro diner and awesome concoctions, including the out-of-this-world Galactic Dog.

Best She-Crab Soup
82 Queen
82 Queen St. Downtown. (843) 722-4428

The secret's in the sherry, but they don't keep their award-winning recipe a secret. They've got it posted on their website.

Best Bagels
Bagel Nation
520 Folly Road. James Island.
(843) 406-7869
5137 N. Rhett Ave. North Charleston. (843) 529-3032
1909 Hwy. 17 N. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 881-1462

Despite a national chain edging in on their business, this local favorite keeps our readers happy with big fat bagels.

Best Deli
East Bay Deli
334 East Bay St. Downtown.
(843) 723-1234
159 Market St. Downtown.
(843) 723-4443
4405 Dorchester Road. North Charleston.

More Charleston than New York, this locally-owned and operated deli boasts a board of original sandwiches along with custom deli options, plus stuffed spuds, a great salad bar, and hotdogs too.

Best Bakery
Saffron Café & Bakery
333 East Bay St. Downtown.
(843) 722-5588

They supply a ton of restaurants in town with their fresh-baked bread and they also serve a mean breakfast and lunch. Plus, the selection of British chocolate bars rocks.

Best Desserts
Kaminsky's Most Excellent Cafe
78 N. Market St. Downtown.
(843) 853-8270

The well-stocked case of cakes is enough to make your sweet tooth jump out of your mouth and run screaming into icing nirvana.

Best Coffee House
239 King St. Downtown. (843) 805-8007
475 East Bay St. Downtown. (843) 722-9031
168 Calhoun St. Downtown. (843) 805-8005
387 King St. Downtown. (843) 720-5385
6 Windermere Blvd. West Ashley.
(843) 402-0767
1005 Harborview Road. James Island. (843) 762-2124
3575 Maybank Hwy. Johns Island.
(843) 559-5542
515 Freshfields Drive. Johns Island/Kiawah. (843) 243-3276
7250 Rivers Ave. North Charleston.
(843) 553-0733
730 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 216-6838

The king of coffee not just here but everywhere — literally.

Best Wine Selection (Retail)
Total Wine & More
1820 Ashley River Road. West Ashley. (843) 763-7034

A superstore full of wine at ridiculously rock-bottom prices — the Wal-Mart of wine wins your hearts every time.

Best Wine Selection

Social Wine Bar
188 East Bay St. Downtown.
(843) 577-5665

Brad Ball's menu of intriguing wine flights has gone over big, garnering him a win for a category that's full of big contenders.

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