72 Hours: A Culinary Adventure in Charleston
Three days. How much could you take on of one of the South’s most delectable cities? EDGE has mapped out 72 hours worth of eating. We’d say pace yourself, but there will be no time for that.
Morning: Chefs’ Kitchen Tour
Start your trip off by visiting the kitchens and meeting the chefs in three of Charleston’s top restaurants. Your guide, Hoon Calhoun, will educate you on Charleston’s culinary history and orient you with regard to Charleston’s best restaurants today. The tour starts with coffee and doughnuts at Glazed, Charleston’s gourmet, homemade, delicious, I-can’t-believe-this-is-in-a-doughnut shop, and proceeds to visit three restaurants, meeting chefs and gaining insight into their ideas, methods and creativity along the way.
Lunch: Two Boroughs Larder
Josh and Heather Keeler’s Two Boroughs Larder is where Charleston chefs go to eat. Charleston’s Celebrity Chef Sean Brock calls Two Boroughs Larder, "the best restaurant in Charleston". Go judge for yourself and order everything on the menu to be sure. This is the place to take chances as you probably won’t recognize half of the ingredients on the menu, but trust in Josh’s capable hands and discriminating taste. Everything will be delicious, and some dishes will be transcendent. In between courses, take a moment to explore the selection of hard goods and specialty products available for purchase.
Afternoon: Pastries and coffee
After lunch, exiting Two Boroughs, you’ll find yourself smack dab in the middle of what is emerging as Charleston’s pastry epicenter. Stroll to Sugar Bakeshop and have the first of many delicious pastries, choosing one or two of a variety of cupcakes or cookies. The selection varies daily, but on Thursdays the options include the Lady Baltimore Cupcake, which should not be missed! Bill and Dave, Sugar Bakeshop’s owners, are architects from New York City who relocated to Charleston, and their visual aesthetic is apparent as everything in the display cases is as beautiful as it is delicious. Enjoy your treat in Sugar’s quaint courtyard. From Sugar, consider visiting Wildflour Pastry, Brown’s Court Bakery or Sweet Radish for another delicious treat and a cup of coffee. All are within a block or so of Sugar and along the way you can explore the rapidly gentrifying Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood.
When you have finished exploring the Upper King Street area, head downtown to the City Market District and the Taste Of The Market, held on the 3rd Thursday of each month. This event features the best that the City Market area has to offer with substantial food samples available from a variety of Market area restaurants as well as live music and a kid-friendly atmosphere. The ample samples will be more than enough to make a meal and after the event you’ll be well positioned to explore the heart of Charleston’s historic downtown area.
Head on over to Burwell’s for an after dinner drink and, if the weather is nice, make your way to the back patio to have a craft cocktail made by John or JoJo, Burwell’s expert mixologists. Cocktails not your thing? No problem. Try the Craftsman Kitchen And Tap House, a beer emporium featuring 48 beers on tap! Still not satisfied? Give Social Wine Bar a try as it features up to 60 wines by the glass and a 4,000 bottle display cellar.
Get your day started with a cup of coffee and a fresh baked pastry at the Bakehouse. Although everything is good, the cinnamon rolls are especially delicious. The Wi-Fi is free and the airy café is in a perfect spot for people watching.
Lunch:Bull Street Gourmet
Grab a light bite at this adorable market/café on lower King Street. Split the daily sandwich special or share a bowl of the soup of the day as both are likely to be simple and delicious. Also Bull Street has an excellent selection of bottled wines, for now or later.
Take a Downtown Culinary Tour with Charleston Culinary Tours. This 2.5 hour tour explores the City Market area and Charleston’s French Quarter. Stopping at three restaurants for food samples and one restaurant for dessert, the Downtown Culinary tour will introduce you to some of Charleston’s best restaurants and educate you with regard to Charleston’s rich culinary history and current culinary trends. There is plenty of food on this tour, so pace yourself as you eat your way around Charleston’s historic downtown.
Dinner: 82 Queen
Make you dinner reservations a little later to give yourself an opportunity to recover from your culinary tour. If the weather is suitable, ask for a table in 82 Queen’s beautiful and romantic courtyard, which is dominated by a mammoth Magnolia tree. 82 Queen is a Charleston classic, graceful and refined, specializing in Lowcountry classics and Southern hospitality. Be sure to order the She-Crab Soup, known as the best in the city to some.
Chicken and Waffles anyone? At Lowcountry Bistro the answer is an enthusiastic YES! This casual café offers a wide variety of other Southern specialties like Shrimp and Grits, but ordering the Chicken and Waffles is a no-brainer. Overlooking the City Market, a table on the piazza is a prime position to take in Charleston’s charms and prepare for your day.
Afternoon: The Heirloom Collection (formerly the Heirloom Book Company)
Tucked away down an alley off Broad Street, this adorable book shop sells cookbooks, specializing in rare and out-of-print editions. The collection is eclectic, but an excellent selection of Charleston and Southern cookbooks are available. The shop is clearly a labor of love and their passion for cookbooks is equal parts contagious and inspiring.
The Holy City is well known for its affinity for alcohol and Charleston Culinary Tours’ Mixology Tour will help show you the state of Charleston’s cocktail culture today. This 1.5 hour tour stops at three local watering holes where guests meet a mixologist who will explain his/her specialty cocktail and then mix one for everyone to enjoy! Think of it as a mobile pre-dinner cocktail party.
Come pay homage to Chef Sean Brock’s celebration of all things Southern. With a menu that changes twice daily and an almost maniacal devotion to sourcing ingredients locally, Husk has totally reshaped Charleston’s culinary landscape and has inspired a wave of innovation and culinary excellence that has engulfed the city. While it’s impossible to predict what might be on the menu, the Crispy Pig’s Ears are the stuff of legend and pork dishes generally have a place near and dear to Chef Brock’s heart. Make your reservations early because ever since it was named Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2011, a Husk reservation became one of the toughest in town.
Finish off your night with a dessert at Kaminsky’s, a bustling dessert shop on Market Street. With a display case overflowing with almost impossibly delicious looking cakes and pies, it may be tough to make a decision. Hedge your bets and choose more than one item - it’ll be the most delicious insurance policy you ever bought.
Want even more inside scoop? Itinerary was provided by Charleston Culinary Tours. With five tours available, the tours offer guests the opportunity to meet the owners, chefs and mixologists behind Charleston’s impressive culinary and bar innovations.