Thinking about food? Don’t lie, you clicked on this article for a reason. And definitely don’t worry, because it’s pretty much all we think about too. If you’re considering going to Charleston or find yourself lucky enough to call the charming city home, you’d better leave room for dessert. This city is known for it’s soulful, low country cuisine that has become the envy of Instagram feeds and curious travelers from all corners of the world.
Sure, you could browse one of those overused, tourist-driven lists of ‘top 10 restaurants in Charleston,’ but we know you’re better than that. Which is why we tapped into our best resources, the concierges at Charleston’s most coveted hotels, to find the restaurant recommendations they hold so dear, they wouldn’t dare share them with anyone else. Without further ado, uncover the city’s hidden gems fed to you by expert concierges.
Jeffrey B., Front Office Manager at Andrew Pickney Inn’s secret:
- Hidden Gem: My favorite is definitely is The Grocery.
- Best time to go: The best time to go is Tuesday–Thursday nights.
- Order: The menu is very seasonal but a couple of great items remain constant: The Charcuterie, Fried Oysters, Low Country Seafood Pilau and the Whole Roasted Fish.
Alexa, Concierge at 86 Cannon’s secret:
- Hidden Gem: Babas on Cannon is a great little spot in our neighborhood. It’s a little bit off King street, which makes it convenient, but away from all the hustle and bustle.
- Best time to go: Babas is open for breakfast and coffee during the day, and doubles as a great cocktail spot at night—they have it all! I would recommend going for a pre-dinner drink.
- Order: The “As You Wish” cocktail.
Mary Hannah, Concierge at 86 Cannon’s secret:
- Hidden Gem: One of our true hidden gems in Charleston is Trattoria Lucca. It is authentic Italian and it has been around forever. It manages to fly under the radar because they aren’t on Resy, you have to call to make reservations.
- Best time to go: I would recommend going for dinner.
- Order: The Tagliolini with fresh blue crab.
Laura, Concierge at The Dewberry’s first secret:
- Hidden Gem: Chubby Fish is a local neighborhood favorite. Located less than 1 mile from The Dewberry Charleston, the chef-driven, upscale-casual establishment offers low country sustainable seafood. The menu is written daily on a whiteboard just above the raw bar.
- Best time to go: Chubby Fish does not take reservations, but it’s best to go when they open at 5pm or after 7:30pm, when the prime crowd starts to taper off. They are closed Sunday and Monday nights.
- Order: Start with one of the Low Country’s favorites treats, oysters, harvested only a few miles away. Chef James London’s creations occasionally include the Lionfish, which invades the local waters. He tempuras this dish, adding amazing flavors. It is best to order a plethora of small plates to enjoy a sampling of Charleston’s seafood. You really cannot go wrong with Chef London’s locally sourced creations.
Laura, Concierge at The Dewberry’s second secret:
- Hidden Gem: Charleston is known for its culinary scene and it is because of places like Xiao Boa Biscuit. The former gas station (at least, that is exactly what it looks like) serves innovative Asian cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.
- Best time to go: The best time to dine is weekday lunch with options to sit inside or outdoors at picnic tables and benches.
- Order: The best dish (and most popular) is the ‘Okonomiyaki.’ It is actually a delicious layered cabbage pancake presenting many delightful textures on one plate. While it comes with an egg, you can add other proteins as well. The dish can also be ordered as a vegan. Xia Boa also serves popular spicy dishes promoted by the knowledgeable staff, but what keeps patrons returning is their famous cabbage pancake.
Carlo Carroccia, Concierge at The Spectator Hotel’s secret:
- Hidden Gem: Gillies Soul Food is located on James Island just off the connector and is a true locals-only spot.
- Best time to go: Perfect spot for a Sunday lunch! It reminds me of a Sunday afternoon at my Grandma’s house!
- Order: The Okra Gumbo & Soul Rolls.
Neal Cook, Concierge at Elliott House Inn’s secret:
- Hidden gem: Cru Cafe is my favorite for comfort food made with local ingredients.
- Best time to go: Go early, they only use fresh ingredients and run low on menu items later in the night. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
- Order: The White Wine Truffled Mussels!
The rest of staff fought over what to select, but we’ve come to a group decision:
- Hidden gem: Daps Restaurant is in a quaint residential neighborhood and has the best breakfast menu and freshest curated meats!
- Best time to go: 8am when they open. You’ll have the most selection and no long lines!
- Order: The “DPP” also known as Dap’s Port Plate. It comes with a variety of different port cuts that are so fresh.
Carlo Carroccia, General Manager at French Quarter Inn’s secret:
- Hidden Gem: Hannibals’ Kitchen located in downtown, near the cigar factory. It has great soul food and true Gullah cuisine.
Best time to go: Always good for an 8pm dinner.
- Order: You have to try the lima beans, chicken liver, mac and cheese, but they’re best known for their crab rice.