Charleston and Columbia bleg

What would you recommend?  And is there anything in between the two?  Is there a good day trip from Charleston?  And to eat?  Thanks in advance for the assistance.


You probably wouldn't enjoy it but Sticky Fingers is a fun barbecue place in Charleston if you're desperate, if I recall they had a full size portrain of Mr. Stephen T. Colbert inside.

Im from charleston. Go to McCrady's, 82 Queen, 39 Rue De Jean, Old Village Post House or Poogan's Porch: don't go to High Cotton, Magnolia's or anything thats trying to pretend to be southern for the tourists. If you're looking for something more casual, go to Smoky's Tap Room on James Island. There's basically nothing between Charleston and Columbia. Savannah is a 90 minutes drive from Charleston.

39 Rue due Jean, Jack's Cosmic Dog, Papa Zuzu, Taco Boy

82 Queen! There's lots to do right in you need to go anywhere??

Savannah, of course!

Eat breakfast or lunch at Mrs. Wilkes. Totally off the hook, but get there early because the lines are long.

Irish pub on the river front for a Half and Half. Good seafood just about anywhere.

The Book tour is good if you liked The Book.

Tybee Island lighthouse if the weather is nice and you want to relax on the beach.

The Fat Hen on St. Johns Island is worth the trip just for the cole slaw.

Maurice's BBQ in Columbia.

...and pick up some confederate paraphernalia while you're at it.

Maurice's, absolutely. I don't know what they put in their hash (probably whatever they trim off before serving the barbecue), but over rice it's delicious. They made me a believer in mustard barbecue.

Agreed. It is a must. Tard.

I am from SC and Maurice's is definitely overhyped. There are much better places.

I like places a bit outside Charleston

Sgt White's Diner for BBQ in Beaufort, limited hours small easy to miss place.

Crab Shack, Typee Island outside Savannah. Fresh crab and beer on water. Has grown more touristy. But I like the place

Deviled crab at Hyman's can be very good or greasy. It is claimed that owners like to keep a line outside regardless of seating available inside, to signal tourist that the place is popular.

In Columbia you can try the mustard BBQ at Maurice's. Not great but different.

Charleston Restaurants are OK, many do a good job an Shrimp and Grits, but overall nothing really stands out. Sorry

There is no dearth of military establishments in D.C., but Parris Island is worth the trip and very different from anything around D.C.

Agree that Charleston has tons. I slightly disagree on the earlier Magnolia comment. Magnolia's slave quarters and Audubon garden are nice. The original house burned down, and I think what is there is an old (large) hunting lodge. Since the gardens are usually a big draw for the various plantations, I don't know how impressive they are at this time of year.

Camden, which is off U.S. 20 just before you get to Columbia might be interesting and not too involved.

Georgetown, north of Charleston has a lot of nice homes and waterfront. The Rice Planters museum is entertaining but limited hours as a recall. Just a little North of Georgetown is Brookgreen Gardens. You won't have to worry about stepping on an alligator at this time of year, and the statues are not wedependentendant.

Big T's BBQ on Garner's Ferry Rd. in Columbia is a great whole-in-the-wall. Try the hash over rice and the greens. For something more upscale, Mr. Friendly's in the five points section of town is excellent. Nice takes on regional staples like fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits.

I have spent a lot of time in both and will be around both for the next week if there is a MR meetup I'm the cards.

Charleston: 39 Rue de Jean is my favorite. Jestine's kitchen is good soul food. Jacks Cosmic and Sesame's Burgers are great as well. For seafood you want to go somewhere on Shem Creek and avoid the touristy places downtown.

Columbia: Inakaya is good for fresh sushi. Villa Tronco is good owner operated Italian with excellent homemade cheesecake. Blue Marlin does Charleston style seafood like shrimp and grits and she crab soup very well. Hunter Gatherer is a brewpub with good food and beer. Goatfeathers and 116 Espresso are very good coffee bars with food if that is your thing.

Not much between the two cities but a detour to Eutaville for BBQ at Sweatmans is good.

Things to do: Columbia has a pretty good art museum and some decent jazz venues depending on your timing. Ghost walks in Charleston are very cool and their are a ton of historical sites to visit downtown and plantations in the suburbs. Take an afternoon and walk up the harbor from the battery to the market. You could also take a ferry around the harbor to Ft. Sumter. Zoo and aquarium in columbia and Charleston respectively.

Day trip: Savanah, Beaufort, and Hilton Head are all great options. Lots of good golf as well I'm told.

Let me know if you have further questions. Both very enjoyable cities, I hope you have a great time!

I forgot about Jestine's. If you can stand the wait, its worth it.

BBQ in Columbia: I thought Little Pigs was quite good. Large buffet, white plastic tablecloths on picnic tables; sunday after church kind of feel. My friends who went to the university there prefer Palmetto Pig. Be sure to try the mustard sauce if you haven't; not everyone's bag but I like it a lot.

McCrady's - #1 been there several times and the food was creative, the service was excellent and the wine menu was very good. We had some small batch bourbon that was great.
Cypress - I love the Tuna Wasabe there.
High Cotton - sometimes it was good, about half the time we ended up sending meals back
Magnolias - always had good luck, southern flair was nice. Same with Langdon's in Mt Pleasant, just over the bridge.
Peninsula Grill - good, but I think a bit overpriced.
82 Queen - good, but not McCrady's
Fleet Landing - the food was good, but it was hard to talk, loud.
Charleston Grill - good
Cru Cafe - the natives and transplants like it there - we had several work celebrations there
SNOB - overpriced, atmosphere not the best, food good but not great
Basil - I really liked Basil - can get pretty busy
Blossom - good, had many an interview there but probably not memorable enough. The sweet potato fries were great - first time I had 'em!
Circa 1886 - had a nice meal there once
Makinsky's - had some very good desert there - not creative but solid.
I'd stay away from Hyman's and Bubba Bumps - I prefer Hank's for seafood.

If you want to taste the best cocktails south of DC, look for The Cocktail Club on king st. It's a speakeasy, so very difficult to find, but google will help you. They're about 2 blocks away from town from O-Ku. They don't have food, however, so plan to eat before or after. Stunning drinks and atmosphere.

There's a "restaurant row" on East Bay from Cumberland to Queen with decent places, many mentioned previously. Best of the lot is Cypress, for my money. North of that, e.g. along Market, is basically tourist places. The exceptions are Hanks and Anson. 82 Queen is fairly good. Poogan's Porch is cute/quaint but I wasn't impressed by the food. If you're looking for authentic, Hominy Grill (on Rutledge north of MUSC). Sermet's on King St. is good for lunch. 39 Rue de Jean is the best French in town. Down the alley from there, Coast is decent seafood (but see also Hanks). I've had good meals at Carolina, off the beaten track on Exchange St.
All that said, McCrady's (in Unity Alley) is the best place in town.

Eat: Blue Cactus in Columbia.

Also a great one. Very slow food, but very good.

Go to Husk on Queen St!

YES, HUSK! It's delicious.

fig in charleston

Parris Island, SC: a fascinating laboratory of behavior modification. Tell the guards at the gate you're there for the Marine Corps Museum, but you're free to walk around and see boot camp, both the male and female versions.

Beaufort, right outside the gate, is not without Old South charm.



Parris Island, SC: a fascinating laboratory of behavior modification.

LOL. It sure modified the behavior of my son, in mostly very good ways.

Flying Saucer in Columbia for good food and a great selection of microbrews. Yesterday's in Five Points has good cheap eats and a friendly staff.

Go drive around for an afternoon on John's Island. An inner bank, it has some of the sweetest lived poverty on the east coast. (and a few large, wealthy estates). And some of the older churches. And some witchcraft, I'd guess, not that you'd find on a day trip.

Oh, and to second Randy, just go to Beaufort. (byoofort.) unlike the NC beaufort (boe-fort)

I've done the Charleston/ day trip thing and I'm not sure if I would do it again.

The thing with the southern states is that they are pretty much an insular, conservative, inland society with a few ports/ outlets that are pretty wild, even compared to ports in less insular places. This is not an unusual model by any means. But I'm not sure if there is much advantage in combining "port South" (eg Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, etc.) with "normal South", they are two different vibes and it would just mess with the head of an outsider too much.

Plus for a visit there is enough in Charleston that you really shouldn't need a day trip. How long are you going to be there?

Why, you should go to the corner of Mises & Jacobs, of course!

And McCrady's. And DanC should be censored for recommending Hymen's. That's the place Charlestonians send rude tourists, in the hopes that it will scare them away from the Holy City.

Awesome Geoff!

Savannah!!! 45 minutes from Charleston and maybe the most picturesque historical city in all of America.

I think that you are going to get a speeding ticket if you are driving 200 mph.

In Columbia, walk around the grounds of the State House and look for the stars on the walls. They mark damage from Sherman's artillery in 1865.

Walk into a random restaurant. If they ignore you, leave. If they look at you and then ignore you, stay and eat.

My most memorable visit in Charleston is Patriot's point and walking around in and on the Aircraft carrier there, along with a WWII destroyer and German U-Boat if I recall. I particularly enjoyed the carrier though and everything accessible below decks.

Bill Woolsey.

I enjoyed a visit to Fort Sumter. The National Park Service is doing a good job of restoration.

check out the design sponge guides:



Charleston is one of those places where you can find a bad meal, but you have to work at it. It has always been my favorite city to visit for work (until I went to Singapore) - it's a the "makeup" for all the time I spend in Houston and Jacksonville. I enjoy many of the places listed in the comments, even some that people don't recommend. Whenever possible I stay at the Ansonborough and just range from East Bay up to King on foot.

If you can find someone to take you to the Harbor Club, I'd recommend it highly. My wife swore off Shecrab Soup after a dinner there, figuring she'd just be disappointed with any future tastings.

I miss Meritage.

Always had fine meals and service at SNOB & High Cotton. If the weather is nice a drink on the roof of the Vendue is a nice way to start an evening downtown. This won't help, but last year I ate someplace on the second floor near and on the same side of EBay as the Southend Brewery.

Bottom line, you can't screw this one up.

If you'd like to eat a pretty good southern lunch buffet and marvel at the economics of black pastor-lead entrepreneurship, visit Brookland Baptist in West Columbia.

I really enjoyed a little French restaurant in historic Charleston called Gaulart & Maliclet. 99 Broad Street. Great vibe, good food, and great tables. Not fancy pants.

Hominy Grill. Great all around, but their chocolate pudding is amazing.

Second vote for The Blue Cactus, on Greene Street in the Five Points area of Columbia. Sign out front reads (and has read for many years) "Food's Slow but Good." The guy who runs it cooks outrageously good Korean food, or at least this was the case for a long time (I haven't been recently). Tell him something very specific, or just give him guidelines, then go next door to Papa Jazz Records and browse while he creates something outrageously spicy. Not worth the drive to Columbia on its own but if you're in Columbia, go there for lunch.

Third vote for The Blue Cactus. I used to live in that building. Strikes me as a Cowenesque establishment.

2002 Greene St # H
Columbia, SC 29205-1678
(803) 929-0782

Be short Columbia, Long Charleston

The Wreck:

Lowcountry seafood. (Not fancy.)

Too bad school's out, or you could enjoy a parade at The Citadel.

I rec Baan Sawan as a solid Thai option in Columbia. I'm interested to know how it stacks up to some of your favorites.

dont mess around with the other suggestions, go to Husk. Papa Zuzus is awesome too but you need to leave the peninsula- more of a lunch spot.

take a RickShaw ride anywhere you go (used to do this during college) and take their suggestions.

enjoy it.

Lunch: Hominy Grill, ditto from another post, G&M on Broad aka Fast and French. Dinner: Halls is the best kitchen in the state. Columbia isn't worth the day trip. I'd recommend going to the country, Middleton Plantation or drive over to the beach, Sullivans or down to Edisto Beach. Enjoy.

My recommendation is always improv comedy. Check out in Charleston and in Greenville.

charleston: my recollection is that King street had some nice shopping and stores to browse. i thought the black market was kitschy. i liked walking along the bay. and just walking the streets in the southeastern area which were the first settled was picturesque and interesting. overall, i really like the city.

I Agree with all of the above: if you eat a bad meal in Charleston it is by bad luck or on purpose. The city is only good for a couple things - food and galleries - but it does those things very well. Wouldn't want to live there but nice to visit.

Also, McCrady's or GTFO.

If you drive to Georgetown, stop along the way and look at the sweetgrass baskets that the Gullah ladies weave. We love and collect them. for seafood, "The Wreck" in Mt. Pleasant.

I highly recommend going out to the Gullah country for a day trip.

Its one of the more unique cultures in the US, and certainly the most attractive destination for a foodie type looking to add another regional cuisine to his experience list.

Charleston: McCrady's or Husk for dinner, any of the nearby plantations are good day trips (Magnolia especially).

-Former Charleston Resident

Two non-food suggestions:

Go to Bishopville to see Pearl Fryer's topiary garden. Chances are good Pearl himself will take you on a tour if he's home.

Go see the Angel Oak near Kiawah Island. It's the biggest live oak I've ever seen and quite a specimen. Very different from sequoias and redwoods, but just as impressive, in a low country way.

Although Ft. Sumter's fairly interesting, the sightseeing suggestions here completely miss the boat (heh) regarding the sight that Tyler must see: the Hunley. It's fascinating in its own right (a number of clever technological features) and is the center of one of the most colorful stories from the Civil War (it killed almost two entire crews in accidental sinkings before killing its third crew on its otherwise successful attack).

But the cultural story is almost as interesting. There are a disconcerting number of people who to a disconcerting degree don't realize that the Civil War is over. And you see this most clearly at the Hunley museum. There are too many details to list, here's just three: the Confederate color guard. And check out the dates on the Medals of Honor that were awarded to the crew of the Hunley. And, despite Charleston being a Navy town, don't wear a hat saying "USS Lincoln" -- one unfortunate gentleman in the ticket line in front of me got a lot of grief for that (despite his protestations that he was a Southerner himself, and got the hat as a gift because he's an actor who performed in a historical skit on that ship, portraying of all people Jefferson Davis).

SNOB (slightly north of broad) is a great restaurant downtown. also a place called the TATTOOED MOOSE has some great food, specializing in duck fat fries. The place gets rave reviews from everyone.

I'm a downtown Charleston resident. The restaurant scene here is hugely over-rated, most are OK but nothing more. I wouldn't eat at Husk myself, but you should try it because it's different, as long as you're into lardcore. Circa 1886 is the best restaurant in town for dinner, it's very good. McCrady's used to be excellent, but that stopped about a year ago. Charleston Grill is also very good but very noisy - annoying live music.

We moved from Fairfax County to Columbia 6 years ago and have been to Charleston several times. I'm a vegetarian so my recommendations may be skewed a bit.

BBQ: can't speak for Charleston but in or around Columbia Little Pigs just north of Ft. Jackson is good. I've heard Shealy's is good, too. You must try the local SC Midlands mustard-based sauce.

Mexican: In Columbia try Cantina 76 on Devine St. It's Mexican with a modern Southern twist. Being a Chicago native, I find most Mexican in the Southeast to be subpar, but this is my favorite since Coyote Grill in Fairfax.

Thai: In Charleston most definitely try Basil. In Columbia try Baan Sawan. Both are on the upscale side appropriate for their downtown locations. The best "strip mall" Thai I've had is Mai Thai in West Columbia (the area is probably analgous to a blue-collar Prince William County commercial strip).

"New Southen": SNOB in Charleston or Motor Supply and Mr. Friendly's in Columbia.

I forgot to mention that Red Drum in Mt. Pleasant, right next to Charleston, is a great Tex-Mex inspired restaurant with a Charleston twist. Chef/owner Ben Berryhill is a Houston transplant and is fantastic.

Queen street grocery in charleston has delicious and inventive crepes!

Kitten & Mon

I enjoyed living in Charleston or years but now live in DC. If I was going to Charleston I would say that these places are the 100% bulletproof.

Home Team BBQ (Sullivan's Island or James Island)--very good NC/SC style BBQ. Great ribs, great pulled pork. Not exactly NC vinegar based but not mustard based either. Very good BBQ. You can sit outside at Home Team on Sullivan's Isl. There is a great burger joint, Poe's across the street too. Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie right down the street and the island was a setting for much of his short story The Gold-Bug. Rue de Jean burger (downtown) is also very good, better than Poe's. They ground their own meat which makes it great.

Cypress is my favorite restaurant experience in Charleston hands down. I have never been disappointed. McCrady's is also very good. FIG is an exceptional restaurant too. Farm-to-table done with great skill. If they have cauliflower with mustard butter get it.
Cru Cafe in downtown is a great spot for Southern cooking/comfort food. Probably the best Southern comfort food in my opinion. Mac and Cheese is incredible.
I am not a huge fan of SNOB, but I do really like the bar at High Cotton. Amazing fried oysters.

not sure if this is worth it at this point or not but, in columbia, the hunter gatherer is a good micro brewery with daily menu specials (good food) and the blue cactus in five points is great, too.

Sorry I missed this, Tyler. My favorite restaurant in Charleston is Fulton Five -- absolutely great Italian with a very good wine list. The single best restaurant in Charleston is the Peninsula Grill at The Planter's Inn. But there are many other very good places to eat. A few = Lucca, Fig, McCrady's, Husk. There are dozens of awful places to avoid (like Sticky Fingers), but there are some really good spots. You must have been at Renaissance. Sorry I didn't see you there. Columbia is a great town, but not a lot of top-notch restaurants. I spend my time in Five Points eating the pimento cheese at The Gourmet Shop. But Charleston is really a great restaurant town, and very much under-recognized (except for the Husk/McCrady's chef who has been recognized by nearly every mag in 2011 as one of the country's best). Anyhow, sorry I missed this. I could have helped you.

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