Colleen is a freelance wellness and travel writer living in Newbury, Vermont. Visit her blog at www.HolisticHealthTraveler.com or follow her on IG @holistichealthtraveler.
Published April 26th 2022
Dining in Charleston, South Carolina, is a food lover's nirvana. With an impressive 950 different dining venues in and around the greater Charleston area, you're sure to find several that will leave a remarkable impression. From down-home southern-style comfort foods to fresh-caught seafood dishes to upscale, eclectic Mediterranean-inspired fare, your new favorite restaurant is likely to be somewhere in Charleston.
Far from usual fodder, dining in Charleston is an experience. Your biggest challenge is deciding which of these impressive dining spots to choose. Because the weather tends to be warm and sunny throughout most of the year, outdoor dining spots seem to be popping up on every corner. To help you take advantage of outdoor dining in Charleston, I've highlighted three very different options, but each one is dreamy in its own way.
Downtown: Butcher and Bee (1085 Morrison Drive, Charleston)
Outdoor Patio Dining at Butcher and Bee - Charleston
In the East Central area of Charleston, you'll find the hip and trendy Butcher and Bee. Offering a rotating menu of seasonal cuisine with a heavy Mediterranean influence, Butcher and Bee's chefs create slightly adventurous meals featuring farm-fresh ingredients.
During my last visit, our party of three opted to start with the whipped feta appetizer topped with fermented honey and black pepper. Simple, elegant, and delicious while not being too filling for an appetizer. Our main plates were tasty, from the spicy avocado salad with roasted veggies to the seared, local fish with roasted hazelnuts and beets. Each portion was enough to enjoy and even share a bite or two.
Seating is available inside or outside on the large patio, where sunny yellow and sky blue umbrellas at each table shade you from the Charleston sun. As the sun slowly fades into nightfall, stringed patio lights provide a dreamy glow overhead. Pots of flowers flow freely, and mature trees act as a buffer from downtown noises. If dining al fresco is on your downtown to-do list, this spot should be on your list. Call ahead or go to their website for reservations (recommended).
On The Water: Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar (186 Concord Street, Charleston)
Outdoor Patio Views at Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar
Overlooking the Charleston Harbor, you'll find a sleek yet casual dining spot with undoubtedly the best water views in all of downtown. Fleet Landing is very popular with locals and tourists alike, offering southern-style seafood, pasta, and American classics.
During my last visit, our party of six ordered two appetizers to share – the Iron Skillet Mussels and the Crispy Steak Calamari. The mussels were the entire table's favorite, with the calamari coming in a distant second. Our meals were largely mediocre, except for the seafood pasta, which was large and chock full of several different types of seafood, perfectly prepared.
The best part about eating at Fleet Landing was sitting outside on the deck, right on the water's edge. The views from our table were unparalleled as we watched the sun sink beneath the horizon and the sailboats silently skim across the sea. It's genuinely a dreamy spot for a meal.
I highly recommend making reservations, as wait times can range from sixty to ninety minutes or more, especially for outdoor tables. Give them a call well ahead of time to reserve a waterfront table. North Charleston: Holy City Brewing (1021 Aragon Avenue, North Charleston)
Suppose you're looking for something low-key yet equally fabulous, head north to Holy City Brewing. Well worth the trek a few miles north from downtown, this one will surprise and delight you. Don't let the word 'brewing' fool you because not only do they brew tons of great beers here, but they also dish up some fantastic food.
During my last visit, we went to Holy City for Sunday brunch. Yes, you read that correctly! Sunday brunch at a brewery was admittedly new to me, so I was skeptical about what to expect. Thankfully my skepticism quickly melted away as I ordered my first mimosa and dived into their extensive menu. Finally landing on the Portabello Breakfast Bowl was tricky because the Spicy Shrimp and Grits bowl also called my name. Luckily my daughter ordered that one, so I eagerly sampled both! Suffice to say; there were no leftovers. Each dish was delicious.
While you won't find fancy gold-rimmed glasses or elegant china dishes while brunching here, you will find an enormous outdoor dining area with picnic tables and an expansive lawn area. Live music, farmer's market-style flea market booths, local crafts, lawn games, and a large outdoor bar rounded out the space. After dining, we meandered through booths showcasing homemade jewelry, soaps, salsas, and clothing – cocktail in hand. It was a lovely way to spend a lazy Sunday morning. I can promise you that there will be more brewpub brunches in this girl's future!
If you want a table inside, it's best to make reservations. If outdoor dining is more your style, it's easy to grab a spot at a table outside, but not all of them come with service. Simply walk up to the window with an order for your table, and they'll text you when it's ready. Meanwhile, enjoy the music and sunshine.