Some people will be quick to point out that Early Bird Cafe made the list of the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It is just far enough out of downtown that the regular tourists will not find it, so you can rest assured that it will be locals only.
It has what you'd expect from a diner - booth tables, a long bar with stools for those eating alone, big chalk board with the daily specials and lots of hungry locals. The staff is very friendly and laid back. The walls have local artist's work for sale to any who should like what they see.
Open breakfast through dinner Monday through Thursday (until ~10:30pm), its open for the late-night crowd on Friday/Saturday (4am). I found our the hard way that they close 3pm on Sunday.
Favorite Dish: The menu is all homemade, with strong tendencies in the Southern fare. There are things like chicken & waffles, pot roasts, cat fish fillets, with sides of collards, mac & cheese, etc. The shrimp and grits with brown gravy is among the best in town.
I am going to list this in the Charleston section (here) and also create the same tip for Folly Beach (where it is actually located - but not many people visit that page although they should).
Researching our trip to the Charleston, SC area we look at VT information and then go to our local library to get whatever books we can find. Looking through Lonely Planets guide to the Charleston area, Sue came across this unique little restaurant about a 25 minute ride from where we were staying. We decided to go to Folly Beach on our second full day in Charleston to catch a sunrise and then have breakfast. What a neat little place!! The weather was perfect that day, so after taking in a stupendous sunrise, walking down the beach and seeing a video being created, we hopped back in our car and headed toward the Lost Dog Cafe. I originally thought it was on the waterfront, but then not finding Huron Street finally asked a couple of surfers (COOL HUH) where the Lost Dog Cafe was and they directed me up the road and to the left.
You can take your meals inside or out, but I love sitting out in nice weather so that's where we partook our morning meal. There was a dog right by us while we were eating outside, but alas he was not lost. He belonged to the young couple with a baby sitting at the table over from us.
Take a look at picture #1 and picture #2. #1 is outside (the front porch area is where we sat) and #2 is inside (look closing at the surf boards with pictures of dogs).
Favorite Dish: We started out by ordering morning drinks. Sue had a large hot chai tea and I had the large cold chai tea, both of which were $3.95 and very large. For our main course Sue had the specialty pancakes of the day which were sweet potato with bananas, chocolate chips and fresh whip cream. I opted for something unusual for me, the Breakfast Burrito, as they recommended that in the Lonely Planet guide book. Neither of us were disappointed. Both were huge and we took a portion of each back with us to the hotel to put into the refrigerator. Take a look at pictures #3 and #4
Our waitress (darn her name's not on the receipt I kept) was very friendly and from what I remember was the girlfriend of the guy who ran the place. Background music was from the 60's and I made a note that one of the songs being played while we were there was Bob Dylan's - Times They Are A Changing.
I've had the fortune to eat at Water's Edge a couple times. I've always been satisfied. The inside dining area is slightly upscale but not pretentious, with linens and soft music. The outside patio is more casual and relaxed.
Both have great views right on Shem Creek, looking over towards Reds bar and the fishing boats. If you're lucky, you may get any combination of the sunset, the fishing boats coming back to port, or the dolphins swimming along the creek.
While I've always been satisfied here, I'd put it out there that prices (after drinks and tip) are on the high end. With that being said, it is a good place for business dinners or a bit more romantic evenings.
Favorite Dish: The seared tuna is always good. I've also had their steaks, of which the fillet medallions on the mushroom risotto was excellent. I would also recommend their crab dip and/or the local oysters as an appetizer.
This diner/grill type restaurant serves breakfast and lunch only (closes 3pm). While you order at the counter, you take a number to your table then they bring your meal to you. There are a few inside tables as well as a dozen or so tables on an outside patio.
Being right in the heart of downtown, its convenient for when the appetite calls for something decent, the wallet wants something economic, and the agenda calls for something rather quick.
Favorite Dish: I've sampled a few things, but I always come back to the Smokey Joe. Smoked brisket, BBQ, caramelized onions on Texas toast. The Turkey Shoot is another one I like. There are also a few salads for those health conscience types. I haven't tried the breakfast, but eggs Benedict and scrambles look good.
Not only are the burgers some of the best, but the atmosphere is very comfortable and family friendly. Part of their initiative is to be environmental and efficient, so all materials are recycled, their buildings are constructed with sustainable materials and their take-away wrappings are biodegradable.
Favorite Dish: While the name has 'Burgers' in it, it is not solely burgers, although that is the main theme. And also for those that may have vegetarian friends, it should not be excluded since they do have veggie options.
All fresh, all original. They have burgers with BBQ, cole slaw, dozens of different cheeses, etc. For those of you who want to sample one of Elvis' favorite culinary combinations, the Memphis even has peanut butter and banana slices. Might sound weird, but its delicious!
This place is an easy walk from the Market area and was our first time eating at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. We were there on a Wednesday evening and were seated right away. The service was excellent and the meal was very good. We ate outside which in late October in Charleston can be very pleasant. The inside is huge and has great decor.
There is running water near the entrance and the outdoor eating area which gives a nice feel.
We enjoyed our meal .
Favorite Dish: We split a Bourbon Shrimp platter which had tasty marinated shrimp, red peppers, and sausage.
It came with mashed red skinned potatoes and corn on the cob. We also ordered one large garden salad to split between us.
Best place I ate at while here.
Chicken breast on a big biscuit, covered in sausage gravy with cheese.
Plum-peach cobbler for dessert.
Go a little early or late for meal, there is a line but since it's a ways off the main drag it's not too bad.
Famous restaurant, serve local food, sould food, etc....
I had a pecan-crusted chicken sandwich, with fried okra, and cole slaw. The fried okra was not that great, too greasy, but the rest of it was good.
For dessert I had Coca Cola, a very rich, moist chocolate cake. Terrific!
Go at an off-hour, there is a line to get in.
Favorite Dish: Jestine's Kitchen
251 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401
After learning the night before that not much stays open late in Charleston, the next morning we discovered that few establishments open early for breakfast. After walking around the historic district for 20 or 30 minutes in the rain, we finally stumbled up on the East Bay Meeting House. This nicely decorated establishment with an old fashioned classic vibe has a small bar and a tiny dining area, along with a few tables on the sidewalk out front.
We took a seat at a table on the side near the window and enjoyed huge cups of coffee of cappuccino. We scanned the breakfast menu, which is quite sparse, but containing several interesting, unique items. Laura and I both decided to get a quiche. Laura had the spinach with Parmesan quiche, and I the Portobello mushroom, ham and cheddar cheese quiche, both served with fresh fruit for $8. The quiches were absolutely spectacular; I'm not normally a huge quiche fan, but I could have easily eaten another. Delicious.
The staff was OK, just one bored waitress giving about 75% effort. She even got our bill mixed up with another table, after I viewed the correct bill and gave my credit card. Oh well.
Fleet Landing Restaurant is a newish restaurant in a cool, historic location with great views. The concrete building on a pier was originally built by the US Navy in 1942 to process sailors from the ships. Later it was merely used for storage by the city of Charleston. In 2004 the current owners of the Fleet Landing acquired the building and opened this fine restaurant.
We started at the huge and crowded bar that is half inside and half outside. Here the bartender named Wes served us a few Yuengling Lagers. We asked for a menu, then he went on to ignore us for the next 20 or 30 minutes while our beers sat empty and we patiently waited to order. Finally we just decided to leave, because he seemed to be going out of his way to ignore us.
On the way out the door, we noticed there was no longer a wait, so we decided to give the restaurant a second chance, and we asked for a table for two. We started off with a few fresh Yuenglings, then decided on the shrimp and lobster stuffed hush puppies as an appetizer. They were huge, hollowed-out hush puppies full of shrimp, and with a piece of lobster somewhere--unique dish, great taste, but cheap on the lobster ($12)
For my main course, I decided to try shrimp and grits ($20). The dish consisted of a huge bowl of creamy grits in a special gravy with lots of shrimp and Andouille sausage. It was excellent! My dad had the grouper filet, which was the fish of the day ($21).
On our last night in Charleston we went a little above budget and ate here. Written several years ago unfortunately I can't remember every dish and just got rid of the food photos as they did not turn out very well, but just did find the sales slip.
I remember my overall impressions were very nice place, but again like a lot of the high end type restaurants they tend to be almost too attentive. The food was good and not overly expensive, but its not the place I really need to go back to again.
Favorite Dish: Our food for the evening was as follows:
Appetizers: We had a cheese trio for $12.00 and a bowl of peanut bisque for $8.00. The cheese was as you would expect it and the bisque was very tasty and something we wouldn't find in the Chicago area where we live.
Main: We both had fish that night. One of us had bass while the other had salmon. These were $24 and $25.
Deserts: We shared a chocolate desert which I remember being very rich. This was $11
The 2 glasses of wine we had were a bit pricey at $10 and $14, but went well with the meal.
Anyway to continue. We really enjoyed lunch here at Rue de Jean. Jimmy was great and since it was a little late for the regular lunch crowd he had some time to spend talking to us about his sojourn to Charleston from Boston. Short story he wasn't sure where he wanted to go when he left Boston, so he took a train, got off in Charleston where he had never been before and decided to stay. Better winters, although the summer months get a bit steamy.
Favorite Dish: Sue had the Frissee Lyonnaise which is Frisee lettuce, bacon lardons, toasted hazelnuts, poached egg with hazelnut vinaigrette.
Rich had the 10 oz. Brasserie Burger with Gruyere Cheese (the other cheese choices were Roquefort or Cheddar) and great fries.
We opted not to have the speciality of the house which are mussels. But if you are a mussel lover they had over a half dozen varieties. They had many other options and a great dessert menu, but we noticed a Italian Gelato place right next store so we opted to skip dessert here and head next door. Who'd a thunk it was that short a trip from France to Italy? See the dessert in another tip.
Noisy Oyster Seafood Steam Pot. Described as a 'big ole iron pot full of steamy snow crab legs, lobster tails, shrimp, oysters, clams and mussels all in a spicy seafood broth. AND to make it even better, we toss in corn on the cob, potatoes and country sausage.' And it's just that! The broth is absolutely delicious! A tomato base and slight spicyness to awake the senses!
We dined here on our first night and was such a good find, we went back the second night!
Real southern hospitality felt like we were visiting family in this cozy yet not crowded restaurant. Jestine Matthews was born in Low country in 1885. Her mother was a native American and her father was the son of a freed slave. Jestine moved to Charleston working as a laundress and housekeeper. In 1928, she went to work for the Ellison family who were expecting a baby. Dana Berlin is the baby that now owns Jestine's with Shera Lee Berlin, her daughter. Justine died in 1997 at 112. Her recipes inspired the menu.
We began with sweet cucumber pickles & huge glasses of iced tea. The sweet was too sweet so I got unsweetened with a splash of sweetness. Our meal came out pretty quickly. Afterwards we went next door to the bakery and bought cola and red velvet cakes to go. We were not disappointed!
In retrospect we could have tried the corn fritters, crab cakes & fried green tomatoes. We saw the huge portions & didn't realize we could have tried these items by the piece, The greens were available in little or big portions as well.
Favorite Dish: Po Boy, Iced Tea & shrimp gumbo were pretty amazing. People all around us were getting two huge pieces of fried chicken (I've never seen such large chicken) it looked wonderful.
I am not a big fan of tuna, although I did have a friend when I lived on Crete who made a tuna noodle casserole to die for, so I was pleasantly surprised when a friend invited me to taste her tuna at Hank's. It almost literally melted in my mouth. Unbelievably tasty! The shrimp which I had ordered were some of the biggest I have ever seen and were seasoned to perfection. The service was as excellent as the food. I usually think that desserts are too expensive in restaurants but I would definitely recommend the chocolate peanut butter pie which was delicious. There is not a lot of fried stuff on their menu which enhances your ability to taste the seafood. Their food always seems to be very fresh.
They open for dinner only at 5 PM every day, so don't go for lunch.
Say hello to Joey Ryan, the manager, when you visit.
Favorite Dish: The she crab soup, which is normally not one of my favorites, is something which I will eat whnever I have another chance to eat there again. It is impossible for me to describe why I loved it so much but I will say that if you like she crab soup, you must try Hank's, and if you have never tried it this just might be the perfect place to try your first bowl.
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