Indulge Your Appetite on a Charleston Food Crawl

A Charleston South Carolina Food Crawl: Cocktails on the Stars Rooftop Bar in Charleston, South Carolina
Like it? Pin it on your Pinterest Board! (Photo courtesy of David Shelby)

Food tours are great. I love them, obviously, as it’s one of the first things we often do in a new city when we travel. But I have to admit, I rarely go on food tours in the U.S. We already know the food and the customs, so there’s no necessity to learn as we eat. Instead, when we visit new, or beloved, cities in the U.S., we embark on a self-made food crawl, visiting as many restaurants, bars, pubs and food trucks as possible on a quest to find the best food the city has to offer. We’ve done one in Austin, New OrleansVancouver and Philadelphia. The list goes on. It’s a fantastic way to see the city while enjoying the food that makes it unique.

Last weekend, our awesome friends and east coast foodie dopplegangers, David and Corey, embarked on a Charleston Food Crawl that had them indulging in dishes from all the major contenders on the downtown Charleston food scene in just two short days. They’ve shared their adventure with us so we could pass along their drool-worthy research to you.

How to Put Together Your Own Food Crawl

Country ham plate with heirloom wheat cakes and smoked cheddar from McCrady's
Country ham plate with heirloom wheat cakes and smoked cheddar from McCrady’s (Photo by Corey Hewitt)

In case you’re wondering how to put together your own food crawl, let us give you a few pointers.

  1. First, define an area of town you’re going to tackle. Usually, the downtown area of a big city is the best place to start. Using your impeccable research skills, find 4-6 places you’d like to try and make yourself a plan. Do these places require reservations? When do they open and close? In what order should you visit them for the best experience? We prefer to walk between places, if possible, because our eating always involves drinking as well, but if you aren’t drinking, driving will help you get around to more locations.
  2. Keep the group small. Usually, with just 2-4 people, you won’t need reservations. You can always eat at the bar at most places. But if you do need to make reservations, your crawl will be more rigidly defined. You’ll need at least 45-60 minutes at each place (unless it’s fast-casual), and you’ll need to account for walking/commuting time.
  3. The only other important aspect of a winning food crawl strategy is to be judicious with your ordering. If you’re just doing a breakfast, lunch and dinner crawl, you can get away with ordering full entrees, but typically it’s best to stick with small plates or appetizers, or sharing one entree. This is our biggest struggle, because we often find multiple dishes at one location that we want to try, but if you eat too much early on, there’s no way you’ll make it to the end.

Finding the Best Food in Charleston, South Carolina

Downtown Charleston is packed with great restaurants and bars. So many that even a 2-day binge-worthy food crawl doesn’t scrape the surface. That’s a good thing, though. The possibilities are vast, so you can pick cocktails or wine, rich lowcountry classics or modern fine dining, appetizers or entrees and still have more to try next time.

David Shelby and Corey Hewitt relaxing with a cocktail during one of their food crawl stops at Stars Rooftop ba
David Shelby and Corey Hewitt relaxing with a cocktail during one of their food crawl stops at Stars Rooftop bar (Photo by Corey Hewitt)

Here are some of the stops on David and Corey’s recent food crawl that will have you drooling on your computer, even if you just ate lunch. They managed to hit up eight restaurants and seven bars in just two and a half days.

1. Hominy Grill

Busy yet relaxed eatery dishing up Lowcountry classics in homey digs, also popular for its brunch. 207 Rutledge Ave; hominygrill.com Phone: (843) 937-0930

Sautéed shrimp with mushrooms, scallions & bacon served over cheese grits from Hominy Grill
Sautéed shrimp with mushrooms, scallions & bacon served over cheese grits from Hominy Grill (Photo by Corey Hewitt)

2. McCrady’s

Acclaimed spot for high-concept, locally sourced American food in an intimate, brick-walled setting. 2 Unity Alley; www.mccradysrestaurant.com Phone: (843) 577-0025

Poached mussels with sunflower seeds, aji dulce pepper sauce and potato purée from McCrady's
Poached mussels with sunflower seeds, aji dulce pepper sauce and potato purée from McCrady’s (Photo by Corey Hewitt)

3. Slightly North of Broad (SNOB)

Reinvented Southern & Lowcountry cuisine served in an airy, 18th-century warehouse. 192 E Bay St; http://snobcharleston.com/ Phone: (843) 723-3424

Roasted duck breast with blue cheese bread pudding at Slightly North of Broad
Roasted duck breast with blue cheese bread pudding at Slightly North of Broad (Photo by Corey Hewitt)

4. Xiao Bao Biscuit

Creative, multicultural Asian cooking & specialty cocktails in a trendy converted gas station. 224 Rutledge Ave; xiaobaobiscuit.com No phone.

Okonomiyaki from Xiao Bao Biscuit
Okonomiyaki from Xiao Bao Biscuit (Japanese cabbage pancake with farm egg and shaved pork candy) Photo by David Shelby

5. FIG

Elevated takes on Southern classics, cooked with seasonal ingredients, in an upscale-bistro setting. 232 Meeting Street; www.eatatfig.com Phone: (843) 805-5900

Alba Truffles & Golden Beet Mezzaluna
Alba Truffles & Golden Beet Mezzaluna with Sherry and sunflower (Photo by City Foodsters

6. 167 Raw

167 Raw is a the best seafood restaurant fish market and raw oyster bar in Charleston SC. 289 E Bay St; 167raw.com Phone: (843) 579-4997

The Lobster Roll from 167 Raw
The Lobster Roll from 167 Raw (Photo by Corey Hewitt)

7. Stars Rooftop & Grill Room

American eatery with a seasonal menu & mid-1930s vibe boasts a rooftop bar & wood-fired oven. 495 King St; starsrestaurant.com Phone: (843) 577-0100

Bitters at Stars Rooftop & Grill Room
Bitters at Stars Rooftop & Grill Room (Photo by Corey Hewitt)

Pig Head Sandwich with braised greens, togarashi on a baguette at Two Borough’s Larder (Photo by Wally Gobetz)As you can see, there’s some incredible food to be found in Charleston, South Carolina. And this is only a small handful of the restaurants serving up delicious food there. Have you been somewhere in Charleston we haven’t mentioned? We’d like to hear about it!

Now, go forth and eat!

Laura in the vineyards of New Zealand

Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.

Indulge Your Appetite on a Charleston Food Crawl

27 thoughts on “Indulge Your Appetite on a Charleston Food Crawl

  1. David Shelby says:

    Thanks for immortalizing our awesome food crawl! I highly recommend a trip to Charleston for any serious foodie. Fantastic food, beautiful city and amazingly friendly people. Well worth the visit.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Thanks for eating all the food so we could drool over your photos! Charleston looks like an awesome destination for foodies. I’m excited to go on our own food crawl there.

  2. Elaine J. Masters says:

    What a mouthwatering tour. I love food tours too and have done several in the U.S. only. The best incorporate a bit of history and local lore. Great pictures by the way!

  3. Prianka | Map Halves says:

    Wow those pictures look amaaaazing. The roasted duck breast and lobster roll especially! I have been seeing a lot of posts lately about the emerging foodie trend in America – hope to see that include Canada by my next visit as well!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      We just did a great post about food in Canada. A food crawl in any Canadian city would be just as great, I’m sure!

  4. Lena says:

    OMG, your pictures made me so hungry! Thanks for the tips on food crawling. Never done it before, maybe its time to try 🙂

  5. Jackie says:

    Charleston is such a fun city! Everything looks so delicious, but you had me with the Alba Truffles & Golden Beet Mezzaluna. I could almost taste how it would melt in my mouth!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Yes, they found some really incredible dishes to try! I’ve been drooling over the lobster roll for days now.

  6. Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers says:

    What a great idea, I love the idea of a food crawl in a different city or even our own. What reaction do you get from restaurants when you do this, has it often been awkward ordering only a single or shared item?

    • Laura Lynch says:

      We’ve found that once we tell them what we’re doing, they’re usually excited to help us identify our next stop or tell us where we need to go. Also helps to sit at or in the bar area so they don’t expect you to order a full dinner.

  7. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru says:

    I have long wanted to visit Charleston, and this post shows the depth and breadth of the gastronomy scene that is popping up in so many communities. A food crawl is a great way to get your bearings, or rediscover your own city!

  8. Brenda Tolentino says:

    It’s so funny you wrote that about food tours in the first paragraph. We feel the same way and we used to do our own food crawl in our hometown of NYC all the time before leaving to travel full-time. The best tip is the walking in between, we have to do the same. Charleston has been in our list of travels for a long time. We can’t wait to visit, especially now, armed with your suggested food crawl.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      We’ve been wanting to visit Charleston too. David & Corey have inspired us all with their awesome food crawl!

  9. Stefan says:

    Guys guys this is a terrible post to read when you’re waiting for your dinner – christ you made my grumbling stomach very angry ha ha ha

    Some of these dishes look DELICIOUS! We’re planning a road trip in the States next year and this helps greatly with our planning 🙂

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Stefan, the trouble with planning a US roadtrip is picking where to go. There are so many awesome cities to discover, Charleston included. I would highly recommend the west coast and a drive up the 101!

  10. Jennifer Ryder Joslin says:

    I love the idea of setting up your own food crawl in a new city! The food in Charleston looks ridiculously delicious. Great photos!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      We tend to do food crawls in all of the major cities we go to now. It’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon too if it’s raining and you can’t be outside.

  11. Anda says:

    Great advice on how to do a “food crawl”. Never heard of this term before, but then you learn as long as you leave… If I ever make it to Charleston I’ll make sure to visit “Slightly North of Broad.” I love duck!

  12. Bobbi Gould says:

    Really interesting! Although not a foodie myself, I’d be much more intrigued to do a food crawl. Sounds like a great way to sample a lot of tasty tidbits!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Bobbi, I think it’s great for non-foodies who might still want to taste some of the food in a specific region. It’s great for food-centric cities, like New Orleans, Chicago, Austin.

  13. Lindsay Nieminen says:

    The food looks amazing! I wish my two little munchkins would sit at the table long enough for me to devour food like this. For now, we stick to the family friendly places ( that isn’t to say we don’t find some great eats! )

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