I spent the weekend in Charleston for my birthday, and ate some damn good food while I was there. Here is where to eat in Charleston in just 48 hours.
I take birthdays seriously. I look at them like holidays. Days of reflection, relaxation and celebration. 90% of our year is spent hustling, worrying, stressing, working, doing. I believe in this…but, in my opinion, we need to fill the other 10% with pure, hedonistic pleasure. That’s why every year, in addition to the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hannukah holidays where we gather with our loved ones and toast to our blessings, I try and make sure I do something special for my and my loved ones’ birthday(s).
Last year, my parents, Christian and I took the weekend and celebrated in Savannah, GA. I fell in love with the historical, enchanting city. I also fell in love with the fact that we were able to take just two days and explore a completely new part of our country that we’d never experienced. This got me thinking: what else is a road trip away that I haven’t experienced yet? Christian and I began researching and discussing where we could go to celebrate this year, and after our love for Savannah flourished, we thought Charleston, SC was the next city on our list.
We left Gainesville on Friday at 5:30AM and set out on the road for our 5-hour journey. We made decent time, and arrived in Charleston just in time for brunch. We checked into our hotel, the Doubletree, in Charleston’s Historic District.
After dropping our bags off, learning that parking with the hotel costs $30 a night, and figuring out a new plan for parking, we Yelped our way to brunch. We decided on Toast.
Immediately upon walking through the doors at Toast, we were greeted with smiles and Southern accents. The warmth and welcoming was palpable – Southern hospitality at its finest. We took our seats and got to scanning the menu. Our stomachs were hollow – the most we’d had was a PB&J for breakfast at 6AM and way too much coffee.
Christian ordered the ‘Eggs Meeting Street’: fried green tomatoes topped with crab cakes, poached eggs, and a remoulade sauce. Oh, and it’s served with a biscuit the size of your face. I went with the ‘Classic Breakfast’: two poached eggs with bacon, grits and whole wheat toast. We each had our respective coffee drinks, and it was overall a pleasant experience. Definitely a must if you’re looking for ‘lowcountry’ eats.
After brunch, we got to exploring the city on foot (foot and walking boot, for me). A few hours passed and we realized we hadn’t stopped for lunch. One meal missed, but our stomachs were so full from brunch it was for the best. Once we got back to our hotel, had our showers and got ready for dinner, we couldn’t figure out where to go. So many options, so little time.
We decided to try more than one place: Anthony Bourdain style. We started the night off at CO – a pan-asian restaurant with a stunning, modern interior, offering Vietnamese classics like pho and banh mi, with integrations of Thai dishes and unique sushi rolls. We got a couple drinks and two appetizers: pork belly buns (pork belly, pickled cucumber, carrots, hoisin and cilantro) and the fresh summer rolls (shrimp, pork, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, mint, cilantro, served with a hoisin peanut sauce and nuoc cham). Excellent place to start your night off with apps and cocktails. We also noticed many a to-go order coming in and out – good option for if your hotel room looks appealing for the night.
After CO, we made our way to The Macintosh, which had been recommended to me by my lovely friend and Charleston native, May of Nutrition Happens. Our stomachs could only handle so much more, so we kept our eyes to the appetizer menu. The rabbit option grabbed our glance like a magnet; we couldn’t look away. So, we went with it. Tender, pulled rabbit meat with garganelli, delicate squash, maitake mushrooms, kale and ricotta salata. When I tell you it was the best thing I ate all weekend… I am so serious. It was a small appetizer that they’d split in half for us, and I had to actively prevent myself from licking the plate. I wanted a plate full of it. If you go to Charleston, go to The Macintosh.
After chatting it up with our waitress, we decided to make our next move to The Belmont. Our waitress at The Macintosh explained to us that The Belmont was not just popular for their cocktails, but for their homemade ‘poptarts’. This was the game-changer for us. We weren’t too interested in visiting another bar – we were tired from our 5AM wake up and long-ish drive. But poptarts? Okay, I see you The Belmont.
We walked in, found a table, and waited for someone to give us a menu. When we went straight to the poptarts without ordering any cocktails, the looks we were given would make you think we were lepers. ‘Whatever dude, I’ll give you just as good of a tip, I just want my poptarts’, I thought. We got our damn nutella and banana poptarts, and they were damn good. We face planted into them, mouths wide open, therefore I have no photographic proof, but take my word for it. I would drive 5 hours to Charleston again just for these magical pastries.
After The Belmont, we called it a night, preparing our digestive system for the 24 hours ahead.
Saturday morning, we were looking for a quicker breakfast option, as we wanted to get in as much exploring as possible. So, after scrolling through May’s restaurant recommendations, and doing a little Google and Yelp analysis, we decided on Whisk.
Whisk is a coffee and juice bar that’s perfect for the health-conscious foodie with sophisticated taste buds. A plethora of smoothie options, a sizable coffee menu, a create-your-own juice option and a parfait bar that will make your dreams come true, it was, essentially, HLB (healthy living blogger) heaven. I opted for the ‘Immunity Please’ smoothie: strawberry, blueberry, banana, I opted out of the ginger and replaced it with peanut butter. With a latte on the side, I was ready to take on the day. Christian went with a plain, toasted bagel with cream cheese and his usual iced latte.
Amen St. Fish & Raw Bar
Saturday was used to fill in as much experience as possible. You can read about what we did and what the top things to do in Charleston are in my article for trivago. With all of the activities, our stomachs were rumbling by lunch time. Next top, Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar.
We were starving. And despite that fact, more often than not my eyes choose for me, so I end up ordering more than I need. But, I wasn’t mad. This food was goooood. Fried-to-perfection hushpuppies with lavender honey for dipping – Jesus take the wheel, these were ridiculously delicious. Of course, me with the digestive issues, I had to hold back and only eat one (which is probably the recommended serving, anyway). For lunch, Christian went with a fried oyster po’ boy, and I went with ahi tuna tacos. Mine ended up being more like taco bowls because the tacos were so fat that I couldn’t eat them with my hands. Again, not mad.
Saturday’s dinner was my “birthday dinner”, which means there was a probability of free dessert. I can’t believe I just said that. Like that’s all that means. But really… let’s be real. It’s me talking here.
Have you ever thought about the fact that restaurants trust you when you say it’s your birthday? You’re giving me free dessert and I could be lying to your face… I mean, I’m not… but that is trust people. How virtuous. Anyway, we chose Edmund’s Oast for said birthday dinner, which was probably my favorite meal of the entire trip. We went tapas style for this dinner, starting off with a liver parfait, then a charcuterie plate with house-cured meats, a couple beef jerky strips, and then, the finale: The Polpettone. This dish resembled a pork meatloaf and contained a soft-boiled egg, mustard greens, Provolone cheese, and country ham. The chef rolls it up, covers it with bread crumbs, bakes it and slices it. A tomato sauce-based dish, I almost wanted to slurp the remains. GO TO EDMUND’S OAST.
After Edmund’s Oast, we topped the weekend off with a rooftop bar situation at the Market Pavilion Hotel. A gorgeous poolside bar with a stunning view of the city, visit this rooftop if not for the cocktails, then simply for the view.
For the simple fact that I took approximately 5 million photos during our trip, here’s a photo story of the wonderful city that is Charleston, South Carolina.
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