Charleston…a.k.a. Chucktown, CHS, or the Holy City…is a very special place for us. Manny actually went to school in College of Charleston and then to the Medical University of SC. We definitely have a lot of memories and adventures in this beautiful city, and we couldn’t wait to go back to celebrate Manny’s 30th birthday–it wasn’t the all-inclusive Caribbean trip we had originally planned pre-COVID but it turned out being the perfect way to close out his twenties right where it actually started!
Charleston during COVID definitely was a little different–but also not, as we happened to pick the weekend that the Governor decided to full open things back up in SC. Realizing this as we were driving down made us a wee bit concerned, but we had done our research and found establishments that were following strict COVID protocols so we felt like we could still enjoy ourselves. Here are the places we recommend!
LEON’S Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop is a must! This body-shop-garage-turned-fine-dining spot has earned a lot of top food industry recognition and there’s a reason for it. When they say they make kick-ass food….they follow through and serve you KICK ASS food.
It’s fried chicken. It’s oysters. And more fried seafood. So, what’s the fuss, you ask? Well, they do it so right that it’s just so wrong! Paired with a frozen G&T…a spread at Leon’s is one great dining experience! We highly recommend the Leon’s Fish Fry so you can try a little bit of everything. The smoked mahi dip is a fantastic starter, along with a selection of their fresh oysters. We had ordered the 2-piece fried chicken and thought we were done but we felt like we HAD to order the char-grilled oysters. Well, we were already there…so we ordered it. NO REGRETS!
Xiao Bao Biscuit had us at Asian food but then they threw in that their menu seasonally changes and that the owners were inspired by an actual trip to Asia?!? Plus, they bragged that their food were ‘inspired by kick ass grandmothers everywhere.’ We had to see! And boy, were we glad we did.
We kind of ordered almost one of everything…almost. But how could we not?!? Eating out on the patio, with the clammy humid Charleston night, the cars driving by on the street…it reminded us on one of our nights out in Singapore at a hawker food center. Yes, we said it. You have to order ONE OF EVERYTHING. You have to, or you will regret it!
Malagón …a fellow well-traveled, foodie friend in CLT raved about their experience at Malagón, so we knew we had to add it to our list. And boy, did they live up to the expectations! Our server knew the menu inside and out and beautifully explained each dish as they came to our table. For a moment, we felt like we had traveled back to Madrid.
Babas on Cannon was literally down the road from our AirBnB, and we could have probably eaten all of our meals from there had we not had so many other spots on our list!
Highly recommend the grilled cheese and mushrooms–it was sooooo freaking good! We debated on the toast and the barista recommended the peach jam over the avocado. We were so glad we listened! We may or may not have come home with a small tub to-go to bring a little piece of Babas with us back to CLT!
Brown’s Court Bakery is one of our go-to’s. Try not to sleep in too late so that you don’t miss out on their baked goods!
The donuts and croissants tend to go first but we luckily were able to snag a lemon curd donut and this GIGANTIC pumpkin roll!
Edmund’s Oast is one of Charleston’s restaurants praised for their commitment to COVID safety measures, and we always enjoy having a brew or two from them so we figured why not check them out! Just check out how happy Grayson was! [Little guy has been ‘so worried about the Coronavirus’. It’s crazy what even a young, almost 5yo thinks about COVID these days.]
Revelry Brewing is a definite spot for sunset watching and for eating some DANG fire Japanese food. Yes, we said Japanese food at a brewery. They also have tacos, wings, and burgers….[hold that thought there and don’t get upset that we are raving about Japanese food at a place serving all sorts of food…lol!].
But seriously…look at this deep fried sushi burrito! **still drooling**
We ordered the poke bowl, the spicy tuna bites, the crab wontons, and the tempura chicken fingers (think more like chicken katsu!!). They were all eff-in fire good. And the sunset and beers were just the icing on the cake for us!
While we only traveled 3.5 hours to Charleston, it sure felt like we traveled all over the world through our foodie adventure! We enjoyed a little bit of the South with Leon’s, then to Asia with Xiao Bao Biscuit and Revelry, and a piece of Europe with Babas on Cannon and Malagón. But Charleston is more than just fancy eating…here are a few of our classic, not so fancy faves from back in the day that we ALWAYS have to stop by every time we make a trip. For good ol’ times sake!
Taco Boy is a Charleston staple. The Mexican street corn is a must. Many, many, many years ago…we may have been playing beer pong with friends and there were some moonshine cherries involved. The only thing our hungry little hungover college selves craved were the elote, and we may have spent $35+ just on several ears of corn! LOL!
Mama Kims is every Charleston college kid’s late night go-to. And lunch. Or dinner. Or whatever! He he he! When that hibachi/teriyaki craving hits, everyone knows…you head to Mama Kims.
Kickin’ Chicken with all the wings and BOBBY FRIES. Yes, Bobby Fries are a must. We may or may not have ordered TWO orders of ’em because we just missed it so much. LOL!
And, of course, because we hadn’t eaten enough…we had to squeeze in some afternoon sweet treats here and there, ya know! Here are three spots we enjoyed:
Ice Bing is a MUST for boba lovers…like, yes. They passed our boba test and would recommend them for sure.
Pineapple Hut in Folly Beach is for the Dole Whip lovers–and if you’ve never had one, we totes are peer-pressuring you to do so!!! Go ahead and order the Paradise Whip and get your sweet treat in a pineapple for the full experience. [Note: this is a truck so make sure to check out their social media for hours of operation]
Tapio didn’t necessarily blow our boba-loving minds BUT for the dalgona coffee lover, I would recommend this afternoon caffeine trip!
But we didn’t just eat in Charleston, ya know! It may seem like it, but there really is so much to explore in Charleston. Just walking around the city and checking out the different architecture of old historical homes, churches, and other buildings is fascinating on its own. But a lot of our usual spots we would have visited pre-COVID like King Street, the Battery, and the Historic Charleston City Market were just a bit too crowded for our comfort level at this time. So… where did we go?
Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve is a great little spot that’s usually not very crowded. It’s a bit of a drive and a short little walk once you park on the street, but we love a great, quiet patch of serenity! We enjoyed watching birds and also kite surfers in the distance.
We also visited a few nurseries and Charleston has some really fantastic ones! The rare plants we got to see in such HEALTHY conditions were mind-blowing and jaw-dropping. For the plant parents (and plant addicts), the nursery scene in Charleston is a must.
And again, like we said…we found ourselves roaming a few streets and alleyways, as well as visited Manny’s old stomping grounds in CofC. There’s something about Charleston windows and doorways that just gets to us.
So, there you have it. Our five days in Charleston…if you somehow made it through the whole thing, are you hungry yet? Because I’m completely super, duper hungry writing this up. I’m ready to plan another trip to Chucktown ASAP!