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15 Best Dishes in Charleston

15 Best Dishes in Charleston


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As a local, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is where and what to eat while visiting Charleston. It is hard to pinpoint just one iconic local bite, so we’ve created a list of the must-try dishes in The Holy City. Most of these items are permanently on popular restaurant menus that often change daily, which alone says a lot; if a restaurant that rotates its daily listing deems a dish good enough to keep as a fixture, then it must be special.

1. Keegan-Filion Farms Chicken Liver Pate at FIG
Served with pickles, Dijon mustard, and brioche, the chicken liver pate at FIG is one of the most popular dishes in the city. Chef Mike Lata called it the most famous dish at the restaurant, and shared that the secret to the dish is emulsifying the pork fatback and chicken livers with bacon.
Honorable Mentions at FIG: coddled egg; tomato tarte tatin.

2. Warm Cauliflower Sformatino at Trattoria Lucca
This puréed cauliflower dish was added to the menu several years ago after chef Ken Vedrinski was inspired during a trip to Abruzzo, Italy. It’s served warm with a soft farm egg from Jordan Farm, crispy guanciale, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and arugula, making every bite packed full of delicious flavors. Chef Vedrinski’s menu changes daily, but lucky for Charleston, the cauliflower dish is one that has made a more permanent home.
Honorable Mentions at Trattoria Lucca: Spaghettoni nero with diced raw tuna; crudo.

3. Rib-eye Deckle at The Macintosh
A signature dish at The Macintosh, the deckle is tender and full of flavor in every bite. A heavily marbled cap of a rib-eye steak — often called the tastiest part of the steak — it sits atop fingerling potatoes, fresh local mushrooms, and sliced beans topped with a special jus.
Honorable Mentions: bone marrow bread pudding; clam pudding.

4. Fish Schnitzel at The Ordinary
From time to time you will find a fish schnitzel on the regular menu, but thanks to their new weekly specials at The Ordinary, you can have a crispy fish schnitzel every Wednesday. Some past favorites have been local amberjack and triggerfish.
Honorable Mentions: Oyster sliders; razor clams.

5. Seared Flounder at Charleston Grill
The seared flounder at the Charleston Grill features local, sustainable fish topped with crab and a tomato vinaigrette, surrounded by a bed of vegetable succotash. With a fresh and delicious taste, the dish is found appropriately on the “Southern” designated quadrant of the menu.
Honorable Mentions: Crab cakes; seared peach foie gras.

6. Any Pizza at EVO
Owned by two FIG alums, Extra Virgin Oven (EVO) provides the best pizzas in town as it offers wood-fired Neapolitan pizza with seasonal, local ingredients. You can build your own or select from an ever-changing variety that includes the popular chorizo and corn or Pork Trifecta.
Honorable Mention: Any of their fresh salads.

7. Okra Soup at Bertha’s Kitchen
The daily specials at Bertha’s are some of the best in town. The daughters at Bertha’s offer a range of regional classics, including fried fish, pork chops, chicken, stewed lima beans, traditional mac and cheese, and collard greens. However, the best dish hands-down is the okra soup, seasoned with bacon and served in a Styrofoam bowl.
Honorable Mention: Barbecued pigs’ feet.

8. Coconut Cake at Peninsula Grill
We love chef Graham Dailey’s food, but have to give it to the pastry chef Claire Chapman and her popular coconut cake, as it’s a must-have. A media darling, the cake has an official registration mark for its name and has appeared on The Today Show (several times), in The New York Times, and was part of a Bobby Flay Throwdown! episode. It’s 12 towering layers of deliciousness, weighing in at 12 pounds, and can be shipped directly to your doorstep.
Honorable Mention: Lobster three ways.

9. Pickled Shrimp from Edmund’s Oast
A newcomer to the market, chef Andy Henderson’s pickled shrimp has become an instant winner. During one of the first weeks on the menu, the dish caught the eye of The Tasting Table, and it is now one of the restaurant’s most popular items. Arriving to the table with pickled veggies and fresh herbs, the shrimp then surprises your taste buds as you bite into the EVO baked rye bread with a layer of spicy house-made aioli spread in between.
Honorable Mention: Heritage chicken; Carolina Gold Rice porridge.

10. Charleston Nasty at Hominy Grill
A massive breakfast dish popular with locals, the “Nasty” is a buttermilk biscuit filled with a fried chicken breast, covered in Cheddar cheese and sausage gravy.
Honorable Mentions: Shrimp and grits; buttermilk pie

11. Steamed Oysters from Bowen’s Island
The James Beard Foundation designated Bowen’s Island as one of “America’s Classic” restaurants, and the Southern Foodways Alliance produced documentaries on the restaurant and their popular oyster farmer, Goat, making the restaurant a true Charleston treasure. The oysters are caught nearby, cooked on a pit under the main restaurant, and then shoveled onto a table covered in newspaper. Finish them off with a dab of hot sauce on top of a saltine and you have the perfect bite.
Honorable Mentions: Cold local beer; fried shrimp.

12. Okonomiyaki from Xiao Bao Biscuit (XBB)
The XBB menu might change daily, but one item remains front and center: the popular Okonomiyaki pancake, which is available for lunch or dinner. This Japanese cabbage cake comes loaded with special sauce and can be ordered with an egg, bacon, or “pork candy” on top.
Honorable Mention: Whole or specialty fish of the day.

13. Burger at Husk
There is not a top burger list on which the Husk burger is not included, and rightfully so. Benton bacon is ground into the patties, which are then sandwiched by house-made buns and topped with American cheese, shaved onion, house-made pickles, and a special secret sauce.
Honorable Mentions: Cornbread; crispy pig ears.

14. Pulled Squash Sandwich at Butcher & Bee
Really any sandwich is a winner at Butcher & Bee, and with a handwritten daily menu, it is hard to tell what you will find. Luckily, the pulled squash sandwich is a repeat item and comes with barbecued squash, smoked cabbage, and pickles. The housemade bread is some of the best in town, and chef Stuart Tracy makes everything taste delicious.
Honorable Mention: Hummus plate.

15. Charcuterie at Cypress
On the verge of opening a standalone charcuterie shop, chef Craig Deihl’s cured meats and charcuterie are arguably the best in the city. He has studied and perfected the craft over many years, and offers some unusual items such as culatello, cypressata, and picante salami. The meats can be ordered in small or large plates, or for those dedicated to eating as much as possible, order The Motherboard.
Honorable Mention: Tuna sashimi; oysters.

Did we miss a favorite or have a suggestion for an upcoming list? Send it in for consideration.


27 Things You Need to Eat in Charleston Before You Die

Charleston, South Carolina might not be the place your mind jumps to when thinking of the major food hubs in America. But it is home to some of the most delicious restaurants and cafes that can seem overwhelming when you first arrive. Check out these 27 places to get you started, and then you’ll be ready to explore on your own.

1. Rock Shrimp Salad at O-Ku

This salad is the perfect combination of healthy and delicious, and it’s an O-Ku fan-favorite. The Carrot Ginger Vinaigrette is a unique dressing that puts an interesting flavor on this entree that will have you feeling satisfied and just the right level of full.

2. Duck Club with Duck Fat Fries at Tattooed Moose

Photo courtesy of @spotstosavor on Instagram

Their menu says it’s the “best sandwich ever made!” and I can’t disagree: duck confit, applewood smoked bacon and hickory smoked cheddar topped with garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato and red onion all on top of sweet Hawaiian bread…are you drooling yet? Combine it with a side of these fries, and you’ll be in heaven.

3. All Natural Chicken Caesar Salad at Five Loaves Cafe

Photo courtesy of @tabletotummy on Instagram

When your typical Caesar salad meets the classier and more sophisticated version of itself, you get this. It’s everything you want in your classic appetizer or small entree, but a just little bit better.

4. Charred Grilled Oysters at Leon’s Oyster Shop

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

Try this when you want to spice up your typical oyster dish and you won’t regret it.

5. Pumpkin BBQ Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict at The Rarebit

Photo courtesy of @therarebitcharleston on Instagram

You would never expect these flavors to taste good together, but they do. It’s also filled with protein and is, therefore, the ideal brunch meal to start your day on the right foot.

6.Okonomiyaki at Xiao Bao Biscuit

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

What the heck is that big weird word? It means Japanese Cabbage Pancakes. Well, you’re probably still confused because that sounds gross. Somehow, it’s so good, and it’s a lot healthier than your typical pancake. Next time you’re trying to master that no-carb diet, head over to Xiao Bao Biscuit.

7. Lobster Roll at 167 Raw

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

When you’re wishing you were in Cape Cod or the Hamptons, eating those fresh Lobster Rolls, go to 167 Raw for a close substitute. Just as delicious and right in your backyard.

8. Nachos at FUEL

Photo courtesy of @taylorandkateate on Instagram

The nachos at FUEL are perfectly smothered with everything you could ever want. And, for those over 21, the Painkiller is the drink that you want to sip on while you enjoy your nachos.

9. Big Nasty at Hominy Grill

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

Might be a heart attack in a meal, but it also might just be worth it. It’s drowning in gravy sauce and cheese, and topped with your classic southern Fried Chicken.

10. Shortcakes at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

Photo from @callieshotlittlebiscuit on Instagram

Ten times better than your average slice of cake for only $3. Sign me up.

11. Country Fried Steak and Waffles at Ms. Rose’s Fine Food and Cocktails

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

If you live in the South (or go to school in the South), you’ve probably tried Chicken & Waffles at some point, but Ms. Rose’s takes a twist by putting fried steak on their waffles, and it’s amazing.

12. Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwich at The Park Cafe

Photo courtesy of @taylorandkateate on Instagram

The Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwich is not your typical BEC or Breakfast Burrito. This Sandwich comes with Avocado, Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Spicy Mayo and….half a grapefruit! Got your protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, and dairy all in one sandwich. It’s delicious and will give you the start to your day that you need.

13. Cupcakes at Sugar Bakeshop

Photo courtesy of @taylorandkateate on Instagram

Sugar has so many unique cupcakes to choose from. Year-round, they have options such as Almond Chocolate Coconut, Lemon Curd, and Caramel and based on the season, they offer Hazelnut, Peanut Butter, Honey and more. They also sell mini-cupcakes for only $1.75 if you’re trying to save calories and money.

14. Turkey Panini at Circe’s Grotto

Photo courtesy of @taylorandkateate on Instagram

This isn’t your average turkey panini: it’s fresh, flavorful, and the perfect lunch. Avocado, cheese, red onion…I’m getting hungry just thinking about it, and you are probably, too.

15. Steak at Halls Chophouse

Photo courtesy of cfada.wordpress.com

This is the meal you want to have if you’re trying to be a little fancy and sophisticated for once. It’s cooked to perfection, complemented with a side of loaded mashed potatoes or lobster mac and cheese…you can thank me later.

16. BBQ Shrimp and Grits at 82 Queen

Photo courtesy of @82queenchas on Instagram

Barbeque shrimp? That’s a new one. And it works.

17. Grilled Cheese & Soup With Blow Torch Nutella Custard at Persimmon Cafe

Photo courtesy of @taylorandkateate on Instagram

I don’t think you need any more convincing after looking at this picture – melted deliciousness. Top if off with some custard and call it a perfect Charleston day.

18. Five Spice Pork Tacos at Bon Bahn Mi

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

These tacos are one-of-a-kind. They’re authentic, they’re flavorful, they’re juicy. And they’re also the perfect size: you only need to eat two in order to be full for hours.

19. Crêpes at Charleston Crêpe Company

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

These are no ordinary crêpes. They come in all shapes and sizes, and even in the form of a cake. Charleston Crêpe Company literally makes wedding cakes out of crêpes…I’m not kidding.

20. Crab Toast at The Ordinary

Photo courtesy of @chucktownfoodie on Instagram

You thought you had heard of every new, trendy way to make toast, didn’t you? Well it’s time to add crab toast to your list. It’s delicious, it’s fresh, and it’s not as basic as avocado toast.

21. French Toast at The Rarebit

Photo courtesy of @taylorandkateate on Instagram

What do you do when you can’t decide between all of your favorite breakfast options? You order french toast at The Rarebit. French toast + bacon + fruit = everything you could want for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) in one.

22. Oysters at 167 Raw

Photo courtesy of @167_raw on Instagram

The oysters here are top notch and a must-try. Every day, they have a different daily selection, so you really know how fresh these oysters are. Split this dish among a group and you’re guaranteed to order seconds.

23. Tuscan Grilled Cheese at Eli’s Table

Photo courtesy of @queenofthefoodage on Instagram

You don’t have to just trust me on this one because this grilled cheese was voted #1 grilled cheese in the USA. The Tuscan Grilled Cheese isn’t just some slabs of Cheddar oozing with oil – it includes tomatoes and basil too for some extra flavor. It is reason enough to travel to Charleston.

24. Beer Mussels at Closed For Business

Photo courtesy of @fat_girlies on Instagram

Confused by the name of this dish and by the fact that the picture seems to be a bowl of fries? Let me explain. Beer Mussels is a dish unique to Closed For Business that is made up of mussels, beer, bacon, shallots, garlic, fries, aioli. You’ll be drunk, full, and satisfied after eating this one.

25. Fried Mac and Cheese at Cypress

Photo courtesy of @lets.eat.yall on Instagram

It might be a heart attack in a platter, but oh is it worth it.

26. Vintage Breakfast Sandwich at Vintage Coffee Cafe

Photo courtesy of @spotstosavor on Instagram

This is your ideal breakfast sandwich. It gives you the protein you need to start your day and will have you dreaming about it that night.

27. Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings at Minero

Photo courtesy of @minerochs on Instagram

Chicken wings southern style. Actually grilled over a fire like they should be. I could eat a whole plate myself.

Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, meat, fish or vegetarian dishes, there are so many options in Charleston, and this is just the beginning.


15 Wedding Finger Foods That Will Delight All Your Guests

Wedding season is a special time for any couple. Between bridal showers and bachelor or bachelorette parties, no one should want for festive events during this special window of time. But before anyone can walk down the aisle, the soon-to-be newlyweds have lots of decisions to make, from colors of dresses to flowers on the table. There's also the wedding cake and reception menu, too. Some of these chores are easier (and tastier) than others. So before you worry about what to serve your hungry guests, we've compiled our best finger foods for a wedding reception. Choose one, choose some, or choose ambition and choose them all. No matter how you choose to wedding, there are no wrong answers with these wedding finger foods.


ALASKA: Sorrento's Restaurant in Anchorage

Dustin H./ Yelp

For authentic Italian fare, make sure to stop at Sorrento's. This fan-favorite has been serving Anchorage locals and visitors for over 40 years. Known as the "go-to" for delicious pasta dishes, you'll want to try the fettuccine arrabiata with scampi. You can thank us later!


Classic Charleston Dishes to Try

If you’re paying a visit to the Lowcountry, there are several classic Charleston dishes you really ought to try.

After all, Charleston cuisine – good southern cooking with an elevated twist – is one of the main draws of the Lowcountry. Local restaurants have made many national “best of” lists, and for good reason.

Many of the classic Charleston dishes have roots in the Gullah culture. In the early days of Charleston, oftentimes it was enslaved Africans who ran both private and public kitchens of the historic city and who developed the dishes.

Recently, AFARTravel Guide published its list of the eight essential Charleston dishes to taste while you’re in the Lowcountry.

Actually, it’s more than just a simple list of things to eat. The list also delves into the history of the Charleston dishes, plus suggests some of the best establishments around for you to try them.

In a nutshell, here’s the list of 8 essential Charleston dishes:

Purloo - a well-seasoned rice dish cooked with meat or seafood, onions and garlic (also known as Gullah rice).
Best places to find it: Purlieu, Poogan’s Porch, Husk, or The Grocery.

Chicken Bog - chicken cooked down till falling apart, then stirred into rice with peppers and onions.
The Shelter

Hoppin’ John - black-eyed peas cooked with rice
Virginia’s on King or Husk

Frogmore Stew, a.k.a. Lowcountry Boil - shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes boiled all together with spices
Fleet Landing or Bowens Island

Steamed Oysters - steamed over an open fire and served in a bucket
Bowens Island

She-Crab Soup - crab bisque with crab roe and sherry
Anson, Revival or Saffron Grill & Bakery

Shrimp & Grits - fresh local shrimp sautéed with bacon, onions, or the like, served with its light gravy over grits Slightly North of Broad or Acme Lowcountry Kitchen on the Isle of Palms, which offers 10 different variations!

Boiled Peanuts - a classic dish of green peanuts boiled in salted or spiced brine
Hyman’s Seafood, the Wreck of the Richard & Charlene, or the Charleston Riverdogs baseball games

Here’s a link to the AFAR article with the full story.

Reading over the list is making me seriously hungry. By the way, the AFAR list mentioned Hominy Grill multiple times, e.g. for their famous Shrimp & Grits – the recipe I make myself. Alas, Robert Stehling has since closed his famous landmark restaurant after a long and highly successful run.

So check out some of the Charleston dishes that feed people in the Lowcountry – both locals and those from afar. And remember when you're looking for the best beach house rentals in Charleston, call Exclusive Properties.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Sean Brock of Husk

When it comes to bridging the gap between hard-drinking, balls-to-the-wall stereotypes of kitchen life and the new movement toward chefs as cultural thought leaders, few pull off the balancing act quite as convincingly as Sean Brock.

Since winning Best Chef Southeast at the 2010 James Beard Awards for his modern Lowcountry cooking at Charleston’s McCrady’s, and opening the nearby Husk later the same year, Brock has become one of the most well-known chefs from the South—not to mention one of its most visible boosters. He’s a charter member of the Fatback Collective, working to bring humanely raised heritage breed pork into the mainstream of Southern barbecue culture. And despite being a self-proclaimed “hillbilly,” he’s the guy with a CSA box worth of produce tattooed on his arm who gets invited to wax poetic at chef confabs from Portland to Copenhagen to Tokyo.

He is also, at least for a little while, the guy with the TV show. This season, Mind Of a Chef, the Anthony Bourdain-produced documentary series airing on PBS, follows Brock and April Bloomfield as they explore (independently) the foods, places, and people who contributed to their respective culinary identities. Brock’s episodes are mostly concentrated in the American South, and they show him sweating through an order of Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, visiting Appalachian Virginia where he was raised, and tracing some of the foundational techniques and ingredients of southern cooking back via the slave trade to Senegal.

But while Brock’s reputation as a chef is assured, his true legacy may be the work he does with folks like Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills, whom he collaborates with to preserve the heirloom crops and foodways of the South. Many of the ingredients he uses at his restaurants—including a recently opened Husk spinoff in Nashville—were verging on extinction not long ago. Brock’s realized that reviving them and educating people about why they matter is a lifetime’s work, though that’s not to say he doesn’t think about his eventual retirement.

“My real dream, that I know will provide me with a lifetime of happiness, is to own a pug farm—I have a pug and it’s my prize possession. I want to have a farm where I can raise Chinese pugs, where I can do whole-hog barbecue, make some country ham, and maybe a bit of whisky on the side.”

From mom’s untouchable chicken and dumplings to life-changing soba in Japan, these are the 10 dishes that have shaped Brock into one of the interesting culinary minds in America.


Fail-Safe Favorites

Top Steak: Grilled Flatiron 03:39

Honey Ginger Chicken Wings 02:37

Traditional Margherita Pizza 03:02

Episodes

Unexpected Eats

Roger Mooking highlights 15 incredible dishes from around the U.S. that have one thing in common: They're all utterly unexpected and delightfully delicious. From unusual combinations like brisket kolaches, pizza wings and custard French toast to surprising settings like gourmet Calabrian pizza in a bowling alley and a lobster roll with bacon cheddar bombs in a minor league ballpark, these are the most eye-opening -- and mouthwatering -- meals around.

Brunch

Roger Mooking counts down 15 of the best egg, meat, pastry and hash dishes being served up across the U.S. What do they have in common? They all make for a killer brunch! Fried oysters Benedict, huevos rancheros hash, chicken and waffles, volcano eggs, savory brunch dogs and sinfully sweet bostock prove that the great American brunch tradition is thriving, and its most creative chefs share their best dishes and how to prepare them.

Brunch

Roger Mooking counts down 15 of the best egg, meat, pastry and hash dishes being served up across the U.S. What do they have in common? They all make for a killer brunch! Fried oysters Benedict, huevos rancheros hash, chicken and waffles, volcano eggs, savory brunch dogs and sinfully sweet bostock prove that the great American brunch tradition is thriving, and its most creative chefs share their best dishes and how to prepare them.

Hidden Treasures

Roger Mooking travels the U.S. to find classics with a twist and unexpectedly delicious pairings. He visits the chefs in their own kitchens to find out how they create these surprising and mouthwatering dishes.

Appetizers

Roger Mooking starts the meal off right with 15 of the best appetizers in the United States. From nachos and chicken wings to oysters, fries and more, Roger's going coast-to-coast to find the best!

Seafood

Roger Mooking travels America to reel in the fifteen very best seafood dishes. Freshness is key and location matters. From the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific coast, down deep in the bayou, and high in the Rockies, there's no limit to what seafood lovers will do to sink their teeth into nature's delectable all you can eat buffet. Shrimp, lobster, snapper, or grouper, and fried, steamed, baked, or smoked, no oyster shell is left unturned.

Guilty Pleasures

Roger Mooking showcases 15 of the most delightfully decadent dishes from around America. They're the type of savory pleasures and sweet sensations that make everyone long for "cheat day." From bacon brownies to chicken fried lobster and short rib and cheddar duck fat fries, it's an exploration of mind-blowingly mouthwatering meals and a behind-the-scenes look at how they are lovingly prepared.

Hamburgers

As the deceptively simple ground meat served on a bun with the perfect combo of condiments and garnishes, the hamburger stands alone as the go-to meal for the American masses. Roger Mooking serves up the top fifteen masterpieces of handheld deliciousness. This is an all-points survey of the amazing variety to which the hamburger has evolved. When the names include the Juicy Nookie, the Brother From Another Mother Burger, and the Burger of the Gods, average is not on the menu.

Home Cooking

Roger Mooking cozies up to 15 of the best heartwarming classics, including home-cooked treats, tender meats, savory stews, cheesy pastas and decadent desserts. Take a trip down memory lane with him as he scours the U.S. for all the best treats from childhood, and spend time with chefs as they share tips and tricks on how best to touch the heart through the stomach.

Fully Loaded

Roger Mooking showcases 15 of the most lovingly loaded culinary creations around the country. These delicious dishes are stacked high and stuffed with flavor, from Cadillac nachos to a stuffed whole hog porchetta. There's a quadruple chocolate cheesecake, a double-decker pizza and even a massive torta bamba sandwich with seven mouthwatering meats. If food makes people happy, these fully loaded masterpieces will make them ecstatic.

Fully Loaded

Roger Mooking showcases 15 of the most lovingly loaded culinary creations around the country. These delicious dishes are stacked high and stuffed with flavor, from Cadillac nachos to a stuffed whole hog porchetta. There's a quadruple chocolate cheesecake, a double-decker pizza and even a massive torta bamba sandwich with seven mouthwatering meats. If food makes people happy, these fully loaded masterpieces will make them ecstatic.

Desserts

Roger Mooking skips straight to the sweets as he dives headlong into the 15 best desserts offered in the United States. From the rich and chocolatey to the fruity and flavorful, Roger's getting down on all the most decadent meal-end treats prepared by chefs in their own kitchens.

Killer Combos

Roger Mooking explores the foods that are just too good together to be kept apart, showcasing 15 culinary combinations that make mouths water and hearts race. From an extraordinary take on chicken and waffles to a handmade root beer float, a ridiculously good raclette to an unforgettably gourmet spaghetti and meatballs, America's best chefs reveal their secrets to crafting the most-killer combos imaginable.

Barbecue

Roger Mooking cannot resist the sweet, succulent smoky goodness of barbecue as he canvases the country on the lookout for the fifteen best barbecue dishes wherever he can find them. For as long as there has been fire, man has been barbecuing over it. Brisket, chicken, whole hog, mutton, and even a breakfast taco are just a few of the saucy delights to be found when fire, meat, and seasoning intersect in juicy perfection.

Coastal Cuisine

Roger Mooking showcases some of the best of coastal cuisine in a top 15 countdown of the most delicious dishes inspired by America's oceans, lakes and rivers. From shrimp and grits on the Gulf Coast to wasabi salmon burgers on Alaska's frozen coast and crab cakes by the Chesapeake Bay, it's an exploration of truly mouthwatering meals with a glimpse behind the scenes at some of the country's best chefs at work in their own kitchens.

Roger Mooking travels the country to discover the top fifteen greatest pork dishes. Regional pride and bragging rights are a big part of the evolution of these exceptional pork dishes, not to mention the unbelievable variety. Pig cheeks, pig feet, bacon bombs, ribs, ham, pork wings, and whole hog are all a delicious part of the wide world of pork.

Brunch

Roger Mooking counts down 15 of the best egg, meat, pastry and hash dishes being served up across the U.S. What do they have in common? They all make for a killer brunch! Fried oysters Benedict, huevos rancheros hash, chicken and waffles, volcano eggs, savory brunch dogs and sinfully sweet bostock prove that the great American brunch tradition is thriving, and its most creative chefs share their best dishes and how to prepare them.

Crunch Time

Roger Mooking bites down on the 15 best crunchy, crispy and crackling dishes. All the snappy nachos, pizzas, fried chicken, tacos and desserts are represented, and chefs offer recipes and tips on making the crispiest skin, the crunchiest chips and the most-crumbly crusts.

Crunch Time

Roger Mooking bites down on the 15 best crunchy, crispy and crackling dishes. All the snappy nachos, pizzas, fried chicken, tacos and desserts are represented, and chefs offer recipes and tips on making the crispiest skin, the crunchiest chips and the most-crumbly crusts.

Seafood

Roger Mooking travels America to reel in the fifteen very best seafood dishes. Freshness is key and location matters. From the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific coast, down deep in the bayou, and high in the Rockies, there's no limit to what seafood lovers will do to sink their teeth into nature's delectable all you can eat buffet. Shrimp, lobster, snapper, or grouper, and fried, steamed, baked, or smoked, no oyster shell is left unturned.

Guilty Pleasures

Roger Mooking showcases 15 of the most delightfully decadent dishes from around America. They're the type of savory pleasures and sweet sensations that make everyone long for "cheat day." From bacon brownies to chicken fried lobster and short rib and cheddar duck fat fries, it's an exploration of mind-blowingly mouthwatering meals and a behind-the-scenes look at how they are lovingly prepared.

Sandwiches

Roger Mooking loves a great sandwich. After all, it's a full-fledged meal you can hold in your hands. Geography means variety, and sometimes size matters. As he searches for the country's fifteen best sandwiches, he also learns about techniques and the grand assortment of culinary delights one can place between two slices of bread. These are the amazing people and establishments that offer up something so simple that can be so good.

Pub Grub

Roger Mooking goes on a pub crawl to find 15 of the best dishes to go with any drink. Chicken wings, nachos, sliders, apps and mains -- they're all here! From their own kitchens, chefs share insider tips and tricks for making the very best, tastiest bar fare.

Steak

In the culinary world of signature meals, nothing else compares to the sensory experience of steak. There's the sizzle, the beefy aroma, the flowing juices, the red marbleized texture practically begging for the cut of the knife. And then finally it's allowed to melt in the mouth. Roger Mooking searches the country for the top fifteen finest cuts and the most perfect intersections of meat, seasoning, and fire.

Fully Loaded

Roger Mooking showcases 15 of the most lovingly loaded culinary creations around the country. These delicious dishes are stacked high and stuffed with flavor, from Cadillac nachos to a stuffed whole hog porchetta. There's a quadruple chocolate cheesecake, a double-decker pizza and even a massive torta bamba sandwich with seven mouthwatering meats. If food makes people happy, these fully loaded masterpieces will make them ecstatic.


Best Four Charleston Restaurants and Their Best Dishes

At least once a week and probably more often than that during peak season, I get asked by friends, family, visitors, students and people on the street about the best restaurants in Charleston. The next question is invariably, “What should I order?” These are both tough questions to answer when you consider the broad range in taste, budget and even location these people usually represent. But, as a tough professional and personal food critic and trained chef, I always go to the ground rules. For me, these include chefs and kitchen staffs that utilize restraint, balance, and pristine technique in their dishes, use only the best and freshest ingredients, and execute both of these elements on a consistent (as in every time) basis. In addition, the spaces need to be immaculate and pleasant and have a professional and informed staff to make my must-do recommendation list.

Of course, in Charleston, there are many that do. But, there are only four that always do that I know of: FIG, Charleston Grill, Little Jack’s Tavern, and Hominy Grill. Each of these gems create the stuff of dreams, daily. Some of them inhabit my own, frequently. And, all of them are places I recommend without hesitation to anyone who asks. Everything is perfect at each of these places, but I’m going to tell you my favorites and why because I don’t want anyone to go through this life without sampling them, because life is too short to miss this kind of deliciousness – the kind that makes breaking any diet rule worth it, at least once.

A star almost since it opened in 2003, this now super star and James Beard-winning destination at the corner of Meeting and Hasell Streets in downtown is almost impossible to book, it’s become that famous. A master of restraint and technique, Chef and Partner Mike Lata has curated some of the best talent and instilled the same crafts within, most notably with super talented and affable Executive Chef Jason Stanhope. If you don’t think ahead to make reservations, try a seat at the comfortable bar (best bet is early or late to ensure seating) and order the silky chicken liver pate. Served with cool and sweet bread and butter pickles, imported French Dijon, and brioche toast points, it’s infinitely better than the very best foie gras, a more humane preparation, and a much better buy at $15. I never want the little square of French perfection to be finished. Add the Yukon Gold potato puree ($10) side to your go-ahead-and-do-it list. It’s smoother than butter and cream, and lovingly fortified with both, but the airy puree of golden potatoes spontaneously lifts every spoonful closer to ethereal heights. In recent years, the restaurant’s made award-winning improvements to its wine list, too. Locally sourced pristine fish and produce all shine on the menu.

Leading the special event dining destination pack since I moved here in 2000 and before, Charleston Grill remains that white linen tablecloth experience and more. It is jazzy, sexy, cosmopolitan, and subdued, and an ideal destination with go with a group or all alone to enjoy the live jazz and outstanding service. You won’t feel alone. You’ll feel sublimely pampered in the expert hands of Executive Chef Michelle Weaver and General Manager Mickey Bakst. A star player on the dinner menu and the bar menu, the fluffy, crisp, and tender crab cake is the not-to-be-missed specialty here. As Weaver has described them to me, “One bite is like tasting a mouthful of the Lowcountry.” The golden cakes are all crab and taste all of that plus sweet and buttery and expertly dressed with creek shrimp and a lime tomato vinaigrette. Sit and stay awhile. You may very well build up an appetite for another.

Exquisite Charleston Grill Crab Cake with Creek Shrimp and Lime Tomato Vinaigrette

This is the place I always take guests to when they’re in town, not only because it will please them, but because, like a greedy little lady version of Wimpy, I’m always craving their Tavern Burger, and really every single thing on their menu. Everything is perfect. The menu is abbreviated, but chock full of nostalgic American, Rat Pack-era bravado and friendly, neighborhood service. Parking is easy (and always welcome), but the “baby” burger as I call it, not the double version, is the number one (closely followed by the first-class service) reason to come here. The 1/2″-thick patty emanates ground in-house freshness and just enough fat to enhance the sweet flavor of the “Tavern” sauce and tender, griddled onions. Nestled on a soft bun, custom made and baked daily in-house it, it drips with fully melted, wonderfully mild American cheese. It’s so sublime, it’s even on their dessert menu for those that want one more. Also outstanding here, steak tartar, all of the salads, baked egg, fries, and house cocktails, especially the Bee’s Knees.

Saving the best for last, Hominy Grill is my most recommended and favorite restaurant in Charleston. That’s because it possesses all the qualities I demand (and outlined at the top of the story), but adds elegant, authentic and homey Southern food (what most people come to Charleston to sample) for both breakfast and lunch in an adorable single house prepared by a man that has to be the one of the world’s most humble and hands-on and talented chefs, Chef/Owner Robert Stehling. His training comes from his childhood in North Carolina and later stints at celebrated Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill and some of Manhattan’s best before he brought it all home to Charleston.

I break all the rules here – diet, budget, restraint. If I had the foresight to know what my last meal on earth would be, I would make sure it was here and I would order a cup of she crab soup, a bowl of the shrimp and grits, a high rise biscuit with butter and house made preserves and for dessert, the chocolate pudding or the buttermilk tart, or both. Each of these are examples of some of the best food in Charleston, and arguably, the world. The shrimp are utterly Lowcountry local, rife with the sweet, briny flavor for which they’re known and settled on a bed of stone ground cheese grits with a simple, slightly lemmony mixture of mushrooms, scallions and bacon. The chocolate pudding, as a North Carolina- bred friend of mine used to say, is the best thing I ever put in my mouth. Dark, deep chocolate and silky smooth it (like the tart/sweet heavenly buttermilk pie) comes topped with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream.

All of this ambrosia comes with a price – fame, and ensuing long lines. Best time to come is just before 9 a.m. on a weekday morning. You’ll likely get in the queue in short order and you can make an excuse to sip one of Hominy’s also delicious house Bloody Mary’s on the front patio.

Hominy Grill’s world-class and utterly authentic shrimp and grits is served all day. Get some!

Quite possibly the world’s best biscuit. Feel free to slather with the succulent house made preserves.

Now you know my list. Go out and make your own when you’re in town. Charleston is full of the good stuff! I’ve featured each of these four in my latest cookbook, The New Charleston Chef’s Table Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, May, 2018). along with many others. You can find recipes for Michelle Weaver’s crab cakes and Little Jack’s steak tartar, too. But, even better to go in person.

Bon appetit! Enjoy Charleston and don’t hesitate to write and tell me about your favorites, too.


"This place has the most amazing oyster sliders, and the seafood gumbo was excellent too. It’s housed in an old bank so the atmosphere is really as well." — juliav4fac42221

"Come here for delicious southern food at fantastic prices. The diner serves breakfast all day, so you can enjoy biscuits with gravy and fried chicken any time of day." — ursulam469f33c21

"The hot pepper jelly and the fried green tomatoes are so good, and the pecan-crusted fried chicken is basically a religious experience on a plate." — brigidw46b8693a8



Comments:

  1. Magee

    not so cool

  2. Kempe

    This one topic is simply incomparable :) It is interesting to me.

  3. Jorge

    In my opinion you are not right.

  4. Willesone

    I believe you have been misled.



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