Charleston has been on my bucket list for some time so last year when my friend Angie and I were plotting our next weekend adventure (we last traveled to Montreal together) we decided to head for somewhere warmer than our homes of New York City & Chicago, respectively. Charleston was the winner! While we didn’t get much sun, we did succeed in securing 70 degrees and that was perfect for two gals over winter.
We had a very limited time to take in the charming Southern city but managed to do (and eat) a lot over the course of the weekend so I wanted to share how we prioritized our 48 hours in Charleston! Have you been?!
Zero George Street Hotel: Our hotel stay was one of the highlights of our trip and it is rare that I say that! The Zero George was previously a private residence (built in 1804) and was renovated to be a boutique hotel of 16 rooms. Their hospitality was next level and I was amazed at all the experiences they’ll coordinate for their guests. Everything from a cooking class on-site (I definitely want to eat at the restaurant next time I go!) to sailing classes. The hotel bar had great snacks and delicious cocktails and was packed every night with locals. And even, despite the popularity, you still manage to feel like you’re just over at a friend’s house for a great drink. I loved the vibe and the history of this place so much and I think the bed was one of the most comfortable on which I’ve ever slept.
Eat & Drink:
La Farfalle: I had to visit this spot as the executive chef used to work at my former favorite restaurant Perla (RIP). We had a delicious brunch but I imagine the cuisine is even better for dinner as it is a lovely Italian spot. It has a great patio and a beautiful bar and is right off of King Street so it checks a lot of boxes. The burger and the chicken biscuit are not to be missed.
Leon’s Oyster Bar: Easily the best thing I ate while in Charleston was the fried chicken sandwich at Leon’s. I now have dreams about this sandwich…it was that good. I got a side of scalloped potatoes which are skippable but would order the hush puppies if I went back at the recommendation of a lot of my Instagram followers. Their patio is great for warmer days.
McCrady’s: On our first night we splurged and did the tasting menu at McCrady’s. We had heard great things about the burger in the tavern but also great things about the menu served in their tasting room & kitchen. We had the nicest evening here in their tasting room! The food was inventive and so delicious, the service delightful and unlike other tasting menus I’ve experienced I didn’t feel overly full following. There was aged beef with a carrot bordelaise, a beet, cocoa, lime jerky of sorts that tasted like a grown up fruit rollup, black cod with field peas, scallops with strawberry and sunflower and many more amazing bites. We opted to have the, what turned out to be, incredibly interesting wine pairing and while an extravagant meal, it was one I won’t soon forget.
The Gin Joint: I loved the vibes of this bar. It’s beautiful and has a bartender’s special on the menu that’s thoughtfully designed to help you order the cocktail of your dreams.
Black Tap Coffee: Everyone I spoke to about Charleston said the best coffee in town was at Black Tap and it was indeed worth the brief walk from our hotel. I loved all the natural light in this place and had a really good scone with my very large iced coffee. It seemed like the place to be for Charleston residents on a Saturday morning.
Husk: I debated even putting Husk on this list but wanted to share our experience as it may have been a one-off disappointment. Seemingly everyone we spoke to mentioned Husk both before & when we arrived in Charleston. While we had some good bites (the breakfast melt, the gratis rolls at the start of the meal, the fried chicken), overall we were underwhelmed. Maybe it got over hyped? We arrived when it opened and despite half the tables being empty we were told to wait 30 minutes. At 30 minutes on the dot we were seated and still half the tables were empty. Furthermore the cornbread we ordered was dry and not worth eating and the interiors we both remarked felt like a value furniture store. I’d go back to try the burger everyone buzzed about but overall was left unimpressed with this spot.
Rise Coffee Bar: We happened upon this cute spot and decided to pay it a visit before brunch on Sunday morning. I loved the interior design and the coffee was great, too. They also have a cute little patio to soak up the sunshine.
The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits: This place wasn’t on our radar initially but we had such a great afternoon Aperol Spritz on this rooftop basking up the little sun we had during our time there.
The Peninsula Grill: The moment we touched down in Charleston people started messaging my friend Angie that we couldn’t leave without trying the coconut cake at The Peninsula Grill. I’m not one to say no to cake so Saturday afternoon we set out to satisfy our sweet tooth and landed at the bar at this restaurant. We ordered two glasses of champagne and the cake and O-M-G. This may be one of the best sweets I’ve ever had!? Truly, it was unreal. I don’t think we talked about anything else besides how good it was during the 10 minutes we inhaled it. The bartender laughed the whole time and shrugged her shoulders saying “I mean, yeah, it does live up to the hype.” She wasn’t wrong. DO NOT MISS this cake.
Rainbow Row: Insta and Pinterest famous this section of East Bay street is one colorful charming house after the next. It truly puts a smile on your face just walking down it.
Battery Street: This is the southern most street of homes in Charleston and is worth walking down to see the old, beautiful and stately homes.
Waterfront Park: This appropriately named park is home to the cutest pineapple fountain and worth a visit.
King Street: This is the main drag where you’ll find everyone milling about. Lots and lots of shops. Don’t miss popping into Candlefish just off King. Such a cute spot to pick up a gift or concoct a custom candle!
Tradd Street: Some of the most beautiful homes we saw were on Tradd Street. I loved walking this street with my Black Tap iced coffee in hand. This one was my favorite.
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And, in case you’re planning a trip…a few places that came highly recommended to me that we didn’t have a chance to me were: Raw 167, Bin 152, The Fig, Callie’s Biscuits and Sugar Bakeshop.