Mouth-Watering Dining from the Old South and the New
Taken by the spell of Charleston? Wait till you taste the food. The extraordinary mingling of the French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean cultures that took root here during centuries of sometimes tumultuous history has left an imprint on the local cuisine, which incorporates traditional Low Country ingredients such as shrimp, oysters, rice, okra, field greens, and tomatoes.
The elegant Magnolias, housed in the city’s original 1739 Custom’s House, is an immensely popular standout in Charleston’s dynamic restaurant scene, offering tried-and-true classic recipes along with inspired interpretations like fried green tomatoes and shellfish over grits.
You can’t really begin to appreciate the high style of the New South until you’ve experienced the homey excellence of the no-frills Old South. And for that, the family-run Bowen’s Island is a must, serving some of the best roasted oysters and fresh shrimp on the eastern seaboard for more than fifty years.
Some call it a dive, others call it heaven, but “atmospheric” would best describe this joint, with its rickety chairs, concrete floors, graffiti-covered walls, church-pew booths, and the smell and sound of the sea just outside. You can try the Low Country specialty of shrimp and grits or a “big ol’ seafood platter,” but most folks head for a separate room, where there’s a sign that reads Oyster Eaters Only. Back there, shovelfuls of roasted oysters induce euphoria while Elvis plays on the 1946 jukebox.