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The bar at The Ordinary in Charleston, South Carolina - Andrew Cebulka

The Harper Notebook: Best Restaurants in Charleston

By Andrew Harper

The Harper Way | October 11, 2017

On our last visit to Charleston, South Carolina, our worst meal was merely good. The rest ranged from excellent to sublime. Chefs here take full advantage of the local seafood and fine heirloom produce, and some have deservedly garnered national attention.

HALLS CHOPHOUSE

Low country fried green tomatoes with crab, shrimp and bacon succotash at Halls Chophouse Halls Chophouse

This traditional steakhouse has live music every evening, but I’m also very fond of the gospel brunch on Sundays. The dinner menu keeps to the traditional, which nowadays feels rather refreshing. Start with some superlative she-crab soup, or fried green tomatoes topped with a succotash of crab, shrimp and bacon. Carnivores should then opt for the dry-aged rib-eye or New York strip, but the shrimp and grits is also flawlessly executed, as is the wild salmon with root vegetables and cornbread croutons. The wine list emphasizes California bottlings.

Halls Chophouse
434 King Street. Tel. (843) 727-0090

HANK’S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

Roast grouper with spinach, mushroom and goat cheese risotto with tomato balsamic brown butter at Hank's Seafood Christopher Shane

Hank’s is a modern evocation of an old Charleston seafood house, where chef Tim Richardson serves imaginatively updated low country cuisine. Starters include a rich chowder-style oyster stew with leeks, potatoes and bacon. Among the specialties is local shrimp sautéed with smoked andouille sausage, then stewed with fresh tomatoes, garlic and white wine and served with grits. If you’re looking for a real taste of local seafood, the platters here are legendary.

Hank's Seafood Restaurant
10 Hayne Street. Tel. (843) 723-3474

MCCRADY’S TAVERN

Escargot-stuffed marrow bone, grilled bread and parsley at McCrady's Tavern jwkpec.com

Late last year, celebrity chef Sean Brock created quite a stir when he opened a new version of McCrady’s, serving tasting menus to a maximum of 22 guests each evening (book tickets a month in advance), as well as McCrady’s Tavern, set in a former warehouse near his renowned Husk (a low country restaurant I also recommend). McCrady’s Tavern presents richly reimagined classics, such as the Rockefeller-like Oysters McCrady, and crispy blanquette de veau with peas, mushrooms and city ham. The appetizer of escargot-stuffed bone marrow is pure decadence.

McCrady's Tavern
2 Unity Alley. Tel. (843) 577-0025

THE ORDINARY

The spacious interior of The Ordinary Andrew Cebulka

Chef Mike Lata of FIG (also a superb restaurant) opened this local seafood-focused small-plate venture in late 2012, and it quickly became a great success. My favorite dish was the pickled shrimp, a humble-sounding appetizer that Lata updated into a gorgeously composed salad. Current selections include broiled oysters with green garlic and Parmesan, and steamed grouper with morel mushrooms and beurre rouge. Try one of the adroitly balanced rum-based cocktails.

The Ordinary
Closed Monday. 544 King Street. Tel. (843) 414-7060

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Andrew Harper Photo Andrew Harper is the editor of The Hideaway Report, a luxury travel newsletter that first appeared in 1979. He travels anonymously and pays his own expenses in pursuit of unique properties that offer unusually high levels of personal service. Hotels have no idea who he is, so he is treated exactly as you might be.

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