Tables Of Charleston:

A Dining Guide to the Best Eats in Charleston, SC.
Mary E Mahowald

Tables of Charleston, SC dining guide. By Mary E Mahowald. 
Road Map For Mom Blog, South Carolina, Isle of Palms, eating, best of, Folly Beach.
Tables of Charleston: A Dining Guide to the Best Eats in Charleston, SC.
Road Map For Mom, Mary E Mahowald

One of the oldest cities in America, and now my favorite repeat destination, Charleston is the only locale outside of Nebraska that I have ever called home, and it will always hold a special place in my heart!

Once upon a time I was entrenched in the food biz, I’ve worked nearly every front-of-house position, and a couple of back of the house as well. I’ve been a restaurant manager, a server, busser, host, baker, line cook, banquet server and attended culinary school, while dreaming of one day opening my own storefront. I still may, someday, but life took me in a different direction: at least for the time-being. Today my appreciation and love for fantastic food and impeccable service remains in the form of a constant search!

I’ll be honest here, I set out with every intention of writing an all-out city guide, but I vested so much time, and so many so words focusing on the restaurant segment alone, that I decided to dedicate this one just to the amazing fare (and drinks) that Charleston offers!

Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC
Photo Cred: Diane Healy

This port town is richly historic, naturally beautiful, and full of unique architecture that indicates it’s beginnings. It is also a known foodie Mecca of sorts that summons epicurean lovers from all over the globe to come and be tempted by the local menus! The food is incredible, the people are friendly and the beaches and waterways are breathtaking. Voted #1 travel destination in the World (2016), and has topped U.S. destinations for 6 years straight, so naturally there are restaurants lining up on every street, and with new ones popping up on every corner to compete for your dollar, how will you ever decide? No worries, I’m here to help!

I also lived here for a bit, and while no longer a resident, I’ve got a little more exposure than your average tourist. In my time as a local, my days (off work) were spent exploring new spaces, and tasting new places.  Most I have discovered while I lived on-site, but a couple new spots made the list after a recent visit last autumn. So here’s my recommendations on how to best spend your food dollar in Charleston, South Carolina (from a former-local)!

Family Friendly: 

With casual and relaxed atmospheres, these restaurant options will be suited for the entire family, including the four-legged members!

Coconut Joe’s: Isle Of Palms

Kites on Isle of Palms,
View from Coconut Joe’s

Open for lunch, dinner and brunch, Coconut Joe’s has always been a favorite! We stumbled on it one weekend while beach combing on IOP. On the heart of the strip, and painted bright pink, I’ll be honest, it’s a little hard to miss. With fruity drinks, and lots of grilled eats, it’s a fun, relaxed environment, and everything that a beachfront restaurant should be! Located on the oceanside of the main drag, flip flops and swim suit tops are welcome, and the covered patio offers a refreshing break from the hot summer rays. 

With a full list of blended island drinks, the perfect patio accompaniment, and seaside libation is the Red Headed Parrot Colada; which is half strawberry daiquiri and half pina colada. And, in my opinion, is the very best of both worlds! They also host a happy hour 4-6 weekdays. On windy days evenings, IOP is a favorite for kite surfers, and the deck boasts amazing views (See kites above). For hours, and to preview the menu click here:

Kaminsky’s: Columbia, Downtown, West Ashley

Kaminsky's Folly Beach, Downtown Charleston, Tables of Charleston: A Guide to the Best Eats in Charleston, SC. By Mary E Mahowald
Photo Cred: Kaminsky’s

For the best downtown drinks and dessert destination, Kaminsky’s is king! Whether you are wandering the cobblestone streets on a stroll after dinner, or shopping Market Street, stop at Kaminsky’s to browse their case full of fresh cakes, pastries, pies, as well as fabulous coffee and cocktail offerings. A little on the spendy side, it’s a staple, and worth the splurge! They have grown to 3 locations now, so check here for addresses and hour of operations And save a little by visiting during happy hour!

Kickin’ Chicken: Downtown, Food Truck, Mt Pleasant & More

A local chicken chain with 7 locations, and a food truck to boot, their wings were my Charleston faves. The downtown location buzzed about recent visits from local Bill Murray, and was otherwise laid back and fun with a well-worn, favorite bar kind of feel. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want brews with Bill?

Their local tap game is on par, with lots of local and craft brews, and my recs on sauces are: The Polynesian, Thai Chili, Teriyaki, and Honey BBQ (yes, I know I’m mild). Don’t forget to try a Firefly Porch Swing, made with local vodka. It’s classic Charleston, and you’ll be refreshed all day long!

For all the things chicken, visit our friends at:

Lost Dog Café: Folly Beach

Huevos Rancheros at Lost Dog Cafe, Folly Beach, SC. Mary E Mahowald, Road Map For Mom. Tables of Charleston.
Huevos Rancheros at Lost Dog Cafe, Folly Beach, SC
Photo Cred: Lost Dog

Open for breakfast and lunch and serving everything from quiche and muffins to huevos and sandwiches. This cozy and casual spot is the perfect stop to fuel up before a day of sun and fun at Folly Beach! One of my favorite locals introduced me to this pup-friendly establishment, and it did not disappoint!

Stop in for Mimosa Monday, serving $3 mason jars, and feel free to hit snooze, (because it is vacation right). Breakfast is served ‘til close, as it should be! Check out the menu and be sure to stop in, and tell them Mary sent you!

Red’s Ice House: Shem Creek, Mt Pleasant

Waterfront and on the creek, you will likely get a visit from friendly playful dolphins, splashing nearby and putting on a show. The dock is rockin’ live music, casual dining and chilled drinks. This place is a classic and if you bring a good attitude, it’s guaranteed to be a great time! With a fun, relaxed atmosphere, Red’s serves up seasonal oysters and other locally caught sea-fare, as well as something for the land-lovers. If you come early, you will get to see the shrimp and fishing boats reeling in the daily catch. No sightings of Forrest Gump or Lt. Dan reported.

The deck is dog friendly, so lots of furry critters, and it’s also family friendly until sundown! For the live music schedule and specials visit:

Taco Boy: Downtown, Folly Beach, and coming soon-Summerville

Taco Boy, Tables of Charleston, Mary E Mahowald, Road Map For Mom, Folly Beach
Taco Boy, Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina
Photo Cred: Taco Boy on Instagram

 Everybody loves a good street taco, and theirs are incredible! With handmade tortillas, fresh salsas, and to-die-for Tres Leches cake. The vibe is fun and relaxed, and the margos are amaze-balls! With 2 convenient locations, right in the heat of the action (and a third coming soon), you can find Taco Boy at both Folly Beach, and Downtown Charleston. Each with their own unique atmosphere and dining experiences, you will find authentic and impressive Mexican Street food at an affordable tag! Visit their website here for more info:


These restaurants are better suited for adults, or very-well behaved little diners.

Vendue Rooftop

The Vendue Rooftop, Downtown Charleston, South Carolina . Mary E Mahowald. Road Map For Mom the Blog, Tables Of Charleston
The Vendue Rooftop, Downtown Charleston, South Carolina

The very best views of the Charleston skyline! Sip a refreshing Strawberry Basil Lemonade and think of me, as you admire the most gorgeous 360 views that this rooftop patio has to offer! For many years Charleston had a skyline ordinance, so nothing was allowed to be built taller than the tallest church steeple. In 2017 a vote passed to allow “progress,” but thankfully, the historic district was protected. Open from 11:30-12am daily, an abbreviated sandwich, salad and handhelds menu is served rooftop, and with a weekday happy hour food and drink menu, sip your spiked tea while seeing the entire city, port, harbor, and on clear days you can see out across the islands, including Fort Sumpter! Start with cocktails, then make your way downstairs to the Revival for a Fork and Knife menu of steak and local seafood.

Wild Olive: John’s Island

For an intimate date night, or dining with a small group of friends, the cozy dining room, and hometown vibe of local John’s Island eatery-Wild Olive offers amazing Italian fare, sourced locally. Boasting a world-class kitchen team lead by Midwestern boy Jacques Larson, they keep a friendly wait staff that serves up fabulous handmade pastas, antipasti’s, the calamari is to die for, and the Bolognese was absolutely phenomenal. They offer fresh, fruit forward desserts, made in-house and in-season and tout a fantastic wine list for pairing. Wild Olive, a Certified Green restaurant has truly captured the taste and essence of Italy for the South {Carolina}!
Open for the evening meal seven days a week, visit their website to reserve a table, and scope out the menu:

Last, but not least, I introduce to you the Royalty of Charleston establishments!

82 Queen: Downtown

Self-proclaimed “one of the oldest and most celebrated restaurants in Charleston,” and I will tell you, it is not one bit overrated! This is the actual location of one of my all time, top 10 meals of my entire life, Right Here! 

Rainbow Row, The Charleston Battery, Tables of Charleston: A Guide to the Best Eats in Charleston, SC. By Mary E Mahowald
Rainbow Row, Charleston Battery, SC

An upscale eatery, literally on 82 Queen (the name and address) a short stroll from St John the Baptist Cathedral in the French Quarter, is open for lunch, dinner and my hands-down favorite: weekend brunch. Their entire menu changes seasonally to stay fresh, local and on-trend, and though they sadly do not have the Chicken and Waffles on the menu right this minute, the She-Crab Soup (made from smelt crab roe) is a Charleston specialty, and Queen’s version is positively life-changing. Several joined repurposed residences help create this one of a kind atmosphere, the patio is gorgeous, and every meal I’ve had here was worth the price tag! Check out their current menu and make a reservation, because a spot at this table is always in demand!

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