Charleston had been on our list for quite some time and what better way to visit this quaint Southern city than to celebrate our first anniversary! We ate and drank our way through the city and added a touch of a history with a walking tour.
Friday: We flew Delta from Laguardia direct to Charleston. The only redeeming quality of Laguardia is the Amex Centurion Lounge (even worth visiting it in a different terminal than ours). If you're an Amex member, see if you have access to these limited lounges with full service meals, drinks and comfy seating with free wi-fi. Hopefully they'll open more locations soon with currently only LGA, Miami, Dallas/Fort Worth, Vegas & San Francisco.
After a quick 2 and a half hour flight we grabbed an Uber and headed to our hotel. We booked on Marriott points (thanks NBA!) and were in a perfect location within walking distance of nearly everything we wanted to do. The bar scene in Charleston has everything from high end and stuffy to little dives up hidden staircases. With the close proximity to College of Charleston we were bombarded by drunken college kids almost immediately after leaving the hotel. This was not something that anyone had mentioned about their visits so I was hoping it was just because it was late on a Friday. Our first stop was not even worth mentioning and just a run of the mill sports bar. We didn't really see huge, rowdy crowds at night again as they must've all been at frat parties on Saturday.
In attempt to avoid that scene we made our second stop at a the craft beer bar, Closed for Business. The vibe was much more our pace for "early" in the evening. Nearly everywhere stopped serving food by midnight if not before but I had read that Rarebit served their breakfast menu late night. We made it there next just in time to have quite possibly the best bacon, egg and cheese sandwich of our lives on Texas toast. Their lunch and dinner menus looks just as tasty with an array of Southern favorites served at this mid-century modern dream and I would definitely go back.
Saturday: We had a lunch reservation but some time before to explore. Our hotel was in walking distance of nearly everything we wanted to do so we headed south on Meeting Street towards Husk. On the way we stopped for coffee at a cafe that had the prettiest oak trees covering their outdoor tables. The space felt a little corporate as its attached to the hotel next door but it was a good first stop to start the day.
One of the most hyped restaurants that you will read about when researching Charleston is definitely, Husk. If you are planning a trip, I would suggest making a reservation far in advance or don't expect to get seated without a long wait time. The menu changes almost daily and all of the food is sourced from Southern farms as shown on their board when you enter. Their James Beard award-winning chef, Sean Brock, is quoted on their website saying "if it doesn't come from the south, it's not coming through the door". We ordered shrimp and grits, fried chicken and fried pig's ear lettuce wraps. Every bite was southern cooking at its best, delicious and not concerned about the calories.
Husk is nestled on a quiet street between Meeting and King. King is the major shopping street of Charleston filled with everything from designer shops, to your mall favorites and the cutest boutiques and antique stores. I spared Andy an exhausted shopping excursion but we mossied in and out of some of the shops as we made our way up King. There were countless times on this trip where I would stop and feel like I was inside a movie set. The architecture is so fascinating and it's as if it belongs on a Hollywood sound stage. There was a Syracuse game on but finding a bar that would play it didn't seem to be the easiest task. Mac's Bar fit the bill and was a friendly sports bar with a knowledgeable bar tender.
Before dinner we took a break back at the hotel because we got in late the night before. Since Saturday was our actual anniversary, I wanted that night's dinner to be a little more special. Cannon Green seemed beautiful, unique and just the right place to celebrate one year of married life. Everything about the experience from the impeccable service to outstanding dishes all makes sense now that I found out it is part of the Easton Group which also owns Pippin Hill Vineyards where Lex had her wedding. The chef is their culinary director and the Easton Group knows how to make every detail of an event feel special. Amalia Scatena does a chef's table dinner but only for a minimum of 8 people; I guess I will just have to come back with a bigger group next time! The area surrounding the restaurant was a juxtaposition of the old and new Charleston; dilapidated houses across the street from trendy restaurants. Upper King, where many of the bars are, was in walking distance to the restaurant so we popped in and out of a few and ended the night at a dive bar upstairs above a store that you'd never know was there called Upper Deck Tavern. Cheap beers, board games and 90s music was a perfect way to end the night.
Sunday: I had read about a coffee shop with outdoor seating not far from the hotel. The coffee and breakfast pastries we had were fantastic and even better was the courtyard filled with locals and their dogs! If we lived here this is definitely the place we would be spending our weekend mornings.
One of the other restaurants that I had read a lot about was Macintosh. It wasn't our favorite meal in Charleston but it did have a lot of stiff competition. They did however, have an unlimited mimosa option that they refilled very swiftly. We shared poutine and a burger and both were really good but not the best. Could've also been the late night from the night before and the lingering hangover. We love to check out local breweries in new cities and Charleston has a booming brewery market. To get out of the peninsula and see more of Charleston that isn't just the tourist area, we Uber-ed up to check two out. Uber, by the way, was the easiest way to get around and so cheap compared to NYC (just like the rest of the world).
Our first stop on our self-guided tour was Holy City Brewing. They were having a private event that night so we didn't get much time but they had a really cool, laid back vibe and a large selection and we would definitely be spending time there if we were locals. Andy got a new t-shirt to add to his collection and we met the cutest puppy while sitting outside. I struck up a conversation with a guy who was leading his own brewery tour (one that I had been researching online), he suggested we go to Revelry next. Going on one of the brewery tours could be fun, but since we like to be on our own timetable, Uber worked just fine for us going from place to place before going back downtown.
One of the top things to do in Charleston is to walk The Battery and see all of the incredible homes along the water. We were lucky enough to connect with an old family friend of Andy's and visit theirs! They were all friends while Andy's parents were in Argentina and now they are back in Charleston. It was fascinating to hear how the city has changed in the last 20 years since they moved from NYC. Not only do they have the most stunning home but they are also restaurant investors, one of them being Husk, and another a new Mexican place, Minero. We joined them for a delicious dinner and were treated with impeccable service, can't hurt when your with important people. They were such gracious hosts and we hope to keep in touch and see them when we are back! After dinner we wandered the deserted Sunday night streets and all the ghost stories were fresh on my mind. It surely is spookier when there isn't anyone else around and there are mini graveyards everywhere. We ended our day the same way we did the night before, upstairs at the Upper Deck Tavern.
Monday: We had a late afternoon flight back to NYC which left us time for a walking tour and one last Charleston meal. Bull Dog Tours offers a range of different tours but we chose to do the historic walking tour. Our guide was extremely knowledgable and the history of the city is just fascinating! I wish I had taken more specific notes immediately following so I could recall more specifics, but you'll have to do it for yourself! If we weren't such scaredy cats, we would have done one of their famous ghost tours...but, not for us.
167 Raw was high on my list but it does not take reservations and is said to be very, very busy on the weekends. For a Monday afternoon, we only waited a few minutes and were seated at the counter right outside the kitchen. It was a great spot to see the chefs in action and good the incredible dishes! I had the absolute best tuna burger, barely cooked to raw perfection.
Packing up and heading to the airport was a struggle after such an incredible weekend but we will definitely be back because there is so much left to explore.
Where we stayed: Courtyard Charleston Historic District
Where we ate:Rarebit // Husk // Cannon Green // The Macintosh // Minero // 167 Raw // Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer
Where we drank:Closed for Business // Mac's Place // Upper Deck Tavern // Holy City Brewing Company // Revelry Brewing Company
Still on my list...
Restaurants: Jestine's Kitchen // FIG // The Park Cafe // St. Alban (coffee spot, open until 2pm) // Leon's Oyster Shop // Peninsula Grill (fancier)
Bars: The Belmont // Pavillion
Things to do: Grab coffee and walk along the Battery again, shopping on King Street, bowling @ the Alley, visiting a plantation, another walking tour (maybe work up to a ghost one!), Nathaniel Russell House