Where to Taste Charleston, S.C.’s Food Trends for Dining Out and Catering
- Kristen Evans
- 3 Min Read
Fresh oysters, creamy shrimp and grits, and Carolina Gold rice are some of the dishes that draw people to Charleston, South Carolina. But plenty of eaters are just as obsessed with the other exciting food trends taking off in the city’s culinary scene. Like crispy, fiery “hot chicken” sandwiches and lemongrassy banh mi tacos that refuse to play by the rules. Here’s your guide to the best new food in Charleston, whether you need dinner reservations for wooing your clients or catering for your entire office to enjoy.
Hot Chicken Is So Hot Right Now
If you can take the heat, try these blow-your-socks-off fried chicken sandwiches. While hot chicken sandwiches are a Nashville specialty, you’ll find them in Charleston now, too. At Leon’s Oyster Shop, one of the best restaurants in the city, chicken is dusted with cayenne before being thrown in the fryer to give it that distinctively crispy skin.
While Leon’s Oyster Shop has a buzzy atmosphere that’s great for impressing clients, Ms. Rose’s offers a down-home vibe. You can’t go wrong with fried chicken at Ms. Rose’s. The crunchy, juicy chicken gets a flavor boost from a pleasantly fiery Tabasco-honey sauce that will make your mouth water.
If you want to hook up your team with a catering spread of flavorful chicken sandwiches, try Boxcar Betty’s. The restaurant’s box lunches and sandwich bars make it easy for everyone to fill up on dishes like spicy fried chicken, bright coleslaw studded with fresh peaches, and plenty of crunchy pickles to cool off the meal. Likewise, Chick-fil-A is famous for its chicken recipes. Try the fried chicken sandwich meal. The chicken is dredged in seasoned flour and fried until the crust is golden and craggy.
From Tex-Mex to Classic Mex
Charleston may be better known for Southern cooking, but a bunch of new Tex-Mex and Oaxacan restaurants have just taken off. Make a reservation at Pink Cactus for Oaxacan food with a twist. The restaurant’s chile rellenos—roasted peppers stuffed with meat and cheese and plunged in a spicy red sauce—are served with bubbling, soft havarti. And the whole-roasted snapper is a showstopper. For a Southern take on tacos, head to Minero for fried, flaky catfish and pickled green tomatoes served on fragrant corn tortillas.
Want to institute Taco Tuesday in the office? The catering menu from Summerville Burrito Co. makes it easy to order a food bar of plump tacos or rice bowls with smoky adobo-braised pork. These dishes are sure to satisfy the cravings of everyone from vegetarians to meat eaters. Or try 3 Matadors Tequileria for a build-your-own fajita bar with enough grilled chicken, tender pork, and fixings to let your entire office get creative with lunch.
Everyone is lining up for a reservation at Tu, chef Josh Walker’s ode to the flavors of India. If you’re craving warming, rich butter chicken curry or want to sample your way through chaat—savory Indian snacks and street foods—Tu is where you should take your next client out on the town.
But if you’re in the mood for juicy dumplings instead, head to Kwei Fei and try its seasoned lamb dumplings, which are served with tangy black vinegar. Kwei Fei’s adventurous menu is filled with dishes like delicate mushroom broth, cumin-scented lamb burgers, and a sizzling stir-fry of pork and blistered shishito peppers. It’s the perfect spot to wow a VIP.
Then, shake things up with your next catering order by sampling from Charleston’s best Vietnamese options. Spring for the banh mi taco bar from Bon Banh Mi, a Charleston favorite. The pickled carrots, cilantro, and sriracha lime crema make the meaty, lemongrassy taco even more fantastic. For something more traditional, opt for a steaming bowl of noodles swimming in a rich stock from Pink Bellies. Get the noodles topped with a slow-cooked egg.
Thanks to Charleston’s love of seafood, it’s easy to find new twists on Mediterranean fare everywhere you look. For upscale Spanish tapas, or small plates, make a reservation at Malagon. The restaurant’s grilled shrimp and sourdough toast adorned with spicy chorizo, goat cheese, and honey will make any client meeting memorable. Alternatively, there’s The Obstinate Daughter, which puts a Lowcountry twist on Mediterranean fare. Try the crispy, tender octopus with green olive tapenade.
Bring Mediterranean flavors into the office with box lunches from Tabbuli’s catering menu. Choose from grilled chicken or lamb kebabs, vegetarian-friendly falafel, or pita bread stuffed with crumbly feta, roasted red pepper, and fluffy, lemony tabbouleh salad. You can’t go wrong with Butcher & Bee’s box lunches, either. This farm-to-table Charleston favorite uses seasonal ingredients to concoct inspired sandwiches, such as creamy chicken salad spiced with fragrant, herby za’atar, and caramelized mushroom and eggplant drizzled with a spicy, creamy tahini sauce.
Give your office a taste of Charleston’s delicious food trends.