Two of the things I really like about traveling are trying the local food, and having good food (often, but not always, the same thing). What are the food specialties of Charleston, South Carolina? I recently read that Charleston is one of the best food cities in the USA and I would like to know what's important to try on a trip there.

Unfortunately, just being "good" doesn't really narrow things down. I figure the best way to do this is to order by specificity, so if there's a dish that's legendary for being served at one particular restaurant (like half smokes at Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington, DC) it should go at the top of the list, followed by specific famous restaurants (e.g. Noma), then city specialties, then regional.

I guess for the purposes of this question, a specialty would be a food that I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else or wouldn't be prepared in the same way elsewhere.

  • 1
    Color me confused. You linked to a Washington Post article about how great the food is in Charleston, and the article lists several well known eateries in the city. And you came here to ask people to list places to eat in the city? Hat hunting?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 23:31
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is both asking for the 'best' (subjective) and a list question; both of which are on the what not to ask list in the help center
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:57
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    As for hats, it's much easier for me to get those on other sites. I'm not a travel expert by any means. I asked this question because I actually want an answer.
    – Pops
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 1:36
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    As for the close vote, fair enough. I was kind of on the fence about asking here, for that very reason. But every site has its own standards for how much opinionation is allowed, and I thought this was one of the more relaxed ones. If I was wrong about that and the community votes to close, I'll respect that. Certainly you can't deny that regional food specialties are a thing that exists and may be of interest to travelers, whether you find the setup of my particular question constructive or not.
    – Pops
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 1:41
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    I think we can answer the specialty part of the question but not the restaurant recommendation one. I'll edit the latter out.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 6:27

1 Answer 1


What you're after is Low country cuisine - the cooking associated with the area.

Appetizers, soups, and salads

Benne-Oyster Soup
Cooter Soup (Turtle Soup)
She-crab soup
Sweet Potato & Crab Soup
Gumbo (Okra Soup)
Brunswick Stew

Meat and seafood

Catfish stew
Lowcountry Boil
Country Captain
Frogmore Stew
Shrimp and grits
Shrimp Kedgeree
Oyster Roast
Crab cake


Charleston Red Rice
Perlau or chicken bog
Salmon and rice


Hoppin' John
Fried Cabbage
Baked Mac-n-Cheese

Wikipedia goes on to explain that the geography is the main factor in distinguishing the region's culinary identity from other areas of the South. There's an abundance of shrimp, fish, crabs, and oysters in the estuary system, and the marshlands of South Carolina are also conducive to growing rice, and that grain has become a major part of the everyday diet over time.

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